First off, I know it has been a while since I wrote anything. Sorry, but my time for reflection is directly proportional to the amount of things urgently requiring my attention. The busier I am, the less writing I do. Which s probably why I am so adverse to writing a book. I like to be an active participant in doing, not recording what has been done. That and I would have to change so many names to protect the guilty I wouldn’t be able to keep it all straight in my head.
But today I would like to talk about something that both my American and European friends just can’t get their heads around…gun violence…
If you haven’t heard (and I don’t know how that is possible, do you live under a rock?) there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas yesterday. Nearly 60 people are dead now, and many more wounded.
Like many mass shootings in the US, a significant portion of the population got upset and started blaming America’s lack of gun control and citing the gun control laws of other societies around the world as proof that America needs to immediately enact similar gun control laws.
So why don’t they?
The simple truth is so many people benefit from gun violence in the USA, that it would be bad for business and bad politics to do anything about it.
I hear all kinds of colorful political statements from both sides of the isle, and as usual, my objective moderation is not particularly appreciated.
So, while I think conspiracy theories like the US government blowing up buildings on Sept. 11, 2001 or staging mass shootings are absolutely absurd and I do not believe or support them for a second, I am reminded of my days earlier in life when my penchant for rogues and intrigue was legendary. At least it was good enough to be told I could write the book on Advanced Treachery.
But a classic example of (I did not come up with the term, I do not know who did, full credit to them) advanced treachery is “aiding in a doomed conspiracy”. In other words, setting the stage. So while American leaders and socio-political groups may not conspire or actually get involved with violent catastrophes, they are quite adept at setting the stage.
The Idea of aiding in a doomed conspiracy goes something like this. (Again, not my original example, but I’d be hard pressed to create a better one, I studied intrigue as a passion for a time).
Party C would like some of Party A’s cows. Party C would also like some of Party B’s land. So, in order to get both, party C concocts a plan…
She (why not use the feminine pronoun?) approaches party A and tells him that she has important information about party B and wants to help him, in return for a few cows. She then goes on to tell party A that party B is planning to steal some of the cows and she has a plan to stop it.
Party A not wanting to lose his cows to theft, not only pays some cows for this information, but agrees, and even thanks our temptress named party C for her help.
Party C then goes to party B. She spins him a tale of how Party A is going to feed his cows by allowing them to graze on Party B’s land without asking permission or paying him. She goes on to say that she has thought of a way to prevent this from happening. She is eager to help but needs some payment for her time and energies in the form of a small slice of Party B’s land.
Party B seeing benefit of not having his land grazed upon without permission or payment agrees, pays, and thanks Party C for her help.
Party C then takes her new cows and places them on the strip of land which she now owns between Parties A and B. Where they graze freely to their delight.
Party A feels his cows are safe because Party B will find it much easier to steal Party C’s cows than his own. Party B feels safe and secure, because Party A will certainly let his cows graze on Party C’s land as it is closer to him than he is.
Now party A never planned to let his cows graze on party B’s land. Party B had no intention of stealing cows from Party A. Yet Party C was able to convince and conspire with both of them in order to get something from each by promising a solution to a problem that never existed.
Even if Party A & B later find out that one did not pose a threat to the other. They had both already conspired against each other, they had already paid based on their part in the conspiracy. Ideally both would be so afraid of the other, and such perceived enemies, the truth would never come out, and party C could continue to play them both at her leisure.
The conspiracy is “doomed” because not only did Party A and B conspire against each other, they both lost something doing it for no actual gain. A threat never existed, so they both “paid for nothing.”
Party C is the decisive winner. She started with nothing. Convinced two people harmless to each other of an impending threat against them by the other, and offered to help out of moral concern and altruism, asking for no more in return than a small amount from both in order to mitigate her imaginary loss of “time and productivity.” Both of her co-conspirators happily agreed. Both of her co-conspirators believed they were giving just a little for protection against the other. AKA give a little to save a lot.
