Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Because of the Gun Posted by Picasa

Because of the Gun

Maybe my posts make a little sense, but my pattern has been to save a bunch of links and then open the Blogger post box and start writing with some idea of stuffing the links into what I write. I'm not sure that's a good plan, nevertheless it's what I've been doing. Oh yeah and there are the themes of Africa and alternative currencies in the back of my mind somewhere. I've blogged precious little about the latter, more about Africa and rather unintenionally about Pittsburgh.

Many people around the world think it quite ordinary that a person have an ideology. Americans have ideologies which tend to correspond rather well with their personal demographics or even postal zip code; but Americans as a rule find any suggestion that they have an ideology anathema. I may be very off base here, surely the observation isn't based on serious research, but I think most Americans don't like to be pinned down or pegged to any ideology.

With online news sources and blogs, it is quite possible to navigate around finding only sites that more or less conform to ones own way of seeing things. It's not so easy to do if like me you're a promiscuous clicker. I think a little promiscuity with mouse clicking is a very good idea. One of the virtues of doing so is one becomes aware that we see the world through the lens of interlocking ideas and not everybody's got the same ideas.

The downside of promiscuous clicking is spending way too much time online and not enough going about productive activities. Oh well, you all know how I feel about working. For example after mentioning the Pittsburghese Web site I spent a bunch of time entering text into the wonderful translator there:
Wit online news sarces and blogs, it is quite possible to navigate arahnd finding only sites that more or less conform to ones own way of seeing tings n'at. It's not so easy to do if like me yinzes a promicuous clicker wit a computer mouse n'at. I think a little promiscuity wit mouse clicking is a very good idea n'at. One of da virtues of doone so is one becomes aware that we see da world through da lens of interlocking ideas and not everybody's got da same ideas.
So I was so pleased to discover a new blog via Firedoglake called Wandering Hillbilly where Buddy Don writes this post in vernacular English. Sometimes ideas resonate so much better when they sound right.

The picture is of The Reggae Cowboys. They're pictured because of a song, Because of the Gun. When I listened to the VOA program on the conflict in northern Uganda, the question was asked, and very present on my mind, "Where do the LRA rebels get their arms." The answers were contradictory and not very informative.

Virtually all of Africa has been engaged in civil war since Independence in the 1960's. The continent is awash in small arms. So far my attempts to try to learn about the logistics of this, especially as far as the conflict in northern Uganda goes haven't been very informative either. Soon after I started this blog a friend wrote and suggested I try to get a screening of Hubert Sauper's film Darwin's Nightmare in a theater near me. In going to various Web sites of organizatins who are active in doing something about small arms trafic in the region the importance of that film is clear.

A post in Marginal Revolution set me off on the tangent about ideologies. First of all, I'm not altogether with Tyler Cowen's economic viewpoint. Of course he's an economist, so an expert, but still I question. In the post he referred to Rudy Rummel revising his estimate of democide, i.e. murder by government, during the twentieth century upward as a result of new scholarship. I had never heard of Rummel and I'd never hear of democide. If you happen to click on the link, you'll see it's going to take me a while to become acquanited with Dr. R. J. Rummel.

It's sort of embarrassing to say it, but my first reaction to Rummel's Web site was: eek possible icky -ism ahead. I'm not sure that's true at all, and something that's plain is Dr. Rummel is very upfront about his ideology and research methodologies. I'm not making judgements just yet, merely pointing out that poking around Web sites can be rather unsettling.

I do want to know more about guns. Opening day of deer hunting was this week, one of our true local holidays. There are hunters all around and even while I don't hunt, I take it as an ordinary ritual. I can't quite get my head around the way in which ordinary activities with guns have gotten so political in the ways they are. It's distressing that "liberty" here in the USA means virtually unfettered running of guns in the poorest countries in the world.

Do you think it's a mere coincidence that the Olin Foundation is such a strong supporter of far-right causes?

Here are a few Web sites of interest in re small arms: The Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers, International Action Network on Small Arms and SmallArmsNet

Dr. Rummel cites the number 174,000,000 people murdered by governments during the twentieth century. These are not armed conflict deaths! The killing industry seems to be booming still in the decade of the Oh's in this new millenium. It's a knotty problem this, so I guess I'm not going to solve it anytime soon. Of course not, it's a problem that will take millions of us to solve together; and that brings me back to ideologies and -isms. Guns distort our best ideas about politics and economy. It will be necessary to cross ideological lines, at least stretch them, to build concensus around this very fundamental issue. Here in America is is about our Congressional-military-idustrial complex, but it also involves directing our attention to small arms too.

This post sucks, my thinking isn't so clear. Still I know the subject of guns is one I must pursue. I hope it's a subject some of you will pursue too.

Why does it sound so strange to say that I deplore violence and love life? I really do want people to love one another. It seems our great purpose in life. Through the Internet there is so much writing that's off-copyright and available online. Here's a link to William Saroyan's wonderful essay Seventy Thousand Assyrians.
I think now that I have affection for all people, even for the enemies of Armenia, whom I have so tactfully not named. Everyone knows who they are. I have nothing against any of them as one man living one man at a time, and I know, I am positive, that one man at a time is incapable of the monstrosities performed by mobs. My objection is to mobs only.

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