The American Fetish

In the news this week, 12 citizens of the great state of Wisconsin decided that if a child points a gun at an adult, and said adult attempts to disarm the child, the child may shoot and kill this adult and this is totally fine. Beyond being merely acceptable, to some it is downright heroic.   In other news, a U.S. congressman photoshopped his face and the face of political rival Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) over an anime depicting him killing her.  Depicting violence through a child medium — the medium is the message here. Perhaps you may roll your eyes and think, sticks and stones… But, that is the point.  It is advocating and promoting violence against Congress and president Biden, but in a way that is masked in the allure of being harmless and playful. It should be noted that there was an uptick in violent political cartoons in the years leading up to the American civil war. But, notwithstanding his censure, Congressman Gosar will be rewarded by his party and not because they are tone-deaf and grossly unaware of how significant and dangerous this type of messaging is, but because they are very aware.  

So to fully digest this, it should be understood that if you are two-sheets from the wind and decide to piss on a bush, you can be arrested for indecent exposure and put on a sex registry that will forever stigmatize you as a child-sex-offender.  However, if you happen to be white and ever-so-conveniently remove an assault rifle from a gun-safe and this enables the gun to get into the hands of a white child and this child uses the gun to kill people, well you did nothing wrong. As long as the gun does not cross state lines — omg, heaven forbid.  

Also in the news, the so-called party of family-values is sending death threats to members of congress who voted in favor of a bill that makes the largest investment in child-care in US history.  This is the same party that has fixated on granting personhood to a fertilized egg. Why?  Do they really care about the autonomy of a barely-legal-organism? No, of course not.  The sole reason they take this position is so they can fling the accusation of baby-killer to the party that doesn’t eat babies.  

It may be inferred that there is some conflict or contradiction here between the messaging of defending children from harm and lifting children out of poverty and defending the rights to arm children. But, there is no conflict here.  As Walter Benjamin once waxed, capitalism is Lutheranism, minus the holy spirit.  And the religion of capitalism has learned from all its predecessors: always defend the symbolic sanctity of children and violence is an appropriate means for defending the church. And, in this regard, for the church of capitalism there is nothing greater than defending the sanctity of a child who violently defends the church. 

Maybe this is about race.  Maybe this is about gun-laws.  Maybe this is about how we interpret self-defense. Maybe this is about the jury selection process.  Maybe this is about the media’s fixation on sensationalism.  Maybe it is about all of that and much more. It is of no coincidence that the media went from fixating on the violence enacted on George Floyd, to the violence enacted on Jacob Blake, to the protesting-riots featuring the Proud Boys and Antifa clashing, to the violence enacted by Kyle Rittenhouse, to the trial of said violence, to the expectation of violent protests in response to said trial.  The thread to be weaved here is violence is how We The People uphold the church, and we fucking love it.  It is both our means of defending the church, and our most fetishized commodity that our church exports to the world over. Or, put another way, it is all about America’s fetish compulsion with violence.  Such that, there are probably more Americans willing to take arms against the federal government in a civil war, than there are Americans willing to pay extra taxes to fight climate change.  

So to put all this in simple terms: America fetishizes violence, America is a Theocracy that is governed by the church of capitalism and any and all violence is wholly permissible if it is in defense of the state church.  It is no coincidence that the reason police departments were formed in the first place was to defend the property of wealthy people from poor, and mostly black, people — nothing has changed here.  

But, what about Black Lives Matter or all the millennials who have become disgruntled with the church of capitalism — surely there is some progress?  The church of capitalism is very mature and just as Theodore Roosevelt learned that you can create national parks to quelch urges of a workers revolt, capitalism has learned to embrace its own negating forces, because eventually the system will compel them to turn their resistance into a commodity.  The church of capitalism will happily sell anti-capitalism.  

And in regard to the BLM movement: There is a fixed quantity of power in society and power in of itself is — as Foucault reminds us — both ubiquitous and amoral. However, in order for the church to maintain its position and consolidation of power, it must systematically remove power from people and/or entire nations.  Put another way, the fuel that feeds the church of capitalism is the exploitation and oppression of people of color domestically and developing nations in their entirety. 

The Greeks divided the concept of human life into two parts: your biological life (Zoe (the part of our life that we all share in common)) and your political life (Bios (the part of our life that is unique to each individual)).  We can suture this together by stating, the church of capitalism must reduce some people to bare life (Zoe) to maintain its own power. This is why it is Black Lives Matter and not Black Votes Matter, or Black Thriving Matters.  The struggle inherent in the messaging of BLM is only a struggle to maintain Zoe, and this is in the better interest of the church. I understand that if there is a boot on your throat, the immediate concern is the boot and not voting rights.  But that is why the state rewards people like Rittenhouse: he literally defends the church, qua car lot, and also figuratively defends the church by keeping the struggle as only a struggle for Zoe. 

I am not saying that the BLM organization does not advocate or work towards material progress in other ways besides the existential claims of their slogan — they mostly likely do.  I am saying the reason why the opposition is laser focused on the language and why they offer counter slogans like All Lives Matter and Blues Lives Matter is because they are trying to keep the argument about being a struggle for Zoe, a struggle for bare life. 

It is not just some coincidence that we celebrate our nation’s birthday with fireworks — simulating the soundtrack of war — or use a 21 gun salute as a form of honor. From the terrorism of the founding fathers, to genocide, to slave trade, to the backing of dictators and military coos, to economic imperialism, to police brutality.  Violence is the true currency of capitalism and this is the American fetish.