Red Guards Austin: But Who Controls the Guns?

Update: Between the writing and the publishing of this article, Rakem Bologun has beaten his charges in federal court and is now free. We wish to congratulate him and all the people who struggled on his behalf.  We see this development as a victory for Black people over the reckless prosecution from government agents and reactionaries. We express our solidarity and have chosen to release the original article as intended with this disclaimer and update.  

Any conversation or debate regarding bourgeois laws pertaining to firearms and gun rights must contend with the historical reality of the US as well as the current conditions of exploitation and oppression. Long before the US became the strongest imperialist power in the world, it was a settler-colonial project. It was, and is, dependent on the gun. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was created so that white men could defend the land they stole from Native Americans as well as to suppress and oppress enslaved Africans. It was, and remains, a racist doctrine. Communists do not contend with the question of gun control versus gun rights—the contradiction we focus on is power: who has power, and who must take it with force of arms.

We understand that the question of gun control is a hot topic, especially among the youth, who are rightly fed up with mass school shootings. Often this issue is falsely framed as an issue between left and right. In reality, it is deeply connected to the racist history of the US. Rights, like most everything else, are not delegated equally among the haves and the have-nots. Rights are still guaranteed or denied according to class, race, and social status.

Both gun control and gun rights are reactionarybourgeois inventions

Even predating the founding of the US, white settler militias were formed to carry out genocide against indigenous North Americans. In fact, many colonies and frontiers made it illegal for settlers to be unarmed; in essence, these laws created a militarized society of settlers. It is the origin (and implementation) of these very laws that produced US gun culture, a culture which is linked fundamentally to white supremacy.

Settlers on the land required firearms not only in the US but across the continent—bullets have been found in Incan bodies as far back as 1536. When the Spanish first entered what is now called Peru, they faced continued resistance from a people who refused to be colonized. The gun became integral to this process and the earliest firearms were used to put down indigenous rebellions. Production demands certain tools, and when a mode of production is based around control of land, domination of colonies, theft of resources, or slavery, then the gun becomes an indispensable tool of production. As with other tools of production, the question becomes who controls them, who wield them, and to what ends they are used?

As Marx and Engels express in the Communist Manifesto, the conquering of the new world combined with advances in navigation and industry led to the modern bourgeoisie emerging and becoming the ruling class. The enslavement of African people and the genocide and conquest of indigenous Americans is woven into the very fabric of the contemporary ruling class all the way back to their inception. When capitalism gained power over feudalism, it did so at the barrel of the gun. In this process of conquest and reorganization, capitalism created oppressed nations. As capitalism developed, it became imperialism, which is the principal contradiction in the world today—a contradiction that maintains itself mainly through violence.

The US, being founded by settlers who were required to bear arms, has laid the historic groundwork for the issues we face today. This problem has been conditioned and reproduced throughout history. As class struggle and developments in production have caused changes (for instance from slavery to “emancipation”), the ruling class has been forced to regulate the gun in its own interest.

This is very evident in the periods preceding and following the US Civil War with what were called the “Black Codes.” After the Southampton Insurrection of 1831 (also known as Nat Turner’s Rebellion), the state banned the possession of firearms for all freed slaves out of fear that the freed slaves would inspire further revolt among the enslaved. Nat Turner still stands as inspiration for the struggle, and as historical materialists, we understand that the motor of change is class struggle. Bourgeois history presents the “noble” thinking of the northern bourgeoisie as the motive for social change that sparked the Civil War. In reality, it was repeated uprisings, rebellions, and insurrections that brought slavery and the interests of the slave-owners into contradiction with production in the North and the interests of the ruling class that owned production there. The very first instances of gun rights, as well as of gun control, emerged from the implementation and maintenance of an oppressive, white-supremacist system.

The Black Codes continued and, in fact, increased in number after the Civil War. Mississippi and Alabama would both form “civilian militias” to brutally suppress any and all attempts by former slaves to bear arms. They did this with such excess that many felt that slavery and the newly established “freedom” were but a snake with two heads. The penalty for arming yourself if you were Black, even if it was to hunt or defend your land (like the whites claimed their guns were for), was often death, imprisonment, or—even more commonly—work without pay for years: in essence, slavery. These very same legal codes popped up in northern states as well, like Illinois and Maryland. The purpose of these laws was to prevent social interaction between white working-class people and the Black population. This served to disorient Black people, who were thrust from one relationship to production into another without being allowed to join the ranks of the working class properly.

