Alexander Solzhenitsyn Explains the Importance of the Second Amendment

The amendment, like most other provisions in the Constitution, has a history.  It was adopted with some modification and enlargement from the English Bill of Rights of 1688, where it stood as a protest against arbitrary action of the overturned dynasty in disarming the people, and as a pledge of the new rulers that this tyrannical action should cease.  The right declared was meant to be a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and as a necessary and efficient means of regaining rights when temporarily overturned by usurpation.

Thomas Cooley, Principles of Constitutional Law (1898)

 

 

Hattip to Babalu Blog.

 

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?

Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?

After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked.

The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

–Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The GULAG Archipelago

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Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Solghenitsin was a great man, but in this he was grossly wrong. Gun ownership in Italy, Germany and Russia about 1920 was pretty nearly universal, due to the overhang of the First World War. It did not nothing to stop tyranny; in fact, it sped it up, because parties were able to gather militias of tens or hundreds of thousands of young men with military training and their own arms. The notion that armed people are a check on the tyranny of the state is shown for the rubbish it is by the fact that gun ownership is nearly universal in the Muslim states, which, by that principle, ought to be the freest on earth and those where police and state brutality are least to be dreaded.

    And if “the right to bear arms” derives from the fraud and despicable chicanery of 1688, then God help us. The proper description of 1688 was this: a gang of treacherous and overfed aristocrats opened the country to the worst of its national enemies, the head of a State that had been at war with England three times in the previous forty years. To justify their treachery and the foreign invasion and usurpation, they made up a string of charges against the legitimate king and made a lot of promises none of which they meant to keep (e.g. parliamentary elections every three years, or the Treaty of Limerick). The vile age of William III of Orange left Britain with a government which, even fifty years after his invasion, was not, according to Dr.Johnson – who was not a revolutionary – supported by one Englishman in fifty. The British government did not recover its legitimacy until 1832 and the Reform Act.

    • The right to keep and bear arms Fabio has served the American people in excellent fashion. Our militia was key to our victory in the Revolution. To resist tyranny gun ownership alone is not sufficient, but an unarmed population has no chance at all against tyrants.

      As for the Stuarts, they were colorful but fools, except for the fairly sharp, albeit morally bereft, Charles II. James II was the biggest fool of them all, his Irish “followers had a colorful name for him, and I am amazed he survived on the throne for three years. Doctor Johnson was a Tory of the deepest shade and as a historian he was a great lexicographer.

      • Dr. Johnson wasn’t speaking of any previous age, but of the time he wrote. The immense popularity and rootedness of the orange-hannover regime may be judged by the way a few thousand ragged highlanders armed with claymores nearly toppled it in 1745 (and by the barbarous ferocity of its response – savagery is always a sign of terror). Most of England, it was clear, was not willing to fight for King George (in the end it was the highland levies of the Stewarts’ tribal enemies that decided the outcome) even if the enemy was the so-very-dreaded, so-very-despised Catholic “prietender”. (Who in point of fact was the rightful king twice over, counting Elizabeth’s usurpation and her murder of Mary as well as the obscene actions of 1688). It’s easy enough to call anyone who lost a war a fool, but it is hard to see what James II could have done to reassure his subjects more than he did. Everything he did was misrepresented, distorted and lied about. The aristocracy was simply resolute that no Catholic should reign in England, even if it meant handing the country over to its Dutch enemies. And why was that? You can’t charge any aristocracy, let alone the English, with any very deep religious feeling, and as a matter of fact the reign of William of Orange represents the shipwreck of Christianity in England and the triumph of people like John Toland, protected by the Government for the purpose of writing savage attacks on the Christian religion. It is significant that the foolish but sincere clergymen who stood against King James in the Sacheverell case all ended up rejecting King William and setting up the Non-Juror church. No, you will find the answer in the Marxist Christopher Hill, who shows that the English aristocracy were simply terrified that some of the land that their fathers had stolen from the Catholic Church might be claimed back. Rather than allow this catastrophe they handed the country to the worst of its enemies – a man whose other charming features included tyranny, homosexuality, and atheism. Anything rather than have to question their claim to title and wealth. It is the theft of Church land, not anything nobler, that binds the rest of English history to the mass murder of Henry VIII and the usurpation of Elizabeth I.

        As for the key to the victory in the Revolution, I see it it in George Washington’s resolution to keep in being, whatever the cost, a regular army, which he eventually had trained by the Prussian Steuben. Those were the well-trained and enduring troops that marched to Yorktown and besieged it.

      • “Dr. Johnson wasn’t speaking of any previous age, but of the time he wrote.”

        Then he was more incorrect since Jacobitism, always a minority affectation of the terminally disgruntled, was of very little consequence in England throughout his lifetime and in Scotland was a definite minority faction.

        “The immense popularity and rootedness of the orange-hannover regime may be judged by the way a few thousand ragged highlanders armed with claymores nearly toppled it in 1745″

        Bonnie Prince Charlie, I am not immune to the romance of Jacobitism, never stood a chance. British involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession on the Continent, and traditional British ineptitude at the beginning of most wars they have fought, allowed Charlie and his Highland troops to achieve some startling successes. However he was bitterly opposed by the majority of Scots who had no desire to be ruled by a Catholic King and I believe a grand total of about 250 Englishmen enlisted to fight under his banners. Militia turned out in swarms in England to march against him.

