The Parable of the Knife

With the President claiming, and Congress going out of its way to affirm, the executive’s authority to detain and even kill U.S. citizens without due process, it’s difficult to imagine what more is needed to convince those who doubt that tyranny is a real danger in America.

Theoretically, the courts might stand in the way of despotism, but the courts don’t have the power either of the purse or of the gun, and a justice or two can be disappeared if necessary.

Theoretically, an America in which the President can order executions and unlimited detentions is different than a dictatorship because we elect the President. But our connection to the choosing of the President is tenuous at best, and none of us can say with any authority that his vote has even been counted. Besides, the process of electing a President is quaint and antiquated, and can be eliminated in the interest of security. Changes will be made after the Reichstag burns. 

(Has there ever been a republic that has fallen into despotism without some argument that it is necessary to “save” the republic?)

Some people trust the President to do the right thing. These people are not students of history, either recent or distant. Not only has the present administration lied to us and trampled our rights in the name of safety, but its predecessor did as well; moreover, the Founders recognized that the tendency of government is to seize more power at the expense of liberty. The Constitution was designed as a leash on this tendency, but the Founders didn’t contemplate that the Constitution would work forever, and they have been proven correct: we are less free, the Bill of Rights means less, every year.

This post is not for those who think that an American dictatorship is an impossibility; nor is it for those who think that an America dictatorship is an impossibility in our lifetime.

This post is not for those who think that American citizens don’t have the responsibility to try to prevent that happening; nor is it for those who think that violence is not an appropriate response to tyranny.

This post is for those who recognize that there is some threat (however small) of an American dictatorship in our lifetime, that it is the responsibility of the People to try to prevent that, and that violence may be appropriate to do so, but who fear that the sort of weapons still legally available to us would not be up to the task.

Here is what I mean by “not up to the task” (not that Evan and Scott agree with the proposition that violence in defense of liberty might be necessary):

Here is The Parable of the Knife:

A martial-arts instructor was training a mixed class of students. One was a large man who had fought competitively. Another was a new student, a petite woman who wanted an introduction to self defense.

With the rest of the class watching, the master gave the two students their instructions: he was to try to take control of her and she was to resist. The man nodded and rushed at the woman. She swung at him, but he overpowered her, locked his arms around her, and picked her up off the ground. With her arms pinioned, she kicked at him and tried to headbutt him, but he ducked his head and ignored her kicks.

“Very good,” said the master, and the man put the woman down.

From his pocket the master produced a small folding knife. He snapped the short blade open, and handed the knife to the woman.

“Now again,” said the master.

The large man shook his head. “No sir,” he said.

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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29 Responses to The Parable of the Knife

  1. Mike Paar says:

    Some would say it’s an impossibility but I believe the recent school killings in Connecticut may be linked to a chain of current events and the article you refer to. Would it be unthinkable for elements inside our government to have placed the thoughts in the killer’s head? We know for a fact that the CIA and FBI have for years been fine-tuning mind control. And most of us have enough common sense to realize that it was no “Magic Bullet” that slayed President Kennedy.

    Yea, I know, take my tinfoil cap off. But maybe if the Germans had left their tinfoil caps on they would have been able to realize the truth about the Reichstag.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      @Mike Paar: I will vomit on the shoes of the next ignorant boobus who talks about my “tin foil hat”; no Mike, you’re not a nut.

      This government has provably planned (Operation Northwoods) to execute false flags, has done so dozens of times (Operation Gladio); has provocateured (COINTELPRO, every “terrorist” captured in the last 12 years); and was almost certainly responsible for OK City and 9/11. The Aurora shooting? Stank to high heaven of an operation…inconsistent number of shooters, direct involvement of the patsy (Holmes) in mind-control experiments, his shrink’s military and probably ex-MK-ULTRA; he was drugged to the gills in his court appearance.

      And now Sandy Hook? The same Sandy Hook named as a “target” in Bain’s Army promotional materials for the Batman Dark Knight Rises movie? Another set of inconsistent reports–two shooters, no three, no really one; Bushmaster used? No, Bushmaster found in trunk, only Glock and Sig on the patsy…and on, and on.

      We’re supposed to swallow this turd sandwich, smile, and express gratitude for the enlightening feces-feast?

      The best part is–fewer and fewer people are buying it. Judging from the absolute unavailability of AR-style rifles in stores, the lines out the door, the 8,000 people a day signing up for NRA membership (not that they’re the best 2A defenders but still…)

      The Elites have lost their meme-making mojo, it appears. As sweet and naive as we are, eventually even Americans smell a rat–and say NO!

