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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Nihilism

Now my internet has cut out, just a day after I coaxed my computer into operating well! I'll return to annoying readers on a daily basis soon -- but right now, I'm able to write only on an intermittent basis.

The most recent school shooting sent me into the same funk that seems to have hit everyone else. Quite a few simpletons have fixated on the shooter's Greek name, as though family heritage could provide an explanation for the inexplicable. Get real: There are no answers to be found if we head in that direction.

The truly frightening thing about these episodes is that they seem to result from a kind of nihilism, from an embrace of the void. Violence for the sake of violence; death for the sake of death. The act of mass murder has no meaning beyond itself.

Even the Jack the Ripper killings are easier to comprehend, if we accept the common theory that the Ripper attained a kind of sexual release from stabbing women. Sexual perversion does not explain what happened in that Texas school, just as it does not explain the earlier atrocity in Florida and does not explain a parade of cognate atrocities leading back to Columbine.

What, in this society, has caused this descent into nihilism?

I don't know, but my strong sense is that this same phenomenon lies at the root of Trumpism. How many Trumpists justified their support of that ludicrous man with the words "I just want someone to shake things up"? The desire was not for improvement but for sheer difference -- violent difference. Let's toss the game board and pieces across the room. Later, perhaps, we'll get around to replacing the game with something new -- and if the new game turns out to be a worse game, so be it. The only thing that matters is the catharsis of radical action.

Although Trump supporters will never make the admission, on some deep level they know that they have enabled a monster. They want the monster to ravage and to destroy. Violence for the sake of violence.

What brought our society to this point? How did we get here?

History teaches that an inchoate nihilism often arises as a precursor to fascism. Think of pre-Nazi Germany, of Peter Kurten and "Mack the Knife" and the film M. Something was happening. Nobody had a word for it then, and nobody has a word for it now.

Religious simpletons have offered the usual explanation for the most recent horror. In their eyes, it all comes down to Gawd, and society's perceived lack thereof. Their prescription: Go to Church, read your Bible, vote Republican. That's the only way to avoid school shootings and similar tragedies.

Of course, if that diagnosis were accurate, we would expect daily massacres in nations where atheism runs high -- nations such as France, China, Russia and the Scandinavian countries. Instead, the latest school shooting took place in Texas, one of the most fundamentalist-friendly states in our fraying union.

About that FBI informant. There is a difference between an informant and a spy. Example: If you tell the cops that a co-worker privately confessed to a crime, you are an informant but not a spy, certainly not in the sense of being a planted mole.

Greenwald, as is his Greenwaldian wont, has written a story designed to make the Trump attack line attractive to alleged "progressives." He identifies the informant as Stefan Halper, who played a shady role in the 1980 election (and other things). Halper is the son-in-law of the infamous CIA operative Ray Cline, and he infiltrated the Carter camp on behalf of former CIA director George Bush.

None of this is particularly helpful to the current writers of the GOP party line, since they view Reagan as a saint and Carter as a villain.

Here's the part -- well, one part -- that Greenwald won't tell you. Back in the 1980s, Halper's name came up in various stories about the notorious theft of Carter's briefing papers. That episode, I have argued, may have been engineered by Trump's pal Roger Stone.

It seems obvious now that the FBI and the entire national security apparat should have planted moles aplenty in Team Trump. Given the established fact that Carter Page was the target of FSB recruitment, given Trump's known ties to Russian (and non-Russian) mobsters, and given Manafort's ties to Putin's toady in Ukraine, it seems obvious that the FBI and the intelligence community should have eavesdropped on every communication the Trumpers had with...hell, with any foreigners.

Instead, the FBI, the IC and the Justice Department covered up for Trump on every occasion.

The Trumpers want us to forget that the Obama Justice Department was perfectly happy to discuss the Clinton email pseudoscandal in public, ad infinitum, while hiding the fact that an investigation of Team Trump was also underway. The so-called "deep state" was the Trump campaign's best friend. Without aid from that friend, Trump would not be in the White House.

We'll have much more to say about these matters soon. I hope.

PS: Would I have countenanced FBI information-gathering on a Democratic candidate? God yes. If Clinton or any other Dem had even half of Trump's ties to Russia, vigorous investigation would have been mandatory.
Comments:
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With school shootings, it's pretty obvious that there is a big copycat factor. Every school shooting covered in excruciating detail in our national media will lead to more school shootings. Potential shooters study the methods used in past incidents. One of the recent shooters admitted to wanting to top the national mortality record in his attempt.

If you don't give a kid the positive attention he craves, he'll settle for negative attention. If it was a national policy that the identities of shooters was blacklisted, things might be different. If it was accepted that the shooter's identity would forever be "the name which shall not be mentioned", and that mentally disturbed individual's life wasn't examined in excruciating detail on national news, then maybe there would be a decrease in copycat killings, because there would be no potential for infamy. But we'll never do that.
 
Anon makes a good point. I think our nation just produces (and creates) more psychopaths now, i.e. people incapable of experiencing empathy for others. These people are obviously more emboldened now, thanks to the psychopath in White House.
 
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