At this time, it was illegal for white working-class people to associate with Black people, including by providing them with education. Violation of this law resulted in either steep fines that no worker could afford to pay, years in prison, or both. What the ruling class was afraid of then, and is still afraid of now, is an armed and organized Black population, which gains the support of the white majority. The bourgeoisie still fear class solidarity among Black and white people and among the proletariat in general. While gun rights and gun laws are unevenly enforced along racial lines to spread this division. Like all capitalists, they will at times speak out of both sides of their mouths, principally securing arms for white agents of the ruling class and putting other sections of the population at a disadvantage.

Furthermore, in post–Civil War conditions, former slaves and freed Black people were not allowed to rent property except in city centers. This was to force proletarianization upon them as well as to prevent them from renting rural properties that could be used to grow food or earn side income. Not only was proletarianization forced judicially, but the ruling class also carried it out in such a way as to produce deeper and lower strata of the proletariat. The process of proletarianization was not a peaceful process; it was infused with reactionary violence that relied on the gun as well as gun culture, which had carried on since the founding of the country. With this forced proletarianization came the criminalization of the Black communities in the city centers. To keep wages down, the ruling class promoted racist hiring policies that kept many Black people stuck in the reserve army of the unemployed, often forcing them into petty crime in order to survive. This was ideal to create conditions where black people would willingly work for a lower wage than white workers. Forming a contradiction that the bourgeois used to create further racial hatred and securing many white workers as their agents within the working class who would, provided the right conditions and incentives, turn on their class as a whole in the interest of their rulers.

At every step of the way, anti-racist whites were punished, excluded, or legally persecuted. The state created many laws that prevented the working class from unifying, criminalizing Black people and stringing up their supporters among white working people. When the carrot does not work, the masters use the stick. This division still asserts itself today in the form of wages, the judicial and penal systems etc. Black people face the stick without the carrot and whites who turn on white supremacy join them.

Once the ruling class had created ghettos through the Black Codes, they had to contend with the fact that many in the Black working class were beginning to feel the need to arm not only against the state and police abuse, but also for their own self-defense in the horrid conditions inflicted upon them. The class struggle produced many armed groups of left or left-leaning Black people. The most well-known is, of course, the Black Panther Party, but it is only one of several. Before the BPP, there were also the Deacons for Defense and others, who founded themselves for the purpose of defending Civil Rights Movement protesters in the south from KKK and police violence. However, it was the BPP who gained so much prestige that the bourgeoisie was forced in panic to enact stricter gun laws, and it was conservative Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, who passed the 1967 Mulford Act. The bill got its name from Republican Donald Mulford, an assemblyman from Oakland, but it was authored and supported by both Republican and Democratic Party officials, who in spite of all they would have you believe, are united on the question of guns not finding their way into the hands of the oppressed or their comrades. The Mulford Act banned public carrying of firearms in California and was enacted in direct response to the growing threat posed by the Black Panther Party and their supporters in the Communist movement.

Following the Mulford Act of 1967 was the 1968 Gun Control Act, signed into law by Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson—an act that was supported by the white-supremacist National Rifle Association (NRA). This law restricted manufacturing and owning of firearms, instituted mandatory background checks, and barred convicted felons from possessing firearms. Additionally, it brought about the banning of cheaper firearms that workers could afford because of their association with “inner-city crime.” Felony gun charges are also disproportionately targeted at the working class, and especially at Black people. Likewise, the way the laws are enforced targets Black people, building on the already-established racist history of the gun in the US. Once again, both liberal and conservative forces collude on behalf of white supremacy. The gun rights supposedly established have never been enforced evenly, as can be seen in the cases of Philando Castile, Marissa Alexander, and many other Black people licensed to conceal and carry. These people acted within the law, yet were either shot by police upon discovery of the weapon or incarcerated when it came down to defending themselves with force against assailants.

