Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 10, 2011

Thoughts on Arizona

Filed under: Fascism,repression,tea party — louisproyect @ 9:58 pm

In my view it is a mistake to view the Tucson killings as some kind of trend attributable to the Tea Party Movement. For example, Lenin’s Tomb writes:

So, in light of that, who cares if Jared Lee Loughner looked on Sarah Palin’s website, or heard a speech Sharron Angle made? It was enough for him to exist in a particular context of American life, in this era. It was enough to live in Arizona, where the murders took place, and which has been nominated by a local County Sheriff as “the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry”. That would have been more than sufficient to drive a vulnerable man out of his mind.

After watching Loughner’s Youtube videos and reading reports in the New York Times and Washington Post, it seems fairly obvious that he had much more in common with mentally ill college or high school students who go on shooting sprees. In Loughner’s case, the indications strongly suggest paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, his act is best understood in terms of brain chemistry rather than prejudice and bigotry as was the case, for example, with Timothy McVeigh.

On Oct. 7, Pima Community College sent a letter to Loughner stating that he would have to get a letter from a mental health official indicating “his presence at the College does not present a danger to himself or others.”

In a NY Times article titled Suspect’s Odd Behavior Caused Growing Alarm, we learn about what alarmed school officials and other authorities:

In a community college classroom here last June, on the first day of the term, the instructor in Jared L. Loughner’s basic algebra class, Ben McGahee, posed what he thought was a simple arithmetic question to his students. He was not prepared for the explosive response.

“How can you deny math instead of accepting it?” Mr. Loughner asked, after blurting out a random number, according to Mr. McGahee.

A classmate told the Times: “He would laugh a lot at inappropriate times, and a lot of the comments he made had no relevance to the discussion topic.” The staff at the YMCA was just as alarmed:

At the Y.M.C.A. where Mr. Loughner worked out, he would ask the staff strange questions, like how often they disinfected the bathroom doors. Once he asked an employee how he felt “about the government taking over.” Another time, he sat in the men’s room for 30 minutes, leaving front-desk staff members to wonder what he was doing. When he emerged, he asked what year it was.

Now I agree that Loughner absorbed the culture around him. Psychotic people are not that detached from reality that they don’t realize and reflect what is going on about them. They do reflect social forces. If Loughner developed schizophrenia in a society where the rightwing was not as feral and where guns were not so easily accessible, then a different result might have been expected. The closest analogy would appear to be with John Hinckley, the young man who shot Ronald Reagan and James Brady in 1981 in order to “impress Jodie Foster”.

Now this is not to say that political violence, including assassination, is not a real problem in the U.S. There have been 8 people working at abortion clinics who have been killed since 1993, the last of these being Doctor George Tiller who was shot by a fanatic in Tiller’s church in May, 2009. The killer, Scott Roeder, did not commit this act to impress Jodie Foster or because the government was plotting to brainwash people through its control of grammar. Roeder killed Tiller in order to prevent doctors from providing abortions. The militant anti-abortionist movement has been far more of a threat to democracy than Tea Party activists who have not engaged in terrorist acts no matter the kind of rhetoric heard on Glenn Beck’s television show.

I think what leftists have to understand is that violence and repression today directed against the popular movement is far more based on legality than mob violence or terrorism.

For example, the day before the gun attack, this assault on the rights of Mexican-American students in Tucson took place sanctioned by law:

The class began with a Mayan-inspired chant and a vigorous round of coordinated hand clapping. The classroom walls featured protest signs, including one that said “United Together in La Lucha!” — the struggle. Although open to any student at Tucson High Magnet School, nearly all of those attending Curtis Acosta’s Latino literature class on a recent morning were Mexican-American.

For all of that and more, Mr. Acosta’s class and others in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American program have been declared illegal by the State of Arizona — even while similar programs for black, Asian and American Indian students have been left untouched.

So reported an article in the New York Times titled Rift in Arizona as Latino Class Is Found Illegal. This is the real strategy of the Tea Party movement, to elect politicians who pass such racist laws—not to organize mobs to go into the barrio and brutalize activists. If the left cannot figure out what phase of the struggle it is in, we will not be effective, I’m afraid.

For the definitive account of what is going on with the Tea Party in Arizona, I can’t recommend highly enough Ken Silverstein’s article Tea Party in the Sonora: For the future of G.O.P. governance, look to Arizona that originally appeared in the July 2010 Harpers but now can be read on the magazine’s website, no doubt an attempt to shed light on the Tucson incident. Whether Ken thinks that the killings are a direct outcome of the Tea Party movement, as his former co-editor at Counterpunch Alexander Cockburn does, is another question altogether.

