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More Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 17 Jun, 2017

In a previous post on this topic, I made three observations about the incident in question. They can be summarized follows: (1) The shooting will leave Steve Scalise impotent and incontinent for years, perhaps for the rest of his life; (2) This shooting incident was politically motivated and has no real precedent in living memory, as far as the USA is concerned; (3) The Scalise shooting has elicited far more popular approval than condemnation.

But what does any of this mean for the future, especially in near term (weeks to months)? Is this incident the start of a new trend or an once-off aberration? And how will it shape, if at all, the political course of the country?

Let me begin by reiterating my prediction, from the previous post, that we are likely to see more of such incidents in the near future. Also, it is entirely possible that the next such incident might not even involve the use of a firearm. Furthermore, these future incidents are likely to affect elected democrats in addition to their republican counterparts. Having said that, let me now expand on the likely course of events that will lead down that path.

Throughout human history, a strong possibility of imminent death is the most important factor that will result in people targeting their rulers. As a corollary, highly autocratic regimes can remain in power as long as most people in that country are relatively safe and otherwise well taken care of. Most humans lack the willingness to fight for abstract causes like justice, liberty or honor- if they understand those concepts in the first place. They will however fight tooth and nail if they are, or perceive themselves to be, in mortal danger.

That is why almost every single large-scale uprising, revolution and civil war in history occurred in the aftermath of widespread and prolonged shortage of essential goods or something which imperils life of the average person. In other words, such movements (centralized or decentralized) occur only once it is plainly obvious to a significant percentage of the population that the status quo is beyond unsustainable. In other words, the previous order starts to collapse when people realize that their very survival and any hope for the future is dependent upon the old system (and its elites) dying out.

Major uprisings in recent history from the French Revolution of 1789-1799, European Revolutions of 1848-1850, Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864, Russian revolution of 1917-1923, the many post-WW1 revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Fascism in post-WW1 Western Europe etc were precipitated by severe and prolonged crisis- from natural and artificial food shortages to expensive prolonged wars that were bad for everyone except, perhaps, the elites. Conditions necessary for rebellion, revolution or just plain chaos require a prodromal period where the old system is exposed as utterly inadequate in facing new challenges while still capable of immiserating most people.

Based on what I have seen over the previous 18 odd years, it is my opinion that USA (in its current form) has entered that prodromal period sometime between 2005 and 2010.

Many of you might also have noticed that the previous decade has seen the widespread loss of any reasonable hope for a better future in USA. Pretty much every aspect of the lives of most people from education, jobs, housing, economic security has kept on going down. At the same time, the system has been unable to tackle emergent challenges from winning wars to protecting people from new threats. In other words, the status quo in USA has been revealed to be simultaneously immiserating and unable to face new challenges.

It is therefore not surprising that unorthodox political figures such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been able to quickly gather very large and fervent followings. The flip side this phenomenon is a rapid loss of any residual public belief in the competence and ability of traditional political figures. Indeed, one can make a case that the public now sees the very existence of traditional political figures as a useless and dangerous obstacle to making things work for them again.

To make a long story short, it is very likely that a very small percentage of the many millions of people in various types of dire situations in USA will start taking out their frustrations on those believed to be responsible for causing their problems. While many classes of people will be at the receiving end of this rage- from managers and administrators to bureaucrats, it is likely the high visibility and name recognition of elected representatives might make them more likely to receive it.

Elected representatives are also very likely to be seen as especially culpable for things such as cutting healthcare benefits, cutting social security and similar benefits and facilitating corporate abuses. It is therefore very reasonable to expect more incidents like that Scalise shooting in the near future. Also, it is quite apparent that most people have now come to enjoy seeing conventional politicians get their just deserts. To put it another way, the times we live are about to get a whole lot more exciting.

Might write more about this topic in a future post- based on reader feedback.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Atlanta Man
    June 17, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Lets be honest, this was a long time coming. It is notable that a 66 year old boomer did this- a man who had the ability to get a $37.00 an hour job in a factory fresh out of high school, who could have gone to college for $250 a year and graduated with no debt, a white man in america with all the advantages of segregation in his favor and he still felt the need to shoot at the parasitic political class. It is also notable that these rich , white, pieces of shit were protected by black working class police officers. As much as I agree with Advocatus Diaboli on the coming entertainment it will still pale in comparison to the “Days of Rage” from the seventies.

