Quote of the Day – Consent of the Governed

 

. . . you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them. If you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get consent of the ruled.  – Aldous Huxley

There are multiple variants to this quote. It is often ascribed to an interchange between Napoleon and Talleyrand when the former told his foreign minister, “You can do anything with a bayonet,” and Talleyrand responded, “Yes, sire, except sit on them.” Talleyrand pointed out a throne made of bayonets had to be sat upon very carefully.  What had been created by force could easily collapse.

That is why the consent of the governed is so important. Without it a government collapses and is replaced, or the nation itself collapses into a state of barbarism. It eventually devolves into a failed state, such as Somalia.

Recently Joe Biden channeled his inner Napoleon, stating that you cannot beat F-15s if all you have are AR-15s. This is nonsense. Look at our ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan. Not only is it possible — it was done, and done to Joe Biden.

Afghanistan was the best-case scenario for F-15s pitted against AR-15s. The F-15 had secure bases from which to operate and, more importantly, secure supply lines. The Taliban could not interfere with the flow of fuel and weapons or interfere with the maintenance of the aircraft (or other high-tech systems).  When Biden implies Americans had best know their place and submit to the mailed fist of Federal government force, he ignores reality.  His supply lines would be insecure if he did attempt to use armed force to impose his will on the American people.

This assumes armed forces and law enforcement personnel are willing to use violence against their friends and family. Or that the civilian forces that support them continue to do so. F-15s don’t fly if the ground crews down tools and go home. Or if those supplying the bases don’t willingly continue bringing in supplies. (Do you want to fly an aircraft maintained by those doing so at gunpoint? Or eat bread baked by someone who hates you?) Both federal personnel and their suppliers and supporters must consent to support a military action against the American people.

If they do? This is a country with nearly 400 million privately owned firearms and nearly 83 million gun owners. There may not be a rifle behind every blade of grass, but if Americans were motivated to take up arms against the federal government, it would seem like there were.

The F-15s would fly for one week — maybe two. After that, they would likely be out of fuel. A guerilla insurgency may not be able to face formed troops in open battle, but they are great at interrupting supply lines. It is not hard to take out a fuel tanker, or a pipeline. We have a highly decentralized supply and manufacturing system and a highly centralized population. A pandemic almost brought down our supply chains in 2020. If there was an active insurgency attempting to interrupt it, the result would be chaos.

A second American civil war would not be like the first one. It would not be Red States vs Blue States as we had slave states vs. free states in 1861. It would be red counties vs. blue ones at best. More likely it would be neighbor against neighbor. It would be Bosnia.

The result would be horrific.  There would be tens of millions dead, mostly due to the collapse of infrastructure. The casualties would be primarily concentrated in the big cities, due to the greater vulnerabilities to interruption of power, water, and transportation. The death toll would continue mounting after it ends because infrastructure cannot be fixed overnight.

The best thing to do with talk of the outcome of a struggle between F-15s and AR-15s is to consign it to the fantasies of a senile President or as something to read in a Kurt Schlichter novel.  Living it would be unpleasant.

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    “At least I could settle some scores before I die.”

     Often gone unmentioned in these sorts of scenarios is the fact that people would take the opportunity of the chaos to do just that.

     I pray we don’t get to that but I’m becoming to believe that it is inevitable because it’s what the elites want to happen. 

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I pray we don’t get to that but I’m becoming to believe that it is inevitable because it’s what the elites want to happen. 

    If so, the elites are going to relearn why you should be careful what you wish for because it might happen. It could easily turn into an American  Jacquerie.

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I pray we don’t get to that but I’m becoming to believe that it is inevitable because it’s what the elites want to happen.

    If so, the elites are going to relearn why you should be careful what you wish for because it might happen. It could easily turn into an American Jacquerie.

    Sadly, yes.

    • #3
  4. (Josh F) Member
    (Josh F)
    @TimothyLandon

    The first part of this quote reminds me of Colonel Ripper in Dr. Strangelove – “A weapon not used is a useless weapon.”  

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    (Josh F) (View Comment):

    The first part of this quote reminds me of Colonel Ripper in Dr. Strangelove – “A weapon not used is a useless weapon.”

    Not true. If your weapon causes your enemy to refrain from attacking you, what more does it need to accomplish?

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Percival (View Comment):

    (Josh F) (View Comment):

    The first part of this quote reminds me of Colonel Ripper in Dr. Strangelove – “A weapon not used is a useless weapon.”

    Not true. If your weapon causes your enemy to refrain from attacking you, what more does it need to accomplish?

    Except in that case it has  been used. The B-36 is a case in point. Never fired a shot in anger. Was used constantly.

    • #6
  7. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Sorry I am late to this post, but it reminds me of why I haven’t been catching up on Ricochet lately: I’ve been talking to my daughters. And Friday night, my husband and I went out to dinner while our daughters stayed home and rewatched Toy Story 3. If you haven’t seen it, you might not know that the best line in it is uttered by Barbie: “Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!

    *******

    We’ve still got a few days left in June for anyone who would like to do a QOTD post. Here’s the signup sheet!

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    (Josh F) (View Comment):

    The first part of this quote reminds me of Colonel Ripper in Dr. Strangelove – “A weapon not used is a useless weapon.”

    Not true. If your weapon causes your enemy to refrain from attacking you, what more does it need to accomplish?

    Except in that case it has been used. The B-36 is a case in point. Never fired a shot in anger. Was used constantly.

    It wasn’t being brandished, exactly. It was more like sitting on the porch oiling your shotgun.

    • #8
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