[Marxism] US: A Sick Society

Paul Flewers rfls12802 at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Apr 24 14:06:26 MDT 2009

Re the report about US shootings in Granma, the World Socialist Web Site ran
a piece on the subject at <
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/apr2009/pers-a07.shtml >. I circulated it
to some friends with this comment.

Paul F

Here's a US left-wing site on the recent shootings. The article points to
social trends that have intensified the atmosphere in which such acts occur,
but it overlooks the increasing degree of atomisation, of personal
isolation, that is engendered by latter-day capitalism; the way that it
undermines, weakens and even destroys institutions, be they ones which
socialists would support or oppose, that gave society some form of stability
and cohesion, without producing new ones that can replace them.

What seems to be common to all these cases of mass shootings is that the
person involved is socially isolated, feels neglected by society to the
point where he (and it's usually a male) feels that the whole world is
against him, that the world seems to exist to humiliate him, and that every
other person he sees is doing better than him and exists to show up his
inadequacies. His shooting, whether of strangers around him or of people at,
say, his college or workplace, is his revenge upon those whom he feels are
humiliating him. It's always his final act, as these shootings always end in

The young Korean chap who killed a couple of dozen fellow students at his
college made this very clear in his video. I remember hearing the news
commentators sagely talking about his irrational, mad statements, but what
was chilling was that his credo was in reality coldly logical; it made
perfect sense when considered from within his frame of mind: this is the
conclusion to which he was drawn by the social isolation he was

I think that this article, by concentrating upon the militarisation of
politics, the gangster-style approach of US foreign policy, and the violence
of much popular culture, is looking at things which have accelerated this
trend of action, rather than being at its root. There have been similar
shootings in countries with a less violent culture than the USA.

The end quote from Trotsky is, unfortunately, rather glib. The institutions
of the German working class, the best organised in the world at the time,
committed political suicide not long after he made this statement, and the
German workers were unable to prevent the ruling class from taking the road
of imperialist aggrandisement and mass murder, turning Europe into a
charnel-house. There is no guarantee that the response to the current crisis
will take the form of a left-wing challenge to capitalism, and I fear that
we will see further examples of what extreme isolation and atomisation can
lead people to do.

Paul F

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