The question of gun control has once again entered popular discourse at a time when, following Trump’s election, right-wing and white-supremacist populism is on the rise, and school shootings have become commonplace, with devastating social results. However, cases of Black people in the US carrying out mass shootings in schools and churches against random people are not commonplace (we can’t find one at all), and the overwhelming majority of these anti-people massacres are committed by middle-class white men. This is all happening at a time when Black gun ownership is increasing. Once again, liberals and their supporters will collude with conservatives to pass harsher gun laws while selectively protecting “gun rights” to disarm and oppress the Black community and anyone who stands with them. Both liberals and conservatives are reactionary and represent the ideologies of the bourgeoisie.

Open carry, self-defense, and revolution

Texas is an open carry state, where reactionaries and fascists have long brandished weapons against whomever they want to intimidate, all while being protected by the police. More interesting than this is that both Communists and progressive Black nationalists have taken to arming themselves and practicing open carry in self-defense. This development has seen wave after wave of panic and repression from the state on both the local and federal levels. We see self-defense as a necessity and antifascism as self-defense. While it is not our desire to see consistent armed standoffs against better-armed and state-protected opponents, only those with a death wish would march into battle against such an enemy unarmed when it is well within their means to arm. Ideally, we would prefer that they were unarmed and that the street fighting that inevitably takes place any time fascists show up could be carried out without firearms involved. It would be preferable to bash them hard and scare them out of organizing without ever having to consider the possibility of armed escalation. Nonetheless, these are not the conditions we face in Texas as antifascists. Communists do not fight for “gun rights” or the preservation of the Second Amendment any more than we fight for bourgeois gun control. Communists do not open carry to show off firepower or to pose but for one reason: firing when necessary to protect the people from direct threat posed by armed fascists and the reactionary state.

At these actions, it is only the right wing and the fascists who seek escalation, because it is only they who enjoy the protection of the police and bourgeois laws. It is reactionaries who have drawn and pointed loaded pistols, trained their rifles on demonstrators, and so on. Even fascist “news” agency InfoWars has been seen down at city hall crying about Communists being armed. Their Second Amendment hysteria only goes so far, and they too follow suit, begging the bourgeoisie in city office to control the guns of the proletariat. It should also be stressed that Communists at this stage of development are not carrying out armed attacks and especially would not carry these out against civilian targets like schoolchildren or Black churchgoers the way the far right has consistently done. The right wing act in the tradition of gun violence that is inextricably linked to the settler-colonial conquest of the Americas; they are part of this cultural tradition and have their guns aimed at us still.

Mao Zedong said that we must pick up the gun in order to put down the gun. For us, this means that as long as we are dispossessed, then by all means, including guns, we must seek to prevail against our enemies. Only with victory over them can we birth a better world.

Communists believe in armed struggle to overthrow the current ruling class as well to institute the proletarian state, which will use guns to suppress the former ruling class. The question for us is power: revolution and how to develop it toward victory, how to fight counter-revolution after victory, and how to propel socialism forward to communism, to a world where the gun has been put down. It is our position that we cannot win this war by simply enduring death, although endurance is a vital part of a protracted struggle. We insist that it is by inflicting death upon our enemies in power that the power of the proletariat is established, preserving ourselves and destroying the enemy. In this scope, gun rights and gun control do not factor in. The people who must take power—that is, the working people—are already by and large excluded from the rights of the capitalist system, which are rights established to ensure the system’s dominance in the first place.

We do not expect that the ruling class will ever willingly allow the oppressed to truly wield weapons or legally arm themselves. Therefore, when it comes to revolutionary armed struggle, there should be no thought of legality. Revolution itself is a violent, illegal act, but is both just and correct. Anyone who claims to rebel within the confines of the law is not actually rebelling at all—they are merely performing a dance. Follow the strings of the revisionists and you will find the fat hand of the bourgeois puppeteers. For this reason, we make clear demarcations between revolutionary armed struggle and the use of self-defense. Let us also be clear on the fact that self-defense is often not actually guaranteed by law, and that thousands of poor working folks are incarcerated right now for defending themselves. We advocate defending the people and ourselves. To hell with bourgeois laws! What is correct and just seldom corresponds with the laws of this reactionary country anyway.

