Another war is fought on the globe and again, all those opinionated journalists who couldn't even have identified Mali on the globe earlier this year, much less lose one word about its politics, now seem to know it all after the first French soldiers touched the ground. The coalition of self-righteous world explainers is, as usual, spearheaded by the speakers of a subcritical left which seeks to press the world into a black and white scheme, no matter what. I will take an article by Stephen Lendman from Chicago to point out many fallacies of the current anti-war movement, because it neatly summarizes all this lack of coherent analysis, ignorance in regards to facts and the tendency to imply wherever it lacks evidence - and it wraps it all in moralizing language.
Lendman doesn't mess around, he gets straight to his accusation: it's all about the ressources, stupid! Not just any ressources, but rich Africa's ressources, with some of the globes largest deposits of oil and gas, ores and minerals. His intention probably is to put the war in Mali into a greater regional context of a new "scramble for Africa", but all Lendman achieves is to reveal his view on Mali as "yet another part of Africa". If war is fought somewhere in Africa, it must have the same reasons as on any other place on that vast continent. Without hesitation he therefore continues to write about Malis great natural wealth and Mali seems truly blessed:
"They include gold, diamonds, phosphates, bauxite, lignite, kaolin, salt, limestone, gypsum, granite, marble, diatomite, hydropower, iron ore, manganese, tin, lead, zinc, copper, oil, gas, and uranium. Mali is Africa’s third largest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana. It’s rich in uranium. It has an estimated 5,000 tons or more. It’s neighbor Niger is the world’s fourth largest producer."
As Malinese blogger Bruce Whitehouse put it, "the truth of Mali’s >mineral riches< is rather murky". Mali has potential reserves of oil and gas, its proven reserves are zero. In other words, it may be there, but we're not sure, there may also be nothing at all. The only companies present in Mali as of yet are minor players in the petrol business with a high risk-tolerance, speculating on the big success with a surprise find. Hardly the ones who could muster enough influence with western companies to urge them to fight a risky - and costly - war. There a no known uranium ressources in northern Mali, the only known mining operation is deep in the south-west, at the border to Guinea. Claiming that Nigers uranium riches extend into northern Mali would be pure speculation. Similiar holds true for Malis mining operations in regards to Gold. It's all far in the south, away from the territories currently held by Islamist and Tuareg rebels. All facts considered, this doesn't seem like an invasion to secure untapped ressources on land owned by an unwilling population. What little ressources Mali had its governments had always generously given away in the past, because the country lacks the technology level and infrastructure to develope them on their own and thus is dependent on foreign investors. Africa isn't exploited with cannons aimed, it's exploited with the willing consent of its governments, no matter if left or right, corrupt or honest, because the alternative to leave the ressources untapped does not benefit the increasingly urban population of Africas nationstates either.
But Lendman has found an explanation fitting its scheme and without checking whether his facts match reality, he proceeds to identify the responsible factions. No surprise here, it's the USA. France, former colonial power of Mali - and most of western Africa - is played down to a mere lapdog, used by Obama to "keep a low profile". The question whether France has its own africa policy can't be asked in Lendmans dogmatic worldview and he's probably unaware that the different policies of former colonial powers, including France, have brought them into conflict with the USA in the past. For example, right before the genocide against the Tutsi and Hutu began in Rwanda, France was supportive of the Rwandan government and there are allegations that French special forces proceeded to support the Rwandan military even while it was committing the largest genocide since Cambodia. The Tutsi-Militia RPF - current ruling party of Rwanda after it ended the genocide and won the civil war - was seen as an anglophone takeover.
For Lendman, however, France must remain a puppet of Washington, because he wants the war in Mali to fit into the greater image he constructs. "Washington wants unchallenged African dominance," Lendman writes, without bothering to explain how Islamist fighters in northern Mali are benefitting Russia or China. Worse, Lendmans argumentation comes crashing down on itself when he correctly identifies Russia and especially China as rivals of the USA (and Europe, though Lendman doesn't seem to think of European interests as a factor of their own) for Africas ressources, but doesn't stop a second to consider the implications. If Washington, Moscow and Beijing are rivals in a new scramble for Africa, does Lendman believe that only the first of the three is trying to exploit the continent? And if the insurgents in northern Mali are fighting against the USA, are they allies of China or Russia? Lendmans attempt to transfer the coalitions of Syria into Mali very obviously doesn't work and only serves to reveal that his own kneejerk anti-americanism drives Lendman to the support of murderous regimes such as Assads Syria.
