The increase in mass killings in the US and the state of the working class

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28/07/2021 by socialistfight

By Dov Winter

I used figures from the Guardian to calculate the rise of mass shooting in the US. [1] What I suspected turn out to be true. There is a regular increase of people killed in mass shooting in the US, with the exception of the month of April. In January there were 31 people who died in a mass shooting. In February the number was 43. In March it was 67. In April it went down to 56, but it rose to 72 in the month of May.

When a man walked into a birthday party in Colorado Springs, Colo., over the weekend, killing six people and then himself, it was the deadliest mass shooting in the state since March, when a rampage at a grocery store left 10 people dead.

Up to May 10 the U.S. has experienced 194 mass shootings. That averages out to about 10 a week. There is a constant rise in mass killing and injuries in the US. This tells us that people in the US are stressed to extreme levels. The pandemic and the mass unemployment are creating explosive conditions in the US. Because of backward consciousness in which individualism and the lack of class solidarity is strong, the first manifestations from the growing unbearable conditions are individualist behaviour by deranged individuals that is manifested in mass shootings.

But this is a terrible way in which unstable people release pressure. It can only be traced to the strong manifestation of individualism in the US that is combined with the historic rejection of the anti-capitalist class struggle to defend and extend the gains of the working class. Trotsky understood the above dilemma very clearly:

“It was absolutely necessary to explain why the American ‘radical’ intellectuals accept Marxism without the dialectic (a clock without a spring). The secret is simple. In no other country has there been such rejection of the class struggle as in the land of ‘unlimited opportunity.’ The denial of social contradictions as the moving force of development led to the denial of the dialectic as the logic of contradictions in the domain of theoretical thought. Just as in the sphere of politics it was thought possible everybody could be convinced of the correctness of a ‘just’ program by means of clever syllogisms and society could be reconstructed through ‘rational’ measures. ‘So in the sphere of theory it was accepted as proved that Aristotelian logic, lowered to the level of ‘common sense,’ was sufficient for the solution of all questions.

“Pragmatism, a mixture of rationalism and empiricism, became the national philosophy of the United States. The theoretical methodology of Max Eastman is not fundamentally different from the methodology of Henry Ford – both regard living society from the point of view of an ‘engineer’ (Eastman – platonically).

“Historically the present disdainful attitude toward the dialectic is explained simply by the fact that the grandfathers and great-grandmothers of Max Eastman and others did not need the dialectic in order to conquer territory and enrich themselves. But times have changed, and the philosophy of pragmatism has entered a period of bankruptcy just as has American capitalism.” [2]

The bankruptcy of American capitalism is even greater than it was when Trotsky wrote his prognosis of American capitalism. US’s world domination is faltering as it battles with China and other imperialist powers. Internally, American capitalism is going through convulsions.

It relies on the limited pragmatic approach of the American working class to keep the upsurge of the workers at bay. But we already have seen stage one of the American workers upsurge when hundreds of thousands of young workers and youth took over the streets for months after the murder of George Floyd.

In the 1930s the greatest strike movement took place when the grip of the depression had eased. This time there is a pandemic in addition to the depression. But the pandemic is easing, and an economic shallow “recovery” is likely to happen. This will be the time for the working class to flex its muscles.

Comment by Max Irwin

This passage from Trotsky’s IDOM above is particularly cogent for me:

“Even worse and more dangerous, perhaps, are those eclectics who express the idea that the class character of the Soviet state “does not matter,” and that the direction of our policy is determined by “the character of the war.” As if the war were an independent super-social substance; as if the character of the war were not determined by the character of the ruling class, that is, by the same social factor that also determines the character of the state. Astonishing how easily some comrades forget the ABCs of Marxism under the blows of events.” [3]

It is not surprising that the theoreticians of the opposition who reject dialectic thought capitulate lamentably before the contradictory nature of the USSR. However, the contradiction between the social basis laid down by the revolution, and the character of the caste which arose out of the degeneration of the revolution is not only an irrefutable historical fact but also a motor force.

In our struggle for the overthrow of the bureaucracy we base ourselves on this contradiction. Meanwhile some ultra-lefts have already reached the ultimate absurdity by affirming that it is necessary to sacrifice the social structure of the USSR in order to overthrow the Bonapartist oligarchy! They have no suspicion that the USSR minus the social structure founded by the October Revolution would be a fascist regime.”

Notes

[1] The Guardian, Alvin Chang, June 2021, Every mass shooting in the US – a visual database, A normal day in the US involves a mass shooting. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2021/may/27/us-mass-shootings-database

[2] Leon Trotsky, 15- 12-1939, In Defense of Marxism – A Petty-Bourgeois Opposition in the Socialist Workers Party, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/idom/dm/09-pbopp.htm

[3] Idiot.

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