It has long been our position that serious left-wing groups need to master arms and that in our conditions, it is necessary, although not preferable, to practice open (or concealed) carry against fascists and the right-wing movement, which are already doing this to intimidate or defeat our movements. There can be no other expectation than the state repressing us, and largely either ignoring or encouraging the right to continue with their armed activity.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence to support the position that the state’s permissiveness and encouragement for reactionaries are already taking place in the context of repression against Communists and progressive Black nationalists. The left—that is, progressive Black activists and anti-racists supporters alike—do not enjoy equal rights under the Constitution and are investigated, targeted, and harassed when they begin to arm in self-defense. The state will target even unarmed people in the movement if they think they can strike a blow against the rising tendency of left-wing groups taking up guns.

Repression against Communists and Black nationalistsin Texas

Many in the Austin left, and especially those in the militant movements, are aware of increasing state repression over the past two to three years locally—conditions in which no fewer than seven activists have been harassed by the FBI-APD joint anti-terrorism task force. This includes activists who were locked up in county jail as well as ones who were harassed at their homes, and this list can go on to include four or five associates or family members of known activists as well. It is becoming increasingly clear that the activity of the state is more and more coming to resemble a newly reinvigorated COINTELPRO. This includes the use of infiltrators, both in the form of informants as well as agent-provocateurs, not to mention actual undercover law enforcement on the ground at popular actions, as was seen last May 1st when activists witnessed two large “black bloc activists” dressed as anarchists dodge out and jump into a passing police van during a sensitive extraction.

The state relies on varying type of informants who gather information or seek to create problems for local activists. The most visible type of rat is the agent provocateur—people like Brandon Darby and Jesus Mares, who become dejected over time and turn their wrecker activity over to official state services. The character type and personality of these provocateurs are eerily similar; they are in many respects cut from the same cloth. This personality always includes a certain type of bravado, an over-emphasis on weapons and serious illegal actions that have no regard for the political interests of the movement or for the masses in general. For Communists and the revolutionary people, the masses and their class-consciousness are what must be considered to determine whether an action is acceptable. The provocateur, however, lacks this interest in the masses completely and becomes both an ultra-leftist in some respects and a right-opportunist in other respects—after all, ultra-leftism when understood correctly is rightism in essence, as it seeks to liquefy revolutionary politics and revolutionary organizations by disregarding the masses of people. Both Darby and Mares fit this trait, both of them carried out their pig-work, wrecking, and informing in left-wing spaces in Austin, Texas, and both were gun-obsessed before exposure as the rat traitors they really are.

What is particularly concerning is the multitude of victims these provocateur/informants accumulate in a short amount of time through both entrapment and false charges. It seldom stops with just their intended targets and instead puts the whole movement at risk. The purpose, after all, is to serve reaction and to halt or damage the people’s struggles, all in the interests of the bourgeoisie. Informants and state agents are most often focused on guns that are legally procured and owned, because, as usual, the laws of the state are not extended to enemies of the state.

In Austin most recently, two well-respected activists were arrested on this type of false charges leveled by the provocateur/informant Jesus Mares. These two activists, Comrade Dallas and his comrade fiancée, are well loved by their community as well as the revolutionary mass movement in Austin. Comrade Dallas faces a plethora of shaky charges, from aggravated assault to two cases of felon in possession of a firearm (simultaneous charges for the same alleged firearm possession in both state and federal jurisdiction). As has been reported elsewhere, it appears the state and government has been staggering the charges to perpetuate a cycle of release and arrest in order to harass and demoralize him. What’s more, they arrested his pregnant fiancée with such delicate timing as to maximize the psychological impact on both of them as well as their supporters. This psychological operation has not restricted itself to just those two, but has also been used on family and supporters of the two comrades. In addition to all this is an increase in surveillance and intimidation tactics. As time goes by, we should expect to learn of illegal wire taps or home invasions carried out by agents of the state, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the work carried out by infiltrator Jesus Mares and his snitch partner, Angelica Clark.

Both of our comrades who were arrested are being targeted due to their history of pro-Black and anti-capitalist activism. With no real charges, the state has had to mobilize its infiltrators and informants to level false charges. State repression against Black militants and antifascist/anti-racist activists is not limited to the Austin area. Anyone who espouses liberation and armed self-defense for the masses, and especially the masses of the oppressed nations held captive by the US, is a viable target in the eyes of the state. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club is such an organization.

