The Meaning of Newtown
On December 14, 2012 the nation and the world were shocked and horrified when a gunman armed with a military-style assault weapon invaded Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and gunned down 26 people, 20 of whom were six and seven year old children. This unspeakable act cries out for an answer: Why?
Newtown is not an isolated incident. The list grows longer: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Trayvon Martin, Congresswoman Giffords, 500 homicides in Chicago in 2012 alone. And now, Newtown. Many answers and solutions are being put forward – ban assault weapons, arm teachers, turn our schools into armed camps. None of these get at the root causes and solutions.
The other aspect of this situation – of causality – involves history. We have to ask why the culture of violence that is stalking America is far worse than in other industrialized countries. Violence in England, for example, is not at the level of the U.S. However, the reality is that the British slaughtered their way throughout India and Africa and have killed more people than the Americans have around the world. Yet the British police, in the main, don’t even carry guns. Why? Because the British did their violence somewhere else.
The Americans, on the other hand, did their violence at home – inside America.Thus we cannot separate what is happening today from America’s history of genocide against the Indians or the violence, killing and debasing of human life through slavery. The ruling class propagandists present today’s senseless killings as the work of “deranged or unbalanced individuals.” They carefully avoid discussion of history or environment. All the damage control in the world cannot obscure facts. As an African proverb states, “Tell me where you have been and I will tell you where you are going.”
The American empire was expanded across the globe, and today U.S. hegemony as the preeminent superpower on the globe is enforced with unequaled military might. Violence is an integral part of the national culture of America.
It is in this climate of violence in which a Sandy Hook can take place. However, that does not explain it away. We live in a different world today, a world in which the very foundations of society are being shaken. A new technology has introduced into the very way we produce things the ability to produce what society needs without human labor. In a society based on wage-labor, that is absolutely devastating. It is at the root of mass and growing joblessness, a massive and growing debt, and what impels us toward one “cliff” after another.
No wonder millions across the globe were so drawn to an ancient Mayan calendar to conclude dire predictions of the “end of the world.” In the midst of the social destruction we see taking place around us, if people don’t understand why this is happening and don’t see a way out, this condition of hopelessness is the context in which individual acts of desperation can occur, and a Newtown can happen. Without vision the people perish.
The reality is this is not the end of the world. These are revolutionary times, times in which humanity is striving toward reconstructing a society in which the problems we now face are fundamentally resolved. Humpty Dumpty is broken and cannot be fixed. What we can do is build a whole new world which fulfills human destiny, which lifts the human project to a higher level.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a path, there is hope and there is a role for every individual to play, not as an isolate, but as part of a great new class of dispossessed who represent the interests of all of humanity, and who, in these revolutionary times, hold the solutions in their grasp.
The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011