Without intermission, Lendman narrates a tale of the great puppeteers in Washington who send their armies out into the world to build an "Empire" and permanently occupy the rest of the world by force. Consistently, he sacrifices facts for his fiction of a repetition of 19th century policies. He draws parallels between the North-Ireland conflict, the 1982 Lebanon invasion or the Israel-Palestine conflict, to lend weight to his prediction that France seeks permanent occupation of Mali. But North-Ireland is considered a part of its national territory by the UK and the Israeli security situation is a complex issue, its occupation of Lebanese territory in the 80s and 90s more rooted in the fact that it could not find factions within the Lebanese society that were both willing and powerful enough to prevent the Lebanon from becoming a staging ground for Hezbollah warfare against Israel once their troops retreat. Similiar fear haven proven correct repeatedly in the Palestine conflict: once Israeli troops left Gaza to self-administration, Hamas used the new liberty to turn the city into a missile-base from which hundreds of missiles are fired into Israel each year.
Meanwhile, the information that "Permanent Afghanistan and Iraq occupations are planned" is exclusive to Lendman and exists only in his brain. All NATO countries involved in the two countries are feverishly trying to reduce troop strength in Iraq and Afghanistan - and have developed timelines for a complete retreat of forces from the countries - without making it seem as if the protracted warfare against insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan were lost.
"Fighting terrorism, respecting Mali’s territorial integrity, and furthering democracy conceal dark intentions" Lendman claims ambiguously in regards to the French intervention, but reading texts such as this, it seems the part about "dark intentions" holds true more for their authors. The Islamist groups that control northern Mali only appear as "rebels" throughout his article - the Rebels and the Empire, makes you think of Star Wars, doesn't it? He manages to not once mention the acronym AQIM: Al Qaeda in the islamic Maghreb. During their attack on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, "hundreds of hostages were taken" and it almost seems as if Lendman cheers this on as a success report for the forces of good. What he doesn't mention is that these hundreds of hostages were seperated according to faith - many of the workers on In Amenas were foreign experts, technicians and engineers - and the Islamists then proceeded to kill those of their hostages who were not Algerian muslims.
"Contesting for the country’s north won’t be easy." Lendman predicts with apparent satisfaction. "It’s mountainous, rugged, and vast. It replicates France in size. It’s long enjoyed considerable autonomy. Protracted conflict looks likely. " This is wishful thinking on Lendmans part, because he desperately wants to see his rebel alliance win against the dark empire. Northern Mali is dominated by deserts, even the Hoggar mountains, which partly extend into north-eastern Mali, are relatively open spaces whereas Mali is concerned. Its vast size will work to the disadvantage of the islamic insurgents, because vast open areas, the deserts of the Sahara and the shrubberies of the Sahel, will favour the force that can bring more flexible and mobile units to bear. France fields a modern airforce, helicopters and mechanized ground forces.
Speaking of northern Malis autonomy is, by the way, a cynical joke. Enforced non-developement would be a more fitting description. The reasons for the sudden success of islamist rebels in northern Mali lie in decades long instability in the region due to the discrimination of the Tuareg minority in Mali and its neighbours. Hated for having been deeply involved in colonial forces and slave trade in the past, the independence of former French colonies marked the beginning of a prolonged campaign of impoverishment in the Tuareg areas, worsening in the recent past with the increasing hardships in the Sahel zone due to climate change. Tuareg rebels have long fought unsuccesfully for an independent Tuareg state, "Azawad", land of the Wadi's.
How the repeatedly unsuccesful Tuareg rebellions of the past turned into an islamist insurgency that routed the Malinese army and nearly conquered the country needs some explanation - read carefully, Lendman, you can learn something. The Tuareg were long known for living an especially moderate muslimic faith, with comparatively great rights for women. Their rebel groups are secular, but after the war in Lybia and the overthrowal of dictator Ghadaffi, many fighters from Lybia returned to Mali. Amongst them not just the Tuareg that had been hired by the Lybian government as reliable soldiers, but also islamist fighters that had participated in its overthrowal - and weapons from the stockpiles of north-Africas wealthiest oil exporter. Before that event, the suffocating poverty in the Sahel zone had already created a fertile breeding ground for the islamist ideology and especially young men are suspectible to the offers of a life as soldier of Islam, when the alternative is to cope with starvation.
