The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gun Control and Marxism

Overthrowing the System: The Best Protection Against Gun Violence

(From the Partisan No. 24)

The “Scarborough shootings” of Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, in gang fire at a block party this summer in Toronto have been met with the familiar explanations and calls for solutions.

From the right who call for tougher laws to the social democrats, who believe in a “softer” form of capitalism and want more funding for community programs and more gun regulation, both are superficial and knee-jerk in their analyses. Indeed, their understanding of what it means to be a black youth and the reality for racialized communities never goes beyond their immediate response to gun deaths turned media-spectacle.

As Marxists, we know that it is not simple regulation or a dearth of one-hour-a-week community programs that is to blame here. The entire system we are forced to live under needs to be radically transformed to end the phenomenon of violence within marginalized and exploited communities.

Here are some aspects of the complicated relationship between gangs and capitalism. The military-industrial complex and the prioritization of corporate profits over people makes it easier for children to access guns than education and meaningful work. Families are fractured by unemployment, financial pressure, forced economic migration, immigration laws, and other phenomena of global capitalism – the result is often that youth are more impoverished and have less guidance and support from loved elders.

Racist laws criminalize children at young ages, creating enclaves of youth who have been “marked,” and therefore have limited job options, are often shunned or patronized by teachers and authorities, and are ripe for exploitation by gangs. Bourgeois law, which ignores companies that poison water or individuals who steal millions in the stock market, nonetheless finds it appropriate to jail parents —especially black fathers— for minor crimes. The detainment of black fathers also puts financial and emotional strain on youth, the kind of stress that makes friendships and material wealth available in gangs seem attractive.

As communists, we are working to build a revolutionary youth movement that seeks to organize against the parasitic gangsterism, police brutality and racist education system in our communities. More broadly, our goal is to replace a system where the elite benefit from the impoverishment of the masses to one where wealth is distributed equally and youth are critically educated and afforded meaningful work opportunities that benefit their communities.


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