Ken writes:

Arizona lawmakers have shown little enthusiasm for dealing seriously with the state’s insolvency. They have instead preferred to focus on matters that have little to do with the crisis. Lawmakers have turned racial profiling into official policy, through a new law that requires police to stop suspected illegal immigrants and demand to see their papers; anyone not carrying acceptable proof of citizenship can be arrested for trespassing and thrown in jail for up to six months. But this is just one bill in what has been a season of provocative legislating. Another new law bans the funding of any ethnic-studies programs in the public schools, while a third prohibits “intentionally or knowingly creating a human-animal hybrid.” Lawmakers declared February 8 the “Boy Scout Holiday,” took time out to discount fishing-license fees for Eagle Scouts, and approved a constitutional right to hunt.

In January, Senator Jack Harper, an immaculately combed zealot who speaks in the patter of an infomercial voiceover, submitted a bill that would allow faculty members to carry guns on university campuses, saying it was “one very small step in trying to eliminate gun-free zones, where there’s absolutely no one who could defend themselves if a terrorist incident happened.” The house passed a measure that would force President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate to state officials if he runs for re-election, as well as a bill that bars Arizona from entering into any program to regulate greenhouse gases without approval from the legislature. “There are only two ways to vote on this,” said Representative Ray Barnes of the latter initiative. “Yes, or face the east in the morning and worship the EPA because they own you.”

This is Tea Party politics in its essence. It is an attempt to carry out an ultraright agenda through control of the courts, the legislature and the executive offices on a state and national level. In order to succeed, it has to be careful the way it manages its image. That is why a leader of the movement was forced to resign after making explicitly racist statements. It is also the reason it must take great care to avoid any connections with terrorists such as the kind that blow up abortion clinics. It is a deeply reactionary movement but is not terrorist or fascist at this point.

I would also urge the left to understand the history of Arizona, a country that arguably provided the launching ground for the modern conservative movement when its favorite son Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964. Although Goldwater was defeated, many Republicans including Ronald Reagan endorsed his program. Reagan managed to succeed where Goldwater failed—largely a function of his own demagogic gifts and the understanding by the ruling class that an attack on the welfare state had to be mounted.

I especially recommend Elizabeth Tandy Shermer article Origins of the Conservative Ascendancy: Barry Goldwater’s Early Senate Career and the De-legitimization of Organized Labor that appeared in the Journal of American History in 2008. Shermer writes:

The threat of a labor and liberal ascendancy spurred conservatives to political action. Although they benefited from federal dollars, many business leaders in the Southwest had no intention of supporting corporatist arrangements. The specter of the growing labor movement and the expanding federal government united corporate titans with local business owners in the region. Opposing them were employers in retail, service, agricultural, and extractive enterprises, which were either labor intensive or structured in a way that gave workers power at the work site. Throughout the 1940s, southwestern state legislatures were key arenas in the fight against the New Deal. As one tactic, business leaders supported laws designed to remake the region into an oasis for heavily taxed and unionized firms fleeing the Northeast. In 1949, the members of the Reno Chamber of Commerce pushed a “free-port” bill through the Nevada legislature, which permitted manufacturers to avoid property taxes on goods officially “in transit.” The state assembly relaxed those rules throughout the 1950s, attracting warehousing and manufacturing companies to Nevada. Curbing labor’s growth was also a key strategy for conservatives. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, state governments across the South and Southwest introduced right-to-work legislation, similar to the 1946 Arizona law.12

Barry Goldwater’s rise exemplified the politics of this emergent counteroffensive. The Arizonan was well known even before he ran for the Senate because of his family’s stylish department store, Goldwater’s, and his daring exploration of the Grand Canyon in 1940, which he captured on film and presented to audiences during the 1940s across the state. He cultivated the image of a compassionate capitalist. His firm was renowned for its positive employee relations as well as its medical and pension plans. Like the benefits offered by other welfare capitalists, the perks at Goldwater’s were an important argument against charges of business malfeasance and employer indifference to workers’ welfare. Local papers lauded Goldwater’s, cementing the Phoenician’s reputation as a model employer. A Prescott newspaper reported that upon the opening of a store in that city in the early 1940s, Goldwater treated fourteen of his new employees to a fancy dinner. “Perhaps it’s pretzels and beer for run-of-the-counter sales ladies,” the editors noted, “but it’s champagne and chicken if they’re on Goldwater’s payroll . . . and a chance to ‘dine out’ with the dashing bon vivant, Mr. Barry Goldwater.” “Pity the poor working girls? Not if they work for Goldwater’s.”13

This is the kind of analysis that the left should be producing today. Arizona’s reactionary stew is a product of class antagonism that is leading toward a showdown between the rulers and working people. The ruling class is using “legal” methods to keep working people and oppressed nationalities under its thumb, even as we understand that its tactics might change in the future, as antagonisms grow irreconcilable. But if we cannot base our own strategy and tactics on the true relationship of class forces, then we will end up making mistake after mistake.

63 Comments »

  1. “For the definitive account of what is going on with the Tea Party in Arizona, I can’t recommend Ken Silverstein’s article”

    I think you mean “can” according to my reading of the context.

