By Caleb T. Maupin
Alex Jones, the ultra-right-wing radio host, has made a name for
himself in recent weeks by rabidly denouncing proposed gun control
legislation. He yelled at CNN interviewer Piers Morgan, but in his
tirade Jones stated many historical inaccuracies.
For example, he claimed that socialist countries like the former
Soviet Union outlawed guns. In reality, hunting was a national past time
in the former USSR and many people owned firearms. In modern socialist
Cuba many people are armed.
Another false statement made by Jones is that “Hitler outlawed guns.”
A closer look at the history of Germany in the 1920s and 30s shows not
only the inaccuracy of this statement, but a clear historical lesson
about the nature of the capitalist state that is highly relevant in the
current debate about gun control in the aftermath of the horrendous
shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Red Front Fighters League
In the 1920s and 30s, there was extreme poverty in Germany after it
lost World War I, and it was forced to pay massive reparations to
Britain and France. German workers were unemployed and suffering
immensely, even before the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929.
In response to this poverty and suffering, the German working class
fought back. They formed militant unions and unemployed councils. In his
book “Unemployed Struggles,” British communist Wal Hannington tells of
visiting Germany in the 1920s. He described how unemployed workers
poured into downtown Berlin, smashing store windows and distributing the
food inside. The police who attempted to stop the unemployed workers
from seizing food were then met with gunfire from the rooftops of nearby
Who did the shooting to defend unemployed workers who seized food for
themselves and their families? It was the Red Front Fighters League.
This was an organization, led by the German Communist Party, that
carried guns and trained its members in firearm use. Much like the
Deacons for Defense or the Black Panther Party decades later in the
United States, the RFFL was an organization of progressive people who
used firearms to fight injustice.
On May 1, 1929, the German Communist Party called for a peaceful
parade on International Worker’s Day. During the parade, the police
opened fire on the peaceful crowd. The RFFL responded to the police
violence, shooting back in self-defense. For the next several days,
Berlin was the site of a massive working-class uprising. Barricades went
up and communists led armed battles with the police.
The capitalist press blamed the violence following the May Day parade
on the communists. The Red Front Fighters League was outlawed, and a
ban on firearms was put into effect.
Nazis kept their guns
Another political party also existed in Germany at that time and used
guns to further its aims. It was called the Nazi Party. Armed bands of
Nazis, called “Stormtroopers,” openly carried guns as they terrorized
and shot people while preaching extreme racism and anti-Semitism.
While the German government actively disarmed the communists, the
Nazis continued to stockpile weapons and terrorize people. Among the
ranks of the Nazis were many military and police officers.
In 1933, the Nazi Party took power. The communists and social
democrats could have formed a united front to defeat Hitler, but did not
do so. Guns had already been outlawed, and Hitler assumed power without
a single shot being fired. The Weimar Republic’s ban on guns did not
stop Nazi terror. It merely hindered the people’s ability to fight back.
When the Nazis took power, they outlawed trade unions, the Communist
Party, the Social Democratic Party and all other progressive
organizations. The Nazi regime rounded up Protestant ministers,
pacifists and educators who publicly denounced them; lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and queer people; those with disabilities; and
millions of Jewish people, exterminating 12 million people in gas
chambers and through forced labor, starvation and rampant disease.
Capitalists won’t disarm fascists
The lesson to be learned is this: Capitalist governments will not
disarm fascists. This has always been the case, as Sam Marcy, founder of
Workers World Party, documented in his book “The Klan and the
Government: Foes or Allies?”
Racist murderers are usually on friendly terms with the police. In
Greensboro, N.C., the Ku Klux Klan worked hand in hand with the FBI to
assassinate leaders of the Communist Workers Party in 1979. More
recently, Hal Turner, the neo-Nazi radio host, received thousands of
dollars from the FBI while threatening the life of progressive
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
Gun laws in the U.S. have mainly been used to disarm formerly
enslaved people. The first gun law was passed in Louisiana in 1751 as
part of the racist French “Black Codes.” (“The Racist Roots of Gun
Control,” firearmsandliberty.com) In New York City, gun control now
takes the form of stop-and-frisk in which Black and Latino/a youth are
frequently profiled and searched without justifiable cause by the cops.
The recent wave of mass shootings reveals how U.S. society is loaded
with racism, economic instability and violence. In such a society
horrific acts of merciless violence can and do occur frequently.
However, we should not be fooled into trusting the Wall-Street-run
capitalist state to protect working-class and oppressed people. It never