Fighting for the right to own a gun is a way of asserting control against a society that many feel is encroaching on their values and freedoms. Millions of people with such feelings want guns less to protect themselves against physical danger and more to protect themselves from the threat of a society they feel is taking away their ability to control their own lives. That deeper loss of control fuels the disproportionately intense passion of gun rights advocates and explains what The New Yorker calls the ”conspicuous asymmetry of fervor” that energizes 4 million members of the National Rifle Association to effectively determine gun control policy for a country of 310 million.
People with these concerns have been identified by research into the Theory of Cultural Cognition as Individualists, people who prefer a society that grants the individual more freedom and independence and leaves them more personally in control of their individual choices and values. Contrast that with the sort of society preferred by Communitarians, who feel most comfortable, and safest, in a “We’re all in it together” world of shared control and communal power, a society that sacrifices some individual freedoms in the name of the greater common good. These deeply conflicting worldviews drive the central conflict in the fight over gun control.
The Gun Control Battle Isn’t About Guns As Weapons. It’s About Guns as Symbols.
[Via an email from Paul Koning.
Ropeik, while obviously anti-gun, does give almost fair respect for our philosophical viewpoint. It’s nice to see the debate framed with something approaching reality as opposed to straw men.—Joe]
Communitarians sure sounds better than collectivists, doesn’t it?
You noticed too!
Smart marketing label for an abhorrent political system, communitarian vs communist.
Similar to being pro-choice when you’re really pro-abortion. New paint job on a pile of junk.
Yeah, and NRA members are the only ones who own guns. What a clown.
What’s funny is that those whom he calls “communitarians” are the ones who are most likely to create a failed polis or state, because each person doesn’t do what they can because they think they are responsible, but they wait for the “professionals” to deal with it. Guns are symbols of individual empowerment… so taking them away is a indicator of oppression.
“…a society that grants the individual more freedom…
“Grants”, he says. How quaint. He assumes that your freedom belongs to a collective, which can decide, magnanimously, to dish it out to you in little pieces, temporarily, as gifts, or withhold it for the “greater, common good”.
He clearly doesn’t understand the basics. He then must refer to “research” into American principles that pre-date America (yeah, let’s pay some “experts” to study that, and then give us a report on the necessity of surrendering our lives and property to “The Greater, Common Good” as they define it).
Without any understanding of the basics, all one can do is flail and fail. But that’s giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s assuming ignorance rather than willful obfuscation.
Correction, the NRA has a membership over 5 million in 2016 last I heard. We mustn’t let the truth get in the way of the narrative. Fail!
Agree as others have noted that it is our individual rights and they are granted by our very existence and from God; not from the almighty State. Fail!
1. Individualists = normal, patriotic citizens
2. Communitarians = communists (who might even live in a commune) and they are not the “community” that I belong to, ever. None of us do actually, because we are a representative Republic, not a democracy or a communist horde.
3. Triple fail!
The Greater Common Good (GCG) is minimizing the power and possible abuses of any government. It is NOT granting sweeping power to the government for some sub-group or committee to determine that my rights must be sacrificed for their comfort or goals. That is why we have a lust for firearms. It is so we can shoot these SOBs when they cross the line into tyranny. Our red line means something.
Collectivists, communitarians, communists, socialists etc., whatever you want to call them, these people see individualism, individualists, and the very concept of individual rights as an enemy to be stamped out. This is the key divide in the so-called culture wars. It does not strictly follow party lines. It does not follow class, racial, or ethnic lines. Liberty is only a meaningful concept when applied to the individual. These people who treat others only as members of some group are the enemies of liberty.
I’ve been using the term “authoritarians” as a catch-all. I find it appropriate. To an authoritarian, righteousness and salvation are to be found only in Earthly powers, and that means other people, places and things.
In its most basic form, it describes the chain-of-command of bullies and cowards, each bully being a coward in the presence of stronger bullies, and each coward being a bully in the presence of weaker cowards. One’s rank, or apparent rank, in that chain is everything (note the worship of celebrity without regard to merit, for example).
It’s the proverbial Pecking Order. Those who belong to it are ever eager to elevate or maintain their status in the Order, by hook or by crook it often doesn’t matter. Some are ordinary, nice people, trapped in a system they don’t understand, for to rebel against it is to almost always to join it.
Those of the Alliance of The Order see us as simpletons, fools, or worse, because we have no interest in our standing within that Alliance. How stupid can one be, they muse, to not care about one’s own interests, and to shun the very Power they see as all-important and pervasive? To them we are infidels of a sort, or blasphemers, or incipient criminals. We simply don’t belong, our presence “gum[s] up the works” (in Obama’s words), and they’ll do whatever it takes to defeat us if they can.
The burning question then is; how does one leave the authoiritarian alliance and join real life (which they see as death)?
Yes, “authoritarian” is a pretty good catch all term for what I am talking about. It can be described as an Authoritarian vs Libertarian divide. I think there is something in the human psyche that finds comfort in that pecking order, but there is also, at least in many of us, a desire for individual autonomy.
That individual autonomy combined with voluntary exchange of goods and services also turns out to be a pretty good way to organize society. These two organizing principles are at odds with each other, leading to some of the basic conflicts in our society.
This means, of course, that most immigrants (who identify themselves first and foremost not as an individual, but as a member of their family and home ethnic group, then their religious affiliation, and only then by nationality) will never be your ally. They will side with the authoritarians, because they see that as their path to power. They do not seek freedom, they seek a place for THEIR group to dominate others.
I dug around on the Yale Cultural Cognition site that references to find a discussion of Individualism vs. Collectivism for quoting somewhere else, and couldn’t find one that wasn’t also larded up with lots of other stuff like Global Warming Science Communication and Gun Control. I finally found this, which is very good:
I want to own guns because, when the “communitarians” decide that I must be loaded into a boxcar for transport to a reeducation camp- for the greater common good of course, that I have some say in the matter.