      • Ric Moore says:

        “We’re supposed to swallow this turd sandwich, smile, and express gratitude for the enlightening feces-feast?”

        I heard in Salt Lake, of all places, this saying; “Life is a shit sandwich. So, the more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat.”

        It explains much. Ric

  2. Ross says:

    My takeaway from all the brouhaha this week is that vast numbers of Americans are perfectly willing to outsource control of their lives to the government. They don’t think of the consent of the governed and that government works for us, but consider themselves subservient to government and willing to follow every edict that comes down without complaint. The concept of “that which governs least governs best” would never cross their minds, because it’s messy and sometimes unpleasant. They will be willing to follow every edict that makes them feel just that little bit safer. They will be the death of the grand American experiment.

  3. Mark Kernich says:

    Nice post. We lost our ‘right’ to firearms down-under following the last of our shooting massacres of note, 16 years ago. Before that, well, more frequent than annual. But that’s a side issue. In terms of defence of liberty, get organised. More than its guns, it’s the scale of its organisation (communication and control) which allows the state to continue its expansion into our lives. Hence the value and importance of the internet and world wide web, and the incursions into the civil infosphere by the spooks and tyrant lackeys needs to be kept an eye on. That’s why they try keep that so secret.

    As an outsider to your society who visited briefly earlier this year, I must say that despite the individualism I felt that the sense of ‘freedom’ was less in USA than other places I’m familiar with. Just to add a sense of reality to some of the debates I hear here and elsewhere. Then again, maybe I’m just proving your point?

    Anyways, have a safe and happy xmas. Loved reading this blog through this year. Keep it up!

  4. Mike Trent says:

    Mark, while I am on your side on this issue, I’m afraid I have to agree with the point Scott Pope made. Assault rifles are good, but unless you have your own airforce or armored division, you are no threat to the government. Look at Syria. That country is flush with assault rifles and even RPGs and other sutff we would consider “heavy”, but the rebels were getting massacred until air and armor units began defecting as well, and until outside forces began supplying them with weapons to combat the same.

    The government is the big man in your parable, but he has been trained to disarm people of their knives. He might get a little cut in the process, but he would take it away and subdue the woman. If it came to it, the little folding knife would not deter him.

    • It is a question of determination. If the big man is set on subduing the woman at all costs, the knife doesn’t stop him. In the parable, he was not highly motivated.

      In Syria, by contrast, the entrenched dictatorship is highly motivated to maintain the status quo.

      It is true that nothing we can easily and legally possess will stop the determined tyrant, but assault rifles might serve to keep an honest government honest.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      Mike, there are several factors militating against the government in malevolently occupying its own country:

      1) The predator-prey, dinner-life argument: the leopard is hunting for dinner…the antelope is running for its life. Whose motivation is greater? Just so, the soldier/mercenary/UN “peace” trooper is working for dinner…you’re fighting for home, and life.

      2) The US military fighting against its own people? They might; nay, they WILL, if their target population is sufficiently demonized and isolated. They’ll have to sell it very cleverly; those people over there, they’re not ‘Murricans anymore, they’re bad, they’re terrists, for this, that, and that other reason. It worked against the Jews, and to a limited extent other dissenters. But will it work when the MIAC/SPLC criteria apply–that is, “them terrists” are libertarians, or returning veterans with PTSD, or guys wearing John Deere hats and carrying pocket constitutions?

      3) Consent–or lack thereof. Attack enough people in America, and even the dumbest start to see the government as an occupying force–not “us” anymore. Voila, recruitment to the opposition begins, and it spirals out of control.

      It doesn’t take long before it becomes Afghanistan or Iraq all over again…except you’re asking troops to kill their own countrymen. Bring in the UN? Now it’s obviously and occupying army, and former fence-sitters join in.

      It’s not winnable–for the government.

      And I think they know that.

      So the chief virtue of having all this wonderful high-powered weaponry is almost surely theoretical; they’re symbols. But those symbols are a powerful deterrent; testing that deterrence would be hell on earth.

    • Scott C. Pope says:

      “The man who pulls a knife on you is at a disadvantage and will clearly lose. Psychologically he only has one weapon and his thinking is therefore limited to the use of that single weapon. You, on the other hand, are thinking about all your weapons: hands, feet, elbows, knees, head. He’s only got a lousy knife.” -Bruce Lee.