Our mission is to arm and educate black people in the US and abroad. Werealize that this is an international struggle against capitalism andimperialism”—Huey P. Newton Gun Club

Last December, the feds arrested another respected community activist in Dallas, Texas, on more trumped-up gun charges. Rakem Bologun (government name Christopher Daniels) was under FBI surveillance for at least two years before his apartment was raided and he was arrested. The raid took place shortly after the feds made up the category of “Black Identity Extremist,” a label that Rakem had already begun to expose and educate against. Rakem is a community activist and supporter of several groups, including Guerrilla Mainframe and Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and like the two comrades in Austin, he too was well respected by his community. Rakem was targeted because of his ideology and effectiveness in practice. The government saw fit to make an example of him and try to eliminate or persecute a leading Black activist with the scare label “Black Identity Extremist” by charging him (as they charged Comrade Dallas) with unlawful possession of a firearm. The state has made it clear—they fear and detest an armed left-wing movement that, regardless of these witch hunts, is on the rise in this country. Along with the firearms seized in his case was a copy of the book Negroes WithGuns by Robert F. Williams, a man famously persecuted by the US state to the point of going into exile, first in Cuba and then in China, where he was photographed with Chairman Mao Zedong. Of the items confiscated, it is Williams’s book that the state truly fears as a deadly weapon, and it is Comrade Rakem’s ideas that they seek to lock away.

When looking at the cases of these three comrades, we can identify similar approaches and techniques that the reactionary bourgeois state is using. This includes using the politics and ideology of the accused comrades in court and court documents against them. In the case of Rakem, the federal judge viewed a propaganda video from notorious reactionary and fascist “news” source InfoWars, which is based in Austin, and is in no way to be considered objective or reliable journalism, let alone evidence. InfoWars has also waged a similar smear campaign, including a pompous “declaration of war,” against Red Guards Austin. In the former case of protracted harassment by far-right “news,” Rakem was singled out and accused of participation in a large Black open carry protest that occurred in Austin in March of 2015, where during the peak of South by Southwest, Black activists marched on the Capitol Building. It was InfoWars’ twisted reports that sparked the FBI surveillance of Rakem to begin with. InfoWars founder and leader Alex Jones has boasted and claimed that he has semi-frequent phone conversations with proto-fascist president Donald Trump. It would appear that he has the ear of the feds as well. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have named the groups in Dallas and Austin in separate documents as either Black Identity Extremists or dangerous Maoists, respectively bringing presumed members, or presumed leaders, under direct government attack.

According to an independent journalist present at Comrade Dallas’s pretrial detention hearing in federal court, federal prosecution wasted no time bringing Comrade Dallas’s politics to the forefront and attempting to center them in the case as he advocated for detention and against bond. The prosecution would go on to claim that Comrade Dallas is a member of the “Austin Red Guards [sic]” without a shred of evidence to support the claim. He would then go on to contradict himself by claiming that Dallas was “kicked out of Austin Red Guard for being too violent.” It appears he cannot decide whether the comrade is in the organization or if he was kicked out.

The hearing took the form of a spectacle as the testifying FBI agent cited past charges that have already been discredited and thrown out (due to lack of evidence and the fact that our comrade is innocent) as evidence that the comrade is a dangerous and violent Communist who must be confined in jail pending trial. When confronted about this by defense attorneys, the agent stumbled, stuttered, and appeared to have little understanding of the facts. The prosecution followed this up by attempting to discredit the comrade’s mother as a liar with “anti-police hatred.” Even though it is not illegal to dislike the police—and in fact it would be highly reasonable for her to dislike the police since DPS (Texas state troopers) attempted to murder her son back in November of 2016—they felt it appropriate to drag her political views into the hearing. The feds simply cannot stand the idea that left-wing activists enjoy the support of both their communities and their families. The state seeks to break up families with prison and destroy working-class communities with drugs etc., not the revolutionary activists. The pretrial hearing ended with the prosecution looking foolish as they attempted to claim Comrade Dallas was a member of an armed unit, complete with classic redbaiting tactics dating back to the 1930s and continuing on through the Cold War. While these tactics might seem anachronistic to some, their longevity is not surprising to our supporters or us.

