Karl Marx
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Karl Marx didn’t support the right of workers to bear arms because he saw it as an inalienable right. He supported gun rights because they were a means to an end.

By Jonathan Miltimore

For just $10.77, people can go on Amazon and buy wall art of Ronald Reagan apparently defending the Second Amendment.

“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered,” the text reads next to a picture of Reagan; “any attempts to disarm the people must be stopped, by force if necessary.”

There are a few problems with the quote, but the biggest one is that Reagan never said it.

As numerous fact checkers have noted—including Reuters, Snopes, Factcheck.org, and Politifact—the author of the quote is none other than Karl Marx, the German philosopher and author of The Communist Manifesto who used language nearly verbatim to this in an 1850 address in London.

“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary,” Marx said in his “Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League.”

In fairness to the many internet users duped by the fake Reagan meme, the quote sounds a bit like something Reagan could have said (though it’s highly unlikely the Gipper, a skilled and careful orator, would have ever said “by force if necessary”).

Reagan, after all, generally—though not universally—supported gun rights and was skeptical of efforts to restrict firearms.

“You won’t get gun control by disarming law-abiding citizens,” Reagan famously noted in a 1983 speech.

Some might be surprised that Marx and Reagan had similar views on gun control. Marx was, of course, the father of communism, whereas Reagan was famously anti-communist. Moreover, Marx’s modern disciples are staunch supporters of gun control, whether they identify as socialists or progressives.

“Guns in the United States pose a real threat to public health and safety and disproportionately impact communities of color,” Nivedita Majumdar, an associate professor of English at John Jay College, wrote in the Marxist magazine Jacobin. “Their preponderance only serves corporate interests, a corrupt political establishment, and an alienated capitalist culture.”

This distaste for guns goes beyond socialist magazines. As The Atlantic reported during the last presidential election cycle, progressive politicians are increasingly embracing more stringent federal gun control laws.

“No longer are primary candidates merely calling for tighter background checks and a ban on assault weapons,” journalist Russell Berman wrote in 2020; “in 2019, contenders like Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas were calling for national licensing requirements and gun-buyback programs.”

The point here is not to disparage politicians like O’Rourke and Booker as “Marxists,” a label they’d almost certainly object to. The point is that progressive politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) might channel Marx in their class rhetoric, but they are not embracing his messaging when it comes to the proletariat’s access to firearms.

As it happens, this is a common theme with Marxists throughout history.

Some may find it odd that Marxists don’t support gun rights when Marx himself did, but there’s an explanation as to why, and it stems in part from Marx’s conception of rights.

Classical liberals of the American founding saw human rights as inviolable because they are natural rights “endowed by their Creator.” As Thomas Jefferson explained in an 1824 letter, rights—including the right to bear arms—are “inherent in the people,” which makes them inalienable.

Unlike the American Founders (and Reagan for that matter), Marx didn’t see the right to bear arms as a natural, individual right. In fact, Marx didn’t believe in individual rights at all. Instead, Marx saw firearms as a means to an end, and the end was revolution.

“The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition,” he explained, “and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed.”

Marx continued:

“Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary. The destruction of the bourgeois democrats’ influence over the workers, and the enforcement of conditions which will compromise the rule of bourgeois democracy, which is for the moment inevitable, and make it as difficult as possible – these are the main points which the proletariat and therefore the League must keep in mind during and after the approaching uprising.”

We see here that Marx supported the right of workers to bear arms not because of some inalienable right, but because firearms were necessary tools in his revolution against the despised bourgeoisie.

We can surmise from this that Marx likely would have supported the peoples’ right to bear arms—right up until the point it no longer served his revolutionary purpose, at which point his support for gun rights would be jettisoned. And this is precisely what Marx’s followers did.

In his essay Letters from Afar, the infamous Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin called for an armed proletariat militia, writing that organizers should “arm all the poor, exploited sections of the population in order that they themselves should take the organs of state power directly into their own hands.”

Once Lenin achieved power, however, he immediately turned to a proven method of oppression: gun confiscation. On Decc 10, 1918, less than six months after the Bolsheviks butchered Tsar Nicholas II and his family at a house in Yekaterinburg, Soviet citizens were ordered by the Council of People’s Commissar to turn their firearms over to the state.

