Essay: After a senseless double murder at a French night club, a writer reflects on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels -- and Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian inventor of the AK-47, once hailed as the arm to carry the downtrodden along the road to justice.
PARIS - Just as his friend Karl Marx used to do, Friedrich Engels was telling the workers of the world to get rid of the "scum." He used this term with no hesitation, while describing "these dredges of deprived persons," those whom he viewed as the most dangerous enemy of the working classes. "At every revolution, when the French blue collars wrote on the walls of the houses "Death to thieves' and when they shot several of them, they were not acting out of enthusiasm for the ownership, but rather because they know they had to first get rid of this gang," Engels said. For him, as for the entire socialist tradition, the lumpenproletariat was not a sub, but an anti proletariat.
Mikhail Kalashnikov is part of this tradition. As noted by Olivier Rohe in his superb text called Ma dernière création est un piège à taupes ("My Latest Creation Is A Mole Trap"), the ex-sergeant of the Red Army, who is now approaching 100 years of age, is basically an homme d'ordre, passionate by work done well and an abiding hatred towards criminals.
By inventing the AK-47 assault rifle in the aftermath of World War II, he wanted to arm the hand of the workingman along the road to emancipation. In another of those ironic twists of History, this globalized gun is now one of the most destructive tools in the service of international capitalism. It is seen also as a fetish for bling-bling gangsterism all over the world, and even in the heart of this urban France, of which Marx and Engels once so admired the lucidity.
On Sunday July 1, in the northern French city of Lille, a thug unloaded his "kalash" in front of a nightclub, where he'd not been allowed to enter. Two people were killed: a 25-year-old man, working for a company that manages low-rent housing, and a 26-year-old woman, who worked at the nightclub's coat-check to help pay her university fees. These two young workers have been killed by the bullets of a weapon, invented once upon a time with the aim of brightening the future for the underdogs of the world.
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