The state, without hesitation, has made one thing clear: these comrades are targeted due to their ideas and presence of those ideas among the people and only secondarily as supposed criminals. In fact, the state views these comrades as low-hanging fruit. Both of the men charged for possession of firearms were given criminal records as either political activists or due to racist profiling and targeting. The policies of racist gun control and racist gun rights are both wrapped up in these cases.

Contrast the way the government has prosecuted these cases with the soft-touch approach they take to those on the right, including buying Burger King for mass-murdering fascist Dylan Roof upon his arrest, and a grim picture of the state’s reliance on fascist populism comes into focus. Another vivid example occurred in March of this year—while comrades Rakem and Dallas were in federal custody being attacked as a Black Identity Extremist and a Communist, respectively—in the context of a terrorist bombing campaign carried out by a murderous white reactionary by the name of Mark Anthony Conditt. APD’s interim police chief, Brian Manley, called a video Conditt had left behind “the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.” Conditt was portrayed in the media as “mentally ill,” and his neighbors were interviewed saying favorable things about him while the same outlets in an egregious act of victim blaming had just criminalized one of his victims. These same news outlets downplayed Conditt’s Christian fundamentalism and anti-choice bigotry. His violent and reactionary ideology was not used to criminalize him because the state itself is violent and reactionary. Neither the people’s revolutionary organizations in Austin nor the national liberation organizations in Dallas have ever been accused of or carried out such terrorist activity—in fact, the left condemns such acts as anti-people and hence counterrevolutionary. What these organizations do is feed and train their people while fighting for their interests.

Individual acts of terrorism are the hallmark of far-right reactionaries and are not at all a tactic of the left. Revolutionaries staunchly oppose such actions—actions that not only alienate the masses, but also in most cases target them with violence. Conditt is viewed as troubled or misunderstood, and questions were and are asked to the effect of “What pushed him to this point?” while Black activists like Rakem and anti-racist activists like Comrade Dallas are systematically slandered and degraded.

The different approach to the left- and right-wings’ access to arms is made obvious in the way witch hunts are carried out against left-wing and Communist activists even as the right is conducting more and more bold terror campaigns.

People in the Communist movement, as well those in as any other progressive force that values the life and well-being of the masses, oppose individual acts of terrorist violence and instead promote and cultivate work among the masses of people to organize them for the revolutionary cause. Without this type of revolutionary mass organizing, nothing will be accomplished. The flip side to this is the fact that revolutionaries and especially Communists face an onslaught on two fronts: The first is from the state itself in the form of the local police as well as the FBI, the “justice” system, and the courts. The second is from the most backward sections of the civilian population, who are in service of the ruling class. This second category includes fascists and other reactionaries already engaged in anti-people acts of terror. This reality forces the revolutionary movement to guard and defend itself.

Security and self-defense are two vital aspects that must be cultivated without hesitation. This is not to say that these things come naturally. In almost all cases, one must learn by doing—by a process of trial and error. Even the most advanced security and self-defense formations can still be compromised. To many who still lack a revolutionary viewpoint, turncoats and informants will be irreversibly demoralizing and cause them to pack it up and avoid militant or revolutionary politics and practice altogether. Those with a revolutionary viewpoint understand that the enemy, while they appear fierce and even invincible, do not have the support of the people, and so it is only tough in form and not in its essence. Deep down, the enemy is weak and toothless. When it is attacked by the people en masse, it will decompose and be eradicated from the stage of history, ushering in true equality in the ongoing struggle for a classless and stateless society—Communism. This is the viewpoint left-wing activists and revolutionaries in Texas and elsewhere must maintain. Yes, there will be informants. There were informants for the tsar at the top levels of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, and upon the Party’s victory, they were tried in revolutionary courts and put to death. We must not be destroyed by the short-term view, as Mao teaches Communists must have largeness of mind and that Marxism is positive in spirit. This is what is meant by accomplishing revolutionary optimism. The fact remains that strategically, and with a long-term view, the enemy is weak, and it is the proletariat who will win the world.

The US is and always has been the most violent project

We have established the falseness of the contradiction of gun control versus gun rights and exposed this contradiction as a symbiotic whole—one supporting the other in the overall interests of white supremacy. So then, the question of terrorism, mass shootings, and so on, is not one of gun control versus gun rights, but one of the very nature and origins of this country. The US was born in violent conquest, and it has sustained itself through violent coercion and genocide. It has produced a particularly violent and reactionary culture.

