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Tragic Inevitability of Mass Shootings Due to COVID-19 Restrictions

August 19, 2021 21 comments

One of the more peculiar features of life in this this country during the past four decades has been the steady rise of mass shooting incidents. While liberals blame this either on “guns” or “mental health”, it is my opinion that the real reasons for their rise are intrinsically linked to socio-economic fabric of this country coming apart over those 40 years. Mass shootings were basically non-existent in this country till the 1980s. Sure.. instances of gangs gunning down each other’s members has always been a feature of American history- but people not involved in those outfits were almost never affected unless they were accidently hit by stray bullets.

My point is that mass shootings of the type which have become increasingly common over the past two decades are a new thing- and the first major outbreak of such incidents occurred in the mid 1980s. There is a reason why a juvenile but hugely entertaining FPS shooter game series is named ‘Postal‘. But have you ever wondered why mass shootings weren’t a thing in this country before that era? Why didn’t any of many millions of veterans who returned from WW1, WW2 or the Korean war (often scarred by PTSD and serious physical injuries) go out and commit spree shootings- even when they lived in an era where one could buy guns from mail order catalogs- as a certain ex-marine did in 1963.

As I have said in many previous posts, social atomization which occurs alongside the precarity and zero-sum competition under neoliberalism creates conditions that cause the rise of a certain type of person who has no worthwhile social connections, nothing left to lose and no future to look forward- and they are almost always men. It is therefore not surprising that a small percentage of such people might consider killing semi-random people who remind them of people they dislike, regardless of the consequences, as a personal victory. FYI- in Weimer era Germany, such people often joined the Nazi party and other similar organizations. In any case, the reason why mass shootings occur in this country has a lot to do with socio-economic trends, rather than “guns” or “mental health”.

And this brings me to the topic of second- and third- order effects of various poorly thought restrictions, regulations and rules put in place by many western governments as a response to COVID-19 pandemic. While the type of blowback to these stupid official responses will vary by country and society- it is very likely that a significant increase in mass shootings will be one of the many downstream effects of such policies in USA. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that this country was heavily polarized (socially, politically, economically, culturally) for many years before COVID-19 pandemic arrived here in early 2020. In spite of early attempts at pretending that “we are all in this together”, the official response to this pandemic has made all the previously existing polarizations worse and expanded them to new categories.

You must be aware of the large differences between actual working-class people and parasitic “Zoom class” in their evaluation of own personal risk and support (or lack thereof) for various government interventions. In case you haven’t noticed it- here is an article about that issue. I could on about everything from the attitudes towards ineffective face masks, to restrictions which selectively destroyed hundreds of thousands of small business- while simultaneously enriching larger ones, constantly changing messaging about vaccine effectiveness, brazenly trying to hide risk of adverse effects and much.. much more. Regular readers will remember that I have written many posts on these topics during the past year.

The thing is- the lives of millions of working-class and other middle-class Americans.. you know the ones who actually do the work.. have been irreparably damaged by the thoughtless responses and policies of the government (often at multiple levels). While the government has temporarily purchased their silence with pandemic benefits, eviction moratoriums, extended unemployment benefits and small business loans etc- this state of affairs cannot last forever. In fact, things have already started to unwind further. It does not help that the government (especially the Democratic party) does not have a viable exit strategy- to put it mildly. While things in USA are not as bad as other western countries (Australia, New Zealand, France etc) due to it being far less centralized than them, it also has a much weaker social safety net.

It does not take a psychic to see that deliberately destroying the livelihoods of many millions of people is not a recipe for social amity. Doing so in a manner that is heavily polarized by class, race and political leanings is likely to make the blowback even worse. Did I mention that this is occurring against a background of widespread loss of trust in institutions, profound social atomization, 40 years of neoliberal policy which has already destroyed most of the middle-class, unprecedented levels of political polarization and a very public loss of status as the only global super-power. If you think that all of this adding up won’t create a few more men willing to go on mass shooting sprees.. well, I have a bridge to sell you.

Also note that the vast majority of guns in this country are owned by the same people most likely to be negatively affected by those stupid government choice and policies. It is generally a safe bet that large accumulations of dried dead wood and grass (fuel) in nature tend to be susceptible to forest and grass fires. The spark which starts a major fire in nature is often a function of chance and luck aka probability. We are really talking about a matter of when and how it will start and spread, not if it happens- because the probability for that outcome is already 1, and we all know that even if we don’t admit it is the case.

What do you think? Comments?