Firearms, self-defense and the left


Firearms, self-defense and the left

Steve Xavier

“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.” Karl Marx

The election of Trump and the surge in hate crimes associated with his election (more than 700 in just a couple of weeks) and an energized far right has caused a lot of progressive people and members of oppressed groups to consider buying a firearm.

First, let’s get all the political questions out of the way. Before you fly off the handle, I’m not advocating going off into the hills and waging an armed struggle. The Poconos aren’t the Sierra Maestra. I advocate for mass political struggle. There’s no substitute for the independent mass actions of the working class and oppressed.  As Marx put it, “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves; that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule.”

I believe in self-defense – especially collective self-defense. “Only armed workers’ detachments, who feel the support of tens of millions of toilers behind them, can successfully prevail against the fascist bands. The struggle against fascism does not start in the liberal editorial office but in the factory – and ends in the street. Scabs and private gunmen in factory plants are the basic nuclei of the fascist army. Strike pickets are the basic nuclei of the proletarian army. This is our point of departure. In connection with every strike and street demonstration, it is imperative to propagate the necessity of creating workers’ groups for self-defense. It is necessary to write this slogan into the program of the revolutionary wing of the trade unions. It is imperative wherever possible, beginning with the youth groups, to organize groups for self-defense, to drill and acquaint them with the use of arms.” Trotsky, The Transitional Program

The right to oppressed nationalities to defend themselves must be defended. This is a right that was demanded and exercised by Malcolm X and by Robert Williams in North Carolina during the Civil Rights struggle. Assata Shakur said, “When Black people seriously organize and take up arms to fight for our liberation, there will be a lot of white people who will drop dead from no other reason than their own guilt and fear.”

A peaceful transition to socialism is unlikely. This is not because of working class violence.  Rather, the capitalist class will muster everything in its power to stop a transition to socialism — this includes mobilizing fascist gangs to attack the workers’ movement. We reserve the right to defend ourselves and our communities.

The Second Amendment applies to you.


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