By Ian Ocx, Red Phoenix correspondent, Texas.
On Saturday May 6th, 2023 a self-described neo-Nazi named Mauricio Garcia (33, he/him), who was wearing a vest with the abbreviation R.W.D.S. (“Right Wing Death Squad”) arrived at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, just outside of Dallas, and proceeded to brutally murder eight people with his AR-15 assault rifle. His victims, whom Garcia killed indiscriminately as he fired into the crowd, ranged in age and nationality. Their names were: Kyu Song Cho (37, he/him), Cindy Cho (33, she/her), Christian LaCour (20, he/him), Elio Cumana-Rivas (32, he/him), Aishwarya Thatikonda (26, she/her), and three children ages 3, 8, and 11. This act of violence perpetrated by Garcia is just one of 208 mass shootings (as of 05-11-2023) that have occurred within the US so far this year. This tragedy is interconnected to other contradictions that are intensifying within US society: (i) the continued failure of American bourgeois society to deal with the gun violence that has plagued the US for decades and (ii) the rampant growth of right-wing extremism.
American Bourgeois Society and Gun Violence, the Never Ending Tragedy
Between the years 2016 and 2022 the US averaged 490 mass shootings a year, with some years being more violent than others. To add to the issue, gun culture has become largely interwoven into American society as a representation of individualism and freedom, with the US having the most civilian-held firearms of any country. If broken down, the numbers show that for every 100 US citizens there exist 120 known legal firearms that are personally owned in the country. The issue with gun violence exists further back than just 2016 and has been a prolific problem within US society for decades, a problem that seems to only be getting worse as the internal and inherent contradictions of capitalism persist. The National Institute of Justice of the United States (NIJ) recently completed a study covering mass shootings within the last fifty years in the US. They found that nearly half of the mass shootings in that time frame occurred after the year 2000, with 33% of that half occurring after 2010, demonstrating an increasing rate of incidents over time. The NIJ also found that mass shootings are increasing in their deadliness. In the 1970s mass shootings in the US claimed an average of 8 lives per year, whereas from 2010-2019 mass shootings claimed an average of 51 lives per year.
As the number of mass shootings and their death toll increases almost yearly in the US, mass shootings have begun to cement themselves as part of everyday life in American society. They occur anywhere people are gathered: grocery stores, malls, buildings of prayer, parks, community events, and schools. Many schools engage in active shooter simulation drills which can cause negative impacts on the mental and emotional health of students and youth as well as school staff. The FBI has even put out a Public Service Announcement on how to survive a mass shooting. Several of the worst and most deadly shootings have occurred in the last decade alone.
As this particular outgrowth of the alienating nature of American capitalism continues to persist and even intensifies, almost daily, the bourgeois-democratic nature of US politics does not allow for a viable solution for the masses of people. Over the last decade there have been numerous federal attempts to create stronger regulations on the buying, selling, and owning of firearms within the United States, yet the vast majority of them have failed as reactionary elements of the American bourgeoisie see gun sales as great business with the two largest gun manufacturers in the US – Smith & Wesson, and Stum, Ruger & Company – seeing profits of $449 million and $280 million respectively in 2021. It also needs to be mentioned that the National Rifle Association (NRA) spends millions of dollars on lobbying within the US government to minimize the number and efficacy of gun laws, restrictions, and regulations. It’s also worth noting that in 2005 there was a largely successful attempt to protect and secure the profits of gun manufacturers when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gave weapons manufacturers complete immunity from legal repercussions concerning the violence and death caused by their products. Even so-called “socialists” in Congress like Bernie Sanders supported this reactionary measure to protect the interests of capital at the time.
The Age of Right-Wing Extremism
Since the major international economic crisis of capitalism in 2008 the American bourgeois class has been engaging in various reactionary attacks and austerity measures on the multiethnic and multinational working class that exists within the US. These attacks have come in the form of stagnant and cut wages, cuts to social welfare programs, attacks on immigrants, especially those from Southern and Central American countries, attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community, and attacks on women’s rights. Many of these attacks were heavily intensified under the reactionary presidency of Donald Trump who was also able to breathe life into a neo-fascist and reactionary movement with the US by “legitimizing” its existence with his far-right rhetoric.
These attacks on the various sectors of the American working class have not only been used to benefit the capitalists economically, but have also helped the reactionary segments of the US bourgeoisie spread bigotry and division among the workers over cultural and socioeconomic issues in order to stop the growth of a new US labor movement that would stand a chance of winning concessions and democratic rights for workers. The cannibalization of the American working class over the last several decades, which was intensified by the 2008-09 economic crisis and the reactionary presidency of Trump, has fueled the alienation and reactionary radicalization of several distinct strata within US society.
Over the last decade right-wing attacks have become more common within the US and more than quadrupled between 2016 and 2017. From 2008-2011 the US experienced an average of 5 right-wing extremist attacks each year. In 2012 that average rose to 12 right-wing attacks per year, and then jumped to an average of 31 right-wing attacks in 2018. The increase in right-wing activity coincides with the mania of the Trump administration and its lasting aftereffects within American culture. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of weapons used in these attacks are firearms and other incendiary devices. Research completed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows that the reason so many of these attacks involve guns and firearms is because they are “simple to acquire [and] easy to use” due to the extremely loose gun laws within the United States.
The United States, which has gun culture intertwined within it, is going through a turbulent period of economic instability which has led to the intensification of the alienation people experience and feel within American society. This same alienation as well as the reactionary fervor of certain segments within the American capitalist class has led to an increase and growth in far-right politics within the US. This growth in the far-right mixed with the current gun culture has led to an increase in right-wing violence, including mass shootings like the one that recently occurred in Allen, Texas.
It is also evident that the bourgeois-democratic system within the US is incapable of solving this issue in any meaningful way, especially when gun sales are a massively profitable industry and any form of regulation would stand to lower the profit margins of capitalists who care little for the lives and safety of the overall population. Because of this inaction on the part of the bourgeois class, the multiethnic and multinational American working class is left to fall victim to the ever-growing threat of extremist violence. This cannot stand. In the struggle to create a safer world where such violence and mass shootings are no longer a threat to life, the American working class and its representatives must engage in social and political struggle, a struggle that must be fought in two stages: immediate and long-term tasks.
Immediate Tasks of Struggle
The immediate tasks of the struggle to combat both the growth of right-wing extremism and mass shootings in general are to build mass organizations that (i) continue to struggle for regulations on gun sales, background checks, and the types of weapons that can be purchased within the bourgeois-democratic system on both the state and federal levels, especially reforms that ban high powered assault-rifles like the AR-15, extended magazines, high powered munitions, and that strengthen background checks and extend waiting periods; and (ii) organize against right-wing organizations and forces to defend the democratic rights of all workers and oppressed minorities, as well as engage in community education against the lies and propaganda of right-wing ideology.
Long-Term Tasks of Struggle
Any and all reforms that can be won under the bourgeois-democratic system by the workers can be again stripped by the bourgeoisie. With capitalism’s inherent alienating nature, the threat of right-wing extremism and mass shootings will never be truly averted until capitalism itself is overthrown and replaced with a socialist system, where the working people have control over society and will not just limit the contradictions inherent to capitalism but will negate their existence altogether. Therefore the long-term tasks of this struggle must be to build upon the victories won in the immediate struggles and use these victories to help empower the position of the working class until it is organized enough to fully dismantle and destroy the system that causes such violence once and for all.
Categories: American Party of Labor, Editorials, Statements