I kinda support the not-shooting thing, for a number of reasons which I may not have explained clearly enough; or perhaps my adherence to the zero-aggression principle makes me an "idiot."
Mind you, the simple notion that you don't start fights but you're free to end them is echoed by the late Col. Cooper, who replied to being told "violence only begets violence" with the observation that if he had anything to say about it, it most certainly did, and with overwhelming strength.
There are plenty of folks out there -- most famously the "Threepers" -- who are willing to draw their line in the sand and explain precisely where it is and what conditions consitute crossing it. By so doing, the very least damage they do is handing their opponents a road map. And depending on how one's resolve and response is stated, it can even be a criminal act in and of itself. "Making terroristic threats" is one of those Homeland Security crimes you don't want to commit, even if you were hoping to write your memoirs in jail. Not every Threeper has done so -- indeed, most are more circumspect than their PR would suggest -- but it's why I view them as the frailest canaries in the coal mine. When they start to vanish, things are heating up.
There's Reason One: 'Cos it's lousy tactics at best. "Hello? High Command? Mr. Rommel? Hey, we're gonna be landing at Normandy, early in June..." No. Do Not Do.
Reason Two: 'Cos "direct action" does not have a good track record. Weathermen? Made of fail. The various 20th Century assassinations of public figures? Huge fail; the most infamous one gave us LBJ and LBJ gave us, among other messes, Vietnam and the Great Society. You want a Euro-style Social Democrat government here, one way to get stuck with it is if some criminal starts taking potshots at Federal politicians: the survivors will get carte blanche. Shooting Archdukes has a proven track record of working out very badly. Check out the Balkans if you think I'm making it up. Heck, check out striking coal miners.
Reason Three: It's not time. It doesn't take much study of history of the American Revolution (or a quick read-through of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress*) to grasp that to succeed, "direct action" requires a number of components. Among them:
- A degree of popular support -- not merely dissatisfaction with the way things are but a willingness to take drastic steps to change them. I'm not seein' that second thing. Oh, there's a willingness to take some steps, but they are steps in the direction of rallies and voting booths and that may yet be enough.
- Adversarial attitude of the existing government towards the governed. Ours is maybe at 50%.
- Organization. The Continental Congress didn't suddenly spring into being; it was built on a wide array of predecessor organizations. No corresponding group exists...yet.
The Statists have already "initiated force." They were busy doing it when Mr. Wilson was polluting the White House. They were snubbed by massive noncompliance when they tried Prohibition. They were initiating force in the 1930s, when Garet Garrett tried to wake your grandparents up. The governmental structures and traditions of this country have ensured that it has been very diffuse force, ramped up ever so slowly; but as anyone who has watched materials testing knows, it doesn't matter how slowly it is done: keep applying force and eventually there is a breaking point.
Quite often it's a lot more force past the bending point than you'd expect. But if the force keeps on increasing, it is reached, as inevitably as water runs downhill or communism collapses. You don't need to hurry it along. --And that's Reason Four: 'cos war zones suck. It's been a hundred and forty-five years since any Americans had to live in one right here at home and we've largely forgotten what it's like to be stuck in a post-Katrina wasteland that persists, waning and waxing, for years. I'm in no rush to open that can of worms, especially since I may end up having to choose between eating them and starving.
We're not out of options yet. Why take any irrevocable steps before you're obliged to?
* Robert A. Heinlein. You should own a copy. Buy it via the Amazon.com link at Tam's.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago