A bit of the old ultra-violence, eh? Well, America has suffered yet another mass-shooter event, although such events are so regular in the country as to be almost unremarkable—it will be quickly forgotten, or subsumed by grosser events. Obviously, the American debate over the issue—the false dichotomy, the non-debate—has no connection to reality: gun control or gun rights—bleah. In Switzerland, firearms are thick on the ground—and yet there is little, if any, violence. In Yemen, firearms are thick on the ground; and, yes, there is violence, but “rational violence”—good old-fashioned blood feuds and tribal quarrels to settle; and the same could be said about Mexico and her drug gangs. What does not exist, despite the general gun violence, is the peculiar tendency to shoot up schools, cinemas, and churches found in America—even a hardened Yemeni gunman would be puzzled by this tendency. “Not from another tribe? What is this, the work of Shaytan?”
I raise A Clockwork Orange—oh my droogs, verily I could barely believe my eyesy wiseys when I beheld that illumined volume—because Anthony Burgess’s novel is very relevant as regards American gun violence. What country did Burgess base his novel on? No, not on the American ghettos—not even on British punks and their oi! scene; no, Burgess based his novel on the Soviet Union. This may surprise you, for there is a general impression that the USSR ran a tight ship—economic dysfunction notwithstanding—so that conservatives, such as Enoch Powell, would still see in the USSR discipline and “standards” in schools and among the youth.
It was not so, for when Burgess visited the USSR what struck him most was the feral youth gangs that haunted the streets—indeed, the very slang word “droog” from A Clockwork Orange is just Russian for “friend” (“drog” or “drug”, as the transliteration takes you); if you want to appreciate this world, I refer thee to Eduard Limonov’s Memoirs of a Russian Punk.
What struck Burgess was the nihilism and pointless violence that thrived in these Russian street gangs. What Burgess witnessed was, of course, the outcome from socialism and atheism: the Soviets destroyed the family and religion as throughly as the West has done since the 1960s. Take youths that grow up with broken homes, step-parents on rotation, and with no transcendent aspect to their lives and you create the Soviet street gang—you also create the American mass-shooter, for what is the mass-shooter event if not “a bit of the old ultra-violence” as depicted in A Clockwork Orange?
And, as with the novel, the street gang member is treated through operant conditioning—in the 1970s, films on rotation combined with averse “feels”; today, CBT and drugs—in order to make him “functional” (i.e. an obedient anonymous work unit, drugged on Netflix and cannabis—aka “normal” or with “good mental health”). Viddy well, it is precisely when the managerial state reconditions young Alex with aversion therapy—violent and pornographic films interspersed with negative sensations—that it destroys his ability to appreciate the transcendent; afterwards, he cannot listen to “the old Ludwig van” without a sicky-wick sensation right in his innards. It does trouble me Gulliver, something awful.
They like to shoot up schools, you notice. Why? The schools are sickness. The Soviet secondary education system was based on…the American high school. The British comprehensive, the much-derided “local comp”, was based on…the American high school. Could it be, dear reader, that these schools breed despair, nihilism, and hatred? (See: Mark Ames, Going Postal). These egalitarian, socialised institutions that, as many remark, look very much like prisons from the outside. It is all one with the same movement: socialism, standardisation, destruction of the transcendent. Add in the democratic sentiment that everyone should have a gun, rather than just responsible people, and the violent script writes itself. In short, the Yemeni tribesmen and the ayatollahs at their Friday prayers know the answer: America, the Great Shaytan—death to America!