Thursday, March 1, 2018

Facts For Working People: Statement on Guns and US Society

Florida students protest gun violence at the state capital in Tallahassee Source WSJ
Youth Show the Way

We have just had another school shooting.   The gun manufacturers lobby repeats the lies and propaganda that all is well and full steam ahead. The National Rifle Association (NRA) organizes these people. The NRA is a front for the gun industry which is motivated by selling as many guns as possible and making as much profit as possible and to hell with killings and suicides. They pile one lie on another to try and justify their gun sales and their profits which are dripping in blood. These people and their profit driven backers are trying to avoid any new gun laws and any new move to restrict gun sales.

Their strategy is to focus on mental illness and stall and hope the anger fades. They are desperate to convince people that there is nothing wrong with society; it’s just crazy people.  In this way they can prevent any laws to restrict gun sales. This time they are having a hard time of it; they have underestimated the mood in society. Their intimidated gang of capitalist politicians are cracking and major corporations are pulling away from them. It looks like this time they will suffer a defeat.   

Killings by guns is 25 times higher on average in the US than other economically advanced capitalist countries.  So is the US population 25 times more mentally ill than people in these other countries? These people should think about what they are saying.  If what they say was true this would mean that US capitalism was 25 times more destructive to mental health than capitalism in any other economically advanced capitalist country.  This alone would be a condemnation of US capitalism. No more would have to be said. These elements in their desperation are condemning their own capitalist system. This point is not driven home because there is no mass workers or left party to do so.    

The privately owned, profit-addicted capitalist corporations, their political parties and state, dominate the discourse and culture in the US more than any other advanced capitalist country. The result is that life is more difficult for the majority of the population than in any other economically advanced capitalist country. People have to work harder, take on more jobs. People are disrespected more at their work and in their communities than in any other advanced capitalist country. Working people are more alienated from their labor and their work, have less control over their labor and input in the workplace and what they produce than any other economically advanced capitalist country. 

The communities and families in US capitalist society are under more pressure economically, socially, politically and ideologically than in any other advanced capitalist country, are alienated to a much greater degree. This leads to great confusion, frustration and anger. Along with this there is the non-stop mass media and propaganda machine of capitalism, the propaganda in the movies, TV and advertising and the violent video games all of which push individualistic and violent images. Added to this is the vicious divide and rule, racist, sexist and other social divisions and at all times the fear of foreigners and immigrants.

Under this assault the US working class has a weak sense of history and low class consciousness. The reason for this is the role of the pro-capitalist trade union leaders who hold back the 14 million strong trade union movement, the organized sector of the working class, and prevent them from gaining access to this history and from fighting to change society.  This potential power could transform class relations in society and initiate a generalized working class movement that could drive back the capitalist offensive. 

These trade union leaders hide the true history of US capitalism and the US and international working class from their members and from the US working class as a whole. They don't even use the term working class substituting middle class instead. This results in people not being able to find their role in society. People cannot find a positive way to respond to and fight against the madness of US society. If you are under attack it is crucial to be able identify your attacker and direct your rage and anger and fight back at that attacker; in this case US capitalism. 

This is the positive way to respond. But if you cannot identify your attacker and take on, confront and fight this attacker, then your anger and alienation finds somewhere else to go. The result is people becoming more susceptible to racism, sexism, nationalism and the divide and rule propaganda of capitalism. Day in and day out, the population is prevented from seeing that the problem is capitalism. Capitalism must not be blamed and confronted. 

The truth is, it is not those people who are a different color, a different sex, a different sexual orientation or religion maybe a different nationality that are the problem. It is not that school authority that just expelled you, that casino town that does not recognize your genius, that partner who made you angry that is the problem. And perhaps the most destructive of all, it is not you personally that is the problem. It is not your fault you are poor, unable to find a job, don’t have time for your kids, have failed to provide for your family. The system is stacked against you.

There is no doubt that self blame is a huge factor in the 62% of firearm deaths in the US that are suicides. What these suicides represent in the main are not individual weaknesses or personal failures. It is people who cannot bear to live in US capitalist society who feel the dead weight of this society on them like a stone, cannot find a way out, cannot see a way to fight for an alternative to this and move to destroy themselves and/or others. The numerous crises in US society are not the product of mental sickness; they are a social and political issue. 

More and more the murderers who wipe out entire families and carry out the mass killings are racist and/or associated with members of racist and extreme right wing white nationalist groups. The murderer Cruz in Florida claimed to be part of, and was initially claimed as, a member of a white supremacist group. He also had a picture of himself on the Internet with his Trump Make America Great Again hat. Trump has whipped up the nationalist, white supremacist, racist and sexist forces. He is seen by them as their leader. The KKK is continually praising him. The right wing racist ideas of the dominant elements in society, the divide and rule ideas of the ruling capitalist class motivates these this killers. 

The way to take on these killings is to organize a mass movement to change society and offer an alternative to those elements who cannot find a place in capitalist society. This is the reality. 