The penalty for refusal was ten years in prison.

Lenin was hardly an outlier. Marxists who followed in his footsteps, including Mao in China and Castro in Cuba, also turned to gun confiscation shortly after gaining power.

Marx was not wrong that firearms were the path to power, but his followers came to realize an obvious truth: firearms were also a threat to their own power.

“Political power,” Mao famously observed, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Mao, in a twisted way, was right. An armed citizenry was a double-edged sword. While it served the masses as a bulwark against political oppression, it also threatened the vehicle socialists used to usher in the people’s utopia: the state. And this explains why modern Marxists tend to despise gun rights.

“There’s a reason you never see a Communist, a Marxist, or even a Socialist politician support the right of common people to keep and bear arms,” US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) recently said. “Those forms of government require more submission to the state than armed citizens would tolerate.”

Massie is not wrong, and it helps explain why so many Marxists part ways with Marx on gun rights.

It’s also an important reminder that rights are not really rights at all if they can be discarded once they have served the ends one seeks.

 

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune.

Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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73 COMMENTS

  1. You can’t allow people to have gu-ns because people will kill other people. Capitalvania needs to end because the ultra-maga are racist. Give everything to the government cause they know how to use your money and resources better than you do.

    There, I already said what Albert, Miner49er and Dacian were already thinking

  2. Marxist and Marxism no longer exist. There may be a few individuals here and there that are believers but mostly Marxism is dead. Corporate billionaires bought the left out and those that think they’re socialist, marxist/communist are for the most part serving Fascism.

    Money won. As it will.

    • “There may be a few individuals here and there that are believers but mostly Marxism is dead.”

      Nope, just re-packaged as BLM ‘anti-racism’ :

        • There’s a book that does a pretty good job outlining the history of CRT (and all the other wacky power struggle belief systems). I’m about 1/4 of the way through it now and it is a dense, but good read. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants a glimpse of understanding their enemy.

          CRT isn’t really Marxism. It is influenced by it, but it is more postmodern (rejecting causal reality) than Marx would have ever accepted.

          The book:
          “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody”

      • Marxism? The blm leadership have bled funds to give themselves a lifestyle robber barons would have been jealous of. bloomberg, gates, soros and the rest are who lead the ‘left’ these days. The ‘left’ is the party of the uber rich.

        • jwm,

          And all the Soviet nomenklatura got dachas in some nice resort. Marxism means equality . . . but some Marxists are more equal than others.

    • Whether the government has control of the corporations(mode of production) or the corporations have control of the government, the end result is the same. There are no free elections, no political parties, and there will be a police state.

    • Nope, just re-packaged as BLM ‘anti-racism’

      That’s exactly what it is. Well, sort of. Oppressor versus the oppressed works for all sorts of things. Everyone gets to be a victim unless you’re on the other side of the political aisle. Then you’re an oppressor. That’s why there can never be unity. That’s why they don’t want us to have shared values and a shared culture. Because that’s how they would lose.

      • Marxism doesn’t even posit an “oppressor vs. oppressed” dichotomy, hahaha. It isn’t A moral argument. Marx views society as ultradetermined and amoral.

    • The Establishment bought the British Labour Party along with the remnants of the Communist Party back in the 60s.

    • Marxism is considered to be the origin and base of modern socialism. Although socialism existed since ancient times, the modern version, with specific class definitions, is Marx’s. Fascism is a form of socialism, as created by Mussolini and his followers, with the main difference being that the so called “private” enterprise was allowed to exist, although totally subservient and controlled by the State. Thus, crony-capitalists are used as middle-managers for the State, with a resultant higher efficiency of production that pure socialism has proven to be incapable of achieving. In essence, this is what America has become in the last several decades, and the government’s and socialists’ agenda to banish firearms is completely in-line with our current fascist ideology.

  3. You will eat ze bugs. You will own nothing, and be happy…

    Marxism will never be a viable ideology. IMHO, the best one to ever exist on God’s Green Earth is often referred to as “Jeffersonian Republicanism”. Small government, focus on family and local community, low taxes, private property, faith in Providence and accountability of your actions to a Higher Divine Power, liberty, minimal laws and regulations, etc.

