Expendable Lives

(“Of course, Socialism is violently denounced by the capitalist press and by all the brood of subsidized contributors to magazine literature, but this only confirms the view that the advance of Socialism is very properly recognized by the capitalist class as the one cloud upon the horizon which portends an end to the system in which they have waxed fat, insolent and despotic through the exploitation of their countless wage-working slaves.”—Eugene V. Debs, 1900)

Throughout its history, capitalism has depended upon expendable human lives for its existence.

So as the pending implosion of late-stage capitalism becomes more apparent each day through a myriad of glaring examples, horrific events like last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead will only become more frequent.

The shooting, of course, has stirred people’s grief and anger and led to sincere and compelling calls for gun-control action by youthful students personally impacted by it. Soon it will become clear once again, however, if it isn’t clear already, that any call for sensible action, such as banning assault weapons, will go unanswered by the corrupt politicians and political operatives mainly on the right end of the political spectrum. They are controlled by rich and powerful oligarchs, who deploy fear, divisiveness and violence to serve their own vested financial interests.

At some point, maybe in a week or two, this particular shooting will become old news for the corporate media and then degenerate once again into, say, useless Facebook memes on its annual anniversary, financially rewarding the billionaire and oligarch Mark Zuckerberg, the capitalistic creator of totalitarian algorithms. We’ll then move on to the next shooting and the next one until eventually mass shootings won’t even register in the American culture as something significant, even in passing conversation. We’re much closer to this point than most people want to concede.

There is no better example of how capitalism generates immediate profits off people’s death and misery than the breathless for-profit television media coverage—it’s about ratings, not the suffering—of a typical American mass shooting, but the deeper story is that mass shootings reveal how the country’s oligarchs need to constantly remind the masses of people that their lives are entirely meaningless in the full existential sense. This includes the brainwashed and conspiracy-believing gun extremists themselves, used as the crass fodder in all mass shootings as capitalism’s du jour instruments of divisiveness.

As the killing of school children by assault weapons at their schools now becomes the routine—in other words, human life under capitalism is obviously and irrevocably expendable—the oligarchs, with help from their surrogates at the National Rifle Association, will have achieved yet another important milestone in their cruel tyranny over the masses of people in this country and the world. Yet those who people who died at the school on Feb. 14 aren’t alone in the needless death toll.

Millions of Americans are denied health care access because they can’t afford it, which leads to needless premature deaths. Meanwhile, profits for health insurance companies soar.

The gun violence in our city’s streets on a daily basis kills far more people each year than those killed in mass shootings like the one in Parkland.

An opioid overdose crisis created by the rich owners of a greedy pharmaceutical company has killed tens of thousands throughout the country in recent years.

Let’s don’t forget the perpetual war in Afghanistan, as well as the drone bombings in Iraq and Pakistan, that have killed thousands of innocent civilians. Oligarchs make a lot of money investing in the construction of drones and bombs.

Famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen kills innocent people each day as the capitalistic system ignores the reality of and is incapable of responding to people’s suffering.

The list goes on and on, but the underlying reason for the carnage here and elsewhere is a worldwide capitalistic system that has created the corrupt billionaire and millionaire oligarchs that cling to its immorality with a death grip.

Imagine for a moment a world without billionaires and you can begin to imagine freedom and democracy.

After the Parkland shooting, Wayne LaPierre, the director of the NRA, talked about a wave of “socialism” that would demand what socialists and people on both the left and right see as sensible gun laws, such as banning assault weapons. People on the left should embrace, not run away from the word socialism as LaPierre uses it.

Yes, the ideas of socialism, establishing real equality for people’s safety, would absolutely prevent or vastly limit mass shootings with assault weapons in this country. Socialism would prevent millions of other premature deaths in this country through universal health care and increased wages so people could lead healthier lives. It would prevent the thousands of deaths of people who overdose on opiates each year mainly because of the greed of one immoral family taking advantage of our for-profit medical system. Socialism would mean a sensible U.S. foreign policy that would look for ways to eliminate borders, not create them, and by ending indiscriminate drone bombings. It would mean ending famine throughout the world with collective action among the world community.

The media pundits, of course, disparage the basic ideas of socialism as utopian and naive or demonize them through stereotypes and reductionism, at least for now, but many people who embrace socialism actually predict a dystopian future for humankind, one in which the capitalists destroy the planet through continued environmental degradation, or maybe we’ll all be obliterated by a nuclear war manufactured by the country’s defense industry.

Will human life survive?

Capitalism by its definition has no stopping point in its ever-increasing range of immorality and degenerency except its own destruction.

LaPierre has it clearly wrong on assault weapons and school shootings, and he has it clearly wrong on socialism as well. It’s capitalism that’s the opposite of freedom and democracy, not socialism, which is based on honoring human life and granting real equality to all people.

I truly hope there IS a wave of socialism in this country as LaPierre predicts. It’s the “one cloud upon the horizon” that can save us, as the American socialist Eugene V. Debs argued in 1900, from the immorality, corruption and exploitation of capitalism.

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