Guns Don’t Kill People, People With Guns Do — Counter Information

By Michel Stone February 24, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – When I was a young man, my best friend from college and I were riding on the subway, traveling over one of Manhattan’s famed bridges. The City in those days was in bad shape, homeless people everywhere, pornography, prostitution and worse at 42nd Street and spilling over, […]

via Guns Don’t Kill People, People With Guns Do — Counter Information

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A Broken Society: America and Gun Violence

The increasing regularity of American mass shootings is a measure of the ongoing breakdown of American society.

The US media has widely cited a study by Adam Lankford, professor at the University of Alabama, that solely blames Americans’ extraordinary share of international mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 (31%) on its international lead in gun ownership (42%).

Surveying a total of 171 countries, Lankford argues that the correlation between gun ownership and mass shootings, even when America is excluded from the equation, shows that guns are the only responsible factor.

But Lankford fails to explain why, for example, Canada’s comparable degree of rifle ownership does not have a corresponding degree of mass shootings. Nor when there is correlation (e.g. Yemen and Afghanistan, conflict zones in any case) is violence directed at schools and churches except out of religious extremism, as opposed to individual derangement.

By definition, gun massacres depend on guns. But without the guns, the killers would simply resort to other means. Guns are more deadly than knives, but not bombs.

A Society in Breakdown

The increasing regularity of these shootings is a measure of America’s societal breakdown. This breakdown being courtesy of the inequality and alienation engendered by the societal domination of the corporate-financial elite, it follows that the two-party political system that serves and defends said elite would not want to highlight this reality. Hence, the ‘political debate’ becomes conveniently polarised between pro-gun and anti-gun, deliberately evading broader questions.

More than 2.3 million Americans have died since 2000, most of them by suicide, drug overdoses, and lack of healthcare[1]. 85,000 of these deaths have occurred in the workplace, including multiple just last December. America’s militarised police forces have killed 12,000 since 2000 and, according to FBI statistics, are killing an average 1000 per year. Naturally, the US establishment is not calling for their disarmament, let alone the greatest violent force: the military.

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Perpetual War: US forces in Afghanistan (2001-)

Since becoming the dominant superpower after WWII (a preview of my film about the growing threat of a US-Russia Third World War, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSkUOXArBTQ), America has been in an almost constant state of war[2]. This means that, despite censorship of the worst horrors, audiences of American media have been constantly subjected to images and sounds of war and the promotion and glorification of the most violent military on earth.

Significantly, the victims of these wars have been made invisible to popular memory: 2 million in Korea, 3 million in Vietnam, 1 million in Iraq… So voluminous is the death toll that, were it to be appended to the list recited at Ground Zero, listeners would no doubt fall asleep.

All of this serves to desensitize Americans to killing and to normalize it, as if slaughtering foreigners is as incidental and morally troublesome as undercooking an egg. But since Americans and foreigners alike are humans, such devaluation of human life inevitably self-generalizes.

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White supremacy on the rise: Charlottesville, West Virginia (2016)

On top of this psychopathic normalization of terrorism ‘so long as we do it’, American society is filled with bitterness and hateful division. With the help of the Democrats’ promotion of racial politics so as to distract from the class struggle (see my previous post), the Right are particularly bitter and hateful with their dehumanization of immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims and liberals. Both the political polarization and these extreme quasi-fascist sentiments have received maximal amplification with the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House.

What we have then is a society dominated by militarism, racism, police violence and political division. Whatever sense of solidarity emerged during the great postwar boom has given way to a country bitterly divided and atomized, of whom countless are deeply alienated and lonely, brainwashed, and psychologically disturbed. Until the 1% are unseated from their class domination of America and the world, this environment will continue to breed more and more tragedies of the Parkland variety.

1. A collective reckoning of statistics cited at http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/23/pers-f23.html
2. https://flashpointssite.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/us-foreign-policies-remain-unchanged-since-1948-counter-information-2/

The Rise and Fall of American Liberalism

Having sold out the working class since the neoliberal counter-revolution, the Democratic Party nowadays appeals to the privileged top 10% on the pitch of identity politics.

Fearing the prospect of revolution, the US ruling class – through the ‘New Deal’ policies of American liberalism’s pioneer President Franklin Roosevelt – granted the key concessions demanded by a restive labour movement during the Hungry 30s. Roosevelt, in his own words, sought to rescue capitalism: “I am capitalism’s best friend”, he boasted, “if they (1%) only knew”.

Roosevelt could appeal to the American people on a pitch of social justice and opportunity. But Ronald Reagan’s neoliberal counter-revolution in the 1980s killed the material basis for the realization of the American dream, in turn depriving Rooseveltian liberalism of the traditional pitch by which it appealed to the broad mass of the American working class.

Having sold out the working class since the neoliberal counter-revolution, the Democratic Party nowadays appeals to the privileged top 10% on the pitch of identity politics, be it of the racial, sexual or gender variety[1].

For the bottom 90%, these are obvious abstractions: their priority is to curb the historic decline in living standards and incomes since the 1970s, a struggle that the top 10% are far too privileged to identify with, preferring instead to prioritise the abstract nonsense that is identity politics.

Liberalism’s bankruptcy is evidenced by its tight embrace of an ultra-corrupt mass murderer (Hilary Clinton) for protection from the clutches of a quasi-fascistic buffoon (Donald Trump): as if the alienation of so many ‘white workers’ from the Democratic party – as expressed by the millions who welcomed and voted for Bernie Sanders before the DNC replaced him by Hilary for the presidential race, evidently preferring election defeat to the most minimal material improvements for the American people – did not already render Trump’s success a foregone conclusion. That the top 10% cannot perceive the obvious, namely that the Trump phenomena is rooted in the crisis of American society, underlines how cocooned they are from the real world.

