The state, be it the USSR, the Third Reich, The Peoples Republic of Trashcanistan, or the United State of America, can generally defeat a lone dissenter. The only difference between the dissenter being armed or not is the amount of effort and the resources required. That logistical load doesn’t scale well past a certain point. The British Empire found that out in Ireland around 1920 — they could have held onto the island by force, but at greater cost than the place was worth to them.
A single dissident can be escorted to jail under a mere threat of force. One with a rifle might fall to a SWAT team or surrender. It’s possible to scale up the force and use self-propelled cannon and an infantry section to take down a dozen dissenters, but that tends to spread the misery too widely for the rest of the population to support. And a few hundred thousand people who have the same goal, perhaps something as unambitious as being left unmolested, and are willing and able to resist…they might be left alone in favor of an easier target.
by Oleg Volk