In the interest of giving a brief overview, and not writing an instruction manual I didn’t delve into the various techniques of manipulation to make the lie sound believable, but manipulating people is a topic unto itself, and in my effort to be a moral person, I do not teach people how to do it. (or do it myself on purpose)
Now while most politicians and elected officials do not possess the intelligence to come up with a particularly good conspiracy or actually hide a conspiracy, they are very good at setting the stage for tragedy by the use of cunning. Cunning and intelligence are not the same thing, briefly, intelligence is a biological phenomenon of being able to learn, process, and incorporate information. According to the neuroscientist Ledoux, the amount of synapses and speed at which they can discharge gives some indication of intelligence, which is different in different people. Conversely, cunning is the ability to plan and execute such to a given end, it is a conscious process of manipulation. Intelligent people may also be cunning, and similarly, cunning people may also be very intelligent, but one does not automatically mean possession of the other.
When I look back at famous, or even news worthy US gun violence, or violence in general, it is obvious to me the stage is set on purpose. As an example, several years ago Republican strategists working for Sarah Palin, opposed the Obamacare health initiative by first claiming that it was a move towards communism, would reduce access to healthcare, and create death panels. As one of their propaganda tools, they started making pictures with the cross-hairs of a firearm scope targeting opposing politicians.
The message this sends is very overt. Bad people taking something away from you and you may need to use violence to stop it.
Said politicians and strategists then claim it is not meant to incite violence, but that is utter bullshit. They plant the fear, they “say without saying” the solution. Then when a Democratic Representative to congress was shot in the head, they all came on television with their false tears and sympathy condemning the violence and claiming violence is not the answer.
Now so I am not accused of being partisan in my understanding of treachery and manipulation, let’s see how this works from the other side of the isle?
During his time as governor of Arkansas, while running for president, Bill Clinton took the step of permitting against objection, the execution of a mentally disabled man. The man was so impaired, that during his last meal, he told the corrections officers he was saving his dessert for later.
The stated purpose of permitting this execution, by Clinton himself, was to ensure he would not have the perceived political liability of being “soft on crime.” Because Americans really like to dish out punishment. In fact, culturally, the American need for “justice” is so extreme, it can no longer be called justice, it is more like a lynching with a kangaroo court giving it the appearance of legitimacy. Frontier justice is a bedrock of American culture and law.
Now Bill Clinton didn’t execute the man with his own hand. He just set the stage for it to happen. Conveniently, even predictably it did. He then used this to demonstrate he would be merciless to “criminals”, which, with the support of law enforcement and pro-death penalty voters and groups, undoubtedly helped secure his election.
This applies the same way to what seems like an unending tide of gun violence and terrorism in the United States.
Here is how the stage is set…
America is a Frontier culture. As a part of that, it is a gun culture. Americans love their guns, they love mob justice, and they have little practical recourse other than violence.
Now the counter argument is that America is a Republic, or a democracy, with rule of law, a justice system, etc. etc. But in order for rule of law to be effective, it must be equal. In the USA, justice can be purchased, and it is certainly not equal. A poor person wronged by a major corporation or wealthy person can essentially be bled dry economically before their case is even heard, forcing capitulation. If they even have the resources to file a case to start with… In the criminal justice system, poor people are convicted and sentenced more harshly than wealthy people. So while a poor African American may receive years in prison for raping a woman, a wealthy upper-class white male may serve less than 30 days, because “it would ruin the life of such a promising young man.” Even a major sports athlete can be expected to not be punished or even charged with a crime if the money they generate for their league or sport is great enough…
The US justice system is so grotesque that large financial or corporate institutions can pay fines for wrongdoing, with the caveat they do not admit to wrong-doing. On the individual level, a person cannot simply pay restitution to avoid a criminal charge of a crime against the State.
