Dr. Dawg

Shots and preyers

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Another day, another mass shooting in the US.

Nothing will be done.

The American empire is in its decadence. Comparisons with the Roman one have been duly noted. Headed by an Id-creature whose prototype was surely Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roy, America is a nation where core values appear to have been inverted. Evangelical Christians support rampant womanizing, violence and hatred. Constitutionalists worship at the altar of constitution-wrecking. A “well-regulated militia” has come to mean any nutcase with a semi-automatic weapon, or cops on the hunt for what now amounts to their lawful prey. Checks and balances mean almost nothing, now that all three branches of government are under Donald Trump’s thumb.

But the Constitution is just a construct, a text. What explains the hideous allure of Trump, and his grotesque reign? And, here in Canada, on a lesser scale to be sure, the appeal of a porcine oaf like Doug Ford, likely the next premier of Ontario?

I will take credit for coining the term “sado-politics” in 1996, to describe the hateful regime of Ontario Premier Mike Harris, and more generally the mindset of the Right. There is a thesis to be written on sado-politics, I said then, and I had been seriously considering writing a paper or even a book on the subject. Then I came across this essay by China Miéville, and reluctantly put down my metaphorical pen.

It’s all here. History, psychology, politics. I urge folks to read the whole thing. It goes some way to explain the joy that so many Americans take in shooting and killing, a joy directly tapped by bands of evil enablers like the NRA, and indirectly (in Canada, too) by savvy politicians who know just how to arouse and excite the electorate with their oily rhetorical caresses.

Some part of a person likes to hurt other people, or enjoy the inflicted pain and death vicariously. A politician promising to further immiserate the poor, or kick immigrants in the face, or target other vulnerable groups with trademark conservative derision, promising to make their lives even more difficult, is guaranteed a huge proportion of the vote. Bombing brown people abroad will also win much applause: and showing the results up close is likely a wrong-headed liberal mistake, as it is guaranteed to excite a large number of viewers even more.

Miéville is right on the money, pun entirely intended. Class oppressors mine this part of the human psyche, weaponize it and deploy it. But, depressingly enough, Miéville is able to offer only the most attenuated hints of strategy for stemming this blood-red tide. Kindness? Hatred that somehow doesn’t obviate empathy? The joy, however fleeting, of overturning property relations here and there, and now and then?

How do we build on that? How do we win? Optimism of the will must somehow find its direction, its realistic grounds for existing, and its concrete project. But my pessimism of the intellect is admittedly causing me more and more to ask—is it all hopeless?

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 23, 2018 2:40 PM.

Excuse Our Dust... was the previous entry in this blog.

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