By Daniel Lee
In a recent editorial piece published by Peoples World, the newspaper of the CPUSA, titled “Guns, profits and Sandy Hook” – the article started by opening with the need for the country to “get serious about regulating guns.” It pontificates further, giving a perfunctory nod to universal health access as “a piece of the puzzle” to preventing the epidemic of gun violence. The editorial then issues a call for a “broad enough coalition to confront and curb those who profit from manufacturing and dealing in these individual weapons of mass destruction”. It places the blame squarely on the gun lobbyists, and the corporations that profit from the sale of guns. The article ends finally in demanding a “Ban [of] assault weapons and high capacity bullet clips”. This article, which could have been written by any bourgeois Democrat or liberal group from Nancy Pelosi to Moveon.org, buys into the reactionary “liberal” approach of treating the symptom without curing the disease. Certainly those profiting off of the sale of weapons through the promotion of violence and racism must be made accountable for their exploitation and oppression of our fellow workers – and let us not forget that the US Government is one of the largest gun runners in the world, fueling instability, murder, and genocide of the proletariat around the globe, a fact PW conveniently leaves out. The article fails to mention that nearly 2,000 civilians were wounded in our War of Imperialism in Afghanistan , Pakistan, and Iraq during the first six months of 2012. About 1,145 civilians were killed in that same time period, according to U.N. totals. James Holmes’, Adam Lanza’s, and other serial killers’ crimes are dwarfed by this monstrosity in comparison, making the US government by far the most psychotic killer, still at large and continuing to slaughter men, women and children by the thousands. These figures don’t even take into account the hundreds of unarmed civilians slaughtered by uniformed bourgeois Police gangs across the country. Where is PW’s outrage to this crime? Where is the demand to confiscate the government’s guns?
As Marxist-Leninists, we must approach the issue of gun control as we do any other issue – under the scientific principles of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory and practice. We affirm first and foremost the absolute supremacy of the interests of the working class, and the necessity of revolution for the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat to completely overthrow the oppression of the Bourgeois state and its minions. As Marx and Engels famously wrote at the end of the Communist Manifesto, "The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.”
When we talk about gun ownership then, we must talk about the rights of the workers to bear arms. One way or another, the bourgeois will exert their will through force either directly or indirectly, and usually through the cats-paw of the government and its military and police institutions to repress the working class and protect their own property interests. How then shall the workers protect their interests? As Marx writes,
"The arming of the whole proletariat with rifles, guns, and ammunition should be carried out at once [and] the workers must ... organize themselves into an independent guard, with their own chiefs and general staff. ... [The aim is] that the bourgeois democratic Government not only immediately loses all backing among the workers, but from the commencement finds itself under the supervision and threats of authorities behind whom stands the entire mass of the working class. ...As soon as the new Government is established they will commence to fight the workers. In order that this party (i.e., the democrats) whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the first hour of victory, should be frustrated in its nefarious work, it is necessary to organize and arm the proletariat." - Karl Marx, Address to the Communist League (1850)
This quote sounds as if it were written for the times we are facing today! However, Dialectical Materialism teaches us that the issues and struggles of history are cyclical, and though taking new forms, at the heart of the struggle remains the eternal war for class dominance.
Moving forward to Lenin, the great leader of the October Revolution in Russia, we see that he too advocated arming the workers:
“The minimum programme of the Social-Democrats calls for the replacement of the standing army by a universal arming of the people. Most of the official Social-Democrats in Europe and most of our own Menshevik leaders, however, have “forgotten” or put aside the Party’s programme, substituting chauvinism (“defencism”) for internationalism, reformism for revolutionary tactics.
Yet now of all times, at the present revolutionary moment, it is most urgent and essential that there be a universal arming of the people. To assert that, while we have a revolutionary army, there is no need to arm the proletariat, or that there would “not be enough” arms to go round, is mere deception and trickery. The thing is to begin organizing a universal militia straight away, so that everyone should learn the use of arms even if there is “not enough” to go round, for it is not at all necessary that the people have enough weapons to arm everybody. The people must learn, one and all, how to use arms, they must belong, one and all, to the militia which is to replace the police and the standing army.The workers do not want an army standing apart from the people; what they want is that the workers and soldiers should merge into a single militia consisting of all the people.” - A Proletarian Militia by VI Lenin
Comrade Stalin, the fierce defender of the fledgling workers’ Soviet democracy and the Champion against Nazi aggression, said that the “most important countermeasure against counterrevolution is the arming of the workers and peasants.”
Finally, from the writings of the revered leader and liberator of the Chinese people, Mao Zedong, we find this important commentary on the role of the Red Army: "The Chinese Red Army is an armed body for carrying out the political tasks of the revolution. Especially at present, the Red Army should certainly not confine itself to fighting; besides fighting to destroy the enemy's military strength, it should shoulder such important tasks as doing propaganda among the masses, organizing the masses, arming them, helping them to establish revolutionary political power and setting up Party organizations."
Certainly, each statement above applies to a particular instance in time at that particular stage of revolution in each writer’s respective countries. However, the principle remains the same. The workers must be made able to protect and defend themselves. In some cases, such as in 1916 Russia, the bourgeois were even willing to finance a workers militia - to protect their own interests – which Lenin said should be paid for by the bourgeoisie, but that the militia must above all protect the workers both from external threats, and from the bourgeois within the gates.
At this point in time, the bourgeois state is not in a state of flux which would necessitate them calling upon the workers to form militias – in fact, such a thing is considered a threat to the Imperialist State’s hegemonic domination. Thus we can expect no checks to be coming in the mail from the rich for the funding of workers’ protection. However, we must still encourage the exercising of such rights still granted to all people by the Bourgeoisie state for the protection of the working class and minorities. We can take a lesson from the Black Panthers, who encouraged black communities to arm and protect themselves instead of relying on the unpredictable and brutal police forces and judicial system for protection. We can encourage the formation of community defense groups which are founded along class lines, upholding and protecting the rights of oppressed minorities. We can encourage and sponsor gun safety training, and work to create the best conditions possible for working class neighborhoods to protect themselves. We can encourage organized labor to stand together in solidarity to help protect the schools and surrounding communities, creating a “thin red line” of our own which acts as a deterrent against crimes from any source. And in the center must be the party, directing, protecting, and organizing the workers defense. Lenin would do no less.