After the mass shootings during an especially bloody weekend in the US, which left 9 victims dead in Dayton and 22 dead in El Paso, The BBC asked: “El Paso and Dayton: Two mass shootings – will anything change?” The BBC pointed out that the US has suffered a long history of mass shootings and that despite outpourings of public grief nothing changed before, as most hopes were pinned on greater gun control and that failed due to political obstacles and most notably the influence of the National Rifle Association. Recently, a new driver in some of these mass shootings has emerged in the form of white nationalist violence. The El Paso shooting along with the Pittsburgh shooting in 2018 and the Charlottesville violence of 2017 display “the strength of the modern white supremacist movement” in the US, leading to a rethink of the nature of the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the US.
The rise of white supremacy as a counter to decades of civil rights legislation, migration into the US from Mexico and other central American countries, and economic stagnation in many parts of the US have fueled fear and hopelessness amongst poor, white Americans that Trump played on to win the presidency. Trump continues to pour fuel on this fire, but Americans still do not feel great again. Mass killings driven by white supremacist motives are likely to continue, as capitalism offers no sense of identity to counter the racist sentiments that thrive when poor people are getting poorer because capitalism, especially in America, is dominated by the belief that wealth is an attestation of God’s blessing and that poverty is a result of individual laziness and stupidity. So, while white Americans continue to work hard without the success that capitalism promises, they are being stigmatized as stupid for their difficulties.
Furthermore, the Democrat party and the liberal media openly label Trump supporters as stupid, which amplifies the pressure on disaffected people to blame an unfair liberal establishment for bringing workers from other countries to steal their jobs and ‘dilute the white race.’ Young white men are likely to continue to publish racist manifestos and go on shooting rampages than ever before.
Despite this new dimension to mass shooting, the worst mass shooting in recent US history still has no discernable motif. In 2017, during at a music concert in Las Vegas, 58 people were killed, and random shootings like that continue to claim tens of lives every few months. Beyond this, the most common gun violence is that associated with crime and petty disputes, which daily increase the death toll in all major US cities.
The only solution that is being considered politically is change to current gun laws in the US, which currently make it very easy for people to gain high power and high capacity automatic weapons with which to kill people. US presidents, past and present, have ridden the wave of public sentiment going through stages of anger, indignation and empty promises and finally, indifference.
Despite, the capitalists having no other solution in mind, changes to gun laws have failed due to the power of the gun lobby, which, until recently, has been the biggest lobbying force in the US. The efforts to control access to guns is a major indicator of two of capitalism’s corrupt features. One is the pandering to public opinion in order to gain power or remain in power, and the other is the greater force of rich industries to ultimately subvert and redirect the will of the people, so that the policies in their better interests are the ones that succeed in passing through the long and complicated processes of congressional approval and presidential ratification. This has been called ‘crony capitalism’ where political power is tied to wealthy elites in a vicious circle that cuts the people out of the process.
Although the prospect of changes to the law to restrict access to weapons seems unlikely, the factors that are driving these killings in the US are likely to intensify, rather than diminish, as capitalism looks for reasons both at home and abroad to justify its failure to deliver the success and happiness that it falsely promises.
Written by Dr. Abdullah Robin