News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: The Politics of Rampage: Virginia Tech

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Politics of Rampage: Virginia Tech

As I write this, very little is known about the mass school killings at Virginia Tech University. The media, of course, are playing the numbers game and calling it the worst rampage on a campus in history.

One fact that might be germane is that the killings fall within a few days of the anniversary for the Columbine School massacre. Few news commentators are yet making that connection, and maybe it will not hold up and be simply coincidental.

In something of a conspiratorial manner, I'll reiterate my own suspicions that the events are connected and point you, dear reader, to several postings I made after Columbine and killings on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

I hold by my contention that these incidents have a political dimension to them that few if any have ever taken seriously. This political aspect is eminently nihilistic and as such its core is the idea that there is no message, there is little intelligible sign that one can follow back to a recognizable "political" message.

This anti-politics itself will grow and spread in the future. While it feeds on adolescent angst and catastrophes, the empty heart of its message is a way to transcribe a sign of pain and rebellion on the iron walls of infinite nothingness.

I could go on to discuss a Habermasian analysis of adolescent socialization and the diremption of lifeworld and system. Some of that comes out in my analysis in "We Can Be Heroes." Yet, I am loathe to proclaim such an easily convertible explanation whose tidiness and neatness misses much of the terror.

There are, perhaps, better readings of these incidents than the one I have provided. One avenue of analysis is along the lines of nihilism, whose essence Heidegger has said, we cannot yet think. Perhaps he's right, perhaps wrong.

As you might guess, I think a Kierkegaardian analysis is apt. In this framework, though, we have to begin to understand original sin in the way he formulated it (contra the traditional theology) as well as his discussion of the nothing and despair.

What makes these discussions political is that they are religious tracts aimed at the political, meant to undermine a political regime wherein the state and the ruling religion support each other in falsifying existence.

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