    But a healthy Republic requires a “moral people”, and the Marxists have successfully undermined that social fabric to the point where it’s beyond mere fraying, and is now starting to tear.

    • “Marxism will never be a viable ideology.”

      That’s why it’s now repackaged as shiny-and-new ‘Anti-Racism’.

      And the kids are drinking it up.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

        • possum,

          “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.”

          “They” don’t want you to know who “they” are. On the other hand, “cui bono” is a pretty reliable guide. Who profits the most from our f***ed up system?? Politicians and the ultra-rich.

    • I’ve noticed that [email protected] not only attracts the worst people but brings out the worst in them.

      The CCP has proven it is not immune to graft, corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. The recent finance minister found with 13 tons of cash in his basement, along with gold, art, antiques, and jewelry.

      • People need a *purpose* in life. Now that God is removed, they still need something, and latch on to anything that claims to ‘save the planet’, ‘for the chilluns’, ‘for the workers’, etc.

        Young people have no sense of what went before, to marxist ideology is very appealing.

    • “Jeffersonian Republicanism”… accountability of your actions to a Higher Divine Power”

      Have I got news for you about Mr. Jefferson, the atheist…

  4. Yeah, but Karl Marx was an f’in’ MORON. I actually read some of his works a few years ago. When you read some of his works with understanding of the historical context of what was happening at the time as well as what his ideology caused you quickly realize just how stupid his entire movement was.

    • I always thought [email protected] is 19th century solutions to perceived 19th century problems.

      Whenever things got too difficult for Karl to explain, he uses the copout phrase “by the dictatorship of the proletariat”.

      The modern generations are attracted to the Cliff Notes version of the theory but have not looked into the historical implementation.

  5. lol at assuming self-proclaimed Marxists know anything about Marx.
    Being or aligning with a thing these days is all cache and no substance like wearing a shirt of a band the cool kids all seem to like but you can’t name any members of. It’s gotten so bad the only distinction left among them is who is a poser and who is a grifter because all the true believers are gone.

    • Peter, Paul and Mary,
      and I’ve got the shirt, so hah.
      Oh wait, you did say cool kids though didnt you.
      , and Slash?

      • “Oh wait, you did say cool kids though didnt you.
        , and Slash?”

        Slash? 🙂 (And Fergie!)

  6. Uh, what?

    Marxists definitely like guns. They’re violent revolutionaries who openly proclaim this quite openly. Of course, it’s a “guns for me, not for thee” sort of thing. But the idea that ideological Marxists don’t like guns is just ignorant.

    They’re not to be confused with neoliberals and modern progressives, both of whom support gun control. These people will spout Marxist talking points to try to widen their appeal on the Left, but they’re not actually Marxists.

    • “Of course, it’s a “guns for me, not for thee” sort of thing.”

      Close, it’s guns for all for the ‘revolution’ itself, but after power is secured, none for the rabble…

      • Yeah, but that’s not now.

        These people have pro-2A groups FFS. They’re all about the 2A… at least for now. They’re pretty open about all of this. I really don’t see how the author can be this wrong.

        • strych9,

          I think it’s entirely cynical – “they” want arms to support “their” revolution (being waged currently with weapons OTHER than firearms, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?), but no arms in the hands of those who might oppose it. They think “we” (the 2A community) are more likely to oppose than support. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.

    • Its not that Marxists don’t like guns, they just don’t like them in the hands of people they want to dominate, oppress, or enslave, or just about anyone else that’s not the Marxists flavor they are.

      • You can vote your way into Marxism, but you have to shoot your way out of it. Since Marxist systems (socialism, communism, etc.) are merely an academically rationalized form of enslavement and imprisonment, only the guards get guns, obviously.

  7. What’s a silly post TTAG. Karl Marx was also a virulent raciss. Gonna quote the 19th century scum on them “lesser races”?!? Better to quote Mao who may or may not have said ” power comes from the barrel of a gun”.

  8. BREAKING NEWS: STAZI raid Patriot’s home in Mir-a-lago.

    “They currently have guns, and therefore we are for ‘peace’ and ‘reformation through the ballot.’ When we have all the guns, then it will be through the bullet.”’ ~ Saul Alinsky (One of OBlunder’s mentors.)

