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Number 883, July 31, 2016

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The Error of Katana-gari
by Jim Davidson

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

"Prior to the sword hunt called by Oda Nobunaga (1534 - 1582) towards the end of the 16th century, civilians were free to carry swords for defence or simply for decoration. Nobunaga sought an end to this, and ordered the seizure of swords and a variety of other weapons from civilians, in particular the Ikkō-ikki peasant-monk leagues which sought to overthrow samurai rule."
—Wikipedia, "Sword Hunt"

Much is made by some writers of the fact that the Japanese government does not allow people in Japan to have guns. The advocates of victim disarmament are, of course, advocates of all manner of aggression against individuals, especially rape, crime, and tyranny.

Various leaders of the "Warring States" period in Japan followed Nobunaga's approach to imposing hierarchy and enforcing the caste system. For example, Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered a katana-gari, or sword hunt, in 1588 (the year that the Spanish Armada was sailing against England). He, too, sought to solidify separations in the class structure. By denying commoners weapons while allowing them to the nobility, the samurai class, the concept of a social hierarchy was imposed.

It was imposed successfully for a while. A rigid order of society prevented most forms of contact between Japanese and the outside world for about 220 years. Worse, when the Meiji restoration of contact with the outside world took place, prompted in part by the arrival of USA warships in Tokyo harbour c. 1853, another sword-hunt took away the armaments of the samurai class.

One of the things that took place after Toyotomi's katana-gari was the massacre of essentially all the Japanese Christians living in Japan. So, rather a large number of difficulties are presented by the error of katana-gari.

Individual liberty is best protected by a widely armed and well-trained population who keep weapons, wear them publicly, and are experienced at using them in various situations. Individual liberty includes vitally important ideas, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of all forms of individual expression (what you wear, what you do with your own body, piercings, tattoos, flags, etc.), freedom of religious expression (including freedom to not engage in any religious activities), freedom not to be compelled to speak or act, freedom from being tortured or otherwise cruelly treated in any way, freedom from oppressive judicial proceedings, and so forth. Without weapons in the hands of ordinary people, hierarchy may, for a time, be preserved.

However, all hierarchical systems are inherently unstable. Even when extreme measures are taken, such as Toyotomi's eviction of all "newcomers" from villages, even the Sakoku edict of 1635 banning essentially all interactions with foreigners, it is impossible to maintain the "ruling order" indefinitely. Eventually, the archaic systems of Japan were overwhelmed from the outside, the weapons of the old hierarchy were hunted down, and a new group of rulers put in its place.

Therefore, even for the (nefarious, corrupt, evil) purposes of a ruling elite, the concept of katana-gari is an error. It cannot lead toward a creative, lasting, peaceful, polite society with a growing economy. Instead, it inevitably leads to a temporary sheltering of a corrupt hierarchy which is eventually sundered. Viewers of films such as "The Last Sumarai" should not grieve for the enormous suffering of the samurai gutted by Gatling guns. Their suffering was their just reward for centuries of oppression. Karma, as they say, can be a bitch—actions have consequences. So does inaction.

Currently the United States is seeing a very positive trend in the lifting of restrictions on gun rights in many places. Ten states and the territory of Puerto Rico have "constitutional carry" meaning that open or concealed carry without any form of licence or permit is considered acceptable under state law. The ten states are Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

I should probably point out that Idaho and Wyoming claim to "allow" constitutional carry only for residents of their respective states, but since people generally do not wear any external badge of state residency, it is unlikely that this residency requirement is being enforced except in the usual (tedious, hateful, evil) encounters with law enforcement which escalate to any form of search.

Four other states, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have various forms of permitless concealed carry. I think all of the restrictions imposed by the gun grabbers, elitists, and sycophants of oligarchy in these states are idiotic, but they are arguably fewer and less egregious than the much more contemptible conduct of officialdom in other states. (Gun laws put the "dumb" in officialdom.)

In addition, some 37 states have "shall issue" laws and only 8 states still have atavistic, backward, inhuman "may issue" laws. Since 2013, no state has "no issue" for concealed or open carry. Illinois, the worst offender in supporting oligarchy, imposing on businesses, and supporting nationalist socialism, was the last state with the psychotic rigidity to impose "no issue" for firearms carry. Of course, all but the ten states with unlimited open or concealed carry are wrong, are engaged in a mistaken set of ideas, and should change their ways. But, being states, run by murderers, thieves, and their lickspittles, they probably won't change very rapidly.

Even so, you have the right to keep and bear arms, just as you should. You should ignore any laws that say otherwise as being unjust, indecent, and deadly. Obviously, use your own judgement in where and when and how and what to carry. Whether you carry to a particular event or in particular circumstances has to be your choice.

When anyone tries to take your guns away from you by reason or discussion, it is rational to have a reasoned discussion about their ideas. If anyone tries to disarm you by force, it is rational to use defensive force to resist such efforts.

Many centuries ago, even before the sword hunt of Nobunaga, Machiavelli wrote, "Among the other harm it brings you, being disarmed causes you to be despised." If being disarmed is bad for a prince, it is bad for you. Indeed, if your home is your castle and you see yourself as a sovereign individual, "The Prince" by Machiavelli would be good reading. And for an understanding of effective means to resist tyranny, I am an enthusiast of Etienne de la Boetie's essay "On Voluntary Servitude."

Please keep and bear arms. It is your best choice.

Jim Davidson is a sovereign individual, entrepreneur, and author. He spent 2012 to 2014 withdrawn from world affairs, then joined the Digital Cash Alliance where he serves in an unpaid, voluntary capacity. He teaches classes in computer technology, communications privacy, science, mathematics, and history at Individual Sovereign University. Recently he and several friends formed Eldar Capital to evaluate a number of business deals in high-tech and other industries.

As a sovereign individual, Jim knows that it is resolution and determination which separate sovereign from servant. In the words of Étienne de la Boétie, "Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."

As an entrepreneur, Jim has been involved in dozens of start-up ventures in industries ranging from banking, aerospace, real estate, software, and e-commerce to space travel, data havens, and longevity research. He has worked in companies founded by others and in companies of his own creation. Entrepreneurs know that many companies end in failure. It is the fear of failure which prevents a great many people from ever being entrepreneurs or sovereign.

As an author, Jim has written essays, articles, poetry, fiction, and is developing a book on the new country trend. Words about him have appeared in Time magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other major publications. Words by him have appeared in The Libertarian Enterprise, Final Frontier magazine, Space News, The Houston Post, The Houston Chronicle, and other publications. The Atlantis Papers was published in 1994 and is available from After Dark Publications. His essays Being Sovereign are on and his collection Being Libertarian is available on

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