The Question of Violence -- Part 2
adam at pmel.com
Wed Feb 14 06:56:54 MST 1996
A repost. Sorry for duplicates.
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>From adam Thu Feb 8 11:56:46 1996
To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
Subject: Re: The Question of Violence -- Part 2
Thank you Leo for your post.
I felt for you and your students, who were being told that their
arguments, because they were based in their experience, weren't
valid. Nevertheless, I do not agree with them or you.
I think the central argument is that the level of ( Black ) poor on
( Black ) poor violence is not related to the level of weaponry
possessed by the people committing the violence. Poverty is the
cause of the violence. Do more people have guns in rich areas in
the US or poor areas ? I'd guess it's about the same. The point is,
that it doesn't matter. There is more violence in the poor areas
because they are poor, not because there are more guns.
In the UK, the argument that it is weaponry that leads to violence
has lead to ridiculous calls for certain knives to be made illegal,
while at the same time giving the police more weapons. Quite
how they are going to distinguish between a carving or fishing
knife and a weapon I don't know.
The LA riots showed the potential for mass poor on rich violence to stop
individual poor on poor violence. The poverty and racism suffered by
people in LA, Black, White + Hispanic, lead to the rebellion. The political
upshot of this was that the gangs, for a few years at least, realised
they had more to gain fighting alongside each other than with each other.
Now suppose gun control laws had been brought in. What effect would it have
had ? First, it would be very difficult to enforce ( people who want access
to guns in the UK can get them ). Second, to the extent that it had an
effect, the police would have been more confident to crush the riot than they
actually were, since they would have been more sure of their monopoly of
violence. So the unity which Black, White + Hispanic discovered in the course
of the rebellion would have been less likely, and the ensuing truce.
Of course, the extreme right wants to keep their guns in order to use them
against us in defence of their property. But what actual effect would gun
controls have ? They would be implemented by racist, anti working class cops
+ judges. They would be used not against the right, but against workers of
whatever race. It would make the cops more likely to inflict Rodney King
style beatings, without fear of resistance. Meanwhile, criminals would still
get and use guns - after all, did prohibition stop people drinking ? - and if
they couldn't, they'd use knives or whatever.
The only effect of gun controls, ie of reenforcing the state's monopoly of
violence, is to weaken us when we fight against the poverty which causes
the violence in the first place.
I live in Manchester, which the press have labelled "gunchester". A few years
ago a young boy was shot in Moss Side as a result of drug wars. It led to a
march against violence. But on the march, it was really very easy to lay the
blame for the violence on poverty, and on the police, who had pushed the drugs
trade out of a well known cafe onto the estates in the first place.
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