  5. Alex Bunin says:

    ” 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.”

    The Second Amendment speaks to the security of the state, not its overthrow. You might find support for arms against tyranny in the Declaration of Independence, but not the Constitution.

    Your references are to firearms and knives, but the Second Amendment says “arms.” In your view, is there no limitation upon what arms I may have? Can I possess a small nuclear device, or set lethal traps against burglars in my home?

    • Mark Bennett says:

      The security of a free state. Where freedom is threatened, the free state is not secure.

      • Alex Bunin says:

        I figured you would focus on that. However, the Declaration was written when the Framers were attempting to create a free state. The Constitution was written after they were in charge. They were not inviting you, or any well regulated militia, to overthrow the government. .

      • Mark Bennett says:

        The Founders, then, either thought that a) The Constitution was eternal and immune to subversion; or b) constitutional subversion should be allowed by the People.

        I very much doubt that either was true.

        “God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”
        -Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Smith, 1787.

      • Alex Bunin says:

        Jefferson was not a model of consistency. He never freed his slaves and he prosecuted enemies under the Alien and Sedition Acts.

      • Charlie Pelowski says:

        Your response is a form of ad hominem attack against Jefferson, and it doesn’t address the merits of the man’s statement. If one junkie warns a second junkie that using heroin will kill him, is the first junkie’s statement untrue just because he’s got a needle sticking from his arm when he says it?

      • Alex Bunin says:

        From Jefferson’s first inaugural, 13 years later:

        “I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.”

        That does not sound like a man who still believes in regular armed rebellion.

      • Mark Bennett says:

        What this sounds like to you sounds to me like confirmation bias.

      • Mike Parr says:

        Don’t be so harsh. It took a week for him to find one quote that he thinks supports his position.

      • Mike Paar says:

        I think one must read the other writings of the framers to fully understand the intention of the 2nd amendment. Once that is accomplished it becomes easily understood that they feared government tyranny and the 2nd amendment was written explicitly for the purpose of allowing citizens the means to overthrow tyranny. Let’s review a few quotes by our Founding Fathers:

        The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
        —James Madison

        Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.–Patrick Henry

        “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”.–Thomas Jefferson

        You see, when the other thoughts on the subject are reviewed it becomes painfully obvious to all except the most obtuse amongst us just why exactly the second amendment was written. BTW, there are umpteenth more quotes one can find on the subject to further verify the intention of the second amendment.

      • Mark Bennett says:

        The Jefferson quote appears to be bogus. TJ said enough about violence and liberty that we don’t need fake quotes.

    • Mark Bennett says:

      I’m not sure there’s a principled way to limit the arms you can keep—it’s either all of none.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        Just so. Especially with the “assault weapons” (which they’re not) debate. It is precisely militarily-potent weapons we’re supposed to have; if the 2A is a bulwark against tyranny, the sovereigns (that’s us) should have superior force.

        Hence, the argument “surely you don’t advocate civilian ownership of nuclear weapons?!?” holds no water. We should have them all–grenades, gatling guns, RPG’s, shoulder-fired missiles, tanks, and yes, nukes.

        After all, one cannot grant someone else rights he himself doesn’t have. The logic is inescapable.

        I haven’t gotten my head around the civilian nuke ownership question yet. It would be a very small crowd with the means and the desire.

        The inevitable objection to a psychopath billionaire acquiring a nuke I answer very simply–psychopaths already own them. I suspect the concentration of psychopaths in high government office is far higher than among self-made billionaires.

      • Mark Bennett says:

        I suspect the concentration of psychopaths in high government office is far higher than among self-made billionaires.

        Clearly, you don’t watch enough Bond movies.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        Impossible! I live for Bond movies!

        A nuclear-armed George Soros worries me a bit I’ll admit.

  6. Bill Flood says:

    We have a sin problem not a gun problem. When I went to school the teacher read a chapter from the good book every morning and we were taught good God given morals. Crimes in the schools we something never heard of although most of the boys carried pocket knives.

    It is a scientific fact that after God given morals was taken out of the schools by the ACLU and our federal dictators in black robes the crime rate has gone up. Because of the ACLU we have to have more jails and police in our schools. The ACLU is costing us in lives and millions of dollars.

  7. Mike Trent says:

    I think there’s one thing we can all agree on — even Pope: Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Is that what the master was trying to teach with this parable?

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