“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
–Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, after the Sandy Hook massacre
Assault weapons are being snapped up like the hottest children’s toy before Christmas, stockpiling has produced a national shortage in ammunition, concealed carry and Stand Your Ground laws are proliferating, while militias and talk of tyranny are on the rise. Although there has always been a strong libertarian ethos in American political life, something new is afoot: new laws and discourses are fueling and supported by a new form of political subjectivity, which I call self-defensive. Drawing upon the work of Hegel and Axel Honneth, I outline this emergent, abstract, and agitated form of subjectivity and argue that it’s a pathological response to a crisis in political liberalism and white supremacy, which is summoning the very tyranny it defines itself against.
Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Social Justice Minor at the University of Colorado Denver. He has translated the work of Axel Honneth and Walter Benjamin, is co-editor of Pragmatism, Nation, and Race: Community in the Age of Empire (Indiana University Press, 2009), and is presently writing a book titled Radical Philosophy. He is also the chief curator of Not Exactly: Between Home and Where I Find Myself at RedLine Denver (June 1 – July 28, 2013).