1. First things first: No matter what any amendment to the US Constitution proclaimed, if the perpetrators of these mass shootings in the US were black, there’d be more gun control laws passed, enacted, and upheld by the Supreme Court than anyone could count. Clarence Thomas would be writing the unanimous opinion upholding the “sweeps” of entire city blocks by police on the suspicion that one or two African-Americans might have looked at a firearm.
The legislation would be provided, bought, and paid for by the NRA, and supported by the likes of Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell. That bow-tied, pin-striped, Goebbels, the toilet-paper trust fund baby, Tucker Carlson, would be pointing out that the Constitution was not a suicide pact.
Fox News would be busy producing documentaries revising history to “show” that the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan was actually one-quarter black, and formal apartheid policies would be imposed to protect white people, and honorary white people, from exposure to such assaults. Not just back to “back of the bus,” but not allowed on the bus, on subways, on streets.
Those are facts, not satire, not cynicism, simple facts, because there is no greater threat to the “durability” of the US Constitution and its first priority, the preservation of bourgeois property, than black people with guns.
2. The late justice of the US Supreme Court and prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson reportedly, and famously, warned that the US Constitution should not be made into a “suicide pact” where “liberty” provided cover for “anarchy.” Well, he was mistaken, and grossly underestimated the murderous impulse at the very heart of the Constitution. The US Constitution was a suicide pact, and more than a suicide pact– a genocide pact, a femicide pact at its origins. From the very moment that the Constitution joined the South’s slave system to the “free soil” one of the North, suicide was part of the pre, immediate, and post-nuptials.
Codifying the exchange of vows, the Constitution failed to embargo the expansion of the South’s system because it could not, because only the emancipation of black labor could effect such an embargo. The Constitution, bound to, by, and for the preservation of property, could not attack the property held in humans. It might restrict the external trade in humans, but it had to protect the domestic commerce in humans.
Private property in goods, in humans, in humans as goods is the foundation, the base. This foundation requires accumulation, expansion, which is preceded and accompanied by the destruction, devaluation, of goods and humans not circumscribed by those property relations, which meant the expropriation and elimination of the indigenous people and their relations to land as something other than property, something other than the vehicle for personal accumulation . In this regard, if no other, the slaveholders were both the apotheosis and the nadir of capital.
The so-called universal, inalienable rights, expressed in “all men are created equal” were a vision, but a tunneled one-where right, equality, and men were defined by the right to, the equality of, access to property. The US Constitution did not fail to recognize Africans, Native-Americans, women in general, and those living in the extensive Mexican territories as people. The Constitution did not recognize them as property-holders, and hence, could afford them no recognition, no “rights” as right is contingent upon, and a category belonging to, property. These groups were labor suppliers, to be bought, sold, rented, consumed, discarded.
This base, or rather these two bases, these two expressions, moments of private accumulation confronted each other, tearing apart the superstructure of rights, due process, and the sanctity of property. Civil war replaced the Constitution as the supreme arbiter of “right.” But the “victor” gave its victory away, restoring “constitutional rights” to the South rather than persist in ruling the slaveholders’ territory and properties as an occupied, military zone, dispensing with the protections afforded the plantation economy by a constitution that embodied the commerce in human beings.
The bourgeoisie’s willingness to engage the slaveholders was, of course, market driven as the slaveholders were intent on expanding into Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and dreamt of acquiring California as a slave state.
The bourgeoisie had to establish that oscillating, ragged reciprocity between city and countryside, agriculture and industry, that forms the basis for an expanding domestic market.
Markets only expand in volume to the extent that increases occur in their velocity; that the time taken between the production of useful articles and their realization as values shrinks. The means of communication and transportation lead increases in production.
The emancipation of black labor was a secondary consideration, and sacrificed after the war once that domestic market had been linked from sea to shining sea by a railroad. The radical program of Reconstruction was sacrificed to the attacks of the former slaveholders, the night-riding, robed “klans” and “knights” of the terrorist “Redemption.”
Property may or may not be theft; but bourgeois property, the commerce in expropriated labor power, sure is murder, and with malice aforethought.
3. The present wave of reaction, representing the culmination and convergence of the previous waves of reaction is not now nor has it ever been a “populist-ism.” It is corporatist to its core where class conflict is supposed to be submerged in and the “shared” blood, land, race, religion, the mythology of “the people.”
The “people” are defined equally by what they are and are not. The “people” are small property holders. The “people” are not black and, mostly, not brown. The “people” are most definitely not workers, with interests separate and opposed to this corporatist model.
The “people,” the small property holders do as they have always done, serve and preserve big property.
These “people” find in the mythology of their “liberty” and fantastical alternative to the debt burdens, insolvency of their real lives. It’s the liberty and the insolvency of the shopkeeper.
Only “liberty” can protect their property. It is the threat to that property, magnified by the traditional sources of reaction– Christianity, libertarianism, anti-communism, the military and the police, and the commercial interests of manufacturers in their markets– that feeds the fury in the US over the second amendment.
The amendment itself does not proclaim the right of all to keep arms, no more than the first amendment proclaims absolute rights of free speech, free assembly, or the fourth protects citizens from all searches and seizures.
The second amendment sets a condition for keeping and bearing arms, and that condition is a “well regulated militia,” necessary to the existence of a free state. Now there’s no point arguing about this, but the free state creates the well regulated militia to protect its existence as a free state. This does not mean every ambulatory psychotic with a credit cared is entitled to own 2, 3 assault rifles.
But it’s not lives that are protected here, or anywhere else in the Constitution, it’s property, it’s markets. And any ambulatory psychotic with a credit card can own property. Indeed, market relations create, reproduce a veritable army of ambulatory psychotics equipped with credit cards.
The Constitution is a weapon of mass destruction.
4. Texas— “If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell.”–General Philip H. Sheridan
May 28, 2022