    “Ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.” – Joey Xiden….aka “You don’t need an AR-15 or 30 round “clips” (sic) to hunt deer.” (See attached picture. The Founders were thinking “the deer are coming” when they penned the 2A.) Aw…..I apologize, got names confused…it was Heinrich Himmler.

    Just received a T from Warrior12….”This is the government our Founding Fathers warned us about.”

    With monotonous predictability, all leftists (from Karl Marx to the present) unfailingly aspire to the same bottom line, and always via the same route! However, they have accumulated a murderous, bloody track record. They’re sincerely hoping none of the rest of us even notice (much less study) it,.
    The new agenda for humanity requires that no one will have the capacity to fight back. It has been said: “Our Task of creating a Socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed.” No other explanation is possible.
    History has repeatedly demonstrated that disarming good people in the name of making bad people harmless only eventually facilitates politicians shooting their own countrymen. History…learn from it; be doomed to relive it; or die by it. Mr. Makowski, 10th Grade World History, was right after all.
    A politician with a law never stops a bad guy with a gun.
    He only controls the good guys which is his true agenda.
    We’ve seen movies depicting the Progressive Left’s utopia
    where only the police and government have guns…always “for We The Little Peeps’ safety.”
    Schindler’s List…Hotel Rowanda…The Killing Fields….Anne Frank’s Diary.

    • “Schindler’s List…Hotel Rowanda…The Killing Fields….Anne Frank’s Diary.”

      2022, ‘Critical Race Theory’ :

  9. Our TTAG STAZI are moderating previous comment. China, US….you say potato, I say potatoe.

    “What are we going to do if citizens are disarmed, and the government doesn’t obey its own laws?” – the late COL Jeff Cooper.

  10. It is usual for the Far Right to engage in the Fantasy of another American Revolution because the Far Right know as much about the “Real American Revolution” as they know about global warming, which is zero.

    In reality only 1/3 of the American people supported the Revolution while another 1/3 aided and fought with the British. Over 150,000 American left for Canada after the war was over and considering the fact that there were only 2 million white people in the U.S. at the time that was one hell of a lot of people.

    I might add that if the French had not intervened in 1776 the insurrectionists with their incompetent leader Washington would have been turned over to the British and would all have been hanged.

    The American Revolution would never have succeeded if it had not been largely financed and fought by the professional French Army and Navy. Washington was so incompetent the French had to sweet talk Washington into even supplying a token force at the last battle of the war.

    So today no revolution would be possible without a massive amount of foreign aid. Since the U.S. is isolated by two large oceans and has a weak and vulnerable neighbor Mexico to the south and a friendly nation Canada to the north a revolution supported by either is as likely as a snow ball in hell surviving more than 1 second.

    And remember for a modern society to survive even by the hour the internet is essential and with electronic surveillance the Government knows where every one is and what everyone is doing 24 hours around the clock.

    And remember the Government controls the food supplies, ammo companies and medical supplies and can shut them off to the public in hours.

    During Herr Drumpf’s attempt to take over the government by force the American people rose up against him immediately by turning in their own relatives. They were rounded up like cattle and led off to imprisonment where they belonged. It was a laughable insurrection led by a clown of a leader.

    Before we throw stones at Marx remember that the gangster criminal greed mongers that started the American Revolution also feared the people having arms. It was this fear that made them write 2A in the vaguest of terms so that the courts could and did restrict and ban firearms which is exactly what has happened since 2A was written.

    • “…remember that the gangster criminal greed mongers that started the American Revolution…”

      LOL, good one, D. Now I have an image in my head of Benjamin Franklin strolling around Virginia with dark shades, a pimp-daddy jeweled walking cane, and a gold-plated Deagle under his coat as he kicks little children away from him.

      At least you’re good for some entertainment once in a whi…

      …oh…um…I already forgot what you wrote. Your comments have a short lifespan and don’t stick well.

    • Your quote-I might add that if the French had not intervened in 1776 the insurrectionists with their incompetent leader Washington would have been turned over to the British and would all have been hanged.