This perversion of justice and law for economic interest, either for individuals or businesses creates the need to stop the frontiersmen of the US culture from showing up at the door with ropes, torches, and pitchforks. (Or guns…)
So in order to achieve this, a two pronged strategy is used by government officials. I hesitate to use the term “elected officials” because the electoral system is simply an illusion. Gerrymandering and the electoral college demonstrate this extremely effectively. In no Western Nation can elected officials decide who may vote for or against them, nor can their leader be elected without a popular mandate, by manipulation of the voting system. While in the US this is defended as preserving the power of minority populations in rural States, the reality is it is giving disproportionate power to a minority of people. Which in turn reflects the interests of those holding and supporting such power.
But the strategy is old and has played out in many countries.
1. Induce a constant threat to instill fear. Whether this is the threat of an existential invasion or nuclear enemy or the idea that the poor person down the street is stealing all of your hard earned money by being a welfare queen, the underlying principle is to convince people that they are under threat constantly.
We see this technique constantly employed by both political parties and their economic backers. Here are a few examples.
Military spending. The US military budget must be preserved and even extended. Powers such as North Korea, Russia, China, et al, are all coming to get you! They have nuclear weapons, they want nuclear weapons, ISIS is coming with torture and Sharia Law! We must protect ourselves, and preserve the military at any cost!
Now for people coming to get the US, let’s look at the reality? In recent years Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is a nuclear power. Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for protection from the USA during the Clinton era. During the Obama era, some legal minds found some loopholes in the language of the deal in order to claim the US had no such obligation. Would Russia have invaded Ukraine if there was a real possibility the Ukraine could lob one or more nuclear weapons at Russia? I seriously doubt it.
The US constantly invades and attacks other countries. But it never attacks a country with a nuclear weapon…Like Pakistan…despite actual violent threats coming from that country…What a strange coincidence…Now if you are the ruler of Iraq, Somalia, Iran, North Korea, et al. you have 2 take away lessons.
1. You better get and keep nuclear weapons or the US or Russia will attack you at their leisure. Only a nuclear weapon can prevent this.
2. The US will fail to live up to any obligation if the damage to US interests exceeds the benefits. What benefits? Political and economic.
Some people call this the “America First Policy”. They go on to claim all countries do that. But evidence suggests otherwise…For example what did West Germany have to gain by supporting a US Attack on a Russian ally during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
What did Australia gain when supporting and even sacrificing troops o the US invasion of Vietnam despite their assessment prior to the war it could not be won?
What did Britain, and more directly Prime Minister Tony Blair get from supporting the US invasion of Iraq?
In these 3 cases, US allies put the interests of another nation first. These are just military examples! Recent sanctions on Russia is punishing the European economy. Why are Europeans punishing themselves? The simple answer is they are holding out for a longer-term goal. Suffer now for benefit later.
Another part of the fear campaign is internal threats…The US must have strong and militarized police to protect itself from internal “criminals”, “protesters”, and other lawless peoples who would disrupt the “honest”, “peaceful”, and “moral” citizens…
This is really a divide and conquer technique at its finest. First because this creates popular support for a violent state crackdown on those deemed “enemies of the State” and second because the groups are so defined, the violence can be turned on or forgone on any group at any time, with the popular support, even a mandate from the masses.
A good example of this is the Protest in Standing Rock and Ferguson vs. Bundy Ranch Standoff.
Moreover, what makes it even more masterful and effective divide and conquer strategy, is it creates a total loss of logic in people determining who their “threat is.”
For example, the narrative of welfare queens, and wealth redistribution is a popular conservative rally point as the US middle class is put under more economic strain by globalization, under-education, and loss of Labor protection. However, rather than politically addressing this with initiatives aimed at supporting the middle class, a completely obscure and false propaganda campaign convinces these people under economic duress and threat that the people responsible are not the corporations and bankers who are actually hoarding all the money, but people who have absolutely no money!
