The near-absolute cultural hegemony of the rich, through their control of the means of communication and education, allows the self-worshipping Lords of Capital to turn human language – which evolved to explicate phenomena and ideas – into its maddening opposite.
The rulers describe the vast dislocations and suffering of deindustrialization and financial meltdown as “creative destruction” – destructive of the livelihoods of those without capital, but engines of opportunity-creation for the big capitalists left standing.
They specialize in Shock Doctrine to exploit disasters at home, inflict Shock and Awe to facilitate aggressions abroad, and celebrate the destruction of whole economies and nations. They gloat over new opportunities for investments and profits before the blood has dried.
Thus, after more than a hundred thousand Blacks were permanently evicted from New Orleans following Katrina, a Democratic cabinet member could see a silver lining in the disaster, based on the imposition of charter schools – classic Shock Doctrine, resulting in near-instantaneous gentrification and school privatization.
The ongoing torture of Black Detroit, initiated by a Republican governor but facilitated by Barack Obama’s administration, does not violate the social compact as perceived by most White Americans; clearly, such a compact hardly exists.
And President Trump’s callous attitude towards his fellow citizens in Puerto Rico is totally expected; he and his constituency – and plenty of White Democrats – do not view the island and its people as part of their “America.”
The carnage in Las Vegas is, however, yet another example of the uniquely American – and characteristically White – propensity to engage in mass domestic murder: crowd killing. It is the ultimate anti-social crime, most often committed by White Americans against their “own” people.
It is true that mental illness is a given in such cases, but mentally disturbed people live in all countries. Yet no nation comes close to the U.S. in crowd killing. I submit that such mass slaughter is dramatic evidence of the extreme weakness of the social compact, even among White people in the United States.
No human bonds
Majorities of White Americans are deeply racist – as can be shown by various measures – but that does not mean they share an intense bond with other Whites. In a society that has historically denied the humanity of people of color, killing and enslaving them, and which has waged modern wars of annihilation against non-Whites around the world, solidarity with other human beings does not come naturally.
In a country where cutthroat capitalism is the national ethos, social compacts wither, or are stillborn. Such is the collateral damage that White America has suffered from its failure to fight White supremacy in its ranks; it has poisoned its own soul, creating monsters that turn on their “own.” (Of course, when the social compact is totally lacking, nobody is one of your “own.”)
White Americans also suffer much higher levels of incarceration than Whites in other developed nations. That, too, is collateral damage.
Mass Black incarceration was politically popular among White constituencies all across the nation. A police and penal state was created to imprison as many Black people as possible, but such an infernal machinery cannot help but ensnare millions of unintended White victims as well.
Lack of solidarity with Blacks and Browns created a prison trap for Whites. The extreme weakness of the White social compact with darker U.S. populations has spawned a cancer of non-solidarity among Whites, who have been encouraged to own arsenals to defend themselves against the “Other.”
But when the social compact is weak, everybody is the “Other”– and, therefore, a target.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. E-mail him at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.