      So the French backed us because they also hated the British, thank you France. Seems to me like we helped France in the 1940s, when they forgot to keep funding their military, but you seemed to forget (omit) that part to suite your narrative. It seems like you’re so disgusted by the USA, that you can’t even give the Americans the win. So along your line of thinking, if Ukraine is successful in pushing Putin back, would we be able to scratch that down as a win for the USA? I’m sure that there are wars we have funded, do we get those wins also?

    • dacian, the Dunderhead. So what? If 100,000 fled to Canada after the Revolution was won, so much the better. We don’t need fair weather patriots any more than we do now. So what if the French intervened and assisted the Americans for us to win our freedom from George III. We are free today, in spite of your attempts to place us un the jaws of socialism.
      Where did you get this nonsense that the “government controls the food supply”? Did someone bounce you on your head again?
      If there is a second revolution, it won’t be with the help of any outside country.
      I am sure you would love to have the government surveilling everything we do.

  11. Firstly, Marxism is far from what we call Communism. Marx was interested in the workers’ rights to control the companies and production, not the government controlling everything.

    Secondly, Ca Governor Ronald Reagan saw a “well ordered militia” of negroes with guns(Black Panthers*) patrolling to watch law enforcement so that they weren’t stomping on the civil rights of blacks caught in a net.
    That scared him to make laws about the carrying of firearms. He was fine with rich white men carrying firearms, but the unwashed masses – oh NO!

    *Many members of the Black Panthers had military training and were Viet Nam veterans.

  12. I might add it was Reagan who banned new machine guns for sale to civilians. He said “No law abiding citizen needs them”. Sounds like he was paraphrasing Karl Marx.

    It proves all leaders are the same, they lust for absolute power over the people be it Reagan or Marx.

    • No law abiding citizen needs them.”
      Sounds like something theBiden would say.
      And yes, they all lust for absolute power.

  13. Well …… typically the people that the Fox News crowd calls “Marxists” are just progressive Democrats with terrible policy ideas who have no understanding of guns and the second amendment. AOC is not a Marxist, neither is Pelosi, neither is Shannon Watts she’s just an idiot. As the old saying goes if you go far enough left you get your guns back and plenty of those people get why the people should have guns.

    • They just constantly push the oppressor-oppressed concept for the purpose of attaining/gaining power. They’re the actual oppressors but their followers are too stupid or brainwashed to realize it. The sheep are so far gone they think the key to freedom and happiness (be saved) is to give the federal government (their savior) all the power.

      • I am a Communist. AOC is most decidedly not one of us. She is what Marx called a bourgeois socialist – A social reformer who seeks to maintain capitalist relations of bourgeois production, money, classes etc. in a gentler form.

        From The Communist Manifesto:

        A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society

        To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems

        We may cite Proudhon’s Philosophie de la Misère as an example of this form

        The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie

        A second, and more practical, but less systematic, form of this Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes of the working class by showing that no mere political reform, but only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economical relations, could be of any advantage to them. By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government

        Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.

  14. Too many not Communists have guns. If every Communist had a gun, they’d still be outgunned. They revolution would end up with them defeated and dead. If they can make gun ownership a specially granted privilege, then they might get the numerical advantage and be able to carry.out their revolution. They would promptly remove the guns to prevent another revolution against them.

  15. The vast majority of people here in the U.S. (conservative or liberal) would be hard-pressed to define what Marxism actually is. The Right is particularly ignorant in this regard, labeling normally centrist policies as “communism” and pretty much referring to anything they don’t like as communist or Marxist. The meanings of these terms have been so diluted that outside of academia, they’re effectively meaningless. To this end, the Right overwhelmingly mislabels Neo-liberal centrists (like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer) as left-leaning radicals.

  16. This is my Creed! This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will… My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit… My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will… Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace! by Major General William H. Rupertus (USMC, Retired)
    (written following the attack on Pearl Harbor)

  17. “Guns in the United States pose a real threat to public health and safety and disproportionately impact communities of color,”

    I think the guy has the cause and effect reversed.

    It’s the “communities of color” that disproportionately have criminals that unlawfully use firearms and strict laws that prevent law abiding members of those communities of color from defending themselves against these criminals.

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