Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dallas In Context



Chris Hedges puts the recent violence in the United States into a larger context. It's what happens, he writes, when the corporate state has become firmly entrenched:

Globalization has created a serious problem of “surplus” or “redundant” labor in deindustrialized countries. The corporate state has responded to the phenomenon of “surplus” labor with state terror and mass incarceration. It has built a physical and legal mechanism that lurks like a plague bacillus within the body politic to be imposed, should wider segments of society resist, on all of us.

The physics of human nature dictates that the longer the state engages in indiscriminate legalized murder, especially when those killings can be documented on video or film and disseminated to the public, the more it stokes the revenge assassinations we witnessed in Dallas. This counterviolence serves the interests of the corporate state. The murder of the five Dallas police officers allows the state to deify its blue-uniformed enforcers, demonize those who protest police killings and justify greater measures of oppression, often in the name of reform. 

Therefore, policing becomes militarized. And the response is also militarized -- a sniper on the rooftop. All of this takes place in a community which lacks empathy:

Neoliberalism, like all utopian ideologies, requires the banishment of empathy. The inability to feel empathy is the portal to an evil often carried out in the name of progress. A world without empathy rejects as an absurdity the call to love your neighbor as yourself. It elevates the cult of the self. It divides the world into winners and losers. It celebrates power and wealth. Those who are discarded by the corporate state, especially poor people of color, are viewed as life unworthy of life. They are denied the dignity of work and financial autonomy. They are denied an education and proper medical care, meaning many die from preventable illnesses. They are criminalized. They are trapped from birth to death in squalid police states. And they are blamed for their own misery. 

Something to think about in these days following the death of Elie Wiesel.

Image: cnn..com

10 comments:

Kirby Evans said...

As far back as the 1960s intellectuals were pointing to a serious "legitimation crisis" in capitalism which, according to thinkers like Habermas, was rooted in the inability of capitalism to 'deliver the goods' to the entire population. According to these theorists, capitalism would increasingly be compelled to militarize and chip away at democratic institutions as the 'relative impoverishment' of the worker (which even Marx had talked about) became more and more clear as inequality increased. Habermas and his generation had been old enough to see the rise of fascism and saw a similar process beginning again as far back as 50 years ago. The problem is that intellectuals are often the canary in the coal mine to which no one pays any attention.

Anonymous said...

The biggest example of lack of empathy is the public and media's uncritical acceptance of the Dallas police decision to blow up the shooter instead of talking him into surrendering. From now on anyone trapped in a similar situation can assume police are negotiating in bad faith, have no intention of arresting them, and are just waiting for the opportunity to act as judge, jury and executioner by deploying their latest weapon.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, Anon, that terrorists are using the bomb as a weapon of choice -- and so are the police.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Kirby, the general population view intellectuals as eggheads. Who listens to canaries anyway?

The Mound of Sound said...

Every now and then I find myself wondering if Hedges hasn't gone a bit too far in his conclusions and this is one of those situations. When it comes to Dallas it seems everyone wants a bit of the action from far right to moderate to far left and they all seem awfully hurried to stake out their turf.

Owen Gray said...

I understand your caution, Mound. It's wrong to see every cop as a potential fascist. However, just as at least some Canadians worried that the RCMP had become Stephen Harper's enforcers, what's in the air now is a feeling that the cops are under the thumbs of the movers and shakers.

Steve said...

There are constanst alerts from the tin foil crowd that the goverment has been preparing for mass civil unrest for the last few years. Maybe we all need to put on the foil.

Owen Gray said...

Hedges has more or less been suggesting that, Steve.

Toby said...

There are two things in Hedges' article that strike me: the concept of surplus people and mainstream lack of empathy.

Every revolution has a substantial component of surplus people. Review the build up to the French Revolution of 1789 for example. There were an awful lot of hungry people. Hungry, surplus people do not cause revolutions; they provide crowd power for omnipresent ideological activists and demagogues. During my lifetime the world's population has tripled; there are millions of hungry, surplus people and no end of ideological activists and demagogues.

Like most people, I lack empathy. Our world has so many crushing problems as to be overwhelming. One can only listen to so many instances of American's shooting each other while rushing out to buy more guns before simply changing the channel. One can only write so many letters to politicians who ignore them before one stops writing. I could go on about this but I think the multitude of problems is by design. The intent is to overwhelm us, to keep us so busy saving babies that we don't have the time or energy to stop the bastard who is throwing them in the river.

Owen Gray said...

The strategy of keeping people busy always works for awhile, Toby. Until people have had enough. That's when the explosion occurs.