    Comment by meltr — January 10, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  2. Thanks for the head’s up.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 10, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

  3. Can’t disagree with this point, Louis. However,I am not sure to what “mistake after mistake” you refer? Is it the mistakes in analysis of Cockburn and others? Is commentary aimed at negating the media spin about leftwing/rightwing extremism a mistake? Is anyone (I mean “lefts” when I say “anyone”) calling for Loughner’s prosecution and finding of guilt? Castro decried the “tragedy” and connected it to Latin America and anti-immigrant fervor. The SP and CP have both decried the act as endemic to right wing reaction. Are you saying that Loughner was simply nuts and he could have just as easily gone after a right wing Republican?

    I wonder whose animus you are trying to quell here and exactly why? Personally, the background politics notwithstanding, I have found it quite interesting the, at least official, focus of various lefts to be quite appropriately signaling of the need for opposing right wing reaction (I haven’t seen all of the responses,so, I may not have a complete picture here). I haven’t yet seen a wholesale “let’s make sure to get Obama and more Democrats” language coming out from those who predictably you would expect (again, not seeing it doesn’t mean I have the whole picture as yet). I seem to have a sense that even the lesser-evils are somewhat pausing for concern here.

    I’d appreciate seeing and hearing about other analyses on this “pulse of the working class (and others)” issue.

    Comment by Manuel Barrera, PhD — January 10, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  4. I think your analysis of the longview of right-wing leaders is insightful and fair enough, but I don’t think the ranks of the right-wing movement have been let in on the secret, and that’s why I think it is completely reasonable to hold the right-wing movement and its leaders responsible for the shootings in Arizona. Loughner isn’t crazy in a belljar, he’s crazy in Arizona. The theories offered up by rightwingers like Glenn Beck to explain what’s happening in society are not materialist, logic or fact based theories, they’re crackpot dissembling meant to provide distraction from the real racism at the core of Beck et al’s audience. This disturbed individual seems to have been enthralled by such crackpot theories, and it’s not surprising they would push somebody over the edge.

    Comment by ish — January 10, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

  5. Loughner’s beliefs are from fringe rightwing groups: the grammar obsession seems to come from David Wynn Miller, the dreaming reality and new currency from David Icke. The currency thing is also an obsession of Alex Jones and Lyndon Larouche and Glenn Beck. Loughner’s antiabortion concern is shared with Beck, and while I haven’t found anything about his religion, there are Mormon Loughners, so he may’ve had that as another reason to focus on Beck. Whether Loughner was religious, I dunno; his comment about not trusting in God is in the context of our currency. But the fringe right includes atheists, and the abortion views suggest religion.

    Now, what’s most significant here is the kid didn’t get the mental healthcare that in retrospect he clearly needed.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 10, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  6. good to see someone on the left stepping up and confronting what is essentially an effort to create an interpretation of the Tucson killings into an essentially liberal world view, one that, as you note, is as much about what it excludes as what it includes

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 10, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  7. When I was 11 & living in Arizona, my grandmother, bless her, took me to one of Barry Goldwater’s final rallies of the 1964 campaign. Even then I was struck by the wacked-out atmosphere of the event, the wild-eyed senior citizens & so forth. Arizona then & now was dominated by the mining interests and real estate developers. The Phoenix press was run by the Pulliam family of which Dan Quayle is the scion. A deranged Mormon used-car dealer by the name of Ev Meacham thought the Pulliam paper the Arizona Republic wasn’t reactionary enough so he started his own paper, the Evening American, a tabloid that specialized in lurid accounts of child molesters and civil rights activists. He later became governor & was ousted after calling black kids “pickaninnies” and refusing to recognize ML King’s birthday. What a feeling of deja vu reading the news today.

    Comment by John B. — January 11, 2011 @ 12:23 am

  8. Interesting take on the historical background of racist politics in Arizona.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/24/opinion/la-oe-rodriguez-arizona-20100524

    Comment by godoggo — January 11, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  9. I mentioned this in another post–but while im sympathetic to your argument about not just simply superimposing the critique of the tea party onto this incident–the idea that violent acts like this can be reduced to “brain chemistry” (as separate from environmental stimulus) does a disservice both to the serious science on the topic and the many people suffering from schizophrenia (the vast majority) who are not murderously violent

    Comment by Samuel Grove — January 11, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  10. Totally agreee. The thing is, you do get the same rhetoric on the left about Bush being a terrorist that the other side could point to. I think this will backfire if it’s pushed much longer. The right has a great network of places in which they can get their message out these days, unlike after the 95 bombings, and they are filled with quotes from Democratic policians and liberal journalists joking about assassinations and such like. This whole thing could end up being a boost for the right.

    Comment by Mr C — January 11, 2011 @ 1:36 am

  11. And if we’re going to address the general culture, you have to also look at TV programmes and the music industry – which I don’t think many of the people who are pinning this on the republicans really want to do.

    Comment by Mr C — January 11, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  12. “This is the real strategy of the Tea Party movement, to elect politicians who pass such racist laws—not to organize mobs to go into the barrio and brutalize activists. If the left cannot figure out what phase of the struggle it is in, we will not be effective, I’m afraid.”

