Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mass Murders and the New Economy

From CounterPunch:

And while it is relevant that Wade Page was unemployed and had recently lost his home, it must be noted that the economic pressures discussed above comprise only one part of the picture. The forces and pressures attending a sped-up, high-tech world of instantaneous communications, as well as the pressures accompanying an increasingly polluted ecosystem – one that is taxing, more and more, people’s immunological resistances – not to mention the pressures of never-ending wars, are stressing our collective psyche to its breaking point.


Of course, most people do not crack from these pressures; most react to the pressures of work, etc., by getting more and more depressed. Indeed, it is not just another coincidence that the little relief people find from these pressures – which shouldn’t be confused with support – is derived from pharmaceuticals. Nor is it a coincidence that anti-depressants are the most highly prescribed drugs in the country. Unsurprisingly, in other fully industrialized countries, where people enjoy between six and eight weeks of vacation annually as a matter of law, there is less stress, less depression, and less murder. In the U.S., by contrast, people are getting less and less rest. Consequently, the pressures increase. That these destructive forces and pressures are systematic, and are integral to the process of profit and wealth extraction and concentration, is not discussed by those who seek to explain these mass murders through appeals to chance, or to morality.

More here.

Of course, there's no way of knowing for sure, at least at the moment, what's behind this seeming rise in mass murders. I mean, I'm all for talking about sensible gun regulation, but guns, in themselves, don't inspire people to go on killing sprees. And it's also worth talking about Michael Moore's assertion in his documentary film Bowling for Columbine that embedded in the American cultural genetic structure is a "culture of fear" dating back to widespread continual terror over the prospect of Indian attack and slave rebellion. But I think this uptick in mass murder really is a recent phenomenon, not something that has been going on since before the American Revolution.

Obviously, I agree with the assertion in the essay excerpted above: we have all been forced to participate in a society that, in its valuing of capitalism and its attendant philosophy consumerism, above all other considerations, has dehumanized us to the point of deep despair and/or uncontrollable rage. We're like experimental rats in cages, poked and prodded, forced to perform nonsensical tasks for our cheese, slowly driven insane in our psychic and spiritual state of captivity and torture. American life in the twenty first century isn't living; it's existing. And such an existence becomes ever more difficult and demoralizing.

Actually, I'm surprised there aren't a whole hell of a lot more of these mass murders. They seem inevitable.