Politically unable to admit the real causes of Trump and their involvement, lest they thereby expose the entire corporate two-party system and suicidally call for its overthrow, the Democrats now appeal to conspiracy-mongering tripe[2]: RUSSIA put Trump in the White House! The Trump Presidency is thus explained by a grand conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin, a new Stalin seeking to destroy the great American democracy.

Notice how this narrative serves to reinvigorate public support, currently at record lows, for a corrupt political system that is far more plutocratic than democratic. The narrative also reduces the complexity of the Trump phenomena to that of a grand attack by a foreign enemy, in turn serving to solidify both public and elite opinion (some sections of the latter instead deem China to be the main threat to US geo-dominance) behind the imperialist project against Russia initiated by Obama in the Ukraine. Like the environmental rape of global corporations, NATO’s unprecedented build-up on the borders of nuclear-armed Russia amounts to a gamble with the very future of the human race[3].

Capitalism has entered a truly moribund state since the 2008 financial crash, incapable of providing solutions for the planet. The objective conditions for revolutionary overthrow are thus becoming patent for the minority of Westerners willing to free their minds of the mainstream media. As the threat of environmental catastrophe and nuclear war looms, we would do well to recall Rosa Luxemberg’s remark on the eve of the First World War: the choice now is between socialist revolution or capitalist barbarism.

1. For brilliant analysis of this phenomena, see Wsws.org
2. See Consortiumnews.com for critical examination of RussiaGate’s so-called “evidence”
3. See my 2017 documentary Flashpoints on Youtube

Donald Trump and the Crisis of Imperial Decline

Above all, the Trump presidency expresses an entire US political and economic system in decline.

Mainstream commentary on Donald Trump invariably reduces him to an individual phenomenon. Be it a twitter comment or a public outburst, everything is about him.

The truth, of course, is that Trump is not some other-worldly demon that crossed into this dimension out of nowhere. Above all, his presidency expresses an entire US political and economic system in crisis.

In the early 20th century, the major economic centres of the world were Germany, the US and Japan. Europe as a whole was secondary; Britain had been in decline since the Victorian era.

Except for the US, these economies were left in tatters by the Second World War. This transformed America from a traditional hemispheric power (e.g. Monroe Doctrine) into the global dominant superpower virtually overnight: after 1945, the US alone accounted for some 50% of world economic output.

By the early 1940s, US policy planners had seen this coming, as Hitler’s defeat on the Eastern Front – where, the West forgets, the Soviets inflicted 75% of all German WWII casualties – seemed only a matter of time. Accordingly, these planners developed what they called a ‘Grand Area’ in which US corporations could plunder the planet’s markets and resources to satisfy an unfettered drive for profits.

Everything seemed great for the American empire, until the late 60s. The economies smashed in WWII – esp. West Germany, Japan and the new Asian ‘tiger’ economies – had rebuilt themselves and became viable competitors in the international market.

This meant that world power became multipolar, notwithstanding the considerable clout US imperialism managed to retain. But to reverse this trend entirely, the Reagan Administration initiated its neoliberal offensive of financial deregulation, union busting and austerity: all designed to sustain the massive postwar profit rates of Corporate America.

The Empire Strikes Back
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The Bush I Administration saw the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as an historic opportunity to reassert America’s political and strategic dominance in world affairs by brute military force, initiating a devastating air war against Iraq in order to tame a former ally, Saddam Hussein, after he disobeyed Washington’s diktats in the crucial oil-rich region.

Maintained by the Clinton and Bush II Administrations, the simultaneous economic embargo strengthened Saddam’s grip on the country rather than induce his overthrow. This strategic blunder was eventually recognised by the latter administration, whose solution became a war in 2003 with manufactured pretexts that proved even more futile: 1 million dead, 4 million displaced, and a Shia government friendly with Iran.

Then came the 2008 crash, sending the world capitalist economy into its biggest crisis since the Great Depression.

Since then, US decline has entered a heightened phase. China has now eclipsed America as the world’s biggest economy, prompting Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ military buildup. On the other side of the Atlantic, he subjected America’s other chief rival in Eurasia and the Middle East (Syria), Russia, with the biggest military buildup on its borders since the Nazi invasion.

“Make America Great Again”

Donald Trump expresses a psychology of denialism within the US elite. Unlike Reagan and Bush, he has come to power within the context of a much more existential phase of American decline. He personifies a ruling class with no solution for reversing the new reality: the US is no longer top dog.

Those who want rid of Trump need to go beyond the individual. Trump would never have emerged in the 1950s. He expresses the crises of American capitalism. The struggle against Trump is invariably bound up with the struggle for socialism.

US Foreign Policies Remain Unchanged Since 1948 — Counter Information

By Eric Zuesse Global Research, February 05, 2018 Ever since 1948, the U.S. Government’s foreign policies have been consistently focused upon breaking up the Soviet Union and turning its Warsaw Pact allies against the Soviet Union; and, then, once that would be (and was) accomplished, turning any remaining allies of Russia against Russia; and, then, once […]

via US Foreign Policies Remain Unchanged Since 1948 — Counter Information

US Foreign Policies Remain Unchanged Since 1948 — Counter Information

By Eric Zuesse Global Research, February 05, 2018 Ever since 1948, the U.S. Government’s foreign policies have been consistently focused upon breaking up the Soviet Union and turning its Warsaw Pact allies against the Soviet Union; and, then, once that would be (and was) accomplished, turning any remaining allies of Russia against Russia; and, then, once […]

via US Foreign Policies Remain Unchanged Since 1948 — Counter Information