Kim Brian Gillespie gillespk at leland.stanford.edu
Thu Apr 27 12:32:01 MDT 1995

Today, _The Wall Street Journal_ ran an article on the militias, relying
heavily on Laird Wilcox, militia-watcher and founder of the Wilcox
Collection of Contemporary Political Movements at the University of
Kansas.  Wilcox calls the militias "the populist right" and says that they
express the fear of the lower middle that their values and ways of life
are threatened by a society growing more tolerant of gays, working women,
nonsmokers, and endangered species.  As women gain political power, gun
control intensifies (women like guns less well than men); as national
boundaries collapse, production and demographics change. These changes
impact the social organization and the values of the lower middle class
and thus organize themselves in paraamilitary groups to express their
dissatisfaction (A4, Western Edition).

One point that has not been brought up in this discussion, I think, is
that these groups are primarily agrarian.  Although the film _California
Reich_ and the _San Jose Mercury News_ more recently showed that
militia-like groups do exist in urban settings (the Bay Area, for
example), most of the groups do not.

For those who did not see Ted Koppel's interview of the people of Dekker,
MI, the town were some of the Oklahoma City bombing suspects came from, it
was a good example of what Marx once called "the idiocy of rural life."
The inhabitants of Dekker were a sour-faced, taciturn lot, able to spin
weird theories of conspiracy, which could only find fertile ground in
places immunized from public debate and argumentation.  To me, inhabitant
of Bay Area, where nonsmokers in restaurants, toleration of gays, and
career women, is pretty much a done deal, the inhabitants of Dekker seemed
from another century.

That, of course, is my point.  The militias are an agrarian protest
movement that stretches back through US American history to the Whiskey
Rebellion.  The fact they are an agrarian movement means they are
anti-cosmopolitan and politically reactionary, since they want to preserve
what industrialization, the city, and the State seek to destroy.

kim gillespie
gillespk at leland.stanford.edu
program in modern thought and literature

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