August 6, 2019
It, it being capitalism, wears a thousand masks and obscures itself behind a thousand labels. Called and calling itself at one time or another —laissez-faire, free market, conservative, liberal, neo-conservative, neo-liberal, progressive, neo-progressive, state, enlightened, gangster, welfare, welfare-state, party, non-partisan, crony, democratic, radical, responsible, racketeering, managed, bureaucratic, mercantilist, free-trade, protectionist, enclave, niche, tea-party, libertarian, populist, oligarch, sober, drunkard— it has always been capitalism and the adjectives, modifiers appended before or after are just so much….advertising, teething rings for suckers.
It has always depended upon a social pathology, a loyalty to abuse, a disavowal of the reality which it not only creates, but which it is. It creates this pathology in order to enforce the sanctity of private property, to maintain the power of private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism, the condition of producing value, of converting the time belonging to many into the wealth of few, is, and always has been the commerce in souls, the traffic in bodies, the bleeding out of “others.”
And now? Now we’re supposed to believe that the emergence of shooter capitalism in the US is either a radical change in the terms of that commerce in souls, or the logical conclusion of the illogic of that traffic in bodies. In fact, it is both. Even without the mass slaughters where shooting becomes the public platform for the expression of ideology, there are on average one hundred gun-related fatalities daily in the US. Such is the quotidian working of a system born from the extermination of indigenous peoples, fed by those forced into the slow extinction of slave labor, made fat on the renderings of millions cooked in wars local and global.
Still, the frequency and severity of the mass shootings speak to something other than “quotidian.” These incidents speak to a moment when the usual methods of expressing and managing the violence at the heart of capital accumulation– elections, voting, law, religion, journalism– are shown to be inadequate. Then the social pathology, the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-semitism, that paranoia essential to capital, that pathology that is immanent to capital, calls forth its parade of shooters. The parade is, of course, a parade of white male shooters, taking aim at Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, brown-skinned, black-skinned, immigrants, concert-goers, gays, high-school students, college students, nursery school toddlers– anything and anyone “other,” vulnerable.
Some want to call it “alienation,” as if capital was producing psychological distress for all, of all, by all, that was distinct from the racism, xenophobia…from the property and properties of capitalism. Bullshit. The shooters aren’t “alienated” individuals. They are social agents, incensed over their loss of entitlement; the threat to their place and their property in the order of things as big property sups on small property.
The only way to stop the violence of these petty actors is to overturn the entire theater and do away with this vicious farce known as capitalism.