How Capitalism Causes Mass Killing

1. Making Shooters Volatile. It’s not just the shooters who are mentally ill — it’s our whole society. Why do we have so many mass shootings? (And wars, and killer cops, and destruction of the ecosystem — I’ll talk about those later.)

I blame it on competition, the opposite of friendship. Dog-eat-dog competition kills empathy, replacing it with fear. Fear of unemployment, of poverty, of homelessness, of hunger, of shame, of friendlessness. Those fears eat away at our insides. Finally some young man snaps; he feels he must do something about this crazy world all around us.

2. Identifying Targets. “Divide and conquer” is an old, proven technique of plutocrats. Get the masses fighting against each other, and they won’t notice that their real enemy is the ruling class. Tell poor white laborers that they are “better” than slaves, and they may not notice how poorly they are paid. Tell poor white laborers that immigrants are “stealing” their jobs, and they may not notice who is profiting from this arrangement. To unite many or most of the voters, designate some minority or some far away country as the “enemy” and blame all our problems on them. Forget that those people are actually your cousins. It helps if you have the press in your pocket.

3. Making Guns Available. At the center of this are congress and the NRA (National Rifle Association). Many members of congress receive endorsements and monetary contributions from the NRA. This is one of the many, many ways that members of congress make themselves rich. (Perhaps the biggest way is by owning stock — either directly or through a family member — in the corporations ostensibly being regulated.)

In return, these members of congress block gun regulations, so that guns remain plentiful and profitable. Gun manufacturers and retailers make big profits on guns, and so they make big contributions to the NRA. And the NRA supplies propaganda, to grease the wheels and keep them turning.

Actually, neither congress nor the NRA is essential for this process. Hobbyists have gradually been improving the quality of homemade guns produced on 3-d printers. And 3-d printers themselves can also be produced on 3-d printers. So homemade guns are difficult to stop, to trace, to regulate. But if we solve the two previous problems — volatility and targets — then there wouldn’t be so many people who want guns.

Bigger Mass Murders. Wars kill far more people than lone shooters do. The wars are all based on lies to make a few rich men richer. The real reasons for the wars are multiple, complicated, and subtle. For instance, one reason the USA supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan and later the nazis in Ukraine was to weaken Russia, a major economic rival of the USA. Another reason is a money-laundering operation: Most of the taxpayer dollars that congress sends to war actually go to US weapons companies, which make large donations to most members of congress. That is the way of capitalism: Trade gives greater profit to the trader in the stronger bargaining position, making him stronger still, increasing inequality, creating poverty and plutocracy.

Nuclear war might kill us all. (Surely this situation should prove, beyond all argument, that “we’re all in this together.”) There have been numerous instances when a nuclear war has almost happened accidentally, like in the movies “Fail Safe” or “Dr. Strangelove.” It has been averted because some lower-level officer refused to obey orders. Perhaps we will continue to have that good fortune. But the only thing that can make us safe is universal friendship and disarmament.

I see still greater risk in climate change. It’s coming bigger and faster than the IPCC says; it is accelerating exponentially due to feedback loops. It will soon kill us all if we continue with Business As Usual, and no end to that is presently in sight. For over 40 years, politicians have ignored the warnings of climatologists, and have continued subsidizing fossil fuel companies. The politicians profit through donations, investments, speakers’ fees, etc., from the fossil fuel companies. Lately the politicians have begun to say, “yes, we must do something,” but all they do is more speeches. Our economic system permits them no other option. Capitalism may kill us all, but not directly — it needs a weapon, and climate change may be that weapon.

On Losing a Child. Thinking on recent mass shootings, I was reminded of “Ain’t No Reason,” by Brett Dennen. Here are some lines from that song:

A window and a pigeon with a broken wing
You could spend your whole life working for something
Just to have it taken away

And isn’t that what it must feel like, to lose your child? The Zen master Sengai Gibon (1750-1837), once asked for the key to happiness, wrote in response

Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.

He explained that that is the natural order of things, the order to which we are accustomed, the order that we have accepted. If the order is changed — if the parent must bury the child — it is an enormous tragedy, the destruction of life’s plan.

I am glad to say that my own children are both still in good health. But I have grieved over something like the death of a child: A few years ago I became aware that climate change is speeding up, and may soon extinguish the future of the entire human species. That thought filled me with pain for months.

Then I regained hope: Perhaps it is not too late. Some time evidently remains to us — at least a few months — and we do not know, and cannot know, what we may still discover or accomplish in that time, in technology or biology or political psychology, that might still save us somehow. So now I live with the anguish of a parent whose child is missing; I don’t know whether my child is dead or alive. I work every day, in the little ways that I can, in efforts to recruit more people to the climate cause and somehow improve the situation. We’re all in this together.

I wish good health to you and yours.

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2022 June 7, version 1.05. The leaflet fits on two sides of one page.









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