        “Who in point of fact was the rightful king twice over, counting Elizabeth’s usurpation and her murder of Mary as well as the obscene actions of 1688″

        I rather think myself that the last rightful king of England died at Hastings in 1066.

        “It’s easy enough to call anyone who lost a war a fool, but it is hard to see what James II could have done to reassure his subjects more than he did.”

        A go slow policy would have served him best. I can understand that his conversion to Catholicism was heartfelt, but he attempted to move too far and too fast in regard to tolerance. His good faith was suspected on this issue, and I think rightfully suspected. His expansion of the standing Army struck a nerve in England recalling the rule of the Major Generals. His relations with Parliament were disastrous. His clever brother had skillfully walked a tightrope throughout his reign. Little wonder that James quickly fell off.

        “and as a matter of fact the reign of William of Orange represents the shipwreck of Christianity in England and the triumph of people like John Toland, protected by the Government for the purpose of writing savage attacks on the Christian religion.”

        Religious fervor was cooling off in England, something that James could have used to his advantage if he had been patient. As for it being the shipwreck of Christianity in England, I think that statement would have amused the Methodists in the Eighteenth Century.

        “No, you will find the answer in the Marxist Christopher Hill, who shows that the English aristocracy were simply terrified that some of the land that their fathers had stolen from the Catholic Church might be claimed back.”

        Like most Marxist interpretations, always blind to non-materialist aspects of the human condition, that argument is not only wrong but foolish, although also made by Belloc and Chesterton who were very great writers and very poor historians. Anti-Catholicism was deeply embedded in the politcal DNA of the great mass of Englishmen by the Seventeenth Century, and suspicion of the tendency of the Stuarts to rule without Parliament was never far below the surface.

        “Those were the well-trained and enduring troops that marched to Yorktown and besieged it.”

        Cornwallis was at Yorktown due to a successful American campaign in the deep South where the vast majority of troops who fought were militia. The militia allowed the patriots to have political control everywhere except where the British regulars were, and they introduced an X factor in campaigns during the Revolution that upset British plans again and agaign. Washington was of course absolutely indispensable for victory.

      • http://fpb.livejournal.com/286734.html

    • “Militia turned out in droves” to fight for King George? Yeah, right. Militia turned out in order to turn out. At a time of civil war, when the odds were still that the German usurper and his corrupt Parliament would win, it was safer to be seen to wave Hanover flags and heard to sing the new-minted “God save the King”, just in case the victors should ask you (with the peculiar penetration that that question tends to have in a civil war) what you were doing when “the honest party” was in trouble. But as for fighting for King George, that comic-opera Highland gang with its claymores sliced through England like a hot knife through butter. As I said and you only confirm, it was only the tribal enemies of the Stuarts in Scotland – and the hireling German troops of the German usurper – who fought. Ultimately, Prince Charles was defeated because he lacked the nerve for one final jump; if he had taken London, which no serious historian doubts he could, I have no doubt that a lot of Britons would suddenly have discovered a principled support for the legitimate ruling house. This was the age of the Vicar of Bray.

      I will not even bother to defend Chesterton and Hill. As Chesterton himself says of the Christian faith, if a theory or vision of the universe fits every bit and cranny of it like a key fits a lock, then you have to accept it. Only nationalist idiots and time-lapsed doctrinaires like Tony Benn (now there’s a Marxist for you) still take the Glorious Revolution as anything but a piece of selfish treachery.

      “Religion had become unfashionable?” Please be consistent. Either the British were willing to be led against their own legitimate king on account of his religion, or they weren’t. It is all too obvious that, as long as James II was on the throne, religion was a central concern, and its defence a central passion, of every party in the state. It was only with William III, the closeted homosexual, the tyrannical ruler, the grim and unspeaking political boss who gave confidence to nobody and then complained that his English subjects did not trust him, that a real and recognizable fad against Christianity arose. And I repeat that its most public exponent, John Toland, was under the protection of Government, while those who had, in their own minds, defended the Anglican church against King James and ought to have been rewarded by a government supposedly brought in for its sake found themselves, in fact, on the outside looking in. The dishonesty of the age of Orange, from the King’s own closeted homosexuality while he claimed the throne on the strength of his loveless and childless marriage with James’ treacherous daughter, to the continuous correspondence of his great commander Churchill with his enemy James, to their constant lies to their English and Irish subjects, is really too well documented to admit of any description except than that of a gang of unprincipled scoundrels whose every public statement, beginning with the unhappy Bill of Rights, was made only to be broken. Such men will, of course take no interest in the Christian religion and treat it as a useful piece of mummery. I will add that I have an advantage you may not have: the sight of the portraits of the seven leading Convocation members in Hampton Court palace, which I had a few years ago. There may be no art to see the soul’s construction in the face, but I never saw seven faces with so much of the brutal, the earthy, the unspiritual and the ugly among them; and these were official portraits and meant to be flattering.


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