Civil Society and Military Firepower

 

Never was the moon so bright. The uniforms on the Town Hall steps are like chalk. The windows glisten. The moonlit half of the church tower is a mirror of green silk. With gleaning helmets and visors the stone knights by the doorway spring forward from the wall of shadows.

‘Back! Or we fire!’ comes the command coldly.

Nancy Pelosi is credibly reported to have requested that crew-served machine guns be emplaced to protect the inauguration proceedings on January 20. I thought immediately of the above passage from Erich Maria Remarque’s novel The Road Back, which is sort of a sequel to his much-better-known All Quiet on the Western Front.

The protagonist (Ernst) and his friends, all recently returned from the Front at the end of World War One, are out for a walk in their home town. They come upon a protest demonstration, comprised largely of veterans, many of them in desperate financial straits, who are demanding compensation for their wounds and disabilities. The city as a whole is becoming more and more disturbed, and people are moving toward the Town Hall, where a government force has taken position. With a machine gun.

When Ernst hears the order ‘Back! Or we fire!’ he recognizes the voice of the group’s former company commander, Lieutenant Heel.

A choking tension grips me, as if I must now look on at an execution. Heel will fire–I know.

One man runs forward, toward the Town Hall … and the machine gun.

Don’t shoot, Comrades!

…But when the mob sees the unarmed man run forward, it advances too. In a thin stream it trickles along the side of the church. The next instant a command resounds over the square. Thundering, the tick-tack of the machine gun shatters into a thousand echoes from the houses, and the bullets, whistling and splintering, strike on the pavement.

Quick as lightening, we have flung ourselves behind a jutting corner of the houses. In the first moment a paralyzing, curlike fear seized me, quite different from any that I ever felt at the Front. Then it changes into rage. I have seen the solitary figure, how he spun around and fell forward.

The man who was shot — and killed — turns out to be Max Weil, a Jewish soldier who was the company’s first-aid man at the Front.

Now the violence runs wild. People start tearing up the pavement to make barricades. Mattresses and chairs are thrown down from the houses.

Shots flash out from the square and now are answered from the roofs.

“Into ’em Ernst! Ludwig, Albert!” roars Kosole. “The swine are shooting at women!”

We crouch in the doors of the houses, bullets lashing, men shouting; we are submerged, swept away, devastated, raging with hate; blood is spurting on the pavement, we are soldiers once more–it has us again, crashing and raging war roars above us, betwen us, within us; it is finished, comradeship riddled by machine guns, soldiers shooting at soldiers, comrades at comrades; ended, it is finished–

Over the past year, we in the United States of America have moved frighteningly close to this sort of thing. Nancy Pelosi, whether driven by personal fear or power-lust, or some combination of the two, seems to want to move us even closer.


See also The Federalist: The Occupation of Washington is Panic Porn.

I reviewed The Road Back here.

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There are 19 comments.

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  1. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    It’s a new paradigm.

    • #1
  2. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Ernst and his friends weren’t armed. There had to have been plenty of 7.92 laying around. Learn from history, my friends.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Tyrants’ greatest fear is always their own people. They know that, when the chips are down, the people are more numerous than they are, and when roused, cannot be stopped. 

    • #3
  4. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Ashli Babbitt

    • #4
  5. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    One quick observation: the intent of the Second Amendment as added to the US Constitution (and later reinforced by the Militia Act 0f 1792) was that the citizens in the several states would have access to the same military technologies as would be available to the Regular Army. The whole point of the 2A is that the Federal government specifically does not have a monopoly on the the use of force in the protecting and maintaining civil order.

    Regretfully, the Regular Army has over the years been allowed to absorb the National Guard (a militia at one time, with a measure of independence from Federal control). Now, the National Guard exists only as an auxiliary of the Regular Army, as the events of the occupation of Washington DC illustrate so clearly.