This is further exacerbated by promoting the imperative that people financially struggling are doing so because of their own fault and lack of moral values. You cannot tell your neighbor you are struggling. You cannot let it become known you are poor. You are isolated from your would-be peers by the fear and threat you will be cast out of the social group. (even if everyone in your group is equally suffering)
With no political recourse, no legal recourse, and this constant threat of vulnerability and violence from external and internal threats, these perceived threats create a very real physical stress response. Most specifically and importantly, the evolutionary instinct of the sympathetic nervous system, fight or flight response. Most people do not have the means to flee from their economic misfortune. Laws have even been legislated in the US to prevent people from gaining legal relief (such as student loans being practically undischarged in bankruptcy, but that is not an exclusive case). You cannot “outrun” social isolation or banishment.
When you cannot flee, your instincts, your only perceived option is to fight…
So what are your fighting options?
1. You could protest, a meaningful and massive disruption of the economy forcing those with money to preserve their money by giving concessions.
But this has been taken away, by socially stigmatizing it. Demanding violent law enforcement disruption of it, and making it morally reprehensible, ensuring that the mob is effectively dispersed before it forms.
2. You could form a political action group or party.
This has been neutralized by creating and enforcing laws limiting all potential rivals to the 2 party system. There is no 3rd political party, there practically cannot be. As stated above “elected” officials can decide who gets to vote for them. This is not realistic.
3. Then comes the last act of the desperate….violence. The animal striking out…going down fighting…
Enter the gun…
The modern weapon of the day. Man’s engineering masterpiece of death and destruction. The equalizer of physical strength. The power to protect you and your family from any real or imagined threat. The power to die fighting any real or perceived foe as a last act of defiance. The ability to take your enemy with you.
Legal minds argue whether or not the second amendment to the US constitution, the right to bear arms is an individual or sociological level right. An organized militia vs. the individual citizen. Experts will tell you the entire argument hinges on just one comma.
I find this to be an incredible disingenuous argument…Like most legal loopholes, it is fabricated to mean whatever the interpreter wants it to mean. However, the supreme court has ruled and upheld, it is the right of the individual. So while the circular argument can go on eternally, the reality is, individuals have the right to purchase and wield firearms in the United States.
The choice of forgoing individual liberty for State protection is a philosophical argument, not a legal one. Because of this, a definitive answer is impossible. It is very similar to the Socratic argument of those who benefit from a society must obey its rules, even at the cost of their own lives. Consensus can only be reached among social groups.
Anti-gun proponents in the US frequently point to other peer groups in the form of other nations as proof of safety being achieved by gun bans. They are quick to point out correlation, but ignore the scientific principle that correlation does not equal causation. A humorous, and personal favorite example of this is the popular graph of the decline in pirate population as the global temperatures rise. While they correlate nicely in the graph, they are in fact 2 things that have nothing to do with each other.
The one thing that escapes most US proponents of gun restrictions or “bans” and confounds the effectiveness among those outside the US is that no Western Nation actually has a firearms ban. There are restrictions on the type or amount of firearms available, with varying degrees of logic or effectiveness. There are system requirements of licensesure of greater or lesser effectiveness. But again there is no total ban.
When evaluating scientific data, as to effectiveness or prospective results, context of the experiments is an extremely import part of the methodology that imparts credibility.
Let us briefly look at a comparison of context of factors influencing the US population compared to other nations that would effect the perception of the need or even desire to possess a firearm?
External security. As detailed above, an existential threat creates stress in a population. When I grew up in the USA, I was fed a constant diet of this threat in school as well as in popular culture, the Communist Russians were coming to get me. Kill my family, take everything we owned. Communism was the anti-thesis of all US values. Calling somebody a communist was not only pejorative, The US government actually executed people suspected of it. This would be contrary to the value of the US fore-fathers which purposefully wrote in the founding documents that people have the right to choose the government style they want.
Until I started traveling abroad, this threat I perceived as real and credible.
Then I moved to Poland. Despite not having the protection of “Fortress America” from the Russians, with them now my northern neighbor, I have met many Russian people. They don’t seem like they wanted to “get me” and I call some of them my friends. I even identify them as being in my peer group. Doctors, peaceful, acceptable, in some cases desirable for marriage and having a family. They are not coming to kill me or my family, they are not going to take everything I have…(joke would be on them, because I don’t have a whole lot)
I am not afraid of them. There is no credible threat.
