After receiving feedback from a previous article titled “US: Guns Have to Go,” I would like to clarify a few points for my friends from the political left who feel that the fight against discrimination and class strangle has to be armed to be successful.

Here is the note I received after my last article:
Camarada…we’re gonna have a shoot-out here… I’m totally in favor of the right for the public to carry guns. The alternative is a nasty dictatorship like in Saudi Arabia or so-called “communi$t” China… Without that right, the Black Panthers, Young Lords or the Chicano organization, Brown Berets would not have been armed. Or the Nation of Islam for that matter… MLK was supposedly a pacifist but he had an armed contingent for security made up of former Black militarymen, THE DEACONS FOR SELF-DEFENSE… In fact, they served as the model for the Black Panther Party…

My point is that it’s exactly the use of guns and violence which has killed communism. The organizations my friend listed are either defunct or barely exist today. Guns are more prevalent than ever, and yet discrimination against people of color still exists and the disparity between rich and poor is at a level unseen in history. Guns have made absolutely no contribution to science, agriculture, food production, medicine, habitat, or communication. The human population grew from 1 billion to 7 billion habitants over the past 200 years, and none of that happened thanks to guns. The ultimate historical process of humanity is to eliminate violence as a mode of operation. It’s what most people are doing every single day, figuring out how to live their lives and be creatively productive without using violence. Our ancestors came out of caves (some more barbaric than others) and launched an unstoppable transformational process of humanization. This process has become each day more complex, and people across the planet are more connected to one another than ever before. There is nothing that can stop this evolutionary process, and the Left needs to take a look at the big picture, understand this process, and become an accelerator of the particles of humanization, rather than agonizing on its death-bed.

In South America right now, we are witnessing two very different but interesting processes from which we can all learn. One was started a few decades ago by the student movement in Chile that has elected a president, Gabriel Boric, who came from that movement. Parallel to this, Chileans are developing a profoundly democratic new constitution that looks like it will be ratified by a referendum on September 4. The other demonstrative effect is in Colombia, where a former guerrilla fighter who gave up his arms, Gustavo Petro, was recently elected as its first leftist president, along with the country’s first Black vice president, Francia Marquez. The peace and nonviolence movement has risen to power in Colombia after more than 50 years of civil war and 500 years of brutal right-wing leadership.

For those of us in the U.S. today, the question is not about communism vs capitalism but rather violence vs nonviolence. Ours is a country that was founded through violence and which has used violence of all types (racial, economic, militaristic) to expand and make itself (or rather some of its citizens) quite rich. But the consequences of that violent history are now becoming ever more apparent and horrifying, as seen in rising rates of mass shootings, suicides, drug use, mental health disorders, political and social polarization, etc. The road of violence ultimately has no exit. Camarada (comrade), the choice is yours.