Gun Culture

img_0229Let me just preface this post by saying that I do not consider myself “left-wing” or any other wing for that mater, I’m more of a breast.  I’ve taken these elaborate tests that are supposed to tell you  where you stand politically and I’m all over the fucking place.  All I know is that I am armed and I am violently opposed to Fascism. So with that said I wanted to share this article called Why the Left-Wing Needs a Gun Culture via the Diversity of Tactics blog. VERY interesting (and long) read. Just in case that site disappears, as many do, I have copy and pasted the whole article below, but please know that it came word for word from Diversity of Tactics and all credit goes to them…

Above:  Lois Scott, organizer for the Brookside, Kentucky chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, retrieves a handgun in the documentary Harlan County, USA (Barbara Koppel, 1976)

“We become depressed when we look around and see 1100 white supremacist militia groups, and some of our names at the top [of their kill lists]! You say ‘Oh my god, they got 1100 right-wing militia groups—how many left-wing ones we got?’  ‘Well, we’re working on our journal…’  I got nothing against journals, but it’s lopsided!’” 

Cornell West, Left Forum 2014 keynote address

“When you are attacked by a rabid dog you don’t run or throw away the walking stick you have in your hand.” 

– Gloria Richardson, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer, Cambridge, Maryland, July, 1964 ¹

 

We live in a historical moment where everything seems upside down. A proto-fascist seemingly despised by the political establishment has ridden into the White House. That same establishment is now squirmingly trying to accommodate itselfto that which it formerly despised. Social media—once thought of as the domain of lefty social justice warriors—turned out to be the far-right’s pathway to power. And while the reactionary candidate praised “the common man,” the liberal candidate gave secret speeches to Wall Street.

Now is the time to reconsider long-held preconceptions, as they embody precisely the thinking which led us to this point—this point where hate crimes against minorities are growing, and economic and ecological hopes are rapidly shrinking. At a juncture where liberals’ wholesale denunciation of “violence” and “gun culture” are revealed to have done nothing to reduce either one, the Left needs to disentangle the issue of oppressive force from that of necessary self-defense against oppressive force.

Brutality against minorities is escalating in the aftermath of the election, and we can only imagine what level it will reach as the Trump administration entrenches itself. Reports of attacks are too numerous to recount here, but the recent murders of a famous Black athlete (Joe McKnight) a young Black musician (Will Sims) and a 15-year old Black boy (James Means) are the most notable manifestations of the racist terror which is growing across the country. As the federal exoneration of George Zimmerman demonstrates, a state crackdown on such murders has never been in the cards, and will be even more remote under the Trump regime.

Reports from the BBC and other major news outlets show that gun ownership in the Black community has begun to grow in recent years. A Pew survey shows at least 54 percent of African-Americans have a favorable view of firearms, up from just 29 percent in 2012. The last poll was taken in 2014—in the years since then, a Southern Christian Leadership Council official has publicly called for armed self-defense, and Black Twitter, in the face of the Charleston massacre, has trended the hashtag #WeWillShootBack—so today the figures are likely higher.

Is the growing black gun movement succumbing to blind emotion and sowing the seeds of destruction? A look at progressive African-American history would suggest not. Although many sectors of the Left prefer to ignore it, there is now a small bookcase of academic studies with names like This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible. The importance of these studies is far from academic, however. They redefine our understanding of the most important American social movement of the past fifty years.

One of the first arenas of that struggle was the campaign to expose lynching in Mississippi, specifically the 1954 murder of Emmett Till. The key organizer of that campaign, TRM Howard, not only carried guns for his own protection, but made sure that there were armed guards at all times around campaign spokespeople like Mamie Till. After the rise of Martin Luther King, nonviolence became the image of civil rights, but this nominally pacifist movement never renounced its right to bear arms. When the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to the Deep South to organize, they encountered a vigorous Black gun culture among those who were prepared to campaign for equality. Fannie Lou Hamer, legendary founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), told one interviewer that, “I keep a shotgun in every corner of my bedroom and the first cracker even look like he wants to throw some dynamite on my porch won’t write his mama again.” Prior to the MFDP’s work, voter suppression of African-Americans was the rule in Mississippi, but after its ascendance in the late 1960s, Blacks had full ballot access and the Klan was in retreat. The Mississippi movement represents the most effective organizing of the post-war Left; Their policy on armed self-defense can teach us a great deal, particularly as the whole country begins to feel more and more like the Jim Crow South.

