FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Considering Gun Control in the Broader Context

by DAN WOODEN

The horrific slaughter of innocent children in Connecticut has led many of us to moments of deep introspection.  Many of us are re-considering our views on gun control.  Does it make sense to have weapons accessible to so many of us?  Others are asking questions about the social failings of our cultural institutions.   Why is our society producing mass murderers who have so little regard for human life?  These legitimate questions deserve careful evaluation.

Unfortunately, like so many problems in our complex modern times, in the search for solutions to our problems we unearth more questions than we answer.   And so the moment requires that we adjust our focal point to a slightly broader perspective where we consider; how have we gotten to this point?  The problem extends beyond episodic moments of horrific massacres.   Globally the balance of power continues to swing further towards inequality.  The global economy is beginning to fail.  Our environment, the substrate of this great human experiment, is under assault as the anthropocene epoch drives the sixth great mass extinction event in the history of life on planet earth. What are the dominant forces manipulating our cultural evolution in such a way that our humanity itself seems to be called in to question.

Sadly, questions unearthed by asking questions from this broader perspective are not easily answered by creating new legislation controlling firearms, or by reallocating scarce resources into mental health programs, both of which propose ‘end of pipe’ solutions to underlying problems that require us to completely reconsider the pedagogy of our current perspective.

“Don’t hate the mirror because you are ugly”

More and more we are seeing reactionary solutions taped on to the festering wound of our cultural ills.  We struggle to stamp out hate, violence, and perversion on the internet using filters and banning web sites.  We move to ban weapons and incarcerate those who commit acts of violence while marveling at the success of violent movies and games.  We rationalize and attempt to mitigate the environmental consequences of unsustainable lifestyles, never willing to change our excessive levels of consumption.  Like gangrene under a band aid the decay continues.

Our inability to address the roots of our cultural sickness is not surprising.  Just as a sword cannot cut itself, or a pen cannot write on itself, our minds swing wildly trying to draw a picture of another color, but the ink always appears the same.

Further complicating our accuracy in pinning down the problem is the dynamic moving target.  In the proverbial game of ‘pin the tail’ our donkey is sprinting down the street on a crack-binge high.  Fueled by explosive growth trends in technology and globalization the carpet under our feet is changing faster that we can even perceive it’s color.

The task of deconstructing our cultural influences is still possible, however, as many of the core elements to our storyline have not changed.  Philosophers have, for centuries, made attempts to define constructs of the human mind.  Frequently in the course of this examination we must also address our relationship to the ‘system’, and the discussion becomes closely tied to our economic circumstance.

In “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” Louis Althusser examines the connections between social structure, power and culture.  Like Marx before him, Althusser began by examining our relationship to the economy either as workers or elites.  All models of a functioning economies are seen to require both production as well as the perpetuation of the conditions for production.

Althusser divides the ‘machine of repression’ into the repressive state apparatus (RSA) and the ideological state apparatus (ISA). The RSA is easy to observe in the government of the state,  the military, or the court system.  The ISA, however, is more creeping.  The ISA is found in the pedagogy of our schools, in our religious belief systems, and the media.   The ideological state apparatus encompasses the elements of our cultural system that exhibit influences on our belief systems that are both subtle and extremely profound.

What does this have to do with the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School?  Outbursts of violence and evil are not the cause of our problems; they are a symptom of deeper disease.  As liberals and conservatives come together to condemn the tragic loss of innocent human life we have another opportunity.   Simply passing legislation to keep guns away from the public or institute strict psychological profiling of our brothers and sisters would be an unfortunate waste of an opportunity to truly examine the mechanisms that are leading to record rates of suicide, self-medication, environmental destruction and economic inequality.

Across the globe, millions of humans are anxiously awaiting the ‘end’ of the Mayan Calendar.  For some it represents a doomsday, for others a changing of ‘the age’.  For most, Friday will likely just be another day in which we will wake and observe the world.  We might even stare at ourselves in the mirror, for a moment, with thoughts of vanity or disgust.  Less likely we will see the beauty of a genetic fractal, of environmental co-evolution, of the synergy possible with cooperation, compassion, and love.  Our inability to escape this 21st century predicament is simply an error in our focus.

Here is hope that we observe more than just our reflection.  The innocent sacrifice of 20 young souls demands that we see deeper into our cultural hegemony.   While this moment is the culmination of an infinite number of variables, not all of them are as innocent or benign as they might originally be perceived to be.

Dan Wooden graduated from Humboldt State University in 2002 with a degree in Natural Resources Management.  His background is in wildland fire and he works for a federal land management agency where he lives in Arcata, CA.  He can be contacted at danwooden(at)hotmail.com.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail