This statement by the Phoenix Class War Council has to be one of the best articles I've read on this so far. I think a lot of people will enjoy it even if they poo-poo the source.
Dreams of Power and Flying: Jared Lee Loughner and the Columbinization of Political Assassination
By now everyone has seen the picture. Smiling -- beaming, even -- and wide-eyed in the first photo taken of him by Pima County Sheriffs Department, Jared Lee Loughner defies what everyone wanted him to be. One hesitates to speak too soon, given that more information surely will come out. But all the evidence so far suggests that, rather than a tea bagger nutcase Nazi, Loughner might just be yet another in an increasingly long line of run of the mill psychopaths that each have taken their fifteen minutes of fame in a blaze of bloody, homicidal glory. The kind of psychopath we're getting increasingly familiar with in the US. Since news of the shooting first broke, the country has struggled to overcome its assumptions about the man alleged to have attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords and to have murdered and wounded nearly twenty others in what surely will mark one of the worst tragedies in recent Arizona history.
Friends said he like to shock with his politics, perhaps explaining his book list which, other than Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto, looked like a typical reading list for high school English. Some people forget, Arizona is a hardcore libertarian state -- anti-government is the default position for a large portion of the population. Going after a politician in that respect doesn't necessarily mean it fits into some grand narrative about immigration or health care. Indeed, there is little indication that Loughner is a racist beyond what is standard for Arizona these days.
During those first few hours, the sense that the left hoped he was a Tea Partier was palpable. Self-righteous speeches were at the ready and fingers were warming up for enthusiastic wagging. Cathartic choruses of "I told you so" seemed about to break out at any moment. When now, as it seems more and more likely, it turns out he was just another madman in a country that seems to have made madness its chief commodity, just more wreckage from a collapsing society, you can feel the disappointment in the air.
There will be political haymaking, as there always is, once things have calmed down a bit, but Loughner's apparent insanity rather than political drive seems to have given most everyone some pause for now. More facts may emerge, but as of now, the shooting appears to be Arizona's Virginia Tech massacre, with Loughner playing the part of Seung-Hui Cho rather than Booth to Lincoln.
An escapist in fact, seeking solace in "lucid dreaming", and having given up on finding any meaning in this world, Loughner kept a dream journal of his late night experiments. Like the electronic palaces conjured in ephemeral online games like Second Life, or the fake farms of Farmville, in dreams Loughner felt like he had the kind of power he could never have in real life. It's reported by one of his friends that in his dreams, Loughner claimed he could take control and fly. He spent more and more time sleeping, they say. And he lost touch with them.
Alienation seems almost an understatement when describing Loughner. Living at home in a working class Tucson suburban neighborhood, rejected by the military, unable to maintain himself at school, slipping further away from friends, raised as an only child by reclusive, private parents, at one point he posted to the abyss of Myspace: "[W]hy doesn't anyone talk to me?"
What we see when we look at Loughner and at the repulsive and bloody massacre he wrought in that Safeway is the Columbinization of political assassination. ****ing shoot everyone, essentially. The politician, the judge, the marshal, the old lady, the nine year-old girl who, in true made for movie fashion, was born on September 11th, 2001 and herself had just been elected to the student council at her school. An extreme expression of total alienation. Like Dennis Klebold and Eric Harris, living in the shadow of a missile factory, everyone asks why but then, quietly, nods in understanding. It's not irony.
And in a way, how can it be a surprise either? Mass murder is more and more a fact of life in post-industrial America, and Arizona, too. Last August a jilted father busted into a birthday party and shot six people, including the mother of his kids and her new boyfriend, before absconding to California with the children. He killed himself in his car. Did Loughner plan a similar self-immolation, had he not been interrupted in his task? The leaving of a note claiming responsibility, if true, certainly suggests it.
Generally lacking class consciousness despite daily enduring Capital's withering, unending attacks, alienated from the traditional, now bankrupt mechanisms of class struggle like unions, with families ripped apart by a capitalism that needs dispersed production, and surrounded by the cheap but high definition facsimile of everyday living that is spectacular life in the 21st century United States, the answer more and more seems to be: explode! It doesn't need politics. Goodbye already to "Yes We Can!", increasingly the slogan of late-era life in the US is less inspirational poster and more Samuel Jackson's "When you absolutely, positively got to kill every mother****er in the room." One remarkable fact about the massacre was the equal opportunity of it. Everyone got it. He didn't seem to single out people by race or gender. The political chattering class was befuddled.
Interviewed in Mother Jones magazine, a friend of Loughner's, Bryce Tierney, had this to say about why Loughner did what he did: "I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what's happening. He wants all of that. He ****s things up to **** **** up, there's no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn. He probably wanted to take everyone out of their monotonous lives: 'Another Saturday, going to go get groceries'—to take people out of these norms that he thought society had trapped us in."
But what's interesting about spectacular violence like Loughner's killing spree is how it highlights the lack of outrage expressed by people about the daily violence that exists in Arizona. Like the off white walls in a rented apartment, or elevator music on the way to the office, we don't really notice it most of the time. This despite all the teary-eyed consternation about overheated political rhetoric and polarization. While everyone searched for a hint of Glenn Beck on Loughner's TiVo or an Alex Jones bookmark on his browser, the banal crunch that is, for instance, the police state's bone-breaking weight on the increasingly precarious migrant population fades into the background.
In late December, just about two weeks before the supermarket bloodbath, three young migrants were found dead floating in a canal near Gila Bend. A sheriff had stopped their vehicle and, lacking papers, everyone fled to a nearby canal to hide, where three drowned. Then, earlier in the week of Loughner's rampage, a boy was shot and killed by the border patrol when he climbed over the fence into the US. The border police said he and his friends had been throwing rocks. Border patrol denied the shooting at first, but coroners officials in Nogales said they knew a bullet wound when they saw one.