But aren’t guns inherently oppressive, reactionary and patriarchal? This idea has found currency in the years since the end of the civil rights movement, but the years since the civil rights movement haven’t been especially good for the Left. From Jimmy Carter to Obama—not to mention from Reagan to Trump—the US has steadily slid to the Right in all but the most superficial ways. In place of working-class activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, we’re now led by pseudo-working-class celebrities like Michael Moore, who cemented the gun control consensus with his sensationalized documentary Bowling for Columbine. Just as Moore denounces the Democratic Party in three year cycles but always comes back to them at election time, his film admitted that there are more important factors contributing to violence than guns, but finally dumped the whole problem at the feet of the NRA. It is revealing that the very same Hollywood establishment that gave Moore an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine proceeded to boo him at the ceremony for opposing the Iraq War. For them, gun control has nothing to do with genuine peace, but everything to do with an orderly and centralized capitalist empire.

It’s inevitable that liberals’ perception of guns is formed hegemonically through the mainstream news media, despite the Left’s claim to be skeptical of it. While such outlets often tell us that guns kill 33,000 people per year in the US, we’re seldom reminded that alcohol kills over 80,000, and prescription drugs kill a devastating 120,000 each year. This may have something to do with the fact thatpharmaceutical companies give corporate media over $5 billion per year in advertising, alcohol companies spend $2 billion on the same, and gun manufacturers comparatively nothing. The conventional liberal wisdom is that gun advocates make up for this in lobbying dollars, but shockingly, prescription opioid manufacturers alone spend eight times more courting politicians than the NRA does. Perhaps the gun lobby would like to spend more, but as The New York Timesonce acknowledged, “guns are a relatively small business in the United States.”

Some liberals sincerely believe that gun control will bring us closer to a humane society, of course, but there’s little in the history of gun regulation anywhere in the world to support that theory. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats often hold up Australia’s compulsory gun buyback as a model, but decades after the confiscations, Australian society is not any kinder: The country maintains a level of economic inequality comparable to the US, and has a growing prison population. As in the US, a disproportionate number of these prisoners are immigrants andethnic minorities. Recently video leaked out of Australian guards torturing a 14 year-old Aboriginal boy. Contrary to prominent liberals’ implications, an anti-gun culture like Australia’s just doesn’t inspire much in the way of anti-racist, anti-nationalist, or anti-capitalist culture and policy. Likewise there is no evidence that gun culture precludes a progressive society—the pioneering open-carry state of Vermont has elected Bernie Sanders to the US congress for twenty years. The autonomist Kurds of Northern Syria, “the most revolutionary women’s rightsmovement in the world,” according to The Independent, are explicitly armed.

The Left’s gag reflex at the Second Amendment is a Pavlovian one, conditioned by mainstream liberals’ association of gun rights with conservatism. But the unilateral disarmament of the American Left is a recent development. Eugene Debs, reputed to be the hero of Bernie Sanders, responded to the 1914 Ludlow Massacre by urging labor activists to acquire “enough Gatling and machine guns to match the equipment of Rockefeller’s private army of assassins…The constitution of the United States guarantees to you the right to bear arms, as it does to every other citizen…” Howard Zinn wrote that “Thousands of dollars were sent for arms and ammunition,” to the Colorado miners from union halls across the country. The post-World War I era collapsed the labor movement across the board, but when it roared back in the early 1930s, it was ushered in by armed miners in campaigns like the Harlan County War (Urban unions hired mobsters to do armed defense against strikebreakers in this period, most likely because gun control laws prevented them from doing it themselves). It was this militant labor resistance that created the New Deal.

FOREWARNED BUT NOT FOREARMED

At the climax of the razor-close presidential contest of 2000, the Florida Election Commission ordered a hand recount of Miami-Dade County to decide between George W. Bush and Al Gore. As the election workers attempted to begin their task, a mob of Bush supporters stormed into the  offices and physically shut down the recount. This episode was dubbed “The Brooks Brothers Riot” because it involved a straight-laced group later revealed to be Republican Congressional staffers. The recount was never restarted, and we wouldn’t learn until after W.’s inauguration that Gore had actually won the decisive state of Florida. As Rachel Maddow once acknowledged, “The single most important piece of the history of the Brooks Brothers Riot is that it worked.” Participants weren’t prosecuted, and some of them later listed the mob action on resumes to conservative institutions.

