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America radiates violence: questioning the politics of isolated incidents

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

In light of the tragic violence that has again unfolded in the form of mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia, it becomes clear that another defines the United States – a of violence. The numbers speak for themselves. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, 114 mass shootings have claimed 1,300 lives. Further, as a national report notes, “Every day, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns and over 230 are injured by gunshot wounds.” This is all happening in a country where there are more guns than people and where laws are enacted that make it easier to buy a gun than to vote.

America radiates violence and mass shootings are only one register of this scourge. The richest country in the world is armed, has one of the largest prison systems in the world, rings the planet with more than 800 military bases in 70 countries, and has a military budget of $ 738 which is unbelievably swollen and bigger than the next. ten countries combined. Additionally, it criminalizes social issues, has an entertainment culture that trades violence like a spectacle, demonizes people of color, militarizes its police force, and elects politicians who denounce democracy and support a former president who emboldens extremists. violent right-wingers using language. as a means of glorifying violence as a means of solving social problems.

Sadly, 75 million Americans voted for whose penchant for violence is matched only by his hatred of democracy and a celebration of ignorance and crushing dissent.

Americans can no longer be safe in schools, supermarkets, walking the streets or going to church, synagogue or any other place of worship. Violence is not only endured or pervasive in the United States, it is glorified in its culture and ignored in its history. Anarchy shapes its policy while the logic of financialization, consumption, deregulation and commodification erases all traces of social and moral responsibility.

Domestic terrorism now dominates the United States because it abandons the demands of democracy for a culture of war, if not perpetual war. Americans no longer seem able to understand where the violence as it has become a solution to solving most of America’s pressing problems. The public imagination has become deadly. America has blood on its hands, and mass shootings will continue unless such violence can be understood as surface manifestations of the much larger problem of a society in which questions of justice, Equality and social responsibility are under attack in a neoliberal capitalist state that elevates profits over human needs, ignorance over reason, inequality over community and expulsion over the common good.

Mass shootings cannot be treated as isolated events as they are rooted in institutional and systemic economic and political problems normalized every day by a market-based callousness and collapse of consciousness that allows a staggering threshold of violence. to shape almost all levels of society and everyday life.

Violence in America has become a routine, almost expected as a new normal. There’s more at work here than the limited debates about gun culture or the sordid implication that violence is largely produced by people with mental health issues. Violence saturates American culture at the national level and in foreign policy. It defines the dominant notion of vitriolic masculinity and the militarization of social relations manifested in increasing aggression against the bodies of women, undocumented immigrants, young people living in poverty, indigenous populations and the elderly who are stored in dilapidated and dangerous retirement homes.

The spectacle of violence dominates mainstream media, adding to a culture of cruelty and a misguided notion of pleasure in which violence becomes the main source of entertainment. Violence is a business and a source of profit for the Death Dealers who include lobbyists for the defense industries, the National Rifle Association, and gun dealers.

The mass shootings that stretch from Columbine and Las Vegas to more recently Boulder and Atlanta raise more questions than answers. America has a blood-soaked culture and violence is its calling card. Violence becomes visible in the most shocking cases, but it is the slow violence accumulating beneath the surface of the killings that must be addressed. It ranges from a savage form of capitalism that denigrates everything and anyone who does not fit into the trade-exchange scenario, to the systemic and deadly forms of systemic racism, sexism, nativism and militarism that permeate every aspect of society and provide fodder. for explosions of violence that now define all social relations, including the destruction of the planet.

The shootings, homemade bombs, murders, gun mania, police violence and the industrial prison complex must be seen in the context of a larger understanding of a society marked by massive inequalities, systemic injustice and mortal poverty. Issues of violence must be critically examined in the totality of the sites in which it takes place, which serve to mutually reinforce the legitimacy of a culture of war, ruthless survival of the fittest economic system and a bane of violence. massive aggression against the most vulnerable populations. . Daily violence, including mass shootings, must be linked to state violence, underpinned by a political culture indifferent to the value of human life, except for the rich and privileged.

If we want a debate on violence, it is essential to understand it as part of a larger social order that proceeds from the abandonment of public goods, health care for all, basic social provisions, democratic values ​​and democracy itself. America is addicted to violence because it has become the organizing principle of a predatory socio-political-economic system in which human suffering, human misery, and death function as a valued form of political and economic currency. The mass shootings that have become expressions of everyday life are signposts that make it clear that America has become a failed state, a country in which fascism is now one step ahead.

The conditions for democracy have been destroyed under neoliberal capitalism. In its place is a society imbued with a penchant for violence. America has a fascist problem that marks its emergence in an era of public death and political psychosis, and it must be resolved if we are to think our way to a different politics and future.

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