Well armed, experienced and highly motivated the Tuareg-Islamist alliance could quickly overrun the north of Mali. But it remains an unsteady alliance. An agreement about the cooperation in the fight against the Malinese government, which also included a non-enforcement of Sharia law, lasted merely a few days. Their attempts to root themselves in northern Malinese society seem to yeild only mixed results, the majority of islamist fighters are foreigners. Wandering militias who have participated in other wars in the past. This points to another reason why Lendmans portrayal of the war as western invasion is flawed, because in fact, it's an invasion of northern Mali by organized Islamists. Lendmans refusal to even mention the wave of atrocities that followed in the wake of the Islamist advance, much less the broad support in Mali for the French forces.
Images of locals waving the flags of foreign forces to cheer them on are a staple of war propaganda to keep up the moral on the home front. But it would be ignorant to think those are therefore always false. There is a reason why Lendman hesitates to cite even a single voice from Mali itself, because those wouldn't support his view of the French operation in Mali as a forceful occupation. Quite to the contrary, the French forces were requested by the Malinese government and Hollande hesitate long to grant his support. French forces literally arrived on the last possible moment, as any day later, an important airfield that enables much of the current operation would have fallen to Islamists. There is one opposition party in Mali that rejects the French intervention, is the left-nationalist MP22. Only, they, too, support the fight against insurgents in northern Mali, they just believe that Malis army can do it on its own.
People like Lendman don't support peace, much less human rights. They have bloated the American state into the prime evil of the world and care little who fights them, as long as someone does it. Willingly, they lend their support to any group and cloud their intentions with smokescreens of peace-rhetorics and a demonization of one side of a conflict. What he fails to realize is that Islamism is a variant of the political phenomena best described as "fascism". It's the heavily religious version of fascism in the Arabic and broader muslim world, dreaming of the rebirth of a Kaliphate that never really existed in this way. In their attempt to lend importance to their own positions, people like Lendman jeopardize all standards of emancipatory and left-wing polititics for an alliance with islamist fascism. This has lasting consequences, because in much of the developing world, especially in the muslim countries, the left as we know it has ceased to exist. The strata of the local populations that could be reached with emancipatory positions are not just figuratively, but very practically, violently controlled by Islamic groups and their social issues are answered with anti-semitic, anti-feminine and anti-modern rhetorics.
One word of caution though: do not think that Islamism is a backwards, medieval movement. Their rhetorics may be anti-modern, their ideology is not. Like fascism elsewhere they employ anti-capitalist sentiment to direct it against specific groups, mostly jews and westerners, sometimes also christian or other minorities. But they do not challenge capitalism itself, not even in a reactionary fashion. Lendman lends his voice to people like Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, calling them political prisoners as if it's Mumia Abu Jamal we're talking about. Abdel-Rahman was one of the organizers of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Lendman keeps quiet about that. What he mentions instead is, that Abdel-Rahman was previously an ally of the CIA, trained and funded by the American government. Again, his narrative knows no private agenda for Washingtons allies. In Lendmans worldview, they are puppets, used and thrown away.
But Islamists are not puppets of western governments. They are dangerous, militant movements that are handy allies whenever it comes to keeping impoverished populations within the framework of capitalist economy. President Morsi in Egypt, Islamist rebels fighting in Lybia or Syria - western states ally with them, because they are the only groups with both the mass-base and the necessary will to violence to enforce the blind progress of the global market. But Islamism has plans of their own and may turn on the west, not just by allying with Iran (for many Sunni Islamist groups allying with the Shiites in Iran is out of question) but also out of their own volition. Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism (in many cases, it's not so easy to distinguish between these two and Islamists will claim the US is run by jews anyways) are integral parts of their ideology, not just as mock rhetorics, but as very real motivations for their actions.
These are the people trying to take over northern Mali.
Last weekend hundred-thousand protested in Paris against the plans of the French government to open up marriage to same-sex couples. France already allows for civil unions between individuals of the same sex, but the now planned law would create full legal equality between same-sex couples and traditional "husband and wife"-partnerships. Including the right to adoption. It is this aspect that, above all, has driven the masses of French conservatives to the streets. While the alliance of protesters in Paris includes openly homophobic groups, many others maintain that they are not against homosexuals, they just don't want them to raise children.
