As the US election enters its last lap before the die is cast, there has been perhaps an uptick in gun violence over the past few months. As in all things, we have become used to the rising violence over time. Hence the new norm of escalating gun violence is being tolerated. In these future shockean times, our tolerance levels and values are adapting to new norms every year. This paradigm shift norm is equally applicable violence, guns menace, wars, climate change events, economic collapse…...
There are 300 mn guns in US owned by 100 mn people. The redneck gun lobby epitomised by NRA has strong lobbies and support running deep and wide. Inspite of vigorous efforts by Obama, the ultra conservative gun lobby has not yielded inspite of spiralling gun related incidents which are only compounding. Sad all Obama's efforts have come to naught.
Mass killings as defined by 4 or more killings per incident is on the rise in US. Last year at one point during a period of 336 days there were 353 mass killings. During 2015 there were 372 mass gun killings, ie an average of more than one per day!! Current year in 163 days 136 killings. Gun sales have risen from 7 mn in 2002 to 15 mn in 2013. There has been a spurt in sales of guns after each major killing like Sandyhook, etc. In fact there have been a few months with million plus gun sales.
Between 1968 and 2011, there were 1.4 mn firearm deaths in US as compared to 1.2 mn killed in conflict from the US war of independence till Iraq war. This is indeed chilling. US is the most advanced nation. Is this price a country has to pay for being the most advanced.
The cost of containing violence is mounting in all countries. In the most violent countries the cost was over 25% of GDP. The economic cost of all wars in 2015 was a staggering $ 13.6 trillion, ie 13.6% of global GDP in PPP terms. Wars are plaguing vast swathes of the globe....Syria, major portion of Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan........
Europe is beset by terror and rise in domestic violence. India too caught in the web of violence......Difficult choices before society. Increasing fundamentalist terror or police state. Mass gun shootings by sick individuals. Sickness of society is indeed all pervading.
During the 60s Ronald Laing had written a sociological epic "The Politics of the Family". One of the central premises of the book was that mental illnesses have their origin in the violence perpetrated by family members. Hence in a sense all violence starts within the family. This violence is encouraged in schools through competition for ranks and derision of weak students and those withdrawn, introverted....
This trend continues as children grow older through college and into adult working life. Workplace competitive violence continues as employees and colleagues vie for higher positions. Most workplaces are cesspools of politics where only the scheming and ambitious survive. The capitalistic framework is a chief promoter of violence. Hyper competition is the highest level complete warfare and violence. This has desensitised society. Everything is converted in the fine art of war....industrial conglomerates out to kill all in order to reach the top and capture market share snuffing out competition. The MBAs are the generals in this war.
Even war and armaments are a large industry. In US alone 100 MN guns are sold every year, apart from Organised war is indeed a very profitable war. Hence US the great global hegemon has since the Second World War been fighting wars almost continuously starting with Korea. The 60s hippie generation revolution which espoused peace was squashed. Dissent to the massive military has been systematically stymied.
All this violence has been faithfully reproduced and packaged by Hollywood and shown all over the world, and in turn tv has glorified this genre through serials. Rest of the world which has so successfully been americanised has spawned this celluloid culture rampantly. This also has contributed in no mean way to the rise of violence.
Two other forces which have also been responsible for violence are economic insecurity arising from mounting unemployment and the deepening and widening inequalities across the world. Unemployment is a scourge which is present in virtually all societies. With technology spreading its tentacles and displacing humans this phenomena is all the more spreading. Inequalities due to concentration of wealth in the hands of a few has impoverished majority of society in most economies. Poverty has been a prime catalyst for violence.
At a global level too inequalities between nations has been rising. This has been exacerbated by climate change. Hence it has fuelled epic migrations over the past few years from Africa, war torn Syria, Iraq, etc....this has also triggered off spurt in radical Islamic terror. This terror nor has been exported to richer parts of Europe and US through refugees.
Gradually digital surveillance becoming all pervading. Which normally should be a deterrent to violence. Instead now newer forms of violence have emerged to counter surveillance through cyber attacks on information grids which run our cities and lives. Next robot terrorists and remote mass killings will raise their ugly heads. Indeed Frankensteins everywhere. No place is safe and run.