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:
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail