Monday, 20 January 2020

The umpteenth massacre in the United States. It’s you we’re talking about…

Writing about the umpteenth massacre by a more or less adolescent and more or less solitary killer in a small town in the United States is a bit like shooting apples in a barrel at this point.  As expected, the twenty-eight victims (the great majority children) shot down between New Jersey and Connecticut in mid-December 2012 provided one more macabre opportunity for a fireworks show of interpretation by sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, politicians and politologists, priests and policemen.  There were those who brought up the Frontier as the historical source of this recurrent violence (and what bourgeois nation has not had its own “frontier” to use as target practice?  England in India, Ireland and half of Africa, Belgium in the Congo, France in Indo-China and Algeria, Italy in Libya and Ethiopia… the list could go on).   There are those who attribute the obsessive repetition of these outbursts of violence to the “diminished sense of religion” (in what is an authentic theocracy, with its churches, sects and confessions of all types and all dimensions, TV preachers and “live miracles”!).  There are those who lament the “collapse of respect for human life” (over half of the world, as we all know, drones, cluster bombs and landmines from the myriad of “humanitarian interventions” and “just wars” are all there to defend this “respect”!).  And so on.

Of course there is the “arms lobby”, too, which has always brought its weight (both economic and political) to bear: and so the beloved president of the moment, in tears before the TV cameras (everyone cries nowadays!), vows to limit the spread of … “assault weapons”.  The victims of the next attack are grateful: it’s quite another thing to be shot dead by “defence weapons”!

But enough of this.  Capitalist society, the society of the extraction of plus-value, of the pursuit of profit at all costs (Triangle Waist Company! Marcinelle! Thyssen-Krupp! Ilva! to limit ourselves to a few recent and less recent examples), is grounded on violence, used at its birth (when it is turned against earlier modes of production that have been historically outgrown) and to keep it alive (when it is turned against anyone who attacks the status quo: the Paris Commune 1871, St Petersburg 1905! as above), to crush one competitor or another (trade wars, armed wars; two world wars and hundreds of local wars in the second post-war period, millions of deaths).  To those who showed him the chilling living and working conditions of the Manchester proletariat at the height of the Industrial Revolution (see: the birth of capitalism), an industrialist replied: “Yes, yes… But there’s a load of money to be made out of this.”Could there be a better comment?  In its relentless and realistic cynicism, is this not the acknowledgement of a law that holds and will continue to hold as long as this mode of production exists?

Willingly or not, we are all caught up in this violence.  What can be said, for example, about the abominable slaughter of proletarians at their places of work, the lethal effects, both inside and outside factories, that derive from toxic materials, the constant wearing down of working men and women and their children and grandchildren due to the awful working and living conditions in secula seculorumurbi et orbi? There is no solitary killer here: here a sophisticated and neutral mechanism is at work, which can avail itself of highly advanced technological organization (isn’t applied technology the greatest boast of the bourgeois world? and applied to what, if not the extraction of surplus labour and thus of plusvalue?).

There is no doubt:  the United States, the most powerful country in the infernal circle of imperialism, has pushed this widespread violence to the limit – not because of its DNA, not because of national characteristics, nor because of who-knows-what kind of “exceptionalism”, or whatever else, as so many stupid, one-track anti-imperialist arguments would have it.  The other imperialisms follow suit, anxious to take their place.  And it will happen (and is already happening) inevitably, in this area, too:  in phenomena of “irrational violence”, in “outbreaks of individual ferociousness”, in the exasperated individualism of those who feel themselves trapped, in the terror of the half-classes, pushed around, derided and slapped in the face, in their sense of vulnerability faced with a crisis in which the screws tighten day by day leaving no peace, and in the frustration, neuroses and madness it fuels:  Armageddon! Apocalypse! Leviathans! Plots and conspiracies! Deadly Viruses! Invasion from Mars (or from overseas)!

But de te fabula narratur:  it’s you we’re talking about in this story.  And this story is the story of capitalism: always but especially in its capitalist phase.  Imbued with violence, born and flourishing under the banner of violence, by means of violence it will be flung onto the rubbish dump of history:  because it will defend itself with violence, with all the “assault weapons” at its disposal, both real and metaphorical, just and unjust, democratic and fascist.

International Communist Party

Informativa 

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