First, the stage: a decadent teenage concert such as capitalism LOVES to produce. The goal: make tons of money for the rich people “owning” an industry (in this case the music industry) and a good-looking performer picked by lot. Do so by filling the heads of our young with shallow drivel and hedonistic obsessions. What could be better? You get the money funneled to the rich, as is always the goal (the one and only goal!) of capitalism; and – as a useful side-effect – you curtail the ability of people to shrug off their yoke by turning them into insipid dunderheads bent on consumption and kept from using their brains for anything else. (Note: please don’t confuse capitalism with a market economy. That’s apples and oranges!)
So, our entertainment industry has the ideal business model of killing two birds with a stone. But, wait, there is more!
Where does this terrorism come from? Is only that associated religion to blame, a monotheistic (and thus by nature hegemonic) religion with much built-in religious war and violence? Seems plausible at first sight. Only, why is Islamist terrorism a recent development in our history? Islam has been around for many centuries, after all — 14 centuries, to be exact!
What happened to Muslim lands in the most recent history to prompt this special brand of terrorism? Western colonialism, that’s what. And while the military occupation and “colonization” of the rest of the planet by powerful European nations was originally driven by a mercantilistic form of greed, it soon refined itself into a capitalist form, more efficient, more elegant, better able to hide from view or justify itself with false narratives under a meritocratic veneer — and able to continue its reign long after the age of colonialism had officially ended. The same capitalism which has created such outrageous wealth and income inequality back home in the US, has also ravaged countries world-wide. In places like the Middle East, it has done so with military bloodshed since the 1950’s when American oligarchs decided it was best for our oil barons and “defense” contractors to destabilize the Middle Eastern nations and, if possible, establish tyrannical puppet regimes in them. When modernity hit this region in such a fashion, is it any wonder that its people adopted a negative attitude towards the West and many sought refuge in their religious and cultural roots? Our own worrisome Christian fundamentalism may not be too different in itssource of being.
But there is still more. You see, I am no stranger to terrorism. I was subjected to it by the D.C. Sniper. I will never forget this time in my life. Every moment you spent outdoors, you could get shot. Leaving home or work to commute between them or go shopping for food was an act of risking your life. I imagined the sniper might decide some day to shoot us in our homes right through our windows. To this day, I can’t stand windows without blinds or curtains, especially at night. We felt like deer during open season. And I had fantasies of the sniper getting caught in the act by people in the streets and lynched in the most painful ways imaginable. I fantasized about him being castrated with a blowtorch and torn to pieces or publicly stoned to death. I still feel the same vindictive rage towards any terrorists like the one(s) from last night in Manchester. I wish things upon them that we can’t do in a modern society of law and due process. After all, what if people got hold of the wrong guy? I oppose death penalty and torture for that reason; but when you are treated like an animal, your life disavowed any right of existence, the dark side that exists in all of us rises to the top.
So, how would you feel if you had been born in a Muslim country, subjected to an atrociously brutal dictatorship, military invasions, or constant bombings in your home, hospitals, schools, weddings… all backed or performed by the United States of America and its various European Allies? How would you feel if American soldiers were shooting your people (or you, if you were unlucky) for sport and making trophy necklaces from their fingers? How would you feel if drone strikes became a daily occurrence, killing your friends and family or civilian neighbors indiscriminately by the hundreds or thousands each year? How would you feel about American soldiers gunning down reporters and civilian first responders with glee, and if people like you – utterly innocent of any violence – were picked up and whisked away into a prison on Cuba, there to be held indefinitely (and tortured) without trial? All that by a country which officially claims to be the beacon of democracy and western culture, a fighter for human rights and justice? And it’s treating you and everyone you care about like animals deserving of no life and human rights, hunting you down like game or vermin, and raining bombs from the skies for years without end, on good, honest men, women, children, and babies? Wouldn’t you possibly feel like I did about the Washington Sniper?
Remember, that wherever you go, human beings come in all shapes and sizes, physically and mentally. Some can catch themselves mentally when driven to the brink and realize that it’s not all Americans and all Europeans who are evil psychopaths on a rampage; but some will go over the brink… For some, it requires much less than I described.
So it is the same capitalism which hosted the Manchester concert, drawing in easily hooked children and teenagers, the same capitalism which profits from our massive military spending and bombing in the Middle East, the same capitalism which through monetary warping of our media and political process gave us Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and Trump (and other deplorables like Paul Ryan), that created Islamist terrorism.
Our capitalist establishment not only denies us healthcare when we need it after having paid premiums all our lives, it not only prices us out of health insurance when we have ever been sick before, it not only rigs our elections, it not only dashes our American dream. No, it also manufactures terrorism. (and I haven’t even started to talk about a terrorist event which so conveniently coincided with an ordering of our national air defense (NORAD) to stand down all day and which killed thousands by a structural failure of high-rise buildings never seen before or since… nor will I in this article (because too many Americans aren’t yet ready to handle this truth))
And wouldn’t you know it: our oh so non-establishment President Trump reacted to the Manchester attack by calling (Islamist) terrorists: “losers in life. ”Good job challenging them to do more, Trumpster! I heard you have investments in the cruise missiles manufacturer whose products you sent to bomb an airport in Syria. I guess, you know what you are doing. And, yes, they have felt as born losers for a long and painful time, with good reason. That’s why they are so furious and hold other’s lives as cheap as they feel that we hold theirs. It’s what happens when a few dominators victimize massive numbers of people without any holds barred. We are victims of the same oligarchs, only less brutally and obviously so.
But before we blame our oligarchs alone; what about us? How many of us have come to accept war as our national business model, as the accepted norm, just like the Romans did who ran a warring slave-holder state from which capitalism ultimately derives. How peacefully have we accepted decades of deteriorating democracy and an ever more rigged economy and bribed politicians? I have an appointment with my bathroom mirror. How about you?