Mass Shootings Occur in Contemporary USA Because It is a Rich Third-World Country
Regular readers of my previous blog would be aware that I had written numerous posts on the causes of mass shootings in USA as well as the futility of gun control in this country. While I will repost those articles here in the near future, we keep coming back to the same question- Why are mass shootings and similar incidents of random gun-related violence so common in USA but almost unheard of in other first-world countries? Why is the USA so.. exceptional?
The headline of this post provides a very brief answer. Also, I am not the first to make a connection between changing socio-economic conditions in this country and mass shootings. Over a decade ago, Mark Ames wrote a book on that topic. In it, he makes the case that social atomization and widespread alienation in combination with extreme capitalism, an inadequate social safety net and a social system which takes pride in crapping on its arbitrarily chosen "losers" are the perfect conditions for creating spree killers with nothing left to lose.
One of my posts on the older blog had put forth the idea that post-1980 USA is much closer to a third-world country than most "serious people" are willing to acknowledge. In the remainder of this post, I will show you how USA is a third-world country, in all but name, for its median citizens. But before that, let us briefly talk about what I mean by terms like 'first-world country' and 'third-world country'. While some believe that those labels somehow correlate with median skin color of people residing in those countries, the reality is rather different.
First world countries are defined by the quality of life of by their median residents, as are third world countries. For example- Japan, South Korea, France, Germany etc are seen as first world countries because of high quality of life for their median residents. Living in such countries is characterized by things such as good universal healthcare, fairly stable and well-paying jobs for the majority, fairly good formal and informal social safety nets and an overall lack of extremely poor and desperate people. In other words, life for the median resident in these countries is very good and even the less fortunate in those places are doing better than treading water.
Now contrast this to the quality of life in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, India and yes.. USA. While those countries have no shortage of billionaires and rich people with fabulous lifestyles- things are pretty shitty for their median residents. Most people in these countries have precarious jobs and livelihoods which often do not pay enough for the ever-increasing costs of sub-standard housing, healthcare and education. The government in these countries work solely for benefit of the rich minority and does not provide adequate social goods such as healthcare, education, housing, sanitation let alone a usable social safety net.
Then there is the issue of state-sponsored repression and murder of its residents. First world countries tend to have very low rates of incarceration, favor restorative justice over the revenge-based versions and are not usually full of militarized police who go about robbing, raping and shooting the very people they are supposed to protect. In contrast to this, third-world countries often have high rates of incarceration (for non-rich people), a justice system that is basically useless to average people and cops who act as if they are the law. Channeling money from everyone else to a few rich people is the main function of legal systems in third-world countries.
But what does any of this have to with the relatively high frequency of mass shootings in USA? And how is it connected to the failure of attempts at gun control in USA.
Let us compare rates of homicide by guns in USA versus other countries. If you follow this link, and go to the column titled 'Homicides' you will notice that almost all first-world countries have much lower rates (below 1 per 100,000 persons/ year) of these incidents compared to USA (almost 4 per 100,000/ year). Some of you might see this as an argument for gun control. But wait.. have a look at the rates of homicide by guns for Mexico (6-7 per 100,000/ year) and Brazil (20 per 100,000/ year). I should remind you that both of these countries have far stricter regulations for gun ownership than USA, and yet.. both have very high of rates of gun-related homicides. But why?
Why do tough gun control laws in first-world countries correlate with very low rates of gun-related homicides but have basically no effect in third-world countries? Also where do people in those countries get their guns from? The answer to first question is linked to understanding why anybody would kill someone else, in the first place. The vast majority of people with stable, comfortable and secure lives have too much invested in maintaining the status quo to go around killing other people. People living very precarious lives with little to no hope for a better future, on the other hand, have nothing to lose by breaking the rules.
Now apply that concept to attempts at gun control in USA. Do you really think that passing laws restricting scary-looking guns is going to change the overall downward trajectory for the average person in USA? Is it going to provide them with freedom from worrying about medical bills, housing costs, student loans etc? would those laws provide them with stable, well-paying jobs or livelihoods? Is it going to change how American social system treats its non-rich members? To summarize, creating socio-economic conditions similar to third-world countries will always results in replication of other less savory statistics from those countries.
And by the way, most privately owned guns found in those third-world countries were either "lost" from government arsenals or procured from some place half-way around the world. Are you so sure that something along those lines would not occur in USA in the aftermath of any attempts at gun control?
What do you think? Comments?