We can expect many more Brooks Brothers Riots in the coming years. The Florida episode was organized by thuggish GOP operative Roger Stone, who is now one of Donald Trump’s confidantes and campaigners. But it’s unlikely that Trump’s mobs will be as button-down as the Bush brigade, and it’s also unlikely that they’ll be unarmed. An atmosphere of gun-toting far-right intimidation hung over the Republican National Convention and even Election Day itself in 2016.  In the lead-up to the RNC, Roger Stone rallied supporters of the real estate mogul to provoke personal “confrontation” with anti-Trump delegates. During the convention, armed proto-fascist protesters stalked the streets. As the November election approached, Trump made veiled threats of assassination in the event that he lost, while his supporters, including Kentucky governor Matt Bevin, were more explicit, directly calling for bloodshed if Clinton won. These credible threats of armed rebellion may well have been a factor in low voter turnout and the final decision of the Electoral College.

Meanwhile, the audacity of right-wing militias continues to grow. The Bundy family’s movement has now marched through multiple states undermining hard-won environmental protections. They’ve faced relatively little resistance from government, with Ammon and Ryan Bundy’s charges for taking over a federal building at gunpoint ending in acquittal. The New York Times writes that this outcome “puts a target on the backs” of conservation workers. We can expect lots of targets on people’s backs in the coming years: The level of neofascist impunity is now at a point where Jon Ritzheimer, the most openly racist player in the Bundy circle, is withdrawing his guilty plea for armed extortion in spite of the immense amount of evidence against him. With Jeff Sessions set to be confirmed as Attorney General,  why should white power terrorists have anything to fear from the government? As Masha Gennsen famously wrote of a Trump presidency, “Institutions will not save you.”

If leftists believe they are accomplishing anything by personally boycotting guns, it’s not working either politically or culturally. Whether pacifists like it or not, bearing arms is a US citizenship right—and has been a citizenship right for most of our history. If conservatives have successfully claimed this privilege, then it makes no sense for the Left to disarm itself and unilaterally renounce the Second Amendment. The Right won’t follow their example, but will instead briskly proceed to consolidate their monopoly on non-state force. There are ample signs that progressives are coming to understand this. The Liberal Gun Club, a national organization with nine chapters, reports a surge in membership since the election; a more radical local group, the Phoenix John Brown Gun Club, has a long track record of promoting armed defense against white supremacists in Arizona.

While left-wing self-defense won’t make the country any more dangerous, it is likely the only hope of making it safer. The genie of violent neofascism is out of the bottle. It’s an outgrowth of the shrinking of old economic horizons, which in turn is partly a result of now-irreversible climate change. The years of living dangerously are here to stay. The only question is will those of us who value an egalitarian internationalist community survive them. This doesn’t mean that leftists ought to shoot at common racists, much less at authorities, merely because of political differences. The majority of activity should continue to be nonviolent direct action. But as social movement analyst Francis Fox Piven has noted, guns can “be used strategically, and often defensively to permit the disruptive action, the withdrawal of cooperation, to continue” in the face of right-wing vigilantism.² This is how the Black freedom movement of the Deep South faced open white supremacy the last time. Contrary to the warnings of mainstream liberalism, historian Robin DG Kelley found that “armed self-defense actually saved lives, reduced terrorist attacks on African-American communities, and laid the foundation for unparalleled community solidarity.

The Left is correct to denounce the right-wing’s fetishization of brute force, but we are getting nowhere mirroring it with an equally crude fetishization of vulnerability. We can no longer dream that the Electoral College, or a CIA coup, or a safety pin, is going to save us in the age of brutal white power reaction. We must recognize that dissidents and oppressed people are on their own for the next four years—and possibly longer—and must take defense and security into their own hands. When racists and fascists declare “open season,” we will not allow innocent people to be the prey. We must vow to protect each other by any means necessary.

 

  1. Kwame Ture and Michael Thelwell, Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Simon and Schuster, 2003), pg 339-340
  2. “Local activists in the South armed themselves to defend the nonviolent disruptions of the civil rights movement,” Piven notes in her next sentence. Francis Fox Piven, Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America(Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), pg. 25

