# LEGAL THEORY /// In Praise of the Essence of the American Second Amendment: The Importance of Self-Contradiction in a System


Despite what the title indicates, I have not been convinced by the National Riffles Association’s arguments against any forms of legislation to control the commerce of guns in the United States. These arguments are only to develop a simulacrum of debate of ideas, while a heavy — and apparently successful — lobbying is being made to influence the legislative power. In the American second amendment, what I am interested in lies in what I suppose as its implicit essence: the right for a people to have the legal means to overthrow its government if the latter betrays its legitimacy. Of course, in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was voted as a supplement of the 1787 U.S. Constitution, firearms seemed indeed the appropriate means to preserve such a right. Nowadays, however, the fire power of a national army — the American one in particular — is so important that revolutions cannot be longer thought a model in which a citizen armed militia has the fire power to fight a regular army. Weapons are therefore less important than the constitutional legitimacy of revolt against tyranny. If such a legitimacy was indeed the essence of the second amendment, it should be rewritten to correspond to its historical context.

The American second amendment is regrettably not so explicit as far as this right is concerned. A historical document from the same era, on the contrary, could not be more explicit: this is the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793 that served as the Constitution of the First Republic. The last article of this text stipulates the following:

Article 35: When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.

Such an explicit piece of legislation — insurrection is not only a right but also a duty — can be easily explained by the historical context of that time between the 1789 revolution and the declaration of the First Republic in 1793. Nevertheless, it carries a universal and timeless principle of self-contradiction that is interesting to look at : the same document that is establishing the legitimacy of a form of government also describes the legitimacy of the potential means that would dissolve it.

What is fundamental in politics is also important in any form of system, including the ones that architects design on a daily basis, whether they are spatial,  material, social, mechanical or ecological. Each system, in order not to unfold a totalitarian power over its subjects, — whatever they might be — requires to carry within itself the principle of self-contradiction. Nowadays, many architects claim to have respected a creative consistent logic in the conception of their projects. This logic, whether it is thoughtfully conceived or not, incorporates the potentiality of an excess of power if its functional scheme is not contradicted by another logic. Inserting this other logic as an anomaly in the function of the first logical scheme is a mean to insure that this contradiction is continuously sustained. The entire difficulty to determine the degree of self-contradiction a system should incorporate in order to remain operative in its essence without exceeding its power, constitutes the problem that each designer — and law maker for that matter — should be attempting to respond to.


16 Comments on “# LEGAL THEORY /// In Praise of the Essence of the American Second Amendment: The Importance of Self-Contradiction in a System

  1. I’ve been wondering about this same thing – what is the point of having a single rifle when facing a military with millions of dollars of state-of-the-art equipment. It is like being a fly on the windshield of the US army. However, the right to question the government, to change it if unjust – that is a good and worthy cause.

  2. I thought the right for me to own a gun was for protection, whether it be from an intruder, a bear or our F-ed up government. I own guns and am signed up for my concealed carry class, as my state (Illinois) has finally come out of the dark ages and is allowing them. I can’t wait to see the crime rate go down!
    You can take my gun when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.
    Congrats on getting pressed!!

  3. Reblogged this on femforchangenow and commented:
    Good read. “Nevertheless, it carries a universal and timeless principle of self-contradiction that is interesting to look at : the same document that is establishing the legitimacy of a form of government also describes the legitimacy of the potential means that would dissolve it.”

  4. Interesting read, however, I would surmise that we the people are many, and that even with the little fire power that is allowed if we were united… we would win. I don’t know really anyone who I would say is happy with said government but we argue amongst ourselves, liberal this, and conservative that. They have has where they want us divided, and they want us to think that the U.S. Constitution is a living document when it suits them and and ironclad when that doesn’t suit them. It’s Doublethink! They have many believe the purpose of the 2nd amendment is for hunting,and many believe security is more important than liberty. Senator Dick Durbin laughed it up during one of the gun hearings that his constituents believe that the 2nd amendment is to fight tyranny! Does any party stand with the founding fathers? Does any party really subscribe to the Constitution? Why do the people let them dictate who we can choose? Why aren’t you or I Congressman or Senators? It’s a good ole’ boys club, nothing more, and the average joe isn’t invited.

  5. The State is and has been incrementally trying to destroy the second amendment because it entitles the individual to a means of self defense whether its from the state, a criminal, or nature. The State since its inception has been incrementally accruing more and more domain over the lives of its citizens because that is its nature, to increase its power. Its primary focus is self protection (or its own survival).

    The second amendment is an individualistic way of providing security by a more decentralized and non-hierarchical means (self defense, militia) and thus is a threat to the collectivistic way of providing security by the State by its more centralized hierarchical forms (police, military).The State unlike the free market does not allow competition for the services its provides (albeit inefficiently) because competition is a threat to its own survival. It seeks to regulate to eventual abolition of the second amendment because that is its final goal. It seeks to achieve a monopoly and further ensure its own survival by coercing the citizenry into relying solely on its services for their own security.

    These same motivations to abolish the second amendment can be applied to any other area where there is a conflict between the State and the individual. Anywhere there is a competitive threat to the States goal of total control over the lives of the citizenry you will find an attempt to undermine the individualistic tendencies and replace them with collectivistic motivations by force or persuasion (i.e. violence or propaganda).

  6. Fantastic take on the 2A. Refreshing way to look at it. What if we’re having the wrong discussion altogether when it comes to the 2A?

    I would disagree with you on gun rights, I’m sure (as I’m for a much more open and free system than what we have now – and I live in Idaho – super free), but I cannot argue against a re-thinking of the 2A as not so much recognizing the right of people to bear arms so much as the right to insurrection.

  7. Pingback: Is Violent Revolution Inevitable in America? | The New American Underground

  8. I believe those ‘farmers with pitchforks’ at Lexington and Concord make the point of being armed with single shot rifles of today, as well as the current rebellion in Syria and what occurred in Lybia. Contrast those conflicts to the lack of response in Iraq after the 1st Gulf War and the inability of the Afghan people to overthrow the Taliban and I see a timeless principle in the 2nd Amendment. The urbanization of America has lead to a loss of respect for the fundamental tools that build this country; the principles recorded in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There’s an architecture I’m glad to see constructed and still standing.

    • Very true. Most murders are commuted with handguns, so why ban rifles? Because rifles are stronger and have more distance and pose more of a threat to anyone. If the whole 10 million plus rifles estimated to be in the hands of American citizens were pointed at the government, the citizens would win. No matter how many bombs and tanks. Not to mention the whole of the military wouldn’t take the government’s side.
      It’s why they are pushing the race wars and the class wars. Keep us divided instead of united.

  9. Ok let me put this very bluntly: people who seek to do away with the Second Amendment would leave all arms in the hands of the government and state police. That’s IDIOTIC and only serves to open up a window for government control of individuals that nobody wants, whether or not they know what this entails.