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Paul Krugman’s Column Today on Hobbesian America…

… reminds ol’ UD to talk about a trend among prospective students and faculty at our country’s universities.

Krugman points out that

our madness over guns [is] just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

There are larger and larger areas of this country where

[people regard any] public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.

This paranoia strikes both deep and wide. Does anyone remember George Will declaring that liberals like trains, not because they make sense for urban transport, but because they serve the “goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism”? And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.

Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — [including] security from crazed gunmen…

We’re beginning to see evidence of some faculty leaving, and some students not applying, to universities in these frontier settings. Bullets, rapists, and riots, oh my…

Many such locations are already cultural wastelands; some are also beginning to look like shooting galleries.

Why, for instance, would anyone with a choice want to live – even for a few years – in Waco, Texas, home of armed cults, armed motorcycle gangs, and Baylor University? Why would a non-Hobbesian want to work there, live there, go to school there, teach there? It’s not as if there’s any cultural compensation to living in the Wild West. It’s guns and strip malls and megachurches where you beg divine protection.

Why would you go to Hammond, Louisiana and attend Southeastern Louisiana University, famous for being the last school in America willing to take Jonathan Taylor? Can anyone be surprised that at 3 AM yesterday a fight broke out on campus and a bunch of people got shot?

These schools are part of America’s Hobbesian wastelands, where you grabs your AR-15 and you takes your chances. The idea that a university could thrive under these conditions is hilarious.

Trying to teach or learn in these settings is like deciding to take your family vacation in Beach Blanket Bloodbath Myrtle Beach. Why? Unless you’re a Hobbesian and you enjoy that sort of thing?

UD anticipates a militarization of certain campuses – having been abandoned by civilization, they will become weedy tracts patrolled by open-carry paranoids offering Active Shooter Response seminars.

If you’re in the wasteland, and you can leave, you should. Get out while the getting’s good.

Margaret Soltan, February 23, 2018 12:27PM
Posted in: guns, the university

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10 Responses to “Paul Krugman’s Column Today on Hobbesian America…”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    Hmm. Washington University, the home of the Alpha Rho Fifteen fraternity mentioned yesterday, is located in St. Louis, where there were 200+ murders in 2017. Not a one was committed by a frat boy armed with an AR-15. In Maryland’s megalopolis, Baltimore, there were 340+ homicides, with nary an AR-15 totin’ frat boy in sight as a perp. My own Mediocrevilleburgton settled for a mere 20 murders or so, none committed by frat boys with rifles. The most lethal and typical weapons of the frat boys would appear to be a case of beer, a fifth of vodka, and a whole lot of dumb, based on recent headlines.

    Now, there are other types of–kinda-sorta anyway–fraternal organizations whose members commit numerous murders and overwhelmingly use handguns, which very few of them can legally possess, either because they are too young, have disqualifying convictions, or are in the country illegally. So, are we talking about the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, the Order of the Owls, or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows? No. We progressive academics are not going to talk about these groups very much because their, uh, demographics make for an uncomfortable discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong, UD–since I live close to campus and probably within a quarter-mile of a frat house, I am indeed concerned about AR-15-equipped frat boys. I have about the same degree of worry as being bitten by a rabid urban fox. Mrs. TP does not bite, by the way, so I don’t mean her, but the real thing.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: The fact that the NRA and its frontierspeople are enthusiastic supporters and purveyors of infinite guns to any and all American communities – including places like Baltimore and St Louis – only strengthens Krugman’s case about much of America having embraced Hobbesianism.

  3. dmf Says:

    apparently here in Iowa we have now made it illegal for law enforcement officers to let arms dealers know if an individual is banned from buying their goods, that, and another proposed billion in tax cuts (we are already many millions in the red from last year’s cut) and we are well on our way down the social darwinian path, good thing we may have state mandated bible classes…

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    dmf: whew! at least you’ve got the mandated bible classes…

  5. dmf Says:

    that’s our saving grace

  6. theprofessor Says:

    Krugman, as usual, has made a fool of himself.

    “And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.

    Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — [including] security from crazed gunmen.”

    We have now learned that not one, but four sheriff’s deputies in total (whom, I believe, are supposed to be engaging in the “policing” to which Krugman refers) declined to enter the school premises and waited outside. It is now admitted that the sheriff and the FBI ignored numerous credible tips, including a report that the perp had held a gun to someone’s head. It appears that in Broward County, Florida, the infantile fantasy is expecting law enforcement to do its job. With “policing” like this, it’s a wonder that everyone has not headed to a gun dealer.

  7. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: Law enforcement was outrageously inept in this case; but there are plenty of cases where they’re not. Often when they’re not it’s about anticipating a criminal or terrorist act and preventing it.

    But the other point is – anyone who thinks a bunch of people running around with military-style weapons in a school will respond in a coordinated and effective fashion when the shit hits the fan is seriously confused.

    And – as to your last comment – everyone is headed to a gun dealer.

  8. dmf Says:

    tp, frankly here you are sounding like people who get mad at the local tv weatherperson when they get something wrong while ignoring the vast majority of times when they get it right.

  9. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Adam Gopnik: “Crimes continue on our streets; that is no argument against the thousand small sanities that have so dramatically reduced violent crime in our cities…

    Of course, people who kill children en masse are crazy. That’s the given. Saying this says nothing; every country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them.”

  10. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: This article goes to your point.


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