laws, guns, & money, Pt. 2: The causes are coming from within the house

A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at the proposed solutions for mass random killings[1] in the States and how the would-be solutions can actually lead to worse conditions for the marginalized. What we found is that it would be a better use of time and energy to look at systemic causes and then try to seek solutions from there. Looking at such may even save us from other problems.

For the United States, the root of our mass shootings may be traced to the lack of accounting for the fundamental exploitation of violence which continues in an intractable pull towards violence, death, and destruction as the key component of our way of life. Like George W Bush, we may talk about our way of life being freedom—which *THEY* hate us for. But that is only true in a strictly consumerist perspective, which depends on spendable and gathered capital of both the society and of the individual. In America, unlike the East Germany of the 1980’s, we are free to buy Jordache Jeans, but only if we have enough money. We can buy our health, but only if we have enough money. We can buy elections, but only if we have enough money. We can buy enough tasty food, but only if we have money.

In a country founded on guaranteeing negative rights[2], primarily shoring up the livelihood of slavers and land-usurpers, we cannot expect much more than what we have now: A few are made rich on the backs of the poor, the workers, the enslaved, the racialized, the indigenous. And none of this capitalist concentration of wealth and inequality is sustainable without extensive and sustained violence and containment.

To understand random violence here (and, I’d argue, abroad), we must look to the militarization of our society. It is this militarism that guarantees that those who amass resources and wealth can maintain and keep what they’ve stolen. Dole, United Fruit, Exxon, Boeing, Walmart, Raytheon, Nike, etc, rely on the 800 military bases in over 70 countries under the United States’ direct control in order to extract resources and make a killing (what pun?). Those forces exert pressure on would-be sovereign nations to also keep working conditions at a disposable level, optimal for capitalist extraction. This partnership is strengthened by the Wars on Terror and Drugs as well as through more apparently benevolent strategies such as monetary aid and NGO’s. If the governments were to get out of hand, there’s always the CIA.

The violence that the US exerts throughout the world is necessary to keep peasants and workers from effectively demanding their own economic and workplace freedom. The answer to both civil and personal unrest and unease is breaking bones and breaking wills.

us military shooting

And this violence comes home through various policing strategies. The priorities of the local police and criminal justice system are to protect private property—to protect capital. As such, they are generally in opposition to the needs and often the safety of marginalized and oppressed people, among whom are the Working Class, People of Color, People experiencing homelessness, and those with mental health issues. That there is a large overlap is not incidental. The police and justice system in capitalism resolve the internal conflicts of capitalism through violence and escalation.

Capitalism at its height needs waste. Waste is what the Free Market resides in, how it operates. Its nature is to mine, alter, consume, and discard. The US, with 1/20th of the world’s population, consumes 1/5th of its resources. Yet it has the audacity to throw out a third of its own food[3] and judge other nations for not being able to properly feed their own, even as it embargoes them. This waste expands to the wider economy and to other precious resources, such as fossil fuels, innovation, and labor. The waste is considered beneficial because it illuminates both plenty-as-reward and scarcity-as-punishment, the carrot and stick of the Meritocracy Myth. Labor in this system is deprived of meaning because it is wasteful; it doesn’t build to anything that has any value. The Free Market ideology does not lead to anywhere but capital gain for its own benefit; it does not lead to truth or beauty or value or health but to monetization and only to monetization.

So Capitalism also disposes of people—not just the Working Class who toil to survive with the minimum means and relationships to survive—but even the Petty Bourgeois and the Bourgeoisie themselves as their lives are filled with the meaninglessness, the nihilism, of monetization. All relationships become monetized under Neoliberalism, and the United States is at the height of this contradiction as we citizens spend our days worrying about either not having enough money or worrying about holding onto money. Indeed, as with cash, private property rules everything around me.

Other violent enforcers of American capitalism include Immigration and Border Patrol agents—ICE allows conglomerates to hire immigrant workers at a small price and then run them out when they begin to mobilize—the feds—despite the FBI’s celebrity status among the #Resistance, it continues to upend movements of actual resistance—and of course the CIA—which along with the DOD works to destabilize international resistance to US and capitalist hegemony.

This violence is state-led for the purpose of maintaining a destructive way of life. It is proof that capitalism is destructive externally and internally, for the world, the community, the family, the body, and the soul.

As King suggested before his assassination (yet another touchstone of American capitalist violence), we can’t point fingers at instances of seemingly-random violence done by Americans without considering the extent and depth of the violence of the bourgeois state upon the world and upon our own. White Americans wreak havoc in public spaces of  innocence because that is what they know, what they see, how they experience the body politic of their country and identification. How else to explain our involvement in Vietnam, in naked attempts to overturn the will of the people in state after state  (including our own, where the choices are already breathtakingly narrow), in the militarized police occupation of Black communities during protest, in the extrajudicial choking of Eric Garner and the seventeen shots into Laquan McDonald’s body? It is how vigilantes have dealt with encroaching threats and kept populations in line, from the post-Reformation lynchings to subway “heroes” who shoot teens like they’re Dirty Harry (and are elevated to that status) or have a Death Wish, to George Zimmerman in Florida and Theodore Wafer in the Detroit ‘burbs.

Lastly and most importantly, we cannot ignore the connections between mass random violence and intimate partner abuse. Not only are many of these shooters cisgender men, but they have made it clear that they feel entitled to enact violence onto the women in their lives. What is practiced at home is a practiced enactment of ownership and brutality. This is tried in the private and semi-private, and then carried out in large scale. From intimate and gendered to public and indiscriminate.

The only viable solution for potentially-lethal problems in violent capitalism is escalation; the solution for fear and foreboding nihilism is lethality. We must cut out the heart of the problem.

—–Note: This content first appeared in the Patreon page. Consider subscribing for early and exclusive access.—-

[1] Mass random shootings need to be understood within its many contexts as distinct from yet also familiar to intimate partner violence (and the mass shootings that are extensions of that) and neighborhood violence in underground economies. More on the connections between MRS and IPV later. For more on VIUE, read here.

[2] I have been working on this connection for a while and hope to have something up on it soon.

[3] According to the USDA, this also leads to tremendous pollution in the making and wasting of unused food. To wit: “Food waste, which is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.”

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One thought on “laws, guns, & money, Pt. 2: The causes are coming from within the house

  1. Pingback: March for Whose Lives? – Left Cheek: The Blog

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