  2. P Ray
    June 18, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Some years back a Ph.D student asked me why when the price of luxuries went up, the prices of essential goods stayed the same.
    I replied that no matter how strong or advanced a country was, the rulers were always under risk of assassination by the citizenry if the basics of food and shelter were neglected, as “a hungry man is an angry man”.
    Almost every country in the world (except the ones currently in turmoil due to civil war) … has learnt this lesson since the days of the Romans – bread and circuses keep an empire going. Feminism, eventually, does not.

    • hoipolloi
      June 18, 2017 at 4:55 am

      As the young godfather famously said that anybody can be killed.

    • hoipolloi
      June 18, 2017 at 5:09 am

      @Ray: “…how strong or advanced a country was, the rulers were always under risk of assassination by the citizenry if the basics of food and shelter were neglected,”

      May I add that India is an honorable exception to such a risk for the rulers.

      Not quite correct and here is why..

      1] India has been a country (self-goverened nation state) only since 1947 or 1950.

      2] Since that time, elected government has done a pretty OK job of stopping things from going to hell.

  3. Jim
    June 18, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Well when anyone can buy 15 million of bad or written off debt for 60k and turn around and legally pursue people for it, things like that will push people to the brink. Especially while the banksters get bailouts and tax write-offs.

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.newsweek.com/john-oliver-last-week-tonight-debt-buyers-466887%3Famp%3D1

    • P Ray
      June 18, 2017 at 8:17 am

      In that article, the interesting statement is:
      The cases are filed with the hopes that the consumer will not show up to court, which means they have to pay the debt.
      The people who owe those kinds of debt are likely not able to get the day off to show up in court. Better hope they or their daughters are attractive enough to “waive the payment”.

  4. June 18, 2017 at 11:14 am

    on another note:

    http://nypost.com/2017/06/17/summer-internships-are-destroying-the-american-dream/

    That is what they were designed for in the first place.

    • webej
      June 19, 2017 at 4:52 am

      The internships work at two levels: the article goes into details about how they are a stepping stone to a career job. But they also obviate the need for paid summer jobs, which used to be the way you could get yourself through college, even though that also worked selectively for (higher) middle class young people. From personal experience, it was much easier to land paid full-time summer jobs via connections (your family’s network) than by random applications.

      • June 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

        It is easier through virtually all walks of life to land a job through connections than through applying.

        Pro Tip: if you are unemployed and need to show you are applying for work but want to collect benefits for a few months, apply online through company’s portals, they never get back to you. If you are looking for work, go to the BBB website, search for companies in your industry and area and find emails. Then politely ask (by name) if they are hiring for X,Y,Z. About 35-40% actually write back.

      • webej
        June 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

        You are right, but I personally have no experience applying for a real job, only some experiences with odd jobs when I was young. I have never worked anywhere they didn’t ask me to come…

  5. Yusef
    June 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Unless your main point is restricted to “more of these events in the future”I think at the very least you need to apply a little game theory to your analyses and predictions. This is not as simple as it seems. There are a variety of forces, all of them dynamic. For example, if all that is necessary is more “bread and circuses” then it is entirely within the scope of intelligence and capability of the oligarchy to correct in that direction. Also, in my opinion these random acts of violence are reactive, while the oligarchy has been pro-active all along. They have to have predicted and calculated such events on the road down to the Fourth Reich. Objectively, these events DO NOT endanger the oligarchy. (If predicted they can also be turned into something useful.) Historically, they also tend to be counter-productive with respect to public sentiment. Step up the scale, include more collateral damage of grannies pushing strollers into the mix and you’ll have popular hatred of this shit. You will see sympathy for the victims and lynchings of the perpetrators.

    Funny thing.. I have written two posts about that issue in the past.

    https://dissention.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/the-elite-are-not-good-at-strategic-and-long-term-thinking-1/

    and

    https://dissention.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/the-elite-are-not-good-at-strategic-and-long-term-thinking-2/

    • Yusef
      June 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      There is an ongoing war on civil liberties in the U.S. and the score so far:

      1. Team Elite: 100 points.

      2. Team American Public: 0 points.

      In other words the record indicates the elite are better at it than you think.

      Team American public gets no points when some idiot starts shooting things up.

