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Passages I highlighted from "Come and Take It"
Wisdom from the king of disobedience
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Come and Take it: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free, by Cody Wilson. (Amazon Associate Link)
The first reader comment on Bilton’s piece posted on the Times site was, judging by the avatar and the woeful invocation of Yeats, a boomer’s:
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I wanted to find him and talk to him. Did he regret that nonaggression pact with automation now? Eh?
Now the robots might actually kill the working man too? Where was his Oil Can Eddie when he needed him? But then who can deny technology and its progress? Reinforced by this enormously positive, indisputable monopoly of appearances, this dogma subsumed all others.
And “Now the Guns Will Be Printed,” says the Times. What amazed me more than anything else was that each species of bitter response to the article could still only amount to a deafened acceptance. They were helpless. The news was as useful to them as if they’d discovered the divine perversions of the Great Overseer.
Maybe Wiki Weapon really was the Second Coming.
Regardless, it was the future as written by the New York Times, and every sensitive liberal knew not to argue with that.
It is interesting to observe, especially in light of recent gun control spats just how impotent even the proposed harsh restrictions of gun control are… how little appetite or even desire for an actual victory over the the eternal gun owner is amongst the confiscators… whether Trudeau with his proposed handgun “Freeze” (not even going to try to get any of the guns back), or Biden’s firearms bill that’s inevitably going to be nerfed to oblivion if it even passes… and who’s restrictions are impotent to begin with (magazines are the easiest item to make at home and limited magazines are very easily converted back to their full capacity)…
Its obvious that the gun control movement neither expects any meaningful victory over gun owners, nor wants one… the average activist cannot even bring themselves to understand the enemy they are trying to defeat or the objects they try to control, instead wearing their ignorance as a badge of virtue, they are “innocent”, without knowledge, of the evil gun.
If interest in guns were waning the current strategy of harassing and irritating gun owners with illogical restrictions might work… there are indeed many hobbies you could kill with concerted annoyance: would model trains survive such a campaign?
But one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world? With a politicized base who view it as core to their civic existence? What happened when these same figures went after video games?
Alex Jones had a huge operation in Austin. He was an independent media baron with the talent and charisma to sell every event and act of God as the positive signal of a coordinated, protean plan for the New World Order. He preached a government of the sheeple, by the sheeple, and for the sheeple and was the biggest thing on the radio out here.
His news program was called Infowars, and it attracted the preppers, truthers, birthers, and the soldiers who had returned from abroad to realize they might just have taken up arms for people who hated them to the bone. It was the veteran I thought of the most. The simple elemental of the war machine, unsure why it was now his lot to wander at the margins, to hold a cardboard sign at weathered intersections.
Jones’s greatest work at the time was a documentary called The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off. The thesis was that all the idolatry and marketing from 2008 was orchestrated by the secret cabals of power. That it meant a hidden domination.
And I understood why positions like Jones’s were necessary: they provide us with the vital illusions we can hold up to shield ourselves from deadlier thoughts. That there might be a hidden power behind the throne provides an odd comfort, when you think about it. It lends itself to a sort of negative religion. Even if the story was tragic, at least there was a plot. Even if it was Moloch’s, at least there was a plan.
Only don’t tell me that every form of servitude is voluntary. Don’t tell me that the curtain hides nothing. How do you make a DVD about that?
When I eventually come back around to the subject of Jones this passage will be exhibit one.
I sat half-naked in my office chair, and into the early hours worked through stacks of state and federal forms. Proud and embittered, by then I had started calling DD a hydra. Behold a money company, a gun manufacturer, a publishing corporation. Not only would Defense Distributed do it, not only was there no possible legal or political mechanism to prevent or deter it, but I could find in this slurry of codes and federal regulations a way to make gun printing tax-exempt. We were educational, scientific; we even lessened the burden of some obscure government obligation. An antihumanist charity. I printed triplicates of certifications and copied my penned signature. Not only would the event happen, I’d get it subsidized.
Our topic was “Emancipatory Terror.”
Why did they feel like they needed so much more cover? I asked my brothers and sisters, What held them back? Was it “legitimacy,” the unripeness of the moment, or was it simply fear of violating the law?
I spoke as fast as I could, looking past them now and again. The words were increasingly for my own instruction.