I have traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East. I have friends who are Afghans from Afghanistan, who I met during my time there in a war. I have friends who are Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Zen Taoists, Hindus, and Sikhs. None of these groups are a credible threat to me or my family.
I have routine encounters with both the upper class and educated, as well as the most destitute of poor. None of these people threaten me. I am not afraid of being the victim of a crime, even though my house was burglarized when I lived in London. People politically protest here, disrupt commerce doing it, sometimes supporting ideas and values I do not.
I am not afraid. There is no internal or external threat to me or my family that gives me perception or actual need of a firearm for protection. I can realistically participate in the political process. I am a member of my professional association. I have no real or perceived need of violence.
Right now, the political party in power is not to my liking. But I do not worry they will have any major or lasting effect upon me or my family. The political winds blow. Sometime for better, sometime for worse. Progressive, moderate, conservative; they do not threaten me or my family. Their policies will come and go. Social democrat, socialist, or whatever the name, I do not identify as a member of their group, I identify as liking parts, disliking others. There is no threat.
More than access, I have medical, dental, and psychiatric care if I or my family need, 24/7/365. I do not have to pay out of pocket. I do not lose it if I change jobs or even become unemployed temporarily or permanently.
I have a meager pension because I am still contributing to it, it follows me when I change jobs. I will probably never collect it, I expect to work to the bitter end out of personal drive. I am not worried.
My daughter’s school and post secondary education is paid by the State. Currently educational funds are being increased, I do not worry about whether or not she will be able to afford an education to get a good job. I secretly hope she will be a doctor one day, but I do not steer her or implant ideas. There is both opportunity and economic stability in the country, and all signs point that this will be the future too. There is no threat here.
If something goes wrong, I am able to afford a lawyer for any required legal issues. I do not expect there to be, the laws here overwhelmingly favor me. So I am not threatened.
There is plentiful and reliable public transit here. It is extremely affordable, costs much less than owning an automobile, so I do not worry about having money for emergency repairs to a car. A car for me would be a bonus, not a necessity. No stress, no threat.
I am an immigrant, a naturalized citizen, a foreigner, and a non-native speaker of the language. Sometimes those things cause me stress or difficulty, but it is long past the days where it could have significant impact on me. I have no threat.
My salary is small. I work for the government. I never expect to be wealthy. I am not stressed or threatened. I do not worry about being cast out of my social group or losing everything in a sudden catastrophe. I am employable, even when I do not have jobs or jobs I do not like because they are not a good match. There are no threats, no poor person or rich person is going to take anything from me I am not willing to give.
Whether my friends are in New Zealand, Poland, the UK, Spain, Germany, Romania, or other places in the area, we are safe. life is stable. In fairness my friends in Ukraine are under considerable duress, but they still have many good options for their futures. They will be ok.
Despite this country being a majority of people whiter than casper the ghost, when I meet people of other colors, nationalities, or religions, I am not threatened by them. My first thoughts are not about fear, violence, crime, or terrorism. The authorities here are prepared for disasters big and small. There is security without any appreciable level of intrusion.
Because of these reasons and experiences, I can see why many people in Modern Nations do not understand the American obsession with guns. They do not feel the constant fear of the stressors of Americans. There are no large or dangerous animals here. Nobody facing the level of desperation of kill or be killed. No desire to “go down fighting”, in fact, it is unimaginable.
In contrast, the US is very different. Whether it is political punditry disguised as news from the left or the right, every moment of every waking hour Americans are told something is threatening them. Crime, religious persecution, terrorism, the poor guy down the street.
There is neither stability nor predictability in the oligarchy called the USA. Large corporations and banks install politicians at will, spew forth outright lies and propaganda convincing Americans to not only vote for, but to abhor things that would actually benefit them, like a single-payer health system, community and social unity, etc.
At any moment of any day, they could unpredictably fall into economic collapse and bankruptcy from unforeseen illness or injury. The police may bust down their door or scream “stop resisting” and they preemptively gun them down with a SWAT team.
