A Non-Pacifist's Critique Of The Gun Debate
Radicals around me from the far-Left, mainly anarchists, Marxists, and non-affiliated anti-fascists, since Obama was elected, have been up in arms about the looming potential of maybe losing their arms. After another example of mass death via the easy accessibility of mass-murdering weapons, Democratic politicians in the US are trying again to reform the legalize-faire laws on guns. People I know are saying guns=revolution, that they, as a small minority in arms, will have the ability to stop the neoliberal-State and/or fascist-State. But, as it stands, the masses are not up in arms and ready to seize the governmental and economic apparatuses, through force (or not).
Recently re-reading Durruti: In The Spanish Revolution, I have connected it to what is going on in the far-Left and guns. There are many examples of “The People In Arms” in this social-autobiography of the Spanish Anarchist movement, the largest non-authoritarian far-Left movement to ever exist. The book highlights a struggle that lasted a century (mid-1800’s to mid-1900’s), one in which people saw a illegitimate system and took the means to change it through every method, many being non-violent, like strikes. So, when there were a series of off-and-on-again Fascist Dictatorships in Spain in the 1930's and anti-human actions by the democratic governments that popped up in-between, there would be armed insurrectionary moments fomented by the Anarchists.
Here is an example (the CNT is the far-Left anarchist union):
On November 23, 1933, the CNT and FAI’s National Revolutionary Committee set up base in Zaragoza, which would soon be the city most engaged in the insurrection… [The CNT] divided a map of Spain into colored zones, with each color indicating a region’s potential. In the red zones (Aragón, Rioja, and Navarre) the insurrection would be the most aggressive; in the blue zones (Catalonia, in particular) it would begin with a general strike and then become revolutionary; in the green zones (Center and North), where the Socialists dominated, there would be a general strike and an attempt to draw Socialist workers into the struggle. Valencia and Andalusia were marked in red-blue.
The National Revolutionary Committee (NRC) printed pamphlets urging the workers to take immediate control of the means of production by occupying the factories, mines, and workshops. They were to set up Workers Committees in the workplaces, which would federate locally and form the Local Workers’ Council. People in rural areas were to form Free Communes and federate by county. They would seize the large food depots and distribute food products through cooperatives. They would also create an armed workers’ militia that would provide revolutionary security. It would be organized in small and highly mobile guerrilla detachments, using trucks and other vehicles to get around. They sent these pamphlets to the CNT Defense Committees and FAI groups, who reproduced them in large numbers and distributed them in all the villages.
Notice the focus on democracy and that the emphasis on arms as secondary? They were able to organize their insurrections well in advance amongst a large swath of people because they had their trust. Also, they did so in a democratic manner. Seriously, they were just giving out pamphlets about an illegal insurrection like it was not a big deal! Not surprising in that they represented a rational alternative to the status-quo for many people, from all strata of life, so they could go to where the weapons were and well, just take them.
The far-Left now thinks the fascist-state is looming or already exists, either through neoliberalism or Trump's far-Right Populism. [The far-Right thinks without their arms the NWO (Zionist, Feminist, Masonic, etc) will take over and turn everyone into cattle and put them into one mass prison]. And to draw on the logic of Georges Fontenis, Capitalism and the State are just a tool for exploitation, not the root of it. They do continue to be utilized to make the world worse for some: violence and terror if you're non-white, a women, poor, not heteronormative, and/or in a country colonized or under siege by the National and Transnational forces. However, things are different now. The US has a military whose supremacy is beyond comprehension; and its domination almost global. And the automized-globalized changes in our world from an industrial society to a post-industrial society developed a cybernetic revolution that revolutionized how we interact as a society. This, in part, is why BLM has developed and not another mass armed Leftist group. Murray Bookchin's analysis of the Spanish Anarchists and their Revolution of 1936-1939 is informative:
The Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 was, at its inception, the last of the classical European workers’ and peasants’ revolutions — not, let me make it clear, a short-lived “uprising,” a cadre-controlled “guerrilla war,” or a simple civil conflict between regions for national supremacy. And like so many life-forms that appear for the last time, before fading away forever, it was the most far-reaching and challenging of all such popular movements of the great revolutionary era that encompasses Cromwellian England of the late 1640s and the working-class uprisings of Vienna and Asturias of the early 1930s.
...Our period, which stresses the development of the individual self as well as social self-management, stands in a highly advantageous position to assess the authentic nature of libertarian organization and relationships. A European or American civil war of the kind that wasted Spain in the thirties is no longer conceivable in an epoch that can deploy nuclear weapons, supersonic aircraft, nerve gas, and a terrifying firepower against revolutionaries. Capitalist institutions must be hollowed out by a molecular historical process of disengagement and disloyalty to a point where any popular majoritarian movement can cause them to collapse for want of support and moral authority. But the kind of development such a change will produce — whether it will occur consciously or not, whether it will have an authoritarian outcome or one based on self-management — will depend very much upon whether a conscious, well-organized libertarian movement can emerge.
So many communities now (those who just suffered from mass murder or who deal with mass murder daily as we see in Chicago and cities now approaching Chicago) are saying they want less violence from guns, but also from the State or Capitalists. They want their families to not be put in jail, deported, and/or to receive true justice when in their lives or workplaces they suffer injustice. That is the call now.
A Plea To The Armed Left:
My comrades in arms who feel revolution is made mostly through arms, you're not part of the vanguard of a mass revolutionary movement because one at present doesn't exist (whether this is the fault of the Left, Right, or history is for a different article). Your revolution by a minority in arms sounds too much like Russia in 1917, Mussolini in 1921, etc. And, if we are thinking clearly, means to counter “The People” from taking power in the future will be covert and nebulously postmodern, as it is being done now or always has been done (hegemonically). There is plain-and-simple gradual and seemingly non-violent austerity that deprives people of energy and life, etc. Or, to get futurist, they will take the form of bio-political strikes or oppression, or computer-based warfare. Those of you who continue to focus on gun battles, your desire for danger is self-centered, reflecting the privilege you have in not recognizing what violence people are actually experiencing. Maybe, later, you can be heroic if you are needed. Get ready to actually help people or start doing it now; calm down about guns; go build a movement like BLM; organize your community; and/or build an actual legitimate alternative to what exists, if you feel that what exists is inherently unable to become something more emancipatory. Guns for any of those are not needed now.