The major corporations that are now disassociating themselves from the NRA are not among the forces that think our explanation is correct. The capitalist media itself points out that Hertz, Enterprise, Met life, and others have a lot more customers than the NRA’s 5 million members and will cease to offer discounts. Delta and United, two of the world’s largest airlines have cut ties. That the NRA has underestimated the mood in society is an understatement.

What this reflects is that while capitalism needs ideas such as racism and sexism to be part of its divide and rule way of controlling the majority in society, it does not at this stage want racism and sexism and violence to boil over. It wants these ideas and the tension and social division that results form them, to simmer. But these mass killings, coming on the heels of the numerous protests of one sort or another from Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock, housing, incarceration and environmental issues, are threatening to evoke a mass movement, and the actions of these corporations are moving to prevent it from boiling over, disrupting society and undermining their rule. The capitalist class is not against racism, sexism and violence, but they want it to be kept at a level that does not threaten their control but helps them stay in control, that does not threaten their profits rather helps their profits. 

However, while this overall picture is correct, things cannot be left there. Because exploitation and alienation is greater in the US than any other economically advanced capitalist country and the trade union movement is so dominated by pro capitalist ideology which has been an obstacle to the development of a mass workers party in the US, the violence in US society is far more prevalent than other advanced capitalist economies.. 

Connected to this social violence is the availability of guns. This cannot be ignored. There are an estimated 300 million guns in civilian hands in the US. One in five gun sales in the US take place with no background check. At this time, a mass movement is rising up especially among the youth around the demand that something has to be done and the NRA's philosophy that guns should be handed out to anyone who can pay for them has to be challenged.  

While it is crucial to stress that US capitalism has to be replaced with a democratic socialist society in which people could build a peaceful and non-alienated society and a decent life for all, there must be some clear proposals to allow this rising anger and demand for action against the NRA and the investors in the gun industry whose philosophy is about profits rather than genuine self protection, to find organizational expression and obtain a victory for ordinary people.

 At our weekly Think Tank Conference call last Saturday, Facts for Working People discussed this issue and what demands we should advocate for this rising movement and what actions can be taken to win them.

Our conference call concluded that we are not in favor of any call to disarm the civilian population. This would mean leaving the monopoly of weaponry in the hands of the capitalist state and bands of armed criminals. The result would be that in the future, when the US working class will rise up to challenge US capitalism, their hands would be empty and capitalism would have the weapons to defend their property and profits. Even before that, when mass strikes and occupations take place, the bosses will try to organize reactionary and racist gangs both in and out of uniform to crush the workers’ movement. They will be less able to succeed in this if the working class is armed. 

In a revolutionary situation it would be necessary to appeal to sections of the capitalist state apparatus and the ranks of the military in particular to join the side of the anti capitalist struggle, to the side of the revolution. Such an appeal would be much more likely to be effective if the rising revolutionary workers’ movement was itself armed. Therefore FFWP does not believe it is correct to call for the disarming of the US population. 

At our Saturday Think Tank/ Conference call we agreed we should put forward and advocate the following five demands:

(1) Ban all fully automatic weapons such as the AR-15 and ban bump stocks.

(2) Ban all the destructive munitions which are made specifically to do as
much damage as possible on impact.  See this article 

(3) Limit the number of weapons an individual can buy. The Las Vegas killer bought 33 weapons in the year before his mass murder. 

(4) Do no business or have any financial dealings with NRA. 

(5) The organized labor movement to withdraw all services from NRA facilities, - utilities, communication, garbage collection, etc. Labor pull the plug on the NRA.  

The trade union leaders will not organize such action. However these leaders must not be ignored. Their refusal to lead and the reasons for their refusal to lead must be pointed out. The trade union leaders are terrified to take on the bosses and they are also terrified of the movement of their own members if they rose to take on the bosses on the gun issue or any other issue. Along with this there is their privileged positions, big salaries, secure jobs and good benefits the trade union hierarchy has awarded themselves within capitalism.

The demand for a new and different leadership that will take on the corporations and their capitalist system must be raised.  However while pointing out this reality and demanding a different leadership, it must be recognized that any serious action on the part organized labor at this time will only be organized by rank and file bodies in the unions, by union locals, by labor councils. Pulling together an alliance of such bodies and rank and file members, and taking this action, could open up cracks in the union leadership and some of them could then move to act. But the object is not to get the leaders to move, the object is to build a rank and file alliance that is prepared to take on the corporations and their capitalist system.  Such an alliance could close down the NRA, could inflict a defeat on their capitalist backers and could open the road for a new workers offensive on many other issues.

Our discussions also thought that these demands would be good to be begin with and would allow the rising movement against the NRA and its profit driven, blood soaked policies and its similar capitalist backers to mobilize around. We also discussed the following actions to advocate around these demands. 

We suggest the following: That school students and college students and all education workers take action around these five demands. They should all refuse to return to places of study and work because they are not safe. They should all refuse to go to places of study and work until these five demands are met. But not just stay at home, not just march or demonstrate, no limiting actions to hour long or day protests.  Instead the plan should be to mobilize in the city and town and community centers and block all traffic in these centers.  The movement should not hesitate to make it clear that to win these demands the movement is prepared to bring the country to a halt.

