Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Farewell to Arms, or a Workers’ Uprising?

  A Response to the CPUSA National Committee’s statement on Gun Control
By Daniel Lee

A document bearing the headline “A statement by the CommunistParty USA” was recently emailed to CPUSA membership and email subscribers, as well as posted on its website and social media. The “statement”, actually issued by the national leadership at 23rd street in New York, titled “The fight to curb gun violence is a working-class issue,” comes out like an imperial edict or dictatorial decree. The “head honchos” have apparently forgotten the democratic processes the Party has in place for decision-making. It seems everything that comes from Sam Webb and his cronies are now considered infallible ex cathedra, and instantly becomes the official line of the party without discussion or room for dissent. Other instances of this include Webb’s “unofficial” documents, such as “A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century: What It Looks Like, What It Says, and What It Does” which when it was published by Political Affairs carried the disclaimer - “The following article represents the views of its author alone. It doesn't necessarily reflect the official views of any organization or collective.” – but somehow became set in stone, bronzed and lacquered, embossed and covered in gold leaf as the Official Party Line, and any member who has spoken out against it since has been labeled “anti-party”, “ultra-leftist”, and “does not represent any part of the Communist Party USA”. Those of us who point out its blatant revisionism are immediately accused of “name-calling” and being “dogmatic”. With this latest statement however, there is not even the pretext of democracy. Any dissent or differences of view are not only considered to be in violation of “Democratic Centralism”, but according to this statement, are “supporting the enemies of America’s working people.”

Moving on to the actual text of the message, however, shows it to be a thinly-veiled attempt to link gun ownership to:

  •          Union busting
  •          “Attacking…Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security”
  •          Working to cut and privatize public education
  •         “Seek[ing] to slash accessible and affordable health care”
  •          “Oppos[ing] President Obama’s stimulus program to create millions of jobs and rebuild infrastructure”
  •          “Promot[ing] racism and attacks on the rights of women, immigrants, gays and lesbians.
  •          “Climate-change deniers who are backed by the fossil fuel industry.”

Did they miss anything? It seems that having a gun is apparently the Original Sin which caused the fall of man! This ridiculous logical fallacy of “guilt by association” is not only intellectually dishonest by even an elementary schoolchild’s standards, but shows the desperation of the Webb faction to scare the membership into following their every utterance blindly, which is in complete disregard for the principles of Marxism-Leninism, and over 150 years of revolutionary Marxist history.

They point to the second amendment as having been “adopted to enable the new American republic, lacking a standing army or state national guards, to muster militia to put down domestic uprisings and repulse any attempted return by the British. Which is what it did in repressing slave revolts, Native Americans, and poor farmers during Shay’s Rebellion.” Should I also point out that it was guns which enabled the champions of the people to rise up and defend themselves, their families, and the oppressed, such as John Brown’s Rebellion in 1859, whose actions brought to the forefront of the American consciousness the need to abolish slavery? 

Look, John Brown’s holding a gun! He must be a racist!

Shay’s Rebellion itself in 1786 was an armed uprising  led by trained ex-Army officers who attempted to seize an armory for the purpose of securing more, you guessed it, weapons– hardly the “nonviolent mass organization” of poor farmers the Webbites claim them to be. Thomas Jefferson himself, in reference to the rebellion in a letter to James Madison said “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government”, and “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”[i]

Native Americans also have been known to use guns to defend themselves and their people against an Imperialist US government. In fact, had they not used “military-grade” weaponry, they would have all been obliterated long ago.

Definitely NOT Charlton Heston.

From the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 to the Wounded Knee incident in 1973, Native Americans have needed weapons to defend themselves against Federal and State “democratic” governments who have ordered their murders, the abduction of their children, and the genocide of their peoples and culture.

Here in Oklahoma, there was a Socialist uprising in 1917 called the Green Corn Rebellion. It was an uprising by white tenant farmers, Seminoles, Muscogee Creeks and African-Americans in response to the government’s attempts to enforce a draft sending their young men to fight and die in an Imperialist war. They were armed, and ready to defend themselves and their people.

Union workers for over a century have had to be armed to protect themselves against strike-breakers and police forces that brutalize and murder their comrades and their families. The Ludlow Mine Massacre did not happen because a group of miners sat down and sang “Kumbayah” – but rather because the miners dared to defend themselves against attack, and held off the strike breakers’ thugs and National Guard goons for months, before they were finally massacred in the spring of 1914. However, their deaths paved the way for many of the workers’ rights we have today.

The Black Panther Party is famously known for exercising their second amendment rights and carrying weapons to demonstrate their ability to defend their rights. In fact, it is their “bearing of arms” which caused the NRA and the KKK to support stricter gun control laws! The Deacons for Defense and Justice were another African American civil rights and defense organization which were armed during the 1960’s throughout the South. While many do not remember them today, the Deacons were instrumental in protecting African American communities from brutal repression not only from the Klan, but also the US government. According to Robert Hicks, a former civil rights leader and activist in the Louisiana chapter of the Deacons for Defense and Justice:

 “The Klan would drive through our neighborhood shooting at us, shooting into our homes, and the police wouldn't help. The black men in the community wouldn’t stand for it. You shoot at us, we shoot back at you. I’m convinced that without our guns, my family and many other black people would not be alive today.”

Of course, the reformist milksops cry, those armed uprisings and rebellions were unsuccessful! They did not succeed in their aims, and the participants were killed or imprisoned. Even the Deacons were investigated intensely by the FBI, who cared nothing about the violence the black community faced from the KKK.  However, just because a particular uprising is not successful, it does not mean that it was wrong. Rosa Luxemburg led the workers in the Spartacist Uprising in 1919. Was she wrong for doing so because the Social-Democrat government brutally murdered her and the other workers? 

Even the Russian Revolution took over 20 years of agitation and unsuccessful uprisings which resulted in hundreds of deaths for the workers to successfully overthrow the Czar, and then, it took one more revolution for the Bolsheviks to overthrow the “democratically elected” bourgeois government and establish the worker’s Soviet state. Did they accomplish this by peaceful, “nonviolent mass organization”? No! It took the sacrifice of many for the rest of the workers to rise up as they saw their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends bravely fighting and dying to liberate their fellow workers.

Flying in the face of these truly revolutionary examples, the Webb faction thunders condemnation at those of us who honor the sacrifices of workers past and seek to chart a course in their example –

“And we want to make this clear: Personal possession of weaponry is not a revolutionary means to change the system in our country in the 21st century, as some self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” and some extreme right wingers claim. The great social changes that have transformed our society in the modern era have come about through the nonviolent mass organization and struggles of the American people. In unity there is strength. This is the way forward to progressive change as well as the path to achieve more basic transformation - a socialist society that is deeply democratic, egalitarian, and at peace with the world.”

These outright lies are not only a complete repudiation of revolutionary Marxist-Leninist principles, but do a grave disservice to all those who fought and died for workers freedoms here in the US and around the world. Standing in sharp contrast are the very words 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 Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

I choose the side of the “self-proclaimed ‘revolutionaries’” such as John Brown, Marx, Lenin, Che Guevara, and Huey Newton. Whose side are you on?

[i] The results of Shay’s rebellion, which though it was put down, influenced the adoption of the US Constitution and the necessity for a Bill of Rights to protect people (at the time, white male property owners) against undue encroachment from the government on personal liberties – including gun ownership.

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