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Massacre in Dallas: America, the Ungovernable

Blowback doesn’t just happen with America’s global intervention; it happens here as well—and based on the same political-structural-ideological dynamics. Anticommunism, the rigid fixation defining the American world-view for over a century, creates an authoritarian atmosphere in which racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism thrive, already overlaid on the foundations of a mature capitalism dependent for its functioning on militarism and class division (a grossly uneven distribution of wealth and power). This does not excuse the murder of police officers in Dallas. It helps to explain the context for its occurrence.

Violence gnaws at the national soul, a unified fabric of psychodynamics created at the outset by US counterrevolutionary engagements and practices throughout the world. Capitalism joined to militarism as mutually reinforcing agencies of hegemonic stabilization, seen in peak intensity in the American experience, profoundly affects, justifies, legitimates what goes on internally in society. What happened in scorched-earth policies in Vietnam, torture and murder at My Lai, waterboarding and rendition today, cannot but further depersonalize and, as with armed drone assassination, desensitize the political culture—to the extent that even the oppressed take on the features of the oppressor.

No, the assassin in Dallas is not thereby exonerated; beyond murdering officers, he or they defiled a peaceful march by demonstrators themselves protesting police brutality, whether Louisiana and Minnesota or the innumerable cases of daily humiliation in which white police officers have beaten down and sometimes murdered black citizens. This was not an act of revolutionary violence, but a crude imitation of falling into the abyss of white hatred and nihilism. In fact, less an imitation than an internalization of the mindset of the oppressor, the real consequence of a fascistic mode of social control and racism.

America descends into a hellish framework, which corrodes and poisons all within it, even the innocent of wrongdoing, and the victims of abuse, exploitation, arrogance, and pride, due to its infliction on other peoples and its own population as well of a projection of contempt of what is specifically human, life-giving, selfless, no longer to be found in its own identity and aspiration. But the extermination-urge directed outward, lest it return home as self-hatred, cannot go on indefinitely without provoking irremediable damage in every way. We are seeing that now with the renewal of the Cold War and its mirror image, the impulse to kill with impunity those in America who do not measure up to the patriotic standards of whiteness, affluence, conformity.

Patriotism is everywhere, pushing to the borders of Russia (US-dictated NATO strategy) and to battle groups in the South China Sea (Obama’s Pacific-first geopolitical reorganization of the global system) from an encrusted American fear of losing its unilateral chokehold on the world system. Better dead than red, better collective destruction than a multipolar and decentralized international order based on mutual respect and social justice—an order specifically and directly antithetical to US needs, values, continued prosperity.

A crazed gunman killed five officers in Dallas and wounded others. A crazed bipartisan leadership, coalesced with financial and business elites, and military brass, kill in seconds around the clock the same or greater number. Is it possible that if the latter did not happen, neither would we see more of the former? I have implied that violence is contagious; to go further, it is also causative, particularly when legitimate authority takes the lead and sanctions rules which filter down to the rest of us. Rules such as, show no quarter; brutality is next to godliness, when the (self-approved and self-defined) cause is just—which it always is.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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