The speech became a homily on progress. Why were we, brothers—if you are indeed my brothers—so comfortable as the defeated subjects of other men’s ideals? You say you have no gods, but there you stand immobile in the gaze of some Big Other—some outside point of reference used all the same to judge the final meaning of your actions. As if at the End there will be a report.
The students tittered and looked at me with sure smiles. But I saw the growing discomfort and fascination. The fast-breeding insult.
I told them about one of the national gun control groups naming me an “American insurrectionist.” A group funded by the Methodist church. And was it any surprise that the Methodists, their church not so far from their state, ran a virulent gun control operation?
I leave it to the Moldbugians and Neo-reactionaries to comment on the connection between mainline Protestantism and Progressive Authoritarianism.
One of the terrifying and outstanding concepts the Harrington republicans developed was the universal militia. Instead of a ruler hiring a mercenary army or establishing a standing army that owed fidelity only to the crown, every freeholder would be responsible for providing for the common defense and practicing with arms. The republican radical believed not only that this kind of responsibility would cultivate a better citizen, but that a nation with a universal militia would be less prone to throwing itself into unnecessary and foreign wars. The commonwealth might be kept in a more defensive posture, and the people better able to tend to their own affairs. Though now this seems an unlikely thought, it seemed a prudential model to the radicals of its day. The universal militia might keep the common citizen freer in the long run while dislocating the corrupting influence of power from a single sovereign or gang of oligarchs.
Thomas Paine and the urban radicals of the American Revolution were familiar with the so-called standing army controversy as well, and the ideal of the universal militia was carried right over to the foundation of American gun politics. I told my audience I believed the Second Amendment to be a vestige of this now entirely foreign, paradoxical republican debate. A concrete legal protection of a citizen’s right to violently abolish the law. A miraculous rarity in history.
A concept so unique that we may never see it as a part of statecraft again.
To the American prohibitionist, ours is too inconvenient a political history. ... “It wasn’t enough that the prohibitionists have the concrete power to take your guns away, to divest you of them. It’s important you recognize the guns were never rightly yours to begin with,” I told the assembled.
History itself, like every sovereign thesis, was a threat. Threats have to be eliminated.
This whitewashing, recriminative view of history, this fumbling exegesis, was part of a syndrome of repentance. We had read the bedtime story. It was time for the fulfillment of a global democratic epoch of nonpolitics. The modern academic and state machineries, the abstract engines of human domestication and subjectification, were all aligned in service to the principle of a Bare Life Movement. Every political question has been answered, says the modern state. Go to sleep. Destiny is unavailable to you.
“Revolutionary” thought (is that the right word?) would require a passion for a real and virtuous terror. If you dare to chart a divergent course, you should also muster the awful might to initiate it. You can’t just envision it; you have to implement it.
What separated Defense Distributed from the impotent was that when we said “universal access to arms,” those who listened understood we meant just that.
The university student need only look out the window. Find the parapets and turrets. The stone chapels and baileys of the old fortified towns. Someone told me there were fourteen libraries here at UT. Fourteen little castles. In times of rebellion, an insurrectionist raids the public armory. Shouldn’t the good rebel find these academic repos valuable? Couldn’t Occupy have started here? The locked caches of all this schoolman’s work were calling. The tiled roofs and cornice details of these tuition mills seemed to cry out for the siege.
Aaron Swartz must have understood the problem in these terms. Maybe only a one-man siege was required. He had the right idea, regardless. Do you recall the video of him in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology server room? He didn’t wear a balaclava to hide his identity. Just a pea coat. Does he feel like he’s being reckless? In the video he still has a bicycle helmet buckled to his backpack. He leans out of the frame, picking up all the data he’s just boosted from the university network, perhaps mere hours from releasing into the public domain the aggregate knowledge of centuries.
He moves almost unhurriedly, like he thought they’d let him take it. Like all that talk in the seminar room about the commons was for real. Maybe he thought they’d forgive one of their own. Because hey, sometimes history needs a little help.
It was a university discourse that had also ultimately diverted the anger, so sweet and decorous, of our friends the Occupying. In trying to triangulate against Wall Street, they had, at their peril, invited in the professoriat and the graduate horde. If there were leaders with articulable grievances, they took a back seat to the primetime poeing and to the mouthers of total-state, humanist garbage.
Maybe next time, we raid the industrial base’s research universities. And maybe next time, we consider with suspicion those universities as neutral social institutions. Even now they prepare new fleets of psychonauts, ready for that final frontier of civil rights action. To defend the cold monster, to report on their fathers, and to weekly deliver unto us the lexicons of political equality.
