FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Attacking Gun Culture at Its Source

by KEVIN CARSON

There’s an old saying about what happens when ideas, um … copulate. This column is the byproduct of a comment by Dawie Coetzee on the Center for a Stateless Society working group email, and a subsequent exchange of tweets I had with @SugarKovalczyk. Dawie pointed out that such shootings tend to be carried out by people who feel “a loss of moral agency; that is, active and creative selfhood, self-authorship.”

Further, “such incidents are not, as a rule, impulsive, but are the culmination of long and careful planning. They are not ‘sparked’ by guns being at hand, for instance. The necessary means will be found: there is no effort too great to one expecting imminent death.”

This strengthened my belief that changing gun laws will probably have little effect on the incidence of mass shootings. Laws on paper are only effective, generally speaking, when people are already culturally predisposed to obey them, and in societies where the behavior they regulate wasn’t that much of a problem to begin with. If most mass shootings are long premeditated and intended as a demonstration of authentic selfhood by someone who feels robbed of moral agency, and if — as is almost certain — there will always be a thriving black market in firearms in the United States, I doubt waiting periods or restrictions on magazine capacity will make much difference.

So what will make a difference? Let’s get back to moral agency. The first thing that popped into my head when I read Dawie’s observation was an interview I heard on NPR years ago. A psychologist was talking about a statistical analysis of Palestinian suicide bombers on the West Bank. The one factor tying all of them together was that, as small children, they’d been traumatized by the sight of their fathers humiliated and powerless in the face of house-to-house raids by the IDF, and their mothers and siblings screaming facedown on the floor. They grew up with their very sense of self hinging on the need to assert their agency in the face of powerlessness by avenging this dishonor to their families.

Shortly afterward, @SugarKovalczyk brought to my attention the role loss of agency plays as a common thread in so many other forms of violence classed as “terror.” If we’re talking about perceived powerlessness and loss of moral agency, it’s hard to avoid noticing that so many shootings take place in — ahem — the workplace. Who’d have thought, in this age of cowboy CEOs, union-busting, downsizings, speedups, stagnant wages, micromanagement, management bullying and job insecurity, that workers would feel powerless?

And how many “terrorists” are being bred by urban police doing “show of force” jumpouts, or by cops kicking in doors, screaming “Down on the floor, m*****f*****s,” shooting pets, and reducing children to hysterics? Or by children witnessing their parents and siblings — or rescue workers — being murdered by drones on orders from a “Commander-in-Chief” ten thousand miles away?

It’s probably also relevant that these people decide to assert their agency after growing up in a culture where the “good guys” are violent predators (Die Hard, Dirty Harry and COPS). Or that America uses the “poverty draft” to send people into a machine that creates William Calleys and Lynndie Englands — and then brings them back home?

When you rob people of their self-respect and sense of control over their own lives, use them as means to your own ends, and treat them like garbage, don’t be surprised if you don’t like the destructive methods they choose to assert their sense of self. By all means let’s feel sympathy for the innocent victims when the worm turns — but let’s also never forget who set things in motion.

Want social peace? Disarm the cops and soldiers. Take away the power of bloodsucking CEOs — created by the same state that would regulate guns — over our very right to exist on the earth.

No justice, no peace. That’s not a threat or an apologetic. It’s a fact.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail