Monday, July 22, 2013

The Rifle and The Drone

Democracy worked best around the time after the American Revolution. Democracy being a distribution of power among the people, there was one invention which lead to this being possible and tenable during the era, the rifle. Ubiquitous access to firearms was more liable for the American and French revolutions than was the Enlightenment era's philosophy of egalitarianismThe rifle made power distributable among the people more than the vote. Voting became an extension of that most carnal of power and since all power is derivative of violence then general equality of rich man and poor man armed with a flintlock rifle by necessity made them equals. God made man but Samuel Colt made them equal.

With the advance of military technology there is a push away from the common man. The 2nd amendment can be destroyed in two ways. One by revoking its status legally. Two by making the possession of firearms pose little threat to the state. The state has attempted both but has been more successful for the later.

Now we enter the age of the drone a nearly autonomous killing machine. At most a user inputs some data on a screen safely tucked away in a bunker somewhere and the drone kills a group of people or drops a bomb on a weapon's factory. It's like a video game.

There is really no division between state and citizen. The two are imagination. There is man with resources, the rich man and man without resources poor man. By voluntarily surrendering one's freedom a man may gain temporary access to certain resources. For example, a man in the military may gain access to a million dollar attack chopper but only while he wears a certain uniform. Regardless, the dichotomy remains rich man poor man and the gap between the two is ever widening.

Prior to the rifle there was the lancer, the swordsmen, and the archer. The problem with all three of these is similar. The amount of training it took to create an able bodied swordsmen was too long. The elite with the resources to allow someone to train a swordsmen were not apt to distribute this power to the peasants. The aristocracy held sway because no one could compete. Never doubt where power lay. It is brought from the willingness to murder another or it is phantasmal, illusionary, so much brainwashing on television. And so it took ten years to train a swordsmen and outfit him in armor. Then the rifle came and it took an afternoon to show a boy how to fire a rifle. He was now competitive with a 200 pound man in battle. The rifle destroyed the aristocracy as much as the guillotine did because it is technology which brings about changes.

The push to drones move power away from the people because the people do not have access to drones. That may or may not change but the rich man grows greater in strength because he can afford these million dollar death machines and the working class grows poorer. When drones become totally autonomous and hundreds of drones can perform patrol duties, surveillance, and serve arrest warrants without human insight the shift toward elite power will be nearly absolute. A few men will control the drones and the drone oversight and maintenance crew and anyone not them will be peasants. Humans are violent chimpanzees and no amount of modern liberalism and kindhearted diatribes have changed that.

The only way for power to be distributed evenly is not with voting but making sure everyone can kill each other. In particular, if the state fears the people, or the rich man fears the poor man, there can be peace. Otherwise, if the rich man has no need to restrain his inner psychopath, he won't.

Drones don't exist in vacuums however. There is another device that helps with power distribution. The internet allows for the free exchange of information. It's turned everyone's apartment into a television station allowing everyone to freely broadcast their thoughts to millions of others. Unfortunately, most people ignore all of this. Look for well thought out blogs and videos with insightful, educational commentary and you'll usually stumble over a writer that's struggling to get by or make a living from his craft for the specific reason that well thought out posts don't draw much attention. Commentary on relationships and celebrity gossip bring tenfold the attention as of a philosophical treatise on consciousness. But the internet has organized people. It is this era's rifle which has given some power to the people and stripped it away from the elite which is why internet freedom is just as important if not more so than the 2nd amendment. The days of the rifle defending freedom are gone. Liberty hangs on the wire, on youtube, on the blogs, and the web pages.


  1. >The elite with the resources to allow someone to train a swordsmen were not apt to distribute this power to the peasants. The aristocracy held sway because no one could compete.<

    The Medieval Elite certainly had more resources than the peasants, but they were used to buy expensive war-horses (Chevaliers, the root word of 'Cavalry') and importantly chain mail and plate-mail armour. Both of these combined to allow them both increased mobility and increased defensive capability that you could trump the peasants with. The Battle of Hastings gives testimony to this: mobile Normans on horse-back vs. static Saxons on foot. The Normans won.

    The modern equivalent of plate armour is of course Flak Jackets.

    You're spot on about the drones though. Thankfully they do have weakness: a long and fragile productions chain. The longer a chain is the more links there are in the chain and the more the chance that one of the links will fail. Railways, seaports, road networks, are all susceptible to failure either from deliberate human intervention or nature (eg the weather).

  2. I'm familiar with medieval combat. I only use swordsmen because they took the longest to train, rumored to be ten years or more for certain styles. But a boy can learn a rifle in an afternoon.

    1. I'll put my hands up and admit I know next to nothing on medieval combat training, besides a few encyclopedia articles. It's an area that I could probably do with reading up on; though I wouldn't know where to start. But if you're interested in the prices of weapons, aswell as other items and wages, from medieval Europe then you might want to read this webpage:

  3. Guns were also tools of oppression when they first appeared in the 1400s because only the rich could afford them. Likewise, drones are getting cheaper all the time, and many hobbyists are building their own. Governments can command more resources, but much of that advantage is squandered on $100 screws. I suspect that history's pendulum is about to swing decisively away from Big Government toward some sort of high-tech anarcho-feudalism.