    • #5
  6. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    One quick observation: the intent of the Second Amendment as added to the US Constitution (and later reinforced by the Militia Act 0f 1792) was that the citizens in the several states would have access to the same military technologies as would be available to the Regular Army. The whole point of the 2A is that the Federal government specifically does not have a monopoly on the the use of force in the protecting and maintaining civil order.

    Regretfully, the Regular Army has over the years been allowed to absorb the National Guard (a militia at one time, with a measure of independence from Federal control). Now, the National Guard exists only as an auxiliary of the Regular Army, as the events of the occupation of Washington DC illustrate so clearly.

    This was the inevitable outcome of shrinking the military to get the mythical “peace dividend” while overseas entanglements didn’t shrink and even grew. The NGB embraced much of this since with added tasks, came additional funding.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #7
  8. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    My recollection is that the Bonus marchers intentionally were unarmed so that they would be provoking any attacks.  That idea didn’t work out so well.

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Skyler (View Comment):

    My recollection is that the Bonus marchers intentionally were unarmed so that they would be provoking any attacks. That idea didn’t work out so well.

    That particular mistake, going unarmed and unprotected to avoid conflict, is arrogance. It’s an arrogant mistake to assume the world orders itself in response to one’s action. It’s both arrogant and unintelligent to assume it orders itself according to one’s personal narrative.

    • #9
  10. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    One quick observation: the intent of the Second Amendment as added to the US Constitution (and later reinforced by the Militia Act 0f 1792) was that the citizens in the several states would have access to the same military technologies as would be available to the Regular Army. The whole point of the 2A is that the Federal government specifically does not have a monopoly on the the use of force in the protecting and maintaining civil order.

    Regretfully, the Regular Army has over the years been allowed to absorb the National Guard (a militia at one time, with a measure of independence from Federal control). Now, the National Guard exists only as an auxiliary of the Regular Army, as the events of the occupation of Washington DC illustrate so clearly.

    This was the inevitable outcome of shrinking the military to get the mythical “peace dividend” while overseas entanglements didn’t shrink and even grew. The NGB embraced much of this since with added tasks, came additional funding.

    No. At the risk of complicating my response, there are several different causes and effects. First, the last war where the “militia” (Minute Men, Lexington Green etc) fought was our Civil War. The national government relied on the states to raise, equip and train large numbers of soldiers. Post war, most, but not all of these units were disestablished. The effectiveness  of state militia units depended on the willingness of state legislatures to provide continuous funding for training and maintenance.

    From 1868 to 1898, the primary focus of state militias was backing up local law enforcement when required. When the national government called out the militia for the Spanish American War, the call was answered by a large number of middle aged, under staffed, blue suited men armed with rifled muskets and muzzle loading cannons.
    This was the cause of a series of laws and regulations evolving the state militia into what became the National Guard.

    Fast forward to 1973. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams recommended the Army be reorganized. There were two main points, efficiency and unity. The new “Total Army” would be an integrated force. There would be an immediate combat force of active duty units oriented on Cold War missions and capable of six to nine months of fighting. A state National Guard of combat divisions and training units phased for training up and deployment over eighteen months. A Reserve force of technical, logistical and specialist units, the “sinews of war” to support a national mobilization of extensive combat power.

    Abrams believed  Johnson’s reluctance to call up reserves for the war in Vietnam led to the alienation of civilian support for the war. It was his opinion, politicians would think twice before committing the Army to combat knowing it would require national mobilization.

    Where does this leave us? A world where the resources of any one state are inadequate to raise, train, equip and maintain a modern mechanized Army.

    • #10
  11. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    This was the cause of a series of laws and regulations evolving the state militia into what became the National Guard.

    Fast forward to 1973. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams recommended the Army be reorganized. There were two main points, efficiency and unity. The new “Total Army” would be an integrated force.

    @stevec, you make a number of excellent points here, and I do not disagree with any of your facts. I find it is a challenge to bring too much history into conversations about the relationship between the militia and the Regulars in the US because so much of that history has been buried and subsequently forgotten.