    This just nails it. Mr. C is on the money, too. As fwoan at For Want of a Nail has said, the right that has so effectively polarized US politics is about to take the lead in pushing for civility, based, as Mr. C says, upon what it digs up about liberals in more relaxed times, even though I don’t agree with his overall tendency to impute causation to the right. Which just makes it all the more important that the left focus on the real social process at work.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 11, 2011 @ 2:09 am

  13. I urge everyone to actually read Richard Seymour’s post, because contrary to what Louis claims, Richard does clearly not “view the Tucson killings as some kind of trend attributable to the Tea Party Movement”.

    Comment by christian h. — January 11, 2011 @ 2:11 am

  14. It’s still unclear whether Loughner was on any prescribed meds, but with the histories of other shooting spree murderers in years past you could even pinpoint it to Big Pharma and its shoddy products also.

    Comment by Joshua — January 11, 2011 @ 3:47 am

  15. I think Louis basically has this one right. The guy was obviously seriously mentally ill, and while serious mental illness usually does not lead to this sort of violence on rare occasions it does and this seems very clearly to be an instance of this. There are no indications that he was in any way right-wing, a Tea-partier or a racist, in fact the indications that do exist (conversations with highschool classmates) indicate the opposite, that in highschool he criticized democrats like Gifford from the left. I am no fan of Palin or the Tea Party but making unfounded allegations before the evidence is in which then turning out to be horribly wrong doesn’t seem to be a good way for those on the left to build credibility. And claiming that the evidence doesn’t matter and that the Tea party ‘climate of violence’ is to blame anyways, despite the evidence, is worse – because it will discredit real threats of right-wing violence – and because casual disregard for the truth is not our friend and we shouldn’t embrace it however convenient.

    Comment by dave x — January 11, 2011 @ 5:08 am

  16. Mr C is on the money? Im sorry, so Bush isn’t a terrorist?

    Comment by SGuy — January 11, 2011 @ 5:32 am

  17. Actually, I don’t use the word “terrorist”, because I believe it to be a term used by the state to justify its monopoly upon the use of violence, a term used to mystify the fact that the US utilizes extreme, indiscriminate violence around the world while pointing to the much lesser violence of individuals as a justification.

    With that said, I wasn’t commenting upon the veracity of Mr. C’s comments about whether Bush is a
    “terrorist” or not, merely that he correctly observes that the right will exhume equally hostile statements and gain the upper hand by then insisting upon “civility”.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 11, 2011 @ 5:41 am

  18. Dave X, the rightwing earmarks are all over this. The monetary concerns are the key; google the names in my previous comment. However, those folks aren’t the Palin rightwing. Alex Jones greatly resents the neocon invasion of the Tea Party; he wants it to be a paleocon organization.

    Now, its also possible that Loughner’s insanity recreated many elements of the fringe right: gold standard, anti-abortion, 2nd constitution, grammar control, mind control, etc. I understand tin hatters come up with tin hats independently.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 11, 2011 @ 5:43 am

  19. Will – Loughner’s obsessions are not untypical for many schizophrenics, in particular the grammar is common. And there is no evidence he got them from rightwing sources (and in any case it is a type of argument that I don’t buy – the same argument used by conservatives against video games and heavy metal having responsibility for disturbing unstable minds, etc). That the rightwing often sounds like a schizophrenic tells us more in the end about the rightwing than it does about the mental illness of schizophrenia.

    Comment by dave x — January 11, 2011 @ 5:55 am

  20. Sarah Palin’s gun scopes and Sharron Angle’s call for a second amendment solution make for easy targets for Democrats.

    You’re correct it’s a brain chemistry problem.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — January 11, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  21. Dave X, could be. I’m saying the dots can be connected, but I’m not saying that’s conclusive.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 11, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  22. But surely you recognize certain tactics that must be condemned whether performed by the right or left, one might say especially on the left front because no good comes from left wing terrorists blowing up banks etc no matter how viscerally pleasing it might be.

    Comment by SGuy — January 11, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  23. But what is clear is that Loughner was severely mentally ill, everyone knew it, yet he apparently had no problem buying a gun?

    Comment by JN — January 11, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  24. wow, Will (#22 and also #23). . . the issue is tactics? really? And, we should condemn some and support other, ostensibly more “civil” ones. I have to apologize to Louis; there are some fairly big mistakes us “lefts” can make. The largest ones have to do with “joining” with the Grijalvas and Obamas about holding down the veritable anger of the working and oppressed because their (the Democrats’)positions of accommodation to racist right wing reaction is getting people shot. I am dismayed that “we” here are speaking about crazy people buying guns (we have a whole military industrial complex of bespectacled, manicured, lunatics creating, buying, using . . .) and how that is what the “real issue” is and how we can rightfully oppose some “tactics” (sounds very much like some of you are actually listening to all the Dalys, Maddows, etc about the “equality of extremism on the right AND left”). The SP, people for whom I have absolutely love or respect, actually spoke up about connecting with the need to end the wars and occupations to mobilize and channel the anger against right wing reaction. And, here, we are speaking about analyzing crazy people and not to worry so much about the rightist danger? [sorry to broadcast this totally, I know several of you do not see it that way]

    Indeed, we seem to be prone to mistakes. I just didn’t see this one.

