Letters to the Editors

Dear Socialist Viewpoint,

The right to bear arms, guaranteed in the Second Amendment, gave a Constitutional impetus encouraging the former colonists of Great Britain to steal lands from the First Nations and defend slavery, by putting down uprisings and returning runaway slaves back to their owners.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act signed into law by President George W. Bush, October 26, 2005, protects the arms and ammunitions industries from liability when their products are used in mass murder events. From Columbine, Sandy Hook, Buffalo, and Uvalde the U.S. Arms industry escaped justice for their criminal marketing of assault rifles, pistols, made evermore deadly by their high-capacity magazines. Sheltered by the Second Amendment, children and unarmed adults have been massacred by the mentally impaired or by men motivated by racist ideals inspiring them to a fanatic martyrdom by gunning down Black people.

Banning assault weapons, pistols and the high-capacity magazines that make these weapons so deadly would be a good start toward making a stand on behalf of our children. As socialists, we would never vote for a capitalist politician. The Democrats and Republicans have brought us to this miserable state of decay. As an individual, I wouldn’t raise a hue and cry if they brought control with teeth and made it law.

The United States police forces are armed to the teeth. They should be disarmed because it brings more violence into Black and other communities belonging to oppressed nationalities. The Black Panthers and Fred Hampton, who was reaching out to Latinos, were mobilizing for neighborhoods free from police brutality, poverty, and substandard schools. It was the Democrats and Republican’s FBI in conjunction with other police agencies, that outright assassinated and framed their leaders and militant rank and file.

Arms have been a last resort used by the working class and Black Americans. These were huge struggles: The Battle of Blair Mountain—the largest pitched battle on American soil since the Civil War. The miners had to arm themselves. They were forced to either die working in the mines or on the battlefield. The Black Panthers carried arms to protect their neighborhoods from police harassment. Given the circumstances of police violence, a fightback had to start somewhere.

Revolutionary overthrow of U.S. capitalism is an objective necessity to salvage our society and planet. Many men and women rot in U.S. prisons for crimes of poverty or for crimes they did not commit. These victims of a predatory U.S. justice system may not be granted release under the two-party system. It would be decent if the U.S. Executive and Judicial branches released these victims to enjoy what is left of their lives.

Advocating banning assault weapons is not a compromise of our revolutionary integrity. It is a recognition that children are being massacred along with their teachers, African Americans get murdered in their churches and marketplaces. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines makes sense like banning leaded gasoline, DDT and other things that have been found harmful to life.

Our future depends on winning a majority of working- and middle-class people to act together to end the violence of capitalism by any means necessary. If, in our huge numbers, we do decide to take the road of socialist revolution, we will finally be able to make all weapons of death and destruction obsolete.

In solidarity,

Brian Schwartz

To the Editors of Socialist Viewpoint


Your editorial on page 2 of the May/June issue of Socialist Viewpoint focuses on the last line in the editorial: “Russia Out of Ukraine.” As you say, you are defending the right of Ukraine to national self-determination. This is correct and principled, but there is a big problem of omission here.

You fail to mention that ALL nations, including national minorities within nations, have the same right of national self-determination. That clearly applies to Russian separatists in Crimea and the Donbass. Yet you say, “We take Ukraine’s side,” with no further modification. Are we to think that Ukrainians are the only people who deserve the right of self-determination in this conflict?

You explain that “the U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” yet you blame only Russia for this war while ignoring the U.S.-orchestrated coup of 2014, which threw out a democratically elected government and resulted in a fascist assault on the Russian separatists in the Donbass. This was not only an attack on the right of self-determination of both Ukrainians and the Russian separatists: it was the spark that started this war!

Lenin makes the point about the right of national self-determination crystal clear in “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” which you reprint in your Arsenal-of-Marxism section in the very same issue of SV:

“The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that ‘its own’ nation oppresses.”

Now, over one hundred years after Lenin’s writing, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917 which honored the right of self-determination for all of the nations trapped in the Czar’s “prison house of nations,” this is still only a vaguely-recognized principle in today’s imperialist-dominated world.

Lenin goes on to say that. “...the struggle for national liberation against one imperialist power may, under certain circumstances, be utilized by another ‘Great Power’ in its equally imperialist interests...”

This perfectly describes what the U.S. has been doing since 2014: using Ukraine, and the fascists within it, to weaken and even destroy Russia, in the cause of absolute world dominance for itself.

Citing Marx, Lenin also said that self-determination could not be achieved by the social democrats of the 2nd International, who sided with their own imperialist powers in World War I—and who said that self-determination which entailed the altering of boundaries of nations was “utopian,” or should be “repudiated in the name of the social revolution”—were on the wrong side of Marxism, and, I might add, of history.

