Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Orlando and the Right to Bear Arms

New Black Panther Party carrying weapons
The mass killing of 50 gay people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has once again thrown the question or the right to bear arms into the limelight. The reaction to this crime is to blame it on homophobia, Islamic ‘terrorism’ and freely accessible guns. This builds support for the ruling class agenda to disarm the working class or anyone profiled as a potential “terrorist”. We disagree. The right to bear arms is a fundamental democratic right that we must defend as the capitalist ruling classes everywhere resort to armed repression to force the working masses to pay for the terminal crisis of capitalism with their livelihoods and their lives.

Two examples of reactions to the Orlando shooting calling for gun control:

“It's that outmoded part of the constitution allowing the citizenry to bear arms that's the big stumbling block.” And: “Our constitution is antiquated and obsolete. The constitution should have been altered several it's more of a slave to the wealthy and powerful to use against the very people it was intended to protect.”

We reject this argument. The US constitution empowered property owners which included slave owners to own and bear arms in popular militias to defend a ‘free state’. It represented the bourgeois constitution that legitimates the ruling class to shoot the property-less when they rise up. Now that bourgeois democracy extends to all citizens as property owners including workers who own their 'labor' to sell, all can bear arms.

To suppress that right for all will not take it away from the state which is now routinely executing unarmed people on the streets. The response from black activists is to bear arms in public to assert that right which communists support. This is the embryo of a workers militia and workers defence committees against the police attempts to execute blacks and the bosses’ attempts to hire thugs to shoot militants to smash strikes and occupations.

The fact is that the US has created conditions at home and abroad in which 'lone wolves' (individuals acting alone motivated by ‘terrorists’ or not) kill scores of people. These killings cannot be stopped by banning guns. Nor will a ban stop deaths from gun crime which kills more people a year in, for example, Chicago than in Libya. Gun crimes are overwhelmingly the result of ‘crimes against property’ which are endemic in capitalist class society where the proletariat is driven into poverty.

This is not about individual 'psychology' but class power. As the crisis of US imperialism develops the state will arm more paramilitaries to wipe out popular resistance as 'crime' or 'terrorism'. Do we give up the right to arms and surrender, or organise armed resistance? We don't deny that right to those oppressed by the US abroad, why deny it in the US itself where the US working class has the potential power to change the system?

The solution is to defend the right to bear arms so that the exploited and oppressed working majority can overthrow the militarised state and impose a workers' state which can be defended from armed counter-revolution!

Against those who have little faith in workers not shooting one another or executing non-workers arbitrarily, this wilfully ignores the reality. The capitalist state employs police and the military to execute scores of worker every day.

Workers need to be armed to defend their class despite being divided and driven by capitalism to kill one another. With capitalism in terminal crisis attacks on workers can only get worse so that they need armed militias to defend themselves.

If we take historical examples, the Russian revolution would not have succeeded without the arming of the proletariat. The Tsar in 1905 proved that when he shot down the unarmed masses. Kornilov who tried to smash the revolution in 1917 failed because the workers were armed and his own ranks mutinied and joined the revolution. The coup against Allende in 1973 drives home the fact that unless armed, workers united will always be defeated.

Of course being armed is not sufficient as the revolution in Germany 1919 proved. The armed masses who mutinied were fooled by the abdication of the emperor and by the treacherous Social Democratic Party into disarming and voting for a new republic. The proletariat needs to be organised and led by revolutionaries to build workers militias.

Meanwhile those who are fighting for basic democratic rights as in Syria are forced to take up arms to defend themselves from imperialism and its reactionary agents. That is the principle at stake: the right to bear arms in self-defence from the armed force of the capitalist state!

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