    In my own research and academic writing, I argue that the transformation of the National Guard from militia to Regular army auxiliaries really kicked-off in 1904 and culminated in 1954. Certainly, Abrams’ 1973 reorganization was significant, but I argue it merely re-codified the existing relationships between active and reserve components in light of the elimination of the draft.

    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    To be fair, the Framers didn’t want a standing army at all, no general officers.  That didn’t work.

    • #12
  13. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):
    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    My point about the shrinking military and the overuse of the National Guard is valid, too. There was more reorganizing after the “peace dividend.” Your point is also valid, as we have seen time and again in emergencies where state governors request national guard troop assistance from other governors. Our military is too specialized for us to afford to train troops and create units for them in anticipation of policing streets and rescuing flooded houses in emergencies. We always have and always will need an armed populace to look after themselves and their neighbors during emergencies. Now, more than ever, we need the armed populace to thwart tyranny.

    The use of them in DC to guard one building when DC has a police force is an abomination done for the optics. How much is for show and how much did FTroop scare the politicians, the same politicians who weren’t concerned when whole blocks in cities lived in fear this summer? Only when they were targeted did it matter. The Democrats need a little fear to temper their arrogance. As their arrogance has grown since Jan 6, my disgust with Jan 6 has decreased. Yes, I am still angry that some kooks messed things up for Trump and regret the deaths, but I am developing a little foolish schadenfreude, as if the politicians deserved it. Violence is premature. We haven’t used the power of the states to resist and the 2022 and 2024 elections to correct a wrong. Mobs fix nothing. 

    Alas, the Dems have the tools and optics they will ride as they paint all of us as the mob and move to disarm us, as totalitarians always do. But they have shown their hand, too, so few will disarm. Lexington and Concord really weren’t that long ago, and neither was Ft Sumter. The Democrats don’t realize that the Constitution that they hate because it restricts them, also protects them. It is the guardrail that keeps them from going off the cliff. Ignore the guardrail and….. At my age, I am merely a spectator, but man, is the documentary interesting to watch. I don’t know how it will end.

    • #13
  14. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    To be fair, the Framers didn’t want a standing army at all, no general officers. That didn’t work.

    Washington knew from experience that one was needed. The framers also knew an armed citizenry was vital for liberty.

    • #14
  15. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):
    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    My point about the shrinking military and the overuse of the National Guard is valid, too. There was more reorganizing after the “peace dividend.” Your point is also valid, as we have seen time and again in emergencies where state governors request national guard troop assistance from other governors. Our military is too specialized for us to afford to train troops and create units for them in anticipation of policing streets and rescuing flooded houses in emergencies. We always have and always will need an armed populace to look after themselves and their neighbors during emergencies. Now, more than ever, we need the armed populace to thwart tyranny.

    The use of them in DC to guard one building when DC has a police force is an abomination done for the optics. How much is for show and how much did FTroop scare the politicians, the same politicians who weren’t concerned when whole blocks in cities lived in fear this summer? Only when they were targeted did it matter. The Democrats need a little fear to temper their arrogance. As their arrogance has grown since Jan 6, my disgust with Jan 6 has decreased. Yes, I am still angry that some kooks messed things up for Trump and regret the deaths, but I am developing a little foolish schadenfreude, as if the politicians deserved it. Violence is premature. We haven’t used the power of the states to resist and the 2022 and 2024 elections to correct a wrong. Mobs fix nothing.

    Alas, the Dems have the tools and optics they will ride as they paint all of us as the mob and move to disarm us, as totalitarians always do. But they have shown their hand, too, so few will disarm. Lexington and Concord really weren’t that long ago, and neither was Ft Sumter. The Democrats don’t realize that the Constitution that they hate because it restricts them, also protects them. It is the guardrail that keeps them from going off the cliff. Ignore the guardrail and….. At my age, I am merely a spectator, but man, is the documentary interesting to watch. I don’t know how it will end.