Being sick from or late from work means not being paid and losing money to them.
They are laws which can be levied against them without consistency and arbitrarily for any transgression of authority.
Their standing in the social order is based entirely on such a narrow set of rules and morals and they could find themselves ostracized or even banished in a heartbeat from community or employment. There is no tolerance of failure, not chance of redemption from any purposeful or even accidental transgression.
The ability to resort to violence comforts many of them.
This benefits the people in power. When people mentally snap from all the stress and shoot up a school or post office, or in this case music festival, it distracts the whole nation from the inadequacies and unfairness of their leaders and the society they live in. They all rally around the bodies in a moment of moral unity which completely ignores and forgives all the agents which make their life unpredictable and unbearable.
It gives them an enemy and somebody to point to and claim moral superiority. “I am not like that!” “He is crazy!” “He is a terrorist.” “He is not keeping his head down and knowing his place.” Mob mentality.
Then some speak out against the violence, they want to get rid of the guns, restrict them, do something to restore the pitiful pretense of security and safety. But it is never acted upon. Why?
At what level is the body count too much they ask?
There is no level. The body count doesn’t matter. The false remorse of their leaders doesn’t matter. They created this situation. They benefit and profit from it. As long as Americans are distracted by it, the power players can commit any crime or transgression and go totally unnoticed.
Some claim the lobby group supporting guns, The NRA, are terrorists. They use the same money and lobbying techniques oil companies use. They provide military contracting, even mercenaries around the world. They make deals and prop up despots. They can destroy the homes, environment, and ecosystems of thousands of people on the gulf coast, and settle for a “penalty” that doesn’t even cover the cost of cleanup. Because that would hurt the stock prices which the bankers make money investing in. They lobby the same way as Banks, whose unethical and illegal practices result in fines so low, it doesn’t even affect profits. They lobby in the same way political activists who believe there should be no limits on campaign finances purchase elections and votes. The same way almost every industry lobbies against regulation so they are not responsible when their chemical plant in Texas blows up. They lobby like law enforcement who demand ever less oversight and responsibility for violent acts and mistakes. Who claim they could not exist without the civil forfeiture laws which allow them to seize private property without even accusing somebody of a crime. They lobby for legal protection to kill at will for the most minor of crimes. To spray water in freezing temperatures on people protesting their masters in the oil industry. They are the corrupt puppets of the State, not servants of the people. They are the enforcers, not protectors. They will arrest a nurse or blow up a medic. They can gun down black people because they are black, and rally popular support with “Police lives matter.” (more than everyone else apparently).
So if the NRA are terrorists, no more so and less so than lobbyists for health insurance companies, which a Harvard study claims kills more than 33% more people a year than all firearms combined. But those bodies do not lead on the news. They are individual, silent, and spark no moral reaction.
and in this climate, protecting the very last reaction of the desperate is the gun…
But it also protects somebody else…The people perpetuating the propaganda and injustice. It protects them physically from violence. Which is why you see some top anti-gun politicians who not only own but possess concealed carry permits for their own guns; but because every time some pleb breaks down in the constant fear and injustice, it distracts everyone from the reasons those people are breaking down in the first place. Lack of any practical way to escape the plight they are all facing.
In a post truth society…The gun and its power is still the undeniable truth. Its ability to destroy is beyond obfuscation.
Some believe giving up that power and forcing others to will give them some measure of predictability or security. Some are not willing to give up that last vestige of power.
But the argument is moot. With or without a gun, security cannot be had in the USA. There is just too much benefit to those with money in power and they will not give up that benefit. Because the wants and lives of plebs matter not to them. Not the bodies of children, not the bodies of millions. No matter what they tell you for your “vote” or campaign contribution. What matters is the ability for them to manipulate you. Because as long as they can, you’ll be shooting each other and not them.
And eternally, they will not pull the trigger, they will just set the stage and watch it play the only way it can.
You know…”second amendment solutions…” But not for your troubles, for theirs…