differentia specifica (was: guns & purses (was Re: guns & crime)

Rob Schaap rws at comedu.canberra.edu.au
Fri Oct 20 10:17:08 PDT 2000

G'day Charles,

>CB: American gun culture is probably more related to the fact that the
>national territory was taken by forceful and violent conquest of the
>Indigenous Peoples.

By itself, I don't think that cuts the mustard, Charles. Australia didn't do a bad job of violent appropriation, and we don't have (notwithstanding the NRA's sterling efforts here) much of a gun culture at all (we have gun lovers, of course, but they demonstrably don't have anything like the political clout and popular sympathy they have over your way). I think one of the decisive (but, again, not an explanation in ityself) is the radical conception of freedom to which the young America committed itself (dare I characterise it as based on a radical individualism, which kinda logically gets you to a definition of freedom commensurate with what Berlin called 'negative freedom'?). Oz never really had a Painite political revolution and consequently never did myth-worthy things in pursuit of same. Guess we never had that critical mass of domestic bourgeoisie you need for such things, and on that point I think you might be importantly right. Our cappos depended entirely on perfidious Albion for their wealth and status, whilst said hegemon had become more of a fetter than a boon for many of the American boojies of the time. So I'm adding to your take rather than disagreeing with it. Yeah, gun-as-nation-builder (ie land stealer) has to be a part of the story - but so does the composition of class interests at the decisive moment.

Cheers, Rob.

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