    Comment by Manuel Barrera, PhD — January 11, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  25. Sorry, my comment about the SP was meant to say “for whom I have NO love and respect” It’s a fairly big typo, so, I felt the need to correct.

    Comment by Manuel Barrera, PhD — January 11, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  26. Uh, Manuel, while you’re correcting, that was SGuy, not me.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 11, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  27. Yes and I was responding to Richard Estes who claimed that for himself the term terrorist was something he shunned. I was stating that on the left we can refer to terrorism without being adjuncts of Fox News. And yes when it comes to the left there are better tactics then others and Im not going to shy away from condemning actions which advance the cause not an iota.

    Comment by SGuy — January 11, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  28. According to CNN, Loughner spoke approvingly of both Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. Of course, when you leave out the context as the mainstream media does so well, it’s hard to tell if there is any significance to that.

    Comment by Rob — January 11, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  29. The Uses of Political Violence (Justin R. at Antiwar.com) :

    Rep. Peter King (R-New York) is the kind of in-your-face demagogue that only the state of New York could have elevated to high office. From his perch in the 3rd congressional district, in Long Island, King holds forth like a cruder version of Rudolph Giuliani, if you can imagine it. Yet we don’t have to imagine it, because it will be on full display when Rep. King, in his capacity as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, presides over hearings on “the radicalization of the Muslim-American community.”

    Those hearings portend a circus, in the course of which we’ll be subjected to a very public airing of the malignant views of people like Robert Spencer, Pamela “the shrieking harpy” Geller, and Frank Gaffney, a rogues gallery of anti-Muslimologist “experts” whose hate-filled rantings will further poison the atmosphere of an America itching for a lynching.

    Although the neoconservatives were generally discredited in the wake of the Iraq war, when the complete failure of their policies – and prophecies – became all too apparent even to many of them, the dead-enders among them have sought to make a comeback by transferring their war on Muslims from the Middle East to the home front. The Ft. Hood massacre was a godsend to them, and they took full advantage of the opportunity. The “ground zero” mosque controversy was another shot in the arm for this movement, and Rep. King did not disappoint on that front: When it comes to crude bigotry and religion-based divisiveness, we can always rely on King to sink to the occasion, far lower than practically anyone else.

    So the hearings will be a farce, a show trial of the Muslim community in which the mere act of putting up a defense gives the prosecution a legitimacy it could never achieve on the merits of the case. Because there is no organized pro-al Qaeda, pro-terrorist tendency in American Islam to speak of, at least so far. Which is why the FBI has had to resort to entrapment in prosecuting alleged homegrown “terrorists.” The last one was a confused Somali teenager, lured by the FBI into planning a bombing that never came off: the Ft. Hood shooter, although supposedly “inspired” by the American-born radical Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, was a lone gunman, and not part of a terrorist cell or a larger network. The Obama administration made strenuous efforts to link the Times Square bomber to the Afghan Taliban, but since Faisal Shahzad pled guilty, that aspect of the case – which never held together very well – didn’t have its day in court. Indeed, all the domestic “terrorist” events since 9/11 have been committed by the prototypical lone gunman, and linked to psychological rather than political issues in the killer’s mind.

    Yet there were and are those who have a direct interest in establishing all sorts of links where none exist: the Obama administration to further its foreign policy goals and justify a war, ambitious prosecutors who want to score points and make a name for themselves, and cretins like Rep. King, who have an ideological agenda they want to pursue to the very end, which is the prospect of us treating American Muslims much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt treated the Japanese-American community during World War II. Indeed, one particularly vicious neocon wrote an entire book justifying the Japanese internment camps in order to set up American Muslims for a similar scenario ….

    Full article at http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/01/09/the-uses-of-political-violence/

    Comment by epoliticus — January 11, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

  30. Richard Seymour is such a hypocrite. Some of us remember when he said the Viginia Tech massacre by a mentally ill guy was a slave resolt that was justified. Seymour has no credibility to complain about politically inspired violence.

    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2007/04/murderous-smile-mark-ames-on-american.html

    Comment by Mr C — January 11, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  31. Hello,

    Hope all are well.

    And how is the United States different from a fascist state now? Clearly our ‘foreign policy’ is one of conquest and domination. We have no political choice. True we have some liberties unless you push to hard and then you wind up dead or in jail. The state exerts only enough oppression as they need. Excess oppression causes rebellion. The state has the masses locked into a mindless oblivion already.

    Look through the eyes of the third world. All the countries world wide still dominated by European influence, both in material resources and politically. And if they step too much out of line then the military moves in to kill and destroy. What do you think the poor of Haiti or anywhere see when they understand the world situation. How does the average person in the third world see us.

