locks up both man and woman Who steals the goose from off the
common, But lets the greater felon loose Who steals the common
from the goose.
In the aftermath
of the murders at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, a lot
of counterfeit hand-wringing was expressed by members of the media,
politicians, and men and women who could be counted on to appear
on television, covering all the bases of politically correct opinion.
Once again, we are treated to the spectacle of people engaging
in that deadly practice of psychological "projection"
(i.e., the effort to rid oneself of undesired "dark side"
influences by presuming such traits to reside in others). Institutional
deflectors of causal inquiries find the explanation for undesirable
events in superficialities such as guns, rock music, lifestyles,
alcohol or illegal drugs, clothing styles, or any other behavior
that does not negatively implicate corporate-state interests.
Is the availability
of guns the underlying cause of such seemingly random violence
against strangers? In my youth in the late 1940s it was commonplace
for teenage boys to own a rifle usually .22 caliber in nature.
While I did not own such a weapon, I learned how to use one at
a Boy Scout camp. Many perhaps most of my friends owned a
rifle or shotgun, and I do not recall any mass killings resulting
that material objects have the capacity to direct and control
our behavior is so childish that you can see how nicely it fits
into the states interests in keeping us as obedient children.
But if the proposition be true, none of us has "free will"
(i.e., we are but billiard balls reacting without intention
to forces outside us). Vector analysis, employing laws of physics,
would be sufficient to explain human behavior. If this is so,
what moral justification would the state have to punish anyone
for anything that they do? If guns were responsible for
the mass-killings in Colorado as well as in Wisconsin, why should
those who pulled the triggers be held responsible? Perhaps we
could revert to the practice in early England when, for example,
if a gate collapsed and killed a man, the gate was put on trial
and, if found guilty, punished for its "wrongdoing."
But if guns
have the power to cause us to do things we would not be inclined
to do in their absence, wouldnt the same logic apply to weaponry
in the hands of the state? Perhaps it is the guns, bombs,
rockets, aircraft carriers, missiles, bombers, and other inanimate
tools of death and destruction that cause wars. Those who desire
peace in the world should organize themselves on behalf of disarming
the state; of taking from the military and police officers the
tools with which they are driven by unseen forces to inflict violence
upon others. Perhaps the power of inanimate "things"
explains why the United States leads the world in the percentage
of its population in penitentiaries: in the language of chaos
theory, prisons may serve as "attractors" that draw
men and women to be incarcerated therein!
be easy to dismiss my suggestions as empty foolishness except
for the fact that they are quite logical extensions of the
premises upon which the media and politically-minded persons operate.
If guns make us their unwilling agents of violence in one setting,
why not in the other? Such a mindset helps to explain why our
behavior is so irresponsible: we are the passive "victims"
of things that exercise their wills over us; material objects
if the accelerated violence in our world has other explanations
to be found in our thinking? What if our minds have
created a culture of violence? What if we see the world as a malevolent
place, characterized by ever-expanding conflicts with one another?
What if we regard every undesirable condition as a cause for going
to war e.g., the war on terror, the war on drugs, the
war on poverty, the war on obesity, the war on cancer, the war
on child abuse, etc.? And if our world becomes a battleground
within which to fight these endless wars, would our thinking not
be attracted to ever-more-powerful weapons for the hostilities?
pervasiveness of the thinking that sees war and violence as the
nature of human beings in society, should we be shocked to find
occasional individuals emulating the behavior of those who engage
in such activity at political levels? When soldiers who kill innocent
people in foreign lands are rewarded with medals and accorded
the status of "heroes," why do we not extend the same
approval to the man who kills his neighbor? Why would we be offended
by a bumper-sticker that read "support the Sikh Temple killer,"
but not one that reads "support the troops"? Why are
serial-killers rightly condemned for their mass slaughters, while
those who play central roles in conducting wars that kill hundreds
of thousands of innocent men, women, and children receive the
Nobel Peace Prize?
Is our culture
so dominated by systematic lies, contradictions, inconsistences,
distortions, speculations-reported-as-facts, and twisted reasoning,
that our minds remain in a default mode that accepts the proposition
"a lie is as good as the truth if you can get someone to
believe it"? Is truth something to be negotiated; to be defined
by the outcomes of opinion polls? That paragon of militaristic
absolutism, Napoleon Bonaparte, defined "history" as
"a set of lies agreed upon." Given his record, do you
understand why he found factual inconstancy so necessary to his
purposes; and why the modern established order does so as well?
In such ways
have we learned to metabolize the moral confusions inherent in
our politicized world. When we identify our sense of being with
the state or with any other institution we have to separate
ourselves from those actions that our unconscious minds would
otherwise condemn. If we think of ourselves as indistinguishable
from the state, the wrongs of its officials become our wrongs;
if the state engages in evil, our unconscious voices suggest to
us that we are evil. I suspect that a good many alums of
Penn State University whose collective motto is "we are
Penn State" must be experiencing inner turmoil as a result
of despicable criminal offenses charged against school icons.
How can we
rid ourselves of these discomforting feelings? The mature route
would be to engage in what Carl Jung called the process of "individuation,"
to withdraw ones energies from the collective mindset; to accept
that each of us has a "dark side," the forces of which
can be neutralized by the awareness that this is who we are. If
we are uncomfortable acknowledging our shadow "selves,"
we can resort to the more common practice of projecting such
unconscious sentiments onto a scapegoat, who can then be
punished for our participation in collective guilt. A scapegoat
need not be innocent of wrongdoing: he or she need only be seen
as an acceptable substitute for the misdeeds of those we are fearful
of directly confronting.
presidents announce to the world that they are entitled to declare
war on the people of any other country; that they may torture
and imprison others without any legal recourse; and may even order
the assassination of anyone they deem to be persona non grata,
how will those who identify themselves with the nation-state respond?
Unwilling to condemn a system with which they identify themselves
an act that would amount to a personal condemnation they are
eager to find a proxy upon whom to unload their righteous anger.
Those who engaged in mass killings in Colorado and Wisconsin were
perfect surrogates: they were, apparently, guilty of engaging
in these horrific acts. In addition to their own criminality,
they can serve (unconsciously) as scapegoats for even more extensive
wrongs against other innocent victim.
are not to inquire, of course, into what might have motivated
these troubled men to engage in their murderous acts of violence.
It is sufficient that our attention can be diverted to guns, drugs,
or dyed hair for explanations. But when presidents and other government
officials routinely get away with the slaughter of hundreds of
thousands of innocents, should we wonder where the idea of mass
killing might originate? When the current president asserts the
authority to murder anyone of his choosing, should we be shocked
to discover young men emulating this policy in suburban settings?
And when this same president went on national television and declared
that we needed to do some "soul searching" for ways
to "reduce violence," did any major political or media
voice suggest that the American government might set an example
by ending its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Is it denseness
or moral cowardice that causes us to not see the causal
connections between the violent, destructive, and dehumanizing
nature of the practices of the corporate-state, and their reflection
in the actions of men and women in our society? Can we stop looking
for convenient explanations elsewhere than in the content and
processes of our thinking that makes us revere the systems and
their elitist owners - that profit only by destroying us?