One can not understand this specific kind of homophobia - the fear of homosexuals raising children - without understanding the nature of bourgeoise family.
At the core of many of the arguments of those opposing same-sex marriage is a thoroughly unjustified biologism which, a typical element of all modern ideologies rooted in liberalism, turns the specific structures of modern society into a transhistorical "human nature". The assumption "it has always been like that" is immediately turned into the belief that this is the way it should be, even before the thought has been articulated. Finally, any attempts to change this perceived human biology becomes a revolt against nature, its implications always the destruction of society by eroding its natural base.
But the family as we know it - husband, wife and their own children - is a very recent developement. It was invented alongside the developement of capitalism and it only managed to become dominant, even in the capitalist center, during the fordist revolution when productivity reached levels that even the working class could send their wifes home, instead of breaking with the bourgeoise ideals of family life out of sheer necessity. Before that a family structure dominated the lifes which was based upon the agricultural subsistence economy of the medieval era, with several generations under one roof and no seperation between domestic work and gainful activity. Back then, usually the oldest man represented the family to the outside, but he was no unquestionably powerful patriarch and while christian beliefs secured men a favourable position, women maintained a degree of independence and influence within the family structures.
Bourgeoise family changed this, not least because the bourgeoise family is a product of absolutism. Philosophers of that age wished for the family to become a mirror image of the state itself, with an unquestionably powerful patriarch at its center. Man became the king of his own small empire and much in the way that soldiers and gendarmes enforced his compliance in greater society, it was his duty to enforce the compliance of wife and children. This required smaller family units and the seperation of the generations into different households. A patriarch would likely not be able to maintain the same degree of authority if his parents stood watch over him still.
The second much needed change for the breaktrhough of the bourgeoise family was the seperation of production from reproduction. Wage-labor and industrialization took productive tasks out of the environment of the private homes and centralized them in factories. Productivity of the workers was maximised by turning women into unpaid slaves of their husbands, responsible for maintaining a functioning household for the man to return to. A place where he could recharge for the next workingday. Capitalism expropriated the labor of women through their men. The only problem was, for most of the history of capitalism, wages were just far too low for women to stay home. They were forced to go out and work to survive, but expected to maintain the household all the same.
To enforce this family structure along with its repressive sexual morals, open violence was used. The history of the creation of the modern family is also the history of witchhunts, of rape culture and domestic violence. It is interesting to note that, despite christianity at the center of its society, the medieval era maintained a certain tolerance of homosexuality. It was early modernity which demonized homosexuality and turned homosexuals into "faggots". If you have ever wondered why a term that originally meant "bundle of sticks" came to be a slur for male homosexuals - it is because in some places homosexuals were tied together and used to fire up the stakes for witches to be burnt.
Claiming to "love all homosexuals" like Virginie Tellenne did during her speech on the protest in France, yet defend an institution that had to begin a campaign of extermination against them in order to settle itself in society is thoroughly cynical. Much has changed in the recent decades and homosexuals have in many places fought succesfully for their rights. Nevertheless, their attempts to reach full legal equality must appear as dangerous attacks on the foundation of bourgeoise society to those who have found their place in it.
Worse, bourgeoise family is failing. No capitalist country where divorce rates have not steadily increased throughout the last years, in some places the majority of children are already being raised by single-mothers and, finally, those families protesting in Paris are themselves not living up to the idealized image created in the 1950s. The women are not happy in their suburban isolation and not content with satisfying the needs and desires of their husbands. The men are not happy with their working lifes and most of them can't satisfy the material needs of their families all on their own. All over the place, the traditional family comes crashing down. At least against the homosexuals the conservatives want to defend their family life.
However, it also needs to be noted that the homosexual mainstream that seeks nothing more than same-sex marriage is falling victim to the same desire for "stable families". It emulates the bourgeoise family but replaces husband and wife with a same-sex partnership. The rest remains the same. If worries arise that two men or two women can't raise healthy children, it ignores that this has never been the job of the traditional families. The traditional family was created to massproduce workers and soldiers for the needs of capitalist society and to maintain discipline through use of force against women and children.