      Team Elite scores points each time they ratchet up– without effective opposition– their control mechanisms, for example, when background checks and drug screening is required for a minimum wage job at McDonald’s, or as I learned from someone here, dads owing child support are not allowed to travel abroad. (There are too many examples and they are accumulating faster than I can keep track.)

      However, I’m not saying you’re wrong. If you say the elite isn’t good at long term and strategic planning because in the long term what the elite plans and aims for with its strategies will be disastrous, dystopian–even for the elite themselves– you’re right. I certainly don’t disagree.

  6. thegenius
    June 19, 2017 at 3:59 am

    this is a product of the Keynesian inflationist policies which have redistributed wealth from from the poor and middle class to the rich.

    “Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security but [also] at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth.

    Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become “profiteers,” who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.

    Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

  7. webej
    June 19, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Historical examples will not be instructive. Historical societies were not subject to rapid technological change and lived largely in the rythmn of the seasons. Crops and opportunities waxed and waned with weather and political fortune (war/peace etc.). This was comprehensible, so thresholds for action were high and sometimes rather local. [It was actually quite common in the Middle Ages for peasants to successfully depose unwanted feudal “lords”.]
    Modern society, in contrast, has an accelerating rate of change. If this rate of change is not compensated by “progress”, people will rapidly lose patience with all the forced change “for nothing” [“what’s the point?”] and long for things to stay the same (even though the economic dynamics have made any such stability impossible). The point is that unrest now has low thresholds, is itself actively driven by forced change throughout society, and has only minor local factors. Hard times are basically incomprehensible, so margins for adapting to decreasing fortunes are very thin, particularly because there is no path to any kind of reasoned resignation.

    • webej
      June 19, 2017 at 5:12 am

      There is another factor at play: Hardship was shared with the rest of the peer community during hard times, and the experience created mutual recognition and solidarity. In modern American society you cannot even imagine that.

  8. Xwarper
    June 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    America has seen few assassinations of public figures, with the notable exception of high-value targets like Presidents bound to incur some wrath from some quarter, because Americans have great faith in the goodness and ability of their representatives, House or Senate, no matter what they say.

    Keep repeating that BS to yourself.

    The beloved reaction to Kennedy’s death, and the outpouring of sympathy after the Reagan attempted assassination, point to an ongoing love affair with democracy. Americans are still passionate about voting and the political process after nearly a quarter millennium.

    Keep repeating that BS to yourself.

    Not only that, the success of America in fighting enemies around the world, and seeing foreigners ape them in their system, encourages Americans they are on the right track, reinforcing every success and negating every temporary gridlock which is understood to be part of a very complex interaction. Cops in America, doctors and teachers, entrepreneurs and engineers — the bedrock — has never had a problem with the system, and their paychecks remain extraordinarily high by world standards. It doesn’t particularly matter if you aren’t clocking 5% gains in pay per year net when your pay is a good $68,000 to $80,000 a year and you live in low-cost Idaho, driving snowmobiles in the winter and enjoying your three cars in the summer. The risk to American reps by assassination is wholly overblown.

    — xwarper.wordpress.com

    Keep repeating that BS to yourself.

    • webej
      June 20, 2017 at 2:55 am

      Hard to judge if this is tongue in cheek, someone whose living is churning out PR, or genuine uninformed naivité and gullibility. I learned a lesson many years ago, while trying to help the mother of a girl-friend, who had little income and had been paying back a debt for more than 10 years to the city government which had originated in mistakes on their part during renovation activities. In the end, she felt more threatened by fighting and giving up her image of a benevolent society with selfless servants than to face reality and get her money back.
      The incredible trust people keep putting in the hope for change every four years, and their faith in the agencies of government (like the CIA and the 17! intelligence agencies, but not in Julian Assange) no matter how often it is proven in the papers and senate hearings that those agencies are capable of extreme malice and evil, all rest on the repression of the idea that it is just rotten to the core and injustices are not mistakes. Conspiracy thinkers have the same problem: They would rather think there is an evil elite in charge playing 4D chess than to face the fact that things are out of control, the random vector sum of the interplay of various social, economic, and cultural forces.

  9. thegenius
    June 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    and before you blame so called globalization, globalization is likely mostly driven by central bank monetary expansions

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/11/18/will-globalization-go-bankrupt/

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