• Michael McMahon

Minority Rights

Updated: Jan 4

This thread explores how minorities and political opponents should be represented in the military. I present a two-pronged solution. There’s complete gun control for individual civilians. But there’d be defensive free speech for minority groups in the army. Soldiers can therefore be better able to collectively deter tyranny.

This general idea isn’t my own personal criticism of any current government. Neither is it intended to support a specific opposition party. No one knows who’ll get elected in subsequent elections even if the existing government is perfect and supportive. We can’t tell whether future politicians will be peaceful. Consequently we must find sustainable and consistent ways to politically balance the command of the army.

I don’t think there’s ever a perfect solution to the problem of gun violence or tyranny. Ideally there’d be no weapons needed for the national military or civilians. But needless to say the military needs weapons in the event of an attack by a foreign country. There has probably been debate about civilian weapons ever since the Vikings raided unarmed Christian monks. Any solution will have disadvantages and there’s no “magic bullet”. But we must analyse the options to see when the pros can most outweigh the cons.

The issue of civilian gun ownership is divisive. For some individuals, guns may create connotations of individualism (mixed economy thread) and unlimited self-defence (refer to my justice thread). I suppose people can agree with you on one matter, only to strongly disagree with you on another subcategory of the topic. So here I don’t get bogged down on these other delicate problems.

I concentrate solely on the assertion of gun-rights advocates that legalised guns are good for self-defense. Their logic demonstrably fails in instances where you are unable to locate and identify the assailant. Guns allow you to shoot other people on sight. A criminal could attempt to catch their victim off guard.

There’s no logistical need for there to be a heated argument beforehand. The criminal could draw out their gun without there ever being a confrontation. Hypothetically, they don’t have to initially punch, assault or charge at a victim. Guns are accurate, projectile weapons. Sadly, the nature of guns means that they can be clinically used from a great distance away in order to ambush a person.

The linked conversation demonstrates that gun control and gun rights aren’t irreconcilable so long as you can tolerate an increasingly decentralised nation. Autonomous states in ancient Greece along with shared power in Rome between two consuls are alluded to in the latter pages. I’ll tick the box for pretentiousness by saying that no argument is ever truly complete without the proper references from classical studies!

Majority-rule is a vitally important feature of democracy. That specific process is how the healthcare and education budgets are sorted out for instance. It’s a relatively low-risk strategy for those government departments. The worst that could happen is that a disadvantaged or isolated community is neglected and ignored in terms of finance and infrastructural funding.

But the way the military is structured needs extra careful attention. There’s an awful lot that could possibly go wrong compared to the other administrative sectors. The worst case scenario is that a marginalised group is not just passively neglected, but indeed actively persecuted.

There’s much more at stake due to the might of the military relative to unarmed civilians. In any turbulent political climate, appropriate military and police representation is truly what matters the most. Otherwise an oppressive government could eradicate all other cherished rights with the stroke of a pen.

Two ideals of the military is for it to be apolitical while still being under civilian control. But these virtues directly oppose each other to some extent. The commander-in-chief of the army in different countries is the president/ prime minister/ minister of defence. Civilian control is important in preventing a military dictatorship and ensuring that the army is accountable. The grassroots of privates and captains may try to be impartial and apolitical. Although as you can see these influential military leaders are inherently political.

A case in point of the potential dangers of populism is the Philippines. Their government does’t have any official death penalty. So on the face of it they’d appear to have an ordinary liberal justice system. But of course that belies the countless extrajudicial death penalties being used as part of their drugs war.

To conclude, formalising checks and balances through inclusive minority rights is essential. In the gun debate there appears to be a two-front war of ideas. We could legalise all guns for civilians to prevent tyranny. Although you’d then be vulnerable to armed criminals. Or else we can try to ban all guns but supposedly run the risk of tyranny. Both tyrants and lone wolf terrorists are society’s enemies. We need to juggle the variables to find an equation where both threats are minimised. I believe prohibiting guns and having proportional representation within the army is one such solution.

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