    Pelosi and company are not and never were afraid.  This is 100% posturing, and it works.  Even your own statement is filled with the product of their propaganda.  

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    To be fair, the Framers didn’t want a standing army at all, no general officers. That didn’t work.

    Washington knew from experience that one was needed. The framers also knew an armed citizenry was vital for liberty.

    Yes, but none wanted a standing army.  They wanted only militias, until reality intruded and then they had a very distrustful relationship with a small standing army, which was only meant to be a cadre for the militias to reinforce as needed.

    • #16
  17. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Pelosi and company are not and never were afraid. This is 100% posturing, and it works. Even your own statement is filled with the product of their propaganda.

    I believe they really were afraid until it was over.  They never expected it just like Democrats were shocked when suits beat on the glass doors in 2000 when Dems prevented them from observing recounts. They hid on Jan 6, except for Cotton. That doesn’t mean the current armed protection isn’t just optics.

    They were all for taking out Saddam Hussein until he was taken out and no longer a threat. They have an amazing ability to shift from fear to taking advantage of an event for political gain.

    • #17
  18. PappyJim Coolidge
    PappyJim
    @PappyJim

    I think if you look at the activities of the militias of the several states which had to use them in “combat” prior to the War of the Rebellion you will find a bifurcated establishment.  The “general militia” with its Major General and various subordinate officers met once (maybe more often but usually only once) a year for “muster.”

    The muster was a meeting of the counties’ gun clubs and all the Colonels, Captains, Sergeants could politic and get drunk together.  These general milita seldom did any fighting in the “Indian wars” of the states.  The fighting was done by the “select militia” made up of volunteers who usually were the frontiersmen of the states and whose possessions and lives were at stake.

    Post Civil War these militia continued in form as one general militia and served as the states’ gun/liquor clubs as well as labor union suppressors into the 1930s.  The later job was usually done in the name of law enforcement when a sheriff would call on the Governor for help.

    This is all easily traced in the Florida State Archives’ record group covering the Militia/National Guard or the Governor’s Correspondence for the time period in question.

    The Spanish American War created an interesting experience among the general officers of the US forces engaged.  Several former CSA officers, e.g. Custis Lee, participated as generals.  An interesting letter in the governor’s correspondence is from on of Florida’s US Senators.  Sam Pasco, former  Sgt. CSA , informs the Gov. that the Sec. of War  offered several thousand muzzle loading rifles to Florida militia called up and that those officers would serve under the same terms as the last war, i.e. the Civil War.

    Judging from many photos of the Guardsmen in DC the militia seems to have returned to being a club.

    • #18
  19. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    This was the cause of a series of laws and regulations evolving the state militia into what became the National Guard.

    Fast forward to 1973. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams recommended the Army be reorganized. There were two main points, efficiency and unity. The new “Total Army” would be an integrated force.

    @ stevec, you make a number of excellent points here, and I do not disagree with any of your facts. I find it is a challenge to bring too much history into conversations about the relationship between the militia and the Regulars in the US because so much of that history has been buried and subsequently forgotten.

    In my own research and academic writing, I argue that the transformation of the National Guard from militia to Regular army auxiliaries really kicked-off in 1904 and culminated in 1954. Certainly, Abrams’ 1973 reorganization was significant, but I argue it merely re-codified the existing relationships between active and reserve components in light of the elimination of the draft.

    Regardless, where we find ourselves 50 years later is not only without the proper national military structure as envisioned by the Framers, but also without the legal organizational means to achieve it, (absent the Second Amendment.)

    I concur. I did want to get into all the post 1900 changes. My main point, when you cross the line between mass infantry armies of the 19th century to expensive mechanized forces, the idea of militia as a wholly state enterprise is unaffordable.

    Most of the Founders would have been aghast at the size and cost of our federal military.  Except for Hamilton. He would do a rap about how he was the first modern Major General.

    • #19