Saturday, 15 December 2012

Deep Forebodings About The US

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed - Second amendment to the US Constitution

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind - Mahatma Gandhi

Consider two democracies, newly freed from the same colonial master, but founded with two entirely different world-views.

The US fought for its freedom with guns, and its constitution reflects the philosophy that freedom can only be defended with guns.

The Stars and Stripes forever?

When Gandhi led India's freedom struggle, he famously remained friends with the British. The struggle was principled, the relationship cordial to the end, with a British Governor-General staying on as India's Head of State for a couple of years after independence. The only bullets fired were by extremists on both sides. The mainstream freedom struggle was non-violent. And today, even as India sees unprecedented levels of violence in different spheres of its polity, there are indications that every such strife is an indicator of a more equitable society struggling to be born. It is not a system spiralling out of control. This is the turbulence associated with the emergence of a new social order where historical inequities may finally be laid to rest.

It is in fact the more stable-looking United States that should concern us more. Even as the latest shooting tragedy ignites fresh debate about gun control, its opponents can be seen to be digging in more ferociously. Scenes of tragedy are being blamed on too much gun control, where law-abiding citizens are left unarmed and unable to stop rogue shooters. If only everyone was armed, the argument goes, tragedies like these could be nipped in the bud. It's clear that no consensus is likely to emerge shortly.

If the same pro-gun argument were to be extended to the world, the answer to world peace would be to make every country a nuclear weapons state. Then the rogue states could be stopped after they blew up just one or two cities. Would that be acceptable? Why is nuclear disarmament being pursued at all if the second amendment is such a great idea? It's the same principle, isn't it?

I have a very bad feeling about how this is going to end. Guns are not perishable goods. Guns produced a half-century ago are still capable of operating perfectly today. Every gun ever purchased in the US is stockpiled somewhere or the other, waiting for the day it will be used. There is an entire paranoid class that buys and stockpiles guns. [These people cut across the political spectrum, although a significant number of them belong to the Republican party.] At some point, the aggregate stockpile will reach critical mass, and there will come a tipping point.

This is the nightmare scenario I envisage.

Sometime in the next 5 to 10 years, white Republicans are going to realise they will never again win another Presidential election. The changing demographics will have "taken their country from them", which is how they will see it. The targets of their ire will be ethnic minorities, mainly blacks and hispanics. All it will need is a spark to make the tinderbox blow. If there are a few perceptibly targetted shooting attacks by white supremacists on blacks and hispanics, it could trigger a bloodbath as armed members of these communities strike blindly back along racial lines. Any widespread racial conflict will drag in federal forces. Once there is a perceived threat that the government is moving to take away citizens' guns, an armed revolt will ensue. The scale of operations will quickly overwhelm agencies like the FBI, and the armed forces will have to be deployed. From what I have read about the size and firepower of some of the armament caches owned by groups of paranoics (many of them ex-military men), this could very quickly blow up into a second US Civil War, with the government forced to use tanks and artillery against its own people. The post-apocalyptic dystopia that is the staple of Hollywood movies may become a reality within a decade.

Sounds too nightmarish to be true, right? I don't believe this is beyond the realm of the possible. There doesn't seem to be a way to wind this thing down peacefully. Most regrettably, all signs point to a coming conflagration.

The situation is the exact dual of communism collapsing under its own weight. I wonder how Brezhnev's ghost will react when the arms of the US put its own eyes out.

Apart from travel advisories to their citizens, the rest of the world can only watch helplessly. 
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