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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Martyr 2018, s**thole version

What would you do if, in your view, your country was taken by a pseudo-communist dictatorship, rewriting the Constitution as it pleased and turning the courts, including the Supreme one, into a tool of the Executive, while expelling or jailing the opposition?

Well, if you happen to live in a s**thole country, you could try to emigrate to one with better bathrooms, as well as better rule of law.

Or, since such emigration is getting harder and harder by the day, you can just as well make a revolution!

Or die trying to make one. That's what Oscar Perez, a former cop in Venezuela (and a former actor too, with a keen sense for marketing) tried to do when, in last June, he robbed a helicopter and used it to launch explosives against the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Since then, he and his group has been hunted down by the Venezuelan security forces. After a few humiliating months, where their merry band made a fool of Maduro's forces like this...

Then in December, a video posted on Perez's YouTube account shows armed, masked men taking control of military barracks under cover of night.
They smash photos of Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, handcuff around a dozen soldiers and berate them for supporting 'dictatorship' in Venezuela. Perez says his team stole around 26 AK-103's and over 3,000 munitions for the rifles, as well as pistols.

... the security forces finally got hold of the rebels (very short video):

If you have patience, and the stomach for it, you can watch a series of short videos Mr. Perez himself sent, in his last minutes, through Instagram (the link opens up the first of 18 of those videos, you can follow the rest in that same Youtube sequence).

To which I must grudgingly concede the point, often presented in favor of the 2nd Amendment, that an armed society is indeed a drag to any autocratic ruler.


Bret said...

Yes, in my opinion, an armed society does raise the cost of maintaining power for autocratic rulers, especially given that some in the populace are willing to martyr themselves. To me, that's blindingly obvious, yet a very large number of people vociferously disagree. They would say, in the end, Oscar lost. To me, that's true, but he did harass the government for a bit, and while small and ultimately not terribly effective, it did cost the government something.

And psychologically? It may come to nothing, but his martyrdom, if admired by others, may spark a real revolution ultimately. The bad news is that revolutions often make things worse. The good news is that in this case, it'll be hard to make it much worse and that once in a while, as in the case of the American Revolution a few centuries back, it lays the groundwork for something better.

But ultimately, even if futile, if I was in Hitler's Germany or one of the many dozens of other genocides/politicides of the last hundred years, I would've at least liked the chance to go down armed and fighting, as opposed to being meekly herded into concentration camps and executed.

There's never been a genocide of a heavily armed population. And in many cases, like Hitler's Germany, the targeted population is specifically disarmed prior to the genocide. Could've the Jews defeated the Nazis? Of course not, but they could've raised the cost of the Nazis' agenda, perhaps slowing or even thwarting the Nazis war of aggression.

This is the point that I always link to OF HOLOCAUSTS AND GUN CONTROL. Here's an excerpt:


"Consider a thought experiment suggested by Professor Robert Cottrol. Let us travel by some means back in time to the year 1900, and there convene a committee of the most exalted thinkers from all over the world. We inform them that within fifty years a great and cultured nation will try to exterminate, with near success, one of its most important ethnic, racial, or religious minorities. We now ask them to forecast who the victim group and the perpetrator nation will be. Would any predict the Holocaust?

"It is hard to see why anyone would. Jews as a likely victim group might have been foreseen, though other candidates would surely have ranked higher. As for potential perpetrators, surely the United States would have been high on the list, what with that proverbial culture of guns and violence that Europeans find so quaint, to say nothing of our many minorities--immigrant, indigenous and racial. Germany, the homeland of music, philosophy, mathematics, public sanitation, environmentalism, physical culture, social security, and the rule of law could hardly have figured at all."


In other words, don't think it couldn't happen in the United States - a lot can change in a handful of decades. Just look at Venezuela.

Clovis said...


I don't think a widely armed Jew population in Nazi-Germany would have made much of a difference. Other than guns, the number of fighters count a lot too. There was roughly 500.000 Jews, out of a 67 million population in Germany circa 1933. They would be outmatched by more than 100 to 1.

But that in no way denies the logic of the anti-autocracy argument, since in the more general case, like in Venezuela, you could have a sizable part of the population revolting.

As with the Martyr of our post, the rational decision for a Jew in the 30's would be to get out. He had habilities, like knowing how to pilot a Helicopter, that could easily land him a job in other countries. Brazil has been receiving quite a lot of Venezuelans, and though we also are a s**thole by many standards, that would be a pretty clear improvement.

Trying to position myself in the place of a nazi era Jew, or of Mr. Oscar, I can of course understand your idea of going down armed and fighting. But a bit more of thought leads me to think on how this is all so meaningless, even the 'pleasure' of hitting back loses its appeal.

Bret said...


Armed defensive and guerrilla positions can really harass an enemy with pretty small numbers. The Bielski partisans are an interesting example from WWII. A group of a few dozen armed jews were able to save and sustain 1,000 jews for several years during the war.

I'm not much of an expert in tactics so this is admittedly mostly intuition and guesswork on my part.

Clovis said...

Under certain conditions, you are right, Bret.

I am sure the Bielskis made the best of an impossible situation, but that's not the case most Jews, in the run up to Nazi power in Germany, or Mr. Perez last June (when he decided to start his armed assaults), faced. What would you prefer: to face the unlikely odds of a guerrila war against a far more numerous enemy, or to migrate and begin anew somewhere else? In both cases you are abandoning your previous life, so it is about what you want for your future. Mr. Perez had three kids - they are none the better now.