Lenin instead insisted that problems such as the secession of small nations from larger, imperialist powers should be handled “in a non-imperialist manner, to urge the bringing together of the nations, not by force, but on the basis of a free union of the proletarians of all countries.”

Workers’ revolution depends on eliminating national divisions standing in the way of true international solidarity. Today, we must recognize that Ukrainian, Russian and the U.S. working classes must rise up against this war—as the working class must do with all imperialist wars—and that doing so should include recognition of the democratic rights of self-determination of all nationalities involved.

The U.S. has expressly declared that Russia must be driven back to the 1991 boundaries, which would mean returning Crimea and the Donbass to Ukraine. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, now chimes in with the U.S. line, after earlier mouthing ideas of compromise.

But even the miserable imperialist creep, Henry Kissinger, has said that the end of this will have to involve some compromise. The New York Times agrees, as of May 19; and it also agrees that this is not just a war of Russia on Ukraine; it is a proxy war by the U.S. against Russia. Despite this talk of compromise at high levels, the neo-con infected U.S. barrels along with the war to “weaken” Russia.

We must consider: what would happen if Russia did in fact get out of Ukraine? The U.S. and its Ukrainian proxy state would have field day! Russians would be driven out of the Donbass and out of Crimea as well, despite the fact that people in both of these regions have explicitly chosen to be part of Russia or independent and allied with it.

My position is not that of some people in the antiwar movement who take sides with Russia. Russia is acting out its desire to be an imperialist power again, and it must get out of Ukraine. But by emphasizing only the one demand of “Russia Out,” and “We take Ukraine’s side,” you are essentially siding with the imperialist U.S., as well as with its Ukrainian proxy.

Nowhere in the U.S. media is it even mentioned as a right for Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists. Socialist Viewpoint should stand up for this right as spelled out by Lenin.

We are internationalists. We must demand that the U.S. and Russia get out, and that both Russians in separatist regions, as well as Ukrainians in general, get the right of self-determination. And we say that workers of all involved nations rise up to oppose this atrocious imperialist war!

We seek the end of this war, but the end must respect the national rights of all concerned. That is the only revolutionary internationalist solution to this ugly war.

—Chris Kinder, June 2022

Dear Socialist Viewpoint,

One thing about The City [San Francisco] is there’s history and current events lessons everywhere, not to mention a vibrant sense of Community with the art music poetry as well as photography to go along with it.

Without a doubt killing innocent civilians is something I am 100 percent against. No one chooses when or where we are born, like 2Pac says, “I was given this world I didn’t make it.” But we do have the ability to make a change.

And everyone has varying viewpoints based on our individual and collective experiences. These thoughts are inspired from a book I read at Temo’s Cafe on 24th and Harrison titled, My Gaza: A City in Photographs, by Jehad Saftawi (Photographer.)1 It’s the voice of someone who grew up in the middle of fighting and from a perspective I’ve never heard before so, of course, I want to share it.

The fact is that Israel was formed under the context of racist nationalism and capitalist tyranny to which Palestinian resistance became willing to fight back by any means necessary.

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Yet the cycle continues. When does society realize human life takes precedence over material? I think it’s happening, it’s always been, now we’re able to communicate globally and starting to see the cause and affect with our own two eyes.

Keeping Palestinian voices amplified and learning about history and culture and sharing the information helps keep the history from being erased, and the culture of resilience vibrant and thriving against the odds.

I love the Palestinian spirit and humbly give thanks for stoking the fire of inspiration in my soul.

No one should have to make resilience a way of life but for those who do, I’m with you, I hear you, I feel you and recognize how I’m affected, as well as how I affect community and society as a whole. It’s not in me to quit, but to keep fighting for a just cause, I’m learning to see it from the long view, and in it for the long haul, to see the social progress needed around the world, to see the unknown born.

Learning lessons from history keeps us from repeating the same thing and provides the evidence necessary to break vicious cycles.

We Break Vicious Cycles

We Thrive With Unity

Diversity Is Our Strength

It Happens Together

We Do Recover

—Johnny Gould

Follow @tandino415 on Instagram

1 My Gaza: A City in Photographs, by Jehad Saftawi (Photographer)

My Gaza offers a startling perspective on contemporary Gaza. Photographer Jehad al-Saftawi documents his life there up until his escape, in 2016. His eye is drawn to moments of humanity and tenderness that redefine this place beyond propaganda, beyond prevailing narratives. Through vivid images and captions—a gun to the head, an interrogation, a family in strife—al-Saftawi exposes a situation that cannot withstand further escalation. Urgent and resolute, My Gaza is the first book of its kind, presenting photos of present-day Gaza by a Gazan journalist.