Tyranny is a habit which may be developed until at last it becomes a disease. I declare that the noblest nature can become so hardened and bestial that nothing distinguishes it from that of a wild animal. Blood and power intoxicate; they help to develop callousness and debauchery. The mind then becomes capable of the most abnormal cruelty, which it regards pleasure; the man and the citizen are swallowed up