News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Politics of Rampage 2

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Politics of Rampage 2

Richard @ Lenin's Tomb has tried some preliminary Marxist remarks on the senseless killings at VTech yesterday.

In response, I wrote the following [edited for typos]:

Richard, I'm somewhat surprised that this is the best you can come up with on this subject. Does your superficial understanding of it reflect the ultimate inability fo materialism to account for the diverse forms of modern false consciousness and alienation?

I can think of at least four ways that the Columbine and now VTech rampages have political aspects to them:

1) From a Habermasian framework, we are talking about adolescent socialization and its failure in the post-industrial, neoliberal stages of capitalism.

2) JS Mill's critiques of modern society as it tends towards conformity, thereby restricting various forms of political life.

3) Political nihilism and its metaphysical rebellion against the terror of life.

4) Just the brute reality of teenage life and its sexual politics. Teenage sex and adolescence are inherently political; all you have to do is start from the simple fact of in-groups and out-groups; who gets sex and who doesn't depends on various degrees of being in or out. Etc.

I've explored various aspects of 1 and 3. In my analysis, the very inability of many of these rampagers to communicate is itself a sign of political intent. It's an anti-politics that becomes political in its very inability to formulate any recognizable sign of understanding of intelligibility.
I hope to follow up on these comments in some measure in the following days, especially as more information becomes available.

PS Juan Cole rightly reminds us that in Iraq there are two VTech events every day:
They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg. We Americans can so easily, with a shudder, imagine the college student trying to barricade himself behind a door against the armed madman without. But can we put ourselves in the place of Iraqi students?
I would only remind Mr. Cole that that's just how those people are; and besides, it's better over there than here, right? That's what UBU-Bush sayeth and I believeth.

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