Mass strike action and mass mobilization is necessary. Appeal to youth and workers in other sectors to join them. Appeal to the 14 million strong trade union movement to take action. No union workers to provide services to the NRA. No going to places of study and work to be shot like fish in a barrel until something is done. Rank and file union action could also pull the plug, cut off utilities, etc., on all gun stores especially the large corporate chains which refuse to bow to these demands.  

Victory on any of these demands by such a mass movement would be a defeat for the right wing forces in the country. Would be a victory for the youth and workers in education. Would be a victory for working people in general. This in turn would open up the door to further demands. Free education. Better wages so as not to have to work 2 or 3 jobs. Maternity and paternity leave fully paid. Childcare facilities at places of education and work and in the communities fully professionally staffed and free at the point of use.  All these can be paid for by taxing the rich and cutting military spending. No taxes on workers or the middle class. Already some teachers have countered Trump's lying lunacy of arming teachers with their demands for what they want in the schools. Their demands were more spending on education, smaller class sizes, more teachers, etc.

Building a movement around these immediate demand and building a mass direct action and strike movement around them would begin to change the consciousness of the mass of the population in the country. Would begin to give people an understanding that the crisis of their lives was caused by the capitalist system and the profit addicted capitalist class, would begin to direct people to understand who and what the enemy was and to direct their anger, not at other working class people or at themselves but at the real enemy - the capitalist class and the capitalist system.

It is important that the working class as it rises to struggle should be armed. At present large sections of the US working class are presently armed with weapons. But the problem is that they are not armed politically, theoretically, historically, programmatically, tactically and organizationally. 

The most important task is to arm the working class on these fronts. The most immediate step is to organize a mass democratic alliance or united front to identify and take on the capitalist offensive, the capitalist attacks on wages, jobs, housing, conditions, education, health, the environment etc., through mass strike action and mass direct action occupations blocking of cities towns highways etc. Build a national alliance, a mass united front fighting with direct action and strike action tactics for a decent life for all working people. 

As part of this struggle, organize into democratic fighting trade unions. Organize the unorganized. Simultaneously organize to break the two capitalist party monopoly of the Republicans and the Democrats and build a mass working class and labor party that can fight for working people’s interests and end the violent, divisive, alienating dictatorship of the capitalist class and of capitalism. Such a movement can take out of private hands the economy’s dominant corporations and sectors and put these under collective ownership and control. 

And it will be necessary to build, as part of this movement, a revolutionary non- sectarian current of workers and youth to assist this movement to end capitalism and build a democratic sustainable planned socialist world.  


graminovore said...

It amazes me how many people who fully grasp the institutional duplicity and many betrayals of the Democratic Party will gladly jump on board whenever those same corporate politicians call for disarming the working class, as if those politicians were genuinely altruistic and honestly civic-minded on just this one issue. I used to be a Democrat but nowadays if a Democrat wants it I'm smart enough to know it's against my class interest.

Sean said...

Thank you Graminovore for your comments. But unfortunately you misunderstand this article. The position it takes has nothing to do with what the imperialist Democratic Party says or does not say. Its suggestions are based on what can give the tremendous youth and not youth movement that has mobilized against the mass killings a way forward. A way to reduce the killings. Also a way to inflict a defeat on the extreme right and in doing so give a new movement for change and against the right a boost. A defeat for the NRA and its profit addicted backers would help develop a movement on other issues such as more money for schools, better health care, tax the rich etc. A question graminovore - what do you say to this youth and not so youth movement that is demanding action to be taken against the NRA. Also read this article carefully it clearly states that it is not in favor of disarming the working people of this country and leaving the monopoly of weaponry in the hands of the capitalist state and criminal gangs. Another question - are you in favor of rocket propelled grenades even perhaps tactical nuclear weapons being available to all. If not why not? Where do you draw the line. Or do you draw a line? Sean O'Torain.

Mad Scientist said...

I must have missed the socialist demands in this article. We all want to defeat the NRA but that cannot be done as long a the armaments industries, its suppliers and dealerships are held in private hands. Socialist need to call for the nationalization of these industries without compensation to the big shareholders and that they be run under workers self management. I did find the socialist program here.

Richard Mellor said...

My mad friend, you didn't miss the socialist program, we didn't include the socialist program. You see, the mistake you make is that you have no concept of the transitional method. For you, the mood among the participants in this struggle is irrelevant. You don't even bother to analyze the objective reality and draw conclusions about how to intervene and help the movement move forward. In fact you have no perspective at all. The science of perspectives escapes you. Your approach is why the small left sects that all claim the mantle as the vanguard of the working class are isolated from that class and have no significant influence in it whatsoever. You haven't a clue how workers learn just repeating old slogans from the sidelines, vegetating on the fringes of the labor movement. You might want to look at where the self styled are at the moment. Consider your mistakes and why there are more socialists outside of the little grouplets than in them.