    Domestically we are being choked and impoverished. Can you not see the grand design? A privileged few trying to take all resources and power and concentrate them in their evil and greedy hands.

    If we have anything worthwhile it is only because the common man and descent people who Loved humanity more than their material possessions and fought for it.

    When the left rises up like the mighty champion it will be transformed into then you will see how fascist this country really is. Threaten the goose that lays the golden eggs, rock the boat, attempt to stop the wars and oppression that makes the pigs fatter and then be ready for a war.

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — January 11, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

  32. Of course, Will, my apologies

    Comment by Manuel Barrera — January 11, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  33. Funny how CNN harped on one of Loughner’s favorite books being The Communist Manifesto, but failed to mention that another favorite was Ayn Rand’s We the Living.

    Comment by Rob — January 11, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  34. “But surely you recognize certain tactics that must be condemned whether performed by the right or left, one might say especially on the left front because no good comes from left wing terrorists blowing up banks etc no matter how viscerally pleasing it might be.”

    Well, sure, but I wasn’t talking about that, merely observing that, for me, “terrorism” is a useless term, one prone to political manipulation. Instead, I use the term “violence”, which is value neutral and can be applied readily across the political spectrum, and tends to expose the use of it by people who are able to conceal it when the alternative term “terrorist” is used. Or, to put it differently, I wasn’t talking about tactics, just the extent to which language can obscure or reveal.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 11, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  35. Misrepresent people much Mr C? Geeze you turn a review about a nuanced book studying why people in an alienated society may become violent in to some wholscale support of mass murder. Next you will be telling me that Marx’s views on the Sepoy rebellion was just violence boosterism.

    Comment by SGuy — January 11, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

  36. If you read it, it’s clear Seymour endorces the ideas of the book and promotes this as a justification for the massacre of dozens of students by a mentally ill person. There’s no criticism there. He’s a hypocrite. And it’s not as though people haven’t warned him in the past that some of his own writings have been highly inflammatory at a time when there has already been political murders in the UK.

    Comment by Mr C — January 11, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

  37. @Mr C – if you read it, actually read it, it’s clear that he’s not saying that.

    Comment by Tom — January 11, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  38. The Black Swan should have the subtitle:

    Schizophrenia and the Winner Take All Society

    Schizoprhenia is an increasingly natural condition of late capitalism.

    Comment by Sam — January 12, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  39. I too think the problem really is the unwillingness of the mainstream to grapple with how far right their own perspective has been shifted to. Nowhere is this more evident to me than in the increasingly strident calls from Obama’s Department of Education to break the teacher’s unions and open all public schooling to competition. If that is allowed to occur, the public schools will become an even more multi-tiered mess then they are now, and an even tinier handful of “successful” students will grow even more unable to define the properties of something so basic as the Bill of Rights. Forget any talk about socialism, most of the “honors” students I deal with anymore can barely define any event in history outside of where it might effect their personal career. All this drive to “college readiness” and standardization is nothing more than the right’s long sought dream, an academic movement which exists solely for the advance of business and not much else. If these people are able to achieve this, then fascism, in the reference of the average citizen, will become just another way of dealing with “terrorists” who stand in the way of our “way of life”, which of due course, requires empire and the complete subordination of all of nature and the human personality within that nature to production. This isn’t conspiracy talk, pals, this is unfolding right before our eyes. So in effect, I agree with Louis, who is more concerned here with state sponsored violence and manipulation of resource then he is the fringe-y right. As Farrell Dobbs said in one of his more lucid moments, when fascism comes to the United States, it will be delivered by people who look a lot like the friendly milkman. And most people will think it’s okay. The rest of us will be scrapping out a living on the streets, dead, or in jail.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — January 12, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  40. Yes, Loughlin has more in common with Hinckley, Cho, Harris & Klebold, etc.. than with McVeigh.

    But I can’t completely disregard the social context. Most schizophrenics don’t pick up guns. Would a less alienating and stratified campus atmosphere led to a less violent outcome at Virginia Tech?

    Hate to sound like Malcom Gladwell here but I can’t help but think about tipping points. For example, I’d guess that there will always be muggers, no matter how healthy (read: socially just)a society — just a few bad apples are grabbing old ladies’ purses.

    Degrade the social context and a few more people are “tipped” toward mugging. Perhaps these new muggers are still morally weak (or whatever), since most poor people don’t resort to crime. But in an equitable and prosperous society, the tipping point for these people isn’t reached, isn’t tested.

    Even though Loughlin’s politics are a bit jumbled, I can imagine that a less xenophobic, gun-centric and dismal Arizona might not have tipped this schizophrenic toward a shooting spree.

    Schizophrenia won’t increase in a Palin-America and shooting springs won’t stop when she’s gone. But I can imagine the rate at which crazy meets gun meets innocent lives increasing.

    Comment by Rojo — January 12, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  41. ok, I’m stupid, so please use simple language to elucidate why it is racist to pass legislation to prevent public education dollars from funding Curtis Acosta’s Latino empowerment class, even though using those same dollars to fund a similar ethnic/racial empowerment class for poor whites would be…even more racist.