A bit before my time. The suicide of Aaron Swartz was a radicalizing moment for many in the tech space. Moldbug (Curtis Yarvin) not usually one to be moved by such things wrote extensively on it in “Noam Chomsky killed Aaron Swartz”.
Ben was sometimes bored, given his rampant zeal and intellect, with Wiki Weapon. But I wasn’t so tired of it now. Witnessing how all of this had begun to evolve, how the receiver had taken on its own afterlife in images, was fascinating. I was being surprised every day. But being restless, Ben had for a month now hounded me with other ideas.
One of these ideas was for a handheld urea convertor. Piss into it over a few weeks and have your own little stock of potassium nitrate. At this point everything we were about seemed to circle back to this inexorable theme. One that couldn’t be allowed to shine through, I reckoned, but was still there should you look: the world was irreducibly weaponized. And down to our basic organism, so too were we.
We even pissed explosive.
This might be the subject of my next piece. The inevitable extension of crypto-anarchism and home weapons making into the sphere of… Lets call them “highly reactive kitchen supplies”
By then you could say Makerbot was the flagship Maker company. And by now I had made up my mind about their “movement.” At first it seemed like maybe we, the DD crew and the Makers, were fellow travelers, mining a similar vein of the bedrock of the American spirit of self-reliance and independence. But all their talk . . .
This carnival barking about the “Next PC Revolution,” “The Third Industrial Revolution.” These startup ringleaders, bloggers, and “early adopters” were together a union of peddlers of middle-class ideology. What would you build? Can you imagine the future? Don’t feel lost, just look at the graph. You are here. Breathe in. Now.
“Feel for yourself that sense of achievement and exhilaration when you see before you the finished object of your own labor, and how that object has in turn made you more than you otherwise had been.”
But nobody here truly meant to give you a revolution. “Making” was just another way of selling you your own socialization. Yes, the props were period and we had kept the whole discourse of traditional production, but this was parody to better hide the mechanism.
We were “making together,” and “making for good” according to a ritual under the signs of labor. And now I knew this was all apolitical on purpose. The only goal was that you become normalized. The Makers had on their hands a Last Man’s revolution whose effeminate mascots could lead only state-sanctioned pep rallies for feel-good disruption.
The old factory was still there, just elevated to the image of society itself. You could buy Production’s acrylic coffins, but in these new machines was the germ of the old productivism. Dead labor, that vampire, would still glamour the living.
The city leaders affixed twenty-six stars to the Newtown firehouse. Campaigns on Facebook called for people to commit twenty-six acts of kindness, while we should light twenty-six candles at memorials. The Teleprompted himself would eulogize “those twenty beautiful children and six teachers.” But twenty-seven people had been executed on December 14, 2012. Between the waves of benediction and righteous recommitment, Nancy Lanza had imperceptibly passed over a threshold.
Perhaps she was a wayward excessive, a true accomplice to her son’s crime, or a zealot who put her faith in false metal idols. Maybe this really was a modern Medea whose politics threatened to render vengeance upon us all. But she had certainly passed the limit beyond which her life was politically relevant. Her death was not a murder.
I found this passage particularly arresting. If you haven’t seen the film We Need to Talk About Kevin it is one of the truly great American films of its decade.
At Heathrow I was twice randomly selected for additional screening. At my gate a clipboarded woman in middle age sat with the travelers to make her polite needlings. On the plane, I watched the TV screen. Someone gave Dumb and Dumber’s Harry a newsroom and a platform to preach the religion of humanity. Aaron Sorkin writes him on a stage before an assembly, where a college student in the crowd chirps into the mic.
“Tell us why the United States is still the greatest country in the world.”
It’s not! Harry protests. But maybe it once was. Once there had been Great Men. Heroes really, who valiantly brought us the news. Not every piece of information, of course, but what we needed to hear. How we needed to hear it. Once we had State’s Men and we built Great Things.
“But you are”—Harry leans in at her now—“without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period.”
My nostrils flared. So, Sorkin would marshal the boomer fantasy brigade to judge us in absentia. True to boomer philosophy, a preemptive strike, whereby they revenge themselves on us in advance. As if they knew what was coming.
Come and Take it: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free, by Cody Wilson. (Amazon Associate Link)
Follow me on Twitter: @FromKulak