A Note on the Alexandria Shootings

by Mark Lause, editorial board member on June 16, 2017

James Hodgkinson, maddened by corporate rule

The pundits are wringing their hands over this 24/7. The people who’ve led the country into the swamp are now noticing that they’re getting wet, too. In response, media and officeholders are scrambling to position themselves as the grownups, as they scold the people who have disappointed them so much.

No matter.

What hits me is that the Congress and the people who lobby them and cover them have been struck so deeply by these events. They say that that part of Alexandria is such a nice neighborhood . . . that the ten-year old son of a Congressman may face a lifetime of trauma being under fire . . . that people under fire behaved well (we usually do–we often have no choice once we’re there).

It all seems to me to be a measure of what an out-of-touch fraternity of privilege that community. These are the people who’ve postured about which party and who can best threaten mass death on people elsewhere in the world–and have followed through for no real reason other than that they believe their threats have to be taken seriously. It’s now done by drones with no real oversight. And they congratulation themselves tirelessly for exporting the mechanisms of mass death to places where they will be used for entirely predictable purposes.

Hundreds become thousands and thousands become hundreds of thousands.

Nobody on the idiot box even acknowledges this reality.

And they’ve made a world where shootings like this are commonplace in the U.S. itself. A generation of having the two parties of mass death compete over who could pretend to be the hardest on non-violent crime gave country with the largest prison population in the world. “U.S.A. U.S.A. We’re Number One!” While defunding education, they made the prisons into schools for violence.

The Washington Post has pointed out that this is the 154th mass shooting in the country this year. In my neighborhood, ten-year olds might experience multiple experiences of gun violence. And, at even younger ages, can be victims of it.

And the media and politicians that have fueled all of this since the 1980s are even now engaged in their predictable work of blaming the people.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred Murphy June 16, 2017 at 11:44 am

[Someone else posted these quotes on FB – I keep it handy for occasions such as this.]
GOP House candidate Robert Lowry held a campaign event at a Florida gun range in October 2009, where he fired gunshots at a silhouette that had his opponent Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s printed on it.
“You know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” – Sharon Angle
“If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today opening day for liberals. The season would extend through November 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to ‘thin’ the herd.”
-Brad Goerhing
“Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office,” read an advertisement for the event called “Shoot a fully automatic M16 With Jesse Kelly.”
“Don’t retreat, instead- RELOAD!” – Sarah Palin after circulating a map with crosshairs over lawmakers who supported the ACA
“You know but other than me going over there with a gun and holding it to their head and maybe killing a couple of them, I don’t think they’re going to listen unless they get beat.” – John Sullivan
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Donald Trump


Farans Kalosar June 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

I have no idea whether Hodgkinson could have been reeled in from the ledge he went out on when he sold his business and embarked on his ghastly parody of American romantic self-discovery–a man, his rifle, a car, and the open road.

Mr. Hodgkinson Takes Up The Gun and Goes to Washington. What a crap narrative. I don’t suppose we will ever really know who this man really was or what specifically led him to the precipice from which he leapt, taking the rest of us along unwillingly.

What I do know is that nowhere on the “left” to which this obstreperous loner allegedly belonged was there apparently any organization offering a constructive presence to which he could have turned with his difficulties, supposing he had been capable of departing from his self-inflicted suicidal narrative once he had embarked on it.

You can campaign for a Democrat, but you can’t join the Democratic Party. There’s no there there. Whatever may have been wrong on the deepest level with Hodgkinson’s character, his loneliness following the bursting of the Sanders bubble must have been overwhelming, and he cannot have been the only person feeling this.

The left needs mutual aid on a massive scale, even if it amounts to little more than mutual first aid, not least to ensure that people participating in political actions are not merely used briefly and discarded like temporary workers in the gig economy. People have to be able to join something that will neither make unrealistic promises nor abandon them the minute some tactical goal has been achieved.

I consider myself a Marxist, but I think Marxists should take a hard look at the anarchist tradition of mutual aid if we want to attract and organize a political following in this age of austerity, and–by no means secondarily–if we want to protect ourselves from the damage done by desperate, homicidal crackpots who self-identify with socialism in any form.


David McDonald June 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Fred Murphy, the Trump quote is beautiful.


Alan Stolzer June 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

I agree with the former H. Rap Brown: “Violence is as American as cherry pie.”
The shooter, a white middle-aged, middle class (non-terrorist of course!) enacted his role/part in the never-ending sequence begun by (mostly) European settlers/conquerors against people who not only didn’t look like them but had never done them any harm.
Thus, a tradition was born; what’s followed is then, traditional.
This culture has always harbored its share of mental/emotional illness and the end is nowhere in sight.
I don’t believe gun control is even a band-aid.
Most people here don’t read Marx and even if they did their communal angst would win out.
Brown’s observation is not simplistic.


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