    Comment by Bard '90 — January 12, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

  42. Some of Leon Botstein’s rotten fruit from Bard ’90…

    Comment by louisproyect — January 12, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  43. Poor whites don’t need “ethnic/racial” empowerment, they need class empowerment, as opposed to Latino/a kids whose ethnicity feels the brunt of the border states’ xenophobic bullshit whenever some slug of a politician needs an electoral boost.
    Also, you are a total tub of shit.

    Comment by Rob — January 12, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  44. Not to imply that Latino/a kids shouldn’t be class conscious, as well.

    Comment by Rob — January 12, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  45. Bard ’90, the ethnic/racial “empowerment” angle for whites is covered pretty extensively by the dominant paradigms of American History, World History, Art, etc….

    Comment by Rojo — January 12, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  46. #30 “Richard Seymour is such a hypocrite. Some of us remember when he said the Viginia Tech massacre by a mentally ill guy was a slave resolt that was justified”

    Where does he say it was justified? The point is that such school & workplace shootings are COMPREHENSIBLE. They happen for a reason. Namely the combination of extreme alienation with easy access to guns.

    Comment by JN — January 13, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  47. “Poor whites don’t need “ethnic/racial” empowerment, they need class empowerment, as opposed to Latino/a kids…you…tub of shit…Not to imply that Latino/a kids shouldn’t be class conscious, as well.”

    From a Marxian perspective, I’d say they need class consciousness INSTEAD of racial empowerment, since successfully fostering minority racial empowerment/resentment in a country with a white working class majority would do as much to divide the working class along racial lines as anything Franklin Roosevelt or Pat Buchanan could ever dream up.

    “Some of Leon Botstein’s rotten fruit from Bard ’90…”

    Also, the last bard student, in all likelihood, and perhaps the first, to raise the banner of Marxist-Deleonism and distribute copies of The People in Kline Commons.

    Comment by Bard '90 — January 13, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  48. Louis said:

    “In other words, his act is best understood in terms of brain chemistry rather than prejudice and bigotry as was the case, for example, with Timothy McVeigh.”

    While brain chemistry had its part, this guy wasn’t just some black spree shooter who fired at white and asian people randomly in a white-dominated society; this was a guy who stepped up behind a Democratic politico (whose office had been attacked earlier, who had been listed by Palin and her ilk as someone to be “taken out”, who lived in a state that, from evidence, has been seeing some deeply reactionary politics made the stuff of everyday) and who had been targeted under cross-hairs by Palin on a public web-site) and deliberately shot her _before_ firing at everyone else he could see. And while his website offerings were poorly written, they had enough in them to show that he was far from _adverse_ to right-wing conspiracy bullshit.

    Don’t let your attitude towards Lenin colour your thoughts more than it should.

    Comment by Todd — January 14, 2011 @ 12:34 am

  49. And while his website offerings were poorly written

    Oh please. Pima Community College professors observed him saying that the number 8 was really the number 16, that trees were really orange not green and that babies were suicide bombers. The guy was in the middle of a total psychotic break.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 14, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  50. Louis,

    Hi hope you are well. And how experienced are you with schizoprhenics. I have a lot of experience. I’ve been locked up with them and you get to know people real well under such conditions. I also have or had many friends who are schizophrenics.

    Schizophrenia for one thing is very difficult to treat. Most medicines only give partial aide. Where as Manic Depressives like myself, if we find a good medicine can drift back into society. However schizophrenics are human beings influenced by others just as we are and more so. United States society is probably the most violent in the world. Check out the video games and how we like football more than soccer.

    My opinion is that this man killed because of his illness. However who he pointed his gun at is more complex and cannot be blamed on the illness.

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by John Kaniecki — January 14, 2011 @ 2:17 am

  51. Todd,

    the evidence indicates that his animus towards Giffords stemmed from an incident that occured in August 2007, pre-Sarah Palin/Tea Party America, when she answered his question to her “what is government if words have no meaning” with an answer he found offensive or patronizing, or whatever.

    if you want to politicize this, make it about how the mentally ill are not taken care of under capitalism.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/jared-lee-loughner-friend-voicemail-phone-message

    Comment by Bard '90 — January 14, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  52. Good point, Bard ’90. I see there’s hope for you.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 14, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  53. So he shot her simply out of paranoia-tinged revenge? >shrug< I can't deny it's possible although that doesn't explain all of the stuff he wrote on-line (which wasn't about the colours of trees but currency, property, and federalist laws; where did that come from?).

    Pointing out how people with mental conditions are let go through widening cracks under neo-liberalism isn't an incorrect way to view this, but it's far from the definitive way (especially given the poisonous atmosphere in Arizona).