Within months the crisis of market economy has managed to do to Greece what in past eras required brutal wars or devastating natural desasters. First hit by the sudden (but hardly unexpected) end of the speculative growth, especially on the real estate market, Greece was then amongst the countries hit hardest by the public debt crisis. By the droves investors lost faith in the Greek governments ability to repay loans given generously in the past and the refinancing with additional loans that had worked so well in the past and which had helped to keep global economy growing suddenly became unsustainable, as the decreasing faith of investors directly translated into increasing interest rates, making the tried and tested modus operandi of the last decades too costly to keep up. Greece was hardly special in any way, at least concerning their economic hardships, and that it could have hit any country within the Eurozone was patently clear wherever perception wasn't clouded by racist rhetorics about the "lazy southerners". Worse, should the Greek economy collapse, it could cause a domino effect that would send the entire Eurozone - and with it the world - into a downward spiral and deeper into global recession. After all, large parts of the public debt of Greece were loans given by other European states or their biggest banks and this debt - and especially the interest paid for it - was capital with which both operated and paid bills of their own.
It therefore wasn't out of kindness of heart that other nations of the Eurozone repeatedly handed out loans with interest rates unavailable to Greece on the free market or that they promised to service some of Greeces debt should the small mediterranean country default after all. In order to save their own money, Germany and co. had to rebuy public faith in the Greek state and its ability to pay. It is doubtful that, in case of a Greek failure to pay, the remaining Eurozone could stay true to their promises in regards to Greek debt even if they wanted to, but they don't have to prove it. The only important part is, that the market public believes in this guarantuee and starts to invest into loans to the Greek government again. At the core of this there is a "back to normality" policy that seeks to enable the Greek government to continue deficit spending like other governments. That this is deeply paradox, considering the crisis has clearly shown the limits of this attempt to import purely fictive future growth and turn it into real present economic growth, is clear, but illustrates only an inability to do politics beyond this point within the framework of capitalist economy.
However, if we can't move forward, maybe we can move backwards? The other answer to the problems of capitalist economics that doesn't touch capitalism itself, instead of a "borrow and spend" politics loosely based on Keynesian economics, is the neoclassical approach that seeks to take the state out of the equation by cutting its debts. At the core of neoclassical thinking is a deeply religious faith in a "natural order of the market" and the belief that, once interferences by state and organized labor are removed, the market will strike an equilibrium of growth on a high level. Ironically, Europe has attempted to do both: save Greece through a semi-Keynesian public investment of its memberstates into the Greek state, but at the same time force Greece - especially due to demands from Germany - to enact a historically unprecedented austerity program. This two-faced chimaire leaves its marks throughout European politics in the age of crisis. Europe's central bank pursues a policy of flooding the markets with money to promote economic growth, Europe's economists flood society with cheap metaphors about states being housewives who now need to tighten one's belt.
But states aren't housewives and their expenditures is a very important part of the economy. What austerity measures do in times of crisis can be witnessed in Greece, where saying the economy collapsed is a bit of an understatement. Starving schoolchildren, a ballooning number of homeless people, widespread poverty and unemployment. What we witness in Greece isn't just a temporary mistake, an error of capitalist history caused by faulty politics - it is the ugly face of the market baring its teeth. There is enough food to feed everyone in Greece - lavishly. All the houses where the now homeless used to live are still as good as they used to be when people still lived in them and they could easily offer shelter to them again. And isn't it ironic that, while more than one quarter of the workforce is registered as unemployed, those who still got employment are forced to work longer, both in terms of workhours and in terms of age before retirement? The market is a mad end of itself which considers a growing number of people dispensable - and proceeds to dispense them - but never dares to question its own maxims.
And don't dare to question it! As much as Greece as a image of things to come for the rest of the capitalist center in terms of economic hardships, Greece is also a textbook example of how bourgeoise society and government will deal with the social unrest in its wake. If the impoverished masses grow unruly and won't allow for themselves to be removed from the equation peacefully (i.e. starve), capitalist accumulation will be maintained with all means available. However, considering that economic crisis doesn't just decrease affordable income of the vast majority of people, but also that of the state, Greece is facing a dilemma that the capitalist world faced before after the great crisis of 1929 : how to combat a growing number of restless and poor with decreasing funds?
