The American Gun: Remembering Adam Smith and the heroes of westward expansion

It does not escape me; especially when I travel or experience cultures abroad that the cultures mostly seem proud of their histories.  Of course the Japanese are proud of the samurai culture which is obvious in their business dealings.  Australians are proud of their outback ruggedness, the English of their Empire, the French of their topless beaches, wine and ability to throw down a rifle at the first sign of trouble thinking that Napoleon’s empire was enough to show they had testicular fortitude for the next millennia.  Only in America do we find this notion that we should forget our past and reject our historical figures.  Like the samurai America had a period of valiant heroes and desperate villains that were exacerbated during the period of time referred to as the Old West.  Unlike the samurai warriors of old the Wild West characters exemplified by this period were driven to their glory by guns instead of a sword, and allowed for what may be the first time in all of human history a true path toward individual achievement.  The samurai had some of the same noble tendencies as a typical Wild West gunfighter, but the Japanese warrior was usually bound in service to some noble land owner—whereas the cowboy was pursing their own unique life.  That is the dramatic difference.

The moment that a few rival motorcycle gangs in Texas fired shots at each other the national American media jumped all over the story personifying the incident as a shoot-out in the Old West hoping to throw logs on the fire of further gun restrictions to prevent the violence.  Progressives especially refer to the Old West as if our society had “moved on” beyond such primal achievements.  Then once an Amtrak train jumped off the tracks in New Jersey for some unknown reason they filled the airwaves and print media with demands for more tax dollars for such an ancient means of transportation—that was ironically invented during the Old West and the expansion across the New World to the opposite ocean.  We’re supposed to feel guilty that the Gold Rush brought out too much greed to mankind, that the saloons across the new nation were filled with gamblers and prostitutes and that the streets were often bathed in blood from so many human beings carrying around personal firearms.  We have been told by progressives that our society today is much better because of rules they made and that if only we listened to them, we might someday be more like Europe is today.  To accomplish this we are supposed to forget our heroes of the American West, give up our guns, our music, and our culture as if it never was—and that is a mistake of epic proportions.

I remember some of the stunned poetry of William Blake—whom many believed was part of the Illuminati movement that was taking place in America during his young years into the early period that would become the Wild West.  By the time there was an American Constitution he was in his mid-thirties and as a painter and poet watched as the New World throw off the chains of a kingly society for the first time in history.  There was no “leader” in America—no King Louis, Edward, or Henry and this was extremely unusual to the world stage.  In America people made their own way.   They were free to pursue their own dreams at risk of peril or plunder and as a result New York City rose up to rival Paris and London in just s few short years.  The world was shocked and the bloodshed was considerably less than all the battles between England, Spain and France during the previous centuries.  The story goes that the Bavarian Illuminati was the shadow government of the United States working to bring the Scottish Rite to public acceptance through backdoor means to overthrow the grip kings had on the world.  In this way “illuminated” individuals could rise up to their own levels of competency without having to suck up to a king in order to achieve success.  Blake watched as this experiment blossomed into an extraordinary success which led directly to the freeing of slaves to the invention of the most powerful economy the world had ever seen.  And for that the progressives want to erase the memory.

For many the Old West was a hard place.  It might have led to direct conflict with Indians, with some despot in a bar over a card game, or dying of ill-health while panning for gold.  But, for the first time in human history if a man wanted to make their way in the world to wealth, they could grab a horse, a gun, and head for the horizon to make a life anyway they saw fit.  This would be a byproduct of the capitalism invented by Adam Smith as he envisioned the invisible hand of enlightened self-interest in his great book, An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  That enlightened self-interest would give rise to heroes like Davy Crockett, Wyatt Earp, Kit Carson, and Wild Bill Hickok.  It would also give rise to villains like Jessie James, Black Bart and many other railroad tycoons who would attempt to manipulate this new-found capitalism into something like the cronyism of old Europe.  But at the center of all this new-found individual independence was the gun which equaled out the big and strong from the weak and soft spirited.   Bill O’Reilly’s recent series Legends and Lie deals specifically with this period of western heroes and villains very well.

Progressives despise the Old West and seek at every turn to erase it from history’s memory—and with that the American gunfighter mythology.  The reason is that the gun embodies the utilization of westward expansion when mankind for the first time in history had gained individual mobility that gave rise to an economy the world envied terribly.  Yet to Americans the gun culture is every bit as important as the samurai sword is to the Japanese or a fortune cookie is to the Chinese.  The gun is the symbol in America of individual will and the ability to pursue it to advance the enlightened self-interest of enterprising human beings.  This gave rise to new money like the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgan and gave opportunity to inventors like Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison.  The gun and violence of the Old West paved the way for the great inventions of the 20th Century—and without those inventions; mankind would still be in horse and buggies enslaved to kings, queens and stuffy nobility.  In America a new kind of economic freedom had emerged and it was driven forth by the gun—which is our history and source of pride.

Nobody ever said that the American West was perfect—or that innocent people were not killed.  The times of the samurai were not free of sadness and the Chinese certainly had their fair share of tragedy after being ruled by the Mongols then the subsequent Dynasties of emperors starting with the Yuan.  Yet, history remembers those times fondly in their cultures as pictures of ancient heroes litter their artwork.  In those cultures the people embrace their past even with all the sorrow left in the wake.  In America we are told to run away from history and invent something new—which is really a trick.  We are told by modern progressives to run away from Adam Smith and into the arms of Karl Marx and the philosophers of Europe.  We are told to give up our guns and independence so that we can be ruled once again by kings and nobility.  Those who know history of course avoid that fate.  Those who don’t are falling for the trap and future aggression is brewing because of it.  But there should never be an ounce of shame regarding the American West or its expansion.  For every memory of detriment was a blooming flower of opportunity for somebody who otherwise wouldn’t have had it—and the means for achieving such a feat was the American gun.  America became what it did in such a short time not because of any particular president, or any corporation—but because of the enlightened self-interest of Adam Smith’s economic theory and the American guns which preserved that right in the wild days of westward expansion.  While it’s true that many people suffered, many more lived for the first time a fate of their own design.  And for that we should always remember with great fondness the heritage of our Wild West and the cowboys who experimented for the first time with capitalism as free from government and pinheaded nobility as any human beings under the flag of a new country had ever conceived.  And for America it worked and should be copied across the entire world—starting with a reverence for the gun in all its glory.

Rich Hoffman


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