This culture is both a product of and insurance for imperialism. The US is a waning imperialist power, waging endless war and proxy wars in the Third World so that its finance capital can consume and dominate the world. This phenomenon is reproduced at home and is supported by major social divisions, oppression, and injustice. To grasp the essence behind gun violence, one must first understand the reactionary and violent culture produced and reproduced in US society. This is the cause of mass shootings, and the solution to it will not come, as the Democrats and Republican pundits both suggest, through either gun control or increased gun rights. Mainstream “left” and right forces already agree on the matter; they have mostly always agreed and will likely continue to agree.

The solution to the violent culture of the US consists in undoing the legacy of settler-colonialism and slavery, by smashing the prison house of nations, and by replacing it with national liberation and socialism. In a socialist society, anti-people violence will be opposed, the people will harness education, social well-being will replace profit as the purpose and measure of production.

Socialism alone will not do away with violence. Interpersonal assaults and even anti-people activity will persist and have to be struggled against through continued revolution. In this revolution, the masses will come to wield political theory; the science of revolution and socialist culture will radically differ from capitalist US settler culture. Guns will no longer be tools left in the hands of the bourgeoisie and their reactionary, anti-social henchmen. Instead, the masses, once armed with a socialist viewpoint, can be armed militarily and form actual people’s militias. Weapons, contrary to the way they exist now as privately owned commodities, will be wielded by the Red Army, the Communist Party, and the revolutionary mass militias. All of these remain deeply liked with the people by the process of ongoing socialist Cultural Revolution. Only once the whole of the people in the world are armed in this way will we will have achieved communism—a free, fully liberated society where all are equal and there no state and no classes exist.

US capitalism-imperialism has produced a vile social sickness, a worldview in which innocent human life is cheap and expendable. Our class and the people deserve better; they deserve power—real power—which will necessarily grow from the barrel of the gun. For Communists, it is not the guns that are decisive in battle, but the people. This means that even if a general, all-out weapons ban came about tomorrow, it would not fundamentally alter the revolutionary strategy of the proletariat—protracted people’s war—a war in which there is mass participation and the unarmed guerrilla becomes armed by snatching weapons off the enemy. Neither gun control nor gun rights factor into this strategy in a meaningful way.

The conditions in the US are not currently in place to allow the initiation of people’s war, so we instead must attend to the urgent tasks of building the Party, the People’s Army, and the United Front, all of which are connected to the revolutionary masses and their struggles. To accomplish this, and to defend these mass links, community self-defense is of key importance. We Communists do not fetishize the gun or the bourgeois Constitution. On the contrary, we seek to abolish both. We do, however, understand that when then enemy is armed and at your doorstep, you must maximize your chance of fighting back. We understand that even in the stage of accumulating forces, before the initiation of people’s war, revolutionary organizations have no choice but to take self-defense seriously. This means, in most cases, to arm.

A socialist armed society that values human life and the well-being of the people stands in stark opposition to a settler society of armed white reactionaries that, due to gun rights and gun laws, are the conditions we face today. We find it unthinkable to defend rights not won through class struggle but awarded in the interests of slavery and genocide like the Second Amendment. We find it equally unthinkable to fight for reforms that advance gun control in light of the way it has been used primarily for racist ends and in support of repressing our people—the working class and the people of oppressed nations. Our class and the oppressed nations do not possess the luxury of concerning themselves only with bourgeois laws; they must concern themselves with the greater project of human liberation in the form of socialist revolution.

National liberation and the right to self-determination for the oppressednations!

Organize community self-defense outside of the state!

Let the masses and the dictatorship of the proletariat control the guns!

—Red Guards Austin, 2018


Please support the comrades who are being targeted with state repression:

(Rakem, although no longer in federal custody, is now in the process of rebuilding his life, so we still encourage you to donate.) 

Donate to Rakem here:

Write to Comrade Rakem here:
Christopher Daniels
ID 56601-177
FCI Seagoville
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 900
Seagoville, TX 75157


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C. Kistler

Also editor of Nouvelle Turquie.