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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


A US army private, friend of a nephew of mine, said that Americans need lots of guns in order to keep tyrants in check or, if necessary, shoot them. When I mildly suggested that shooting them just makes them worse, he replied that no, it made them dead.

This seems to be a commonplace idea among some Americans, but shows they don't grasp the nature of tyrannies. They think a tyrant's power is in himself, as though he were a tiger invading a village and demanding fair maidens and tribute.

The truth is that a tyranny is a large, necessarily beaurocratic and pervasive structure, a set of relationships gradually incorporated into a nation in which all citizens become entangled.

A "tyrant" is merely a malign mahout riding this great beast, easily targeted and easily replaced, generally by someone worse. This seems to be a bit abstract for my nephew's friends to grasp. The idea that young men like themselves, whether militarily or as police, would necessarily be agents of a true tyranny they vehemently deny. No, they would never shoot innocent civilians or commit war crimes!

Such innocence is truly scary.

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