Dime by Dime @ the Merrow

dime-by-dime-1Well my old Humboldt pal, Lil’ Jimmy is still rockin and rollin, we could all take a page out of his book. Moved to San Diego (my old stompin grounds, we missed each other by 14 years).  We have kept in touch by email for quite some time now, a lot of the Humboldt gems that used to inhabit this site, before the apocalypse, were by way of the Baron of Bassiness Lil’ Jimmy himself.  So, anyway he’s in San Diego for just a minute and already has a band that is taking the local nightclubs by storm, even played the king of the clubs/bars, the Casbah. These ain’t no rookies either, they have an old sound in a modern body…Dime by Dime fucking rocks! Here’s their bio, “Dime By Dime is a 3-piece punk/power pop band from San Diego, CA. We have only been playing together since June 2015. With 13 songs, none over 2.5 minutes, the band is now ready to gig locally. The members origins stretch from West Coast CA to Sweden & have all been in bands for upwards of 35 years. No isms.”
dime-by-dimeA note from Lil’ J, “Just to be official…
Fabian Wallen-Vocals, Guitar
Bryan Gyselbrecht-Drums
Little Jimmy Forbes-Bass, Vocals
Just so you know…
Bryan is a local SD guy who I met in Humboldt. Fabian is from Sweden.
Been living here in SD for 5 years. Odd mix of people.
Fabian was in a Swedish punk band called Los Pelados.”
He sent me the recording of the whole show they did at the Merrow, which I uploaded to yt below…


…and then, if your a visual person, you can check out vids from that show and others at their Youtube page…bellow is one such vid…

…and a fuckin’ soundcloud page to boot…

Beef Supreme – Witchcraft in School EP

beef_supreme_webWay back on December 5th our old pal Niki from Beef Supreme, dropped me a line about this new (not so new new now) EP they released. Of course I was busy with some other things, but it was bothering me that I hadn’t even given it a listen. BEEF SUPREME are no strangers to the Relics and I want to support them any way I can, as they exemplify the best of the DIY ethic and are just good folks. My head still isn’t screwed on straight, but I did finally get to give it a virtual spin and now I’m kicking myself because it kicks ass. Stoner Doom at at it’s fucking absolute finest.  Really bummed I didn’t get this out there when it’s still fresh but sometimes leftovers taste better, besides this will still be fresh to anyone reading about it here. They have this thing called a onesheet, which is basically a bio, info on the new release type of thing, if you want to check that out. But, really what you need to do is give this bad boy/girl a listen, you can download it free at their WEBSITE or listen to it at Soundcloud below. The hit on this EP in my (not so humble) opinion is “Slavemaster General”, what a way to end it, but there’s no duds on the EP…

Beef Supreme Website:  http://www.hailtothebeef.com/
Beef Supreme Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BeefSupremeMetal
Beef Supreme Twitter: https://twitter.com/hailtothebeef
Beef Supreme Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/beefsupreme-2

Satanic Malfunctions

satanic-malfunctionsElectronica, Reggae and now…what were the Satanic Malfunctions? Mid 80s English Hardcore Punk of some sort. Ade, the drummer was a penpal of mine back in those days (but I’ve mentioned that many times, I think). Great fucking person, not sure why we didn’t continue to be friends into the computer age, might have to see if I can track him down after 30 years. This here vid is a kick in the nuts for a nostalgic old timer, something I always wanted to see….

sasSometime back, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, my buddy Erich educated me (it’s not hard to do) about a legendary band called S.A.S (Speak Against Society). He did so publicly on his old, and long gone, Good Bad Music blog…an absolutely incredible site. Anyway, it turns out that S.A.S was a sort of pre-Satanic Malfunctions band and you can distinctly hear SAS in SM’s music, it’s like they picked up where SAS left off. I don’t know if they shared any other band members other than Ade, too lazy to check. Regardless, after hearing the S.A.S 7″ (they did only that “Suave and Sophisticated” and a demo (Sing Along Songs” as far as I know) I decided that I had to have it. Of course, it is rare, thus somewhat hard to find and usually folks ask a lot for it. It took me several years, but I finally picked up a decent, inexpensive copy. So the other night I decided to give it a spin on my new turntable and what do you know, it ended up being the first record ripped from that same turntable. Went ahead and uploaded that HERE

Well that was fun! Then I got to thinking that they also released a demo and I knew that I had run across it at some point. Checked my files (of course I did lose a shit ton of music in a hardrive meltdown a few years ago…completely my fault), but no luck. Well a search turned up one site, the one I originally went to to get it, Terminal Escape. What do you know, double bummer, the link to the files is dead. Thought to myself, I’ll email the guy and see if he can’t re-up it. That was a few days ago, and no response so far, he probably gets tons of them, so, what the fuck, another search. Eureka! It turned up at the British Punx blog. He (and/or she) has both the 7″ and the demo, and if you can read Russian there is probably a nice write up. So I swiped their link HERE. Go to that site though as they have youtube stuff too…