    Comment by Todd — January 14, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  54. […] Unrepentant Marxist: Thoughts on Arizona On why it's a mistake to obsess over Palin's graphic design choices: I think what leftists have to understand is that violence and repression today directed against the popular movement is far more based on legality than mob violence or terrorism. […]

    Pingback by Links For 01/14/2010 « CounterPower — January 14, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

  55. Proyect’s ultra-left desperation not to be seen as an apologist for Obama has turned him into an apologist for the far right. Loughner is a truther (anti-semite), one of his favourite books is Mein Kampf (in no way negated by the inclusion of The Communist Manifesto anymore than Hitler calling him a socialist meant he wasn’t a fascist) and he shot the most liberal, female (he had a problem with women in authority) and jewish congress rep in the US. All this in which the Tea Party and the likely next Republican candidate for President and even Obama himself created an atmosphere of paranoia and legitimacy for such decapitating violence.

    Loughner is a performer who appeals to myths, tropes and deeply embedded and unquestioned irrational prejudices and in no way is he mentally ill in any medical sense only in the way that the swivel-eyed, bat shit crazy, frenzied white tea party middle class are mentally ill and the attendees at the Nuremburg rallies were mentally ill. Millions of them.

    Comment by David Ellis — January 16, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  56. People should understand that Ellis is an Englishman. The English left is falling all over itself trying to turn Loughner into some kind of gun-totin’ Yank carrying the banner of the ultraright. He has been watching too many Clint Eastwood movies, I’m afraid.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 16, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  57. Having followed the discussion in the big buisness media and on a sampling of left-wing internet sites, I am struck once again by the extent to which the U.S. left is under the spell of the liberal intellegensia and the knee-jerk by reaction by many to come to the aid of Democratic faction of the Party of Big Buisness over the Republican. As if…

    Louis Proyect has crafted an impressive balance sheet of the situation and has drawn concusions of which I wholly concurr. Particularly insightful are his observations that Obama and the Democrats will use the occassion to appeal to liberals to lock arms in the coming frontal assault on the safety net, including Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, that the capitalist class hardly requires the formation of street gangs when the legislatures they control enacts suitable legislation that more than meets their needs, and that calls to moderate political speech will be used against the workers movement as the months and years approach.

    Also correct is his conclusion that the gunman was an apolitical youth deep in the throes of mental illness, who got little or no help.

    Comment by Dave R — January 16, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  58. Dave R, as a Tucsonan who has done some research on the radical right, I think your conclusion about Loughner is based on incomplete knowledge.. Yes, he’s deep in the throes of mental illness, but his (probably) schizophrenia has been shaped by the radical right. The currency obsession is the big clue. Google the names I mention in comment #5.

    However, anyone who blames Palin is wrong. For the most part, Loughner’s concerns come from conservative crazies who dislike neocons.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 16, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  59. Yes, he’s deep in the throes of mental illness, but his (probably) schizophrenia has been shaped by the radical right. The currency obsession is the big clue. Google the names I mention in comment #5.

    Will, you have the causality wrong. Here’s something I wrote on the Marxism list that is relevant:

    There is no coherency to Loughner’s thinking, as the favorable reference to the Communist Manifesto would indicate, not to speak of “lucid dreaming”. While my next article will focus mainly on Obama’s calculations, I will make the point that Loughner’s schizophrenia was manifest FIVE years ago long before Palin was a factor in American politics. The left has the causality all wrong on Loughner. He was not sparked into action because of all the conspiratorial ideology that surrounded him. Instead his madness drove him in that direction, but once he began moving in that direction his understanding of what he read–from Mein Kampf to the CM–was mediated by a short-circuited brain.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 16, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  60. I agree that the social backdrop shapes an individual’s mental illness, just as Christmas ornaments shape the character of the Christmas tree. But the cause of the homicides was, as you say, most likely schizophrenia for which he was not treated, not his poltical views nor the poltical views of those in attendance.

    Comment by Dave R — January 16, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

  61. Is it a favorable view of the Communist Manifesto? His “favorite books” are a grabbag that include Ayn Rand. I know a woman who taught him at Pima College about four years ago who says he was a good student then. I think his books simply indicate things that he had read and remembered as impressing him somehow.

    Loughner’s schizophrenia seems to have come on fairly recently. He’s 22. That’s typical of schizophrenia, I understand. One site claims “The average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women” so you could be right that it was beginning five years ago, but if so, he was able to cope much better then.

    The dreaming business has a strong whiff of David Icke to it. One of Icke’s followers (I assume) made a music video from one of Icke’s talks about dreaming here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9pkvEVEeyA

    Well, I may sound like I’m more convinced than I am. You could be right. Whatever was going on with Loughner, ultimately, the greatest factor was his schizophrenia. That our governor, Jan Brewer, cut 38 million from the state budget for mental health last year should be part of the national debate.

    Comment by will shetterly — January 16, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  62. More evidence that Loughner listened to Alex Jones and the internet’s weird right: Ex-Friend: Loughner Was Influenced By Conspiracy Theory Movie. You can hear Alex Jones interviewing Zeitgeist’s producer and saying he believes in 90% of Zeitgeist.

    Comment by Will Shetterly — January 17, 2011 @ 3:13 pm


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