The answer can be summarized as "find an enemy" and "enlist deputies". Both aren't necessarily centrally orchestrated, but the state will gladly seek to take advantage of any such phenomenas where they blossom in the public. Enemies the Greek citizens have identified many, some classic (immigrants, jews), some seemingly not (bankers, the rich, Germans). However, they all share one common characteristic: to find someone to blame for the hardships, someone who willingly caused the sudden poverty sweeping the nation. Stereotypes of lazy immigrants taking advantage of the modern welfare state land themselves as a handy explanation to a growing public deficit; the idea of a jewish world conspiracy has always blossomed in times of economic crisis because of its simplicity in face of a complex situation; even the idea that the banks are responsible for the crisis due to their speculation or the rich due to their massive tax fraud or the Germans due to their government demanding strict adherence to austerity policies are all obscuring the issue at hand, despite the fact that speculation, tax fraud and German politics are very real whereas welfare-queens and jewish conspiracy are not.
When Greece is persecuting and publically shaming rich tax offenders it will endanger the survival of capitalism as little as it will, when it raids camps of illegalized immigrants and begins mass deportations. However, if it watched idly as the hungry masses take their food from the supermarkets without paying, that would be quite another story. The success of Golden Dawn can be explained as much with it servicing all the ressentiment and all the easy explanations in search of someone guilty for a problem that is in fact created by an apersonal and blind "machine" of public markets, as it can be explained with the fact that they are willing to do all the jobs the police can't. Half of the Greek police voted for the Neo-fascists of Golden Dawn, according to some estimates, and there is more than one Greek citizen saying that, when he or she asked the police for help, they were referred to Golden Dawn. When I say that the government enlists the help of the fascists to sweep the streets, do not misunderstand this as orders from the top brass, the politicians whose faces we see in the newspapers or on TV. It's those who actually have to deal with the everyday problems, the police officers and the beuraucrats, who are amongst the first to enlist the help of professional political thugs.
The anticapitalist left is facing troublesome problems in such times. Many of its positions, many of its rhetorics and many beliefs of their public speakers lend themselves handily to the neofascist rhetorics. They may not share the racism of Golden Dawn, but often times, they are as much in search of some actual group of persons to blame that they fail to criticise capitalism itself. But if they don't criticise the idea that "just the banks" are responsible for the crisis, or just Germany's self-righteous demands, they will seem like the weaker, the less radical and the less consequential answer to the issues of the people. It may only be a small step from the idea that a bunch of scrupelous bankers brought the crisis upon us to the idea that a bunch of scrupelous jews did it, but it will seem that the left does not dare to speak it out due to the shackles of political correctness. And if Greece is assaulted by German imperialism, die-hard Nationalists will seem better suited to defend it than the Anarchists, who want the Greek nation abolished. On top of this all, the idea that bankers, or German politicans, or immigrants or jews caused all the trouble has at its core the idea that capitalism was working just well for the Greek people, unless some outside force disturbed the natural order of things.
But the crisis is a consequence of capitalism itself, of its inability to grow beyond this point. Material wealth may reach historically unknown dimensions, but when less and less work is needed to produce it, a society that has put money and trade at the center of human interaction will face a dilemma: who is to buy all these goods? It's not like this simple question could cause capitalism to rethink itself. Its elites will instead administrate the poverty, the loss and the shortage - with all means available. If you ever asked yourself why the Greek state is raiding squatted houses in Athens, arresting hundreds in the process, or engaging in massive deportation campaigns against illegalized immigrants, but at the same time not only seems oblivious to Golden Dawn, but actively supports its attempts to root itself in Greek society: this is the core of it. Golden Dawn does not threaten capitalism, but it provides much needed raw force to deal with those who do.
Society desires a certain kind of evil: the stranger, the outsider, coming in the dark from somewhere far beyond our cozy, clean and suburban neighbourhoods. The fact that said society itself is tainted to the core by all the things it perceives as moral vice - greed is necessary to survive against competition on the market; violence is an everyday occurence to enforce the compliance of the poor, the women, the socially deviant or those who happen to live on top of the ressources we consume - it doesn't mean that bourgeoise society may accept the sinner as children of their own. To the contrary, it creates a pressing psychological need to perform an excorcism on those who have drawn public attention for their crimes, to find something that excludes these people from the sacred church of suburbia and makes them different from us.
The gunman of Newton, who killed his mother, then drove to the school where she was a teacher and proceeded to kill another 26 people, including 20 elementary school children before finally committing suicide - he's a perfect example. His murders will probably maintain a shred of mystery for us. All puzzle pieces taken together may paint the picture of a man who felt the need to take revenge on his parents and the community he grew up in, but it remains a distant crime, even more so than other school shootings, because many of the victims were so young. I don't believe myself able to explain these events. However, the list of explanations given by others, by journalists and politicians, philosophers and priests, is potentially endless. They all have in common that they tell us more about the people trying to explain the massacres, than those committing them.
