The people being 'armed' so they can fight a tyrannical government usually doesn't lead to less violent deaths. In places in which there are many (semi) autonomous entities (many city states, or autonomous villages/tribes, or competing kingdoms, etc.) there is generally more violence than in areas that are part of a large empire or a large stable state/kingdom, however tyrannical and absolute the power of that state may be. For example, the Pax Romana (the enforced peace coming with being ruled/conquered by the Romans) did mean that it became a whole lot more rare for people to die because of violence.
Looking at Europe after WW2... probably the greatest autrocities over the last 50 years were committed in areas where citizens had access to a lot of weapons. Think of the 'militia's' in former Yugoslavia, for example.
Yes, you are right. Violence and warfare happens a lot more when there are numerous factions of approximate equal strength. See China in the Warring States era. There also is a relative peace when the state monopolizes all forms of force and violence. I actually remember that part being mentioned in the definition of a state in one of my college courses. Force monopoly within territorial boundaries. Of course, the same argument is also made for the international hegemonic peace theory... Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, Pax Americana. So proponents of this would also argue for a unipolar world where America continues to reign supreme and is preferable to a more multipolar world where we see the 'rise of the rest' Sorry. Getting off tangent.
So yes, when there is a state force monopoly, we often see more peace. But I wonder, if the amount of lives saved by state force monopoly is offset by the amount of people killed in Pol Pot's regime, PRC Cultural revolution, and the formation of the USSR and what the Ukrainians called a genocide of their people through forced collectivization and the subsequent famines counting in the millions of deaths alone.
It's rather impossible to get numbers of the amount of lives saved through force monopoly. But it is possible to get all the numbers for the lives lost in governments wielding the full force of their power against their unarmed people.
Glaucon wrote:And as for armed citizens not needing equal weapons in order to defeat an army: Sometimes this is true. Generally, it is not (especially in times where a government could go 'all out' against such armed rebelling citizens without foreign pressure or interference). Part of the Lybian military defected, went over to the rebels. Same in Syria. Both got/get weapons from outside. (The Lybian rebels got a lot of arms from the west, plus air support, etc.) The taliban got a lot of outside help as well (arms and soldiers, including Ben Laden and friends). The United Provinces had foreign aid (from other protestant countries). They hired lots of mercenaries to fight their war of independence for them (a lot of germans and swiss among them). Even the United states got significant support from outside (France, in particular) during their struggle for independence. The Vietcong got aid from outside as well. Most of the rebelions against European colonizing powers got aid from outside (international pressure, from the USA, for example, but also aid from countries that had already send the Europeans home). Historically, in times when there was less of an international 'moral code' of assistance to rebelions, when the 'state' could go 'all out', most such rebelions were simply crushed. The USA could have nuked Vietman, technically. But it couldn't because of modern ideology and it's international position. And it probably didn't want to. Times change.
Again, you are right in that many successful partisans and rag tag fighters had help and aid in their struggles. But how did they get help and aid in the first place? They didn't secure all this help before they fought. They fought first... and aid came. An armed citizenry is the first line of defense against atrocities against people like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Gadaffi. It slows them down. It buys time. It wears down the enemy's morale. Through guerilla fighting, it bogs down the main army until help can arrive from abroad. With firearms, you can raid supply depots and arm yourself with the enemies grenades and personal anti-armor or SAM missiles. You can cut off reinforcements.
Glaucon wrote:Of course, there are the state-driven autrocities of Hitler and Stalin (and Mao, in a way). But those had little to do with them monopolizing weaponry. Hitler came to power aided by partially armed 'militias' (The SA). Stalin had no qualms about arming lots and lots of Russians to engage in a sort of guerrillia warfare during WW II.
Hitler mostly came to power via democracy. The SA weren't that armed. They were mostly thugs. If the German jews were armed they could have fought back and formed partisan groups, like Polish jews did.
Stalin armed lots of Russians during WWII. Not during the formative years of the USSR. Imagine if all those kulaks and peasants fought back when the communists were trying to force them to collectivize, sending them off to the gulags and stole their grain even though they were starving.
Okay I'll get to Carter after I have some breakfast