Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 26, 2018

Reflections on the March for Our Lives

Filed under: gun control — louisproyect @ 6:34 pm

(A guest post by Farans Kalosar)

A cross-section

The Boston contingent

Unopened water bottles (see below)

For gun control but possibly not?

Against gun control and the human race

I attended the MfOL rally in DC yesterday. I had a few observations:

  • A higher percentage of African-Americans were in attendance than at other marches in DC by my subjective count. African-Americans, as always, are at much greater risk of getting shot than the rest of us, so no wonder.
  • I saw virtually no counter-demonstrators. One unarmed and obviously safety-minded chap (wearing both a belt and suspenders) was selling pro-gun baseball caps. I saw another fellow carrying a sign reading “Socialism or Barbarism,” and, quite frankly, I think he was as much a counter-demonstrator as the first guy.
  • Speeches were mostly somewhat incoherent attempts by very young people trying their wings–dramatic repetition of “It must never happen again” and similar phrases, interspersed with exhortations to go out and vote for Democrats. As I was not there long, my impression of this may well be inaccurate, but that’s what I heard.
  • The truly enormous crowd (i can easily believe the 1+ million estimate) were bottled up around the intersection of 12th and Pennsylvania to the point where it took me half an hour to cross the street. from curb to curb. This was distinctly frightening, and I believe this confinement was a deliberate strategy by police to “protect” the demonstrators. Of course the tight-packed crowd would have been sitting ducks for a sniper, had one been in evidence. Luckily, nothing happened, and none of the people suffering from claustrophobia (me) freaked out or started a stampede. I was lucky enough to reach a porta-potty before my aged bladder gave out.
  • I noticed a big pile of pallet-sized bundles of plastic bottles of water on the Mall a few blocks south of the (virtual) corral in which the marchers were penned up. I wondered at the time how/why this had been abandoned there. Anyone’s guess is as good as mine, but it does suggest that the march’s organizers were not planning for the demonstration to be as tightly confined as it was. I noticed a column of bicycle police backed up by motorcycle police that formed just south of the 12th and Penn. intersection as I was approaching the area where the marchers were concentrated. It looked like herding to me, but what do I know? No complaints about police behavior have surfaced, to my knowledge.
  • The emphasis on voting for Democrats disturbed me. This movement could easily be co-opted by the neoliberal core of the Democratic Party power establishment–and people who can’t imagine anything nicer than Joe Biden in the White House. This is the perfect “moral” issue to wash away any taint of social equality from the reactionary DP and stampede potential radicals away from anything tainted with working class consciousness or Marxism.
I fear that if the elan of this moment can’t be captured by the left (and since this is very much a single issue, that will have to be something that leads temporarily opened minds in an unanticipated direction), the whole thing will dissipate sooner rather than later. It may provide a temporary Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and some sort of tightened gun control, but, without another mass movement altogether, will have little impact beyond the single issue of mass shootings and maybe the need to get rid of Trump as president. The melodrama of this issue certainly seems to point away from renewed labor militancy, as the great outrage of young people getting shot all over the place is likely to bypass all such effort in the public mind.
I’ve read some stuff about this being a venue for “intersectionalism.” Hillary Clinton claimed to be an intersectionalist. As a socialist, I don’t find that reassuring–quite the reverse in fact.
I took a few pictures of the event, but as I understand this is not an appropriate venue I have not attached them.
Farans Kalosar

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