An almost automatized explanation of the past, however, has seemingly vanished: "The video games did it." There is a subtle, psychological fear in that explanation, stemming from the technological revolution the introduction of modern computing brought to the economy. Many workplaces became obsolete as computers could do the same job faster and more efficient than humans. It may sound like a long shot from the fear of being "rationalized" to blaming video games for massacres, but there is a subconscious connection: the fear that computers take over our life, that, even where they don't replace us, they at least take control of our lifes. Movies like Terminator or later Matrix where symptomatic for that era. And if computers can take our jobs, surely they can as well command our children to kill?
That era is over and with it vanished the popularity of that explanation. Computers are part of our lives now, part of our daily lifes. The basement dwelling nerds of the 90s have grown up to become parents of their own and they wouldn't dare to blame something they grew up with and which caused seemingly no harm to themselves. Moreso, the rationalization of our own lifes has proceeded to a point where we have begun to accept and internalize all the new hardships which mobile phones and home computers have made possible. We are available to our bosses 24 hours a day, we share all our steps through social networking, we optimize our bodies and minds for capital accumulation - and we download the apps that structure our life for capitalism voluntarily.
The occasional, irrational killing spree remained and so did the need to explain it - somehow. If the shooter is black or brown or yellow - or in some other way a foreigner, the explanation is easy. We won't speak it out openly, western society believes itself above racism, after all. But the ethnicity of the shooter will be hinted on, with a varying degree of subtlety. And society will be content with the assurance: he was different, he wasn't one of us. The Virginia Tech massacre was one such case. Cho Seung-hui didn't just sound foreign, he wasn't even an US-citizen. However, the recent Newton shooter, Adam Lanza, he was white, he was one of us, the child of one of the teachers and a child from the community he committed the massacre in. This has caused some truly spectacular explanations to emerge, of which the insistence that he had Aspergers syndrome is the most glaringly unjustified.
It doesn't matter of that was true or not: Aspergers does not make you any more likely to take your mothers gun and shoot her and her pupils. Children with Aspergers syndrome aren't ticking time bombs with a tendency to violence. They are different, however, and that is the key to understanding this explanation: it makes Adam Lanza "not one of us". We don't have to face our society's very own demons, we don't have to deal with the fact that it was his mother who taught him how to shoot and whose guns Adam Lanza used. We don't have to deal with the question whether or not, perhaps, something caused his anger which we could understand or that maybe we find that he had issues the people around him consistently ignored, just the same way we ignore the wrongs that occur around us still. No, "Aspergers did it" sounds so much easier, even though people with Aspergers tend to follow the law more strictly than others because they tend to view issues in simpler schematics, more "black and white". We don't have Aspergers, that's what counts.
The victims of this public scare, of course, are the children who actually do have Aspergers syndrome and who are now stigmatized wrongfully as "potential massmurderers".
If, however, you don't want to blame Aspergers for the shooting, the world offers you a vide array of scapegoats to choose from instead. How about the German journalist Walter Hollstein, who blames feminism for school shootings? According to him, schools drown young men in "feminine morals" without allowing room for their masculinity and this "broken masculinity", Hollstein claims, provokes those excessive killings. I don't feel the need to dig any deeper into this pile of anti-feminine gibberish. It should be glaring obvious that this neither makes any sense, nor is applicable to any of the school massacres the world had to witness. What makes this explanation more perfidious -and worth noting at this point - is that this goes beyond the need to exorcise the culprit from our communities. He is taken back in, instead, only to redefine the boundries and limits of what's "normal and accepted" in favour of a traditional (you may say: reactionary) image of masculinity and femininity.
There is little room below that in terms of depravity, but someones got to fill that remaining gap: Iranian journalist Ali Haj Mohammadi gets straight to the point on the state-run website qodsna.com and blames the jews. In fact, he claims, Adam Lanza was a jew, suffering from a mental disease common amongst western jews. Aspergers Syndrom drives jews to not only kill children of an elementary school, but also to oppress the people of Palestine. This is worse than Hollstein, because "normal and acceptable" is no longer associated with behaviour and morals, but with ethnicity.