Flu, Guns, and Civilization

One of the great signs of the advance of human civilization in the world is vaccination. Another is that the state has a monopoly over the use of violence.

By these two measures, however, it seems that the United States is pretty uncivilized.

So, if you haven’t done so already, please get your flu shot and accept the bargain of the Hobbesian state in which you surrender your semi-automatic weapons and grenades, trusting the state to enforce the law. (You can keep your hunting rifle.)

Thank you very much.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Flu, Guns, and Civilization

  1. Staffan says:

    I think you mistake cause and effect here. In civilized nations people solve conflicts in a peaceful manner so they need fewer guns. But if your country is not as civilized (and America is pretty wild for a Western nation) then giving up your gun isn’t going to advance civilization. It will only put you and your family at risk.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      You have the order right, of course. But that’s the point. America does not, statistically, have a climbing crime rate. It is at 1950s levels in almost every category. But many Americans are paranoid about institutions (such as the CDC saying get a flu shot) and imagine the economic order on the verge of collapse. It’s hysteria and irrationality that are driving gun acquisition, food hoarding, and the declining of flu shots. There is distrust and panic at the disco.

  2. Staffan says:

    Yes, you may be right. I honestly don’t know how much I should trust the authorities or whether I’m being paranoid. But I do know that there is a clinical term for irrational distrust but not for irrational gullibility. Some of it seems a bit crazy but history shows that people ease into disaster. Like the Jews who stayed in Germany insisting Nazism would blow over. There are no psychiatric terms to describe their craziness, but it was still substantial enough to get plenty of them killed.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I personally don’t think the United States is a frog in a pot of water slowly coming to a boil. I think it is the exact opposite. Things are getting better, and people have time on their hands, but it’s unbearable to live a life without serious agitation and purpose. So they invent the apocalypse (religious or secular) to worry about and focus on (instead of the failures and dangers that adhere to their personal lives).

      It’s easy to stock up on guns and food. It’s a form of entertainment; a kind of virtual reality game for those who can afford it. But it’s hard to figure out what to do with your ever greater life options, and to find a purpose in a world that so obviously has none on which the society as a whole can agree upon.

      Americans are not in the midst of an economic crisis, but an existential one. This is true of the rest of the world as well. Science and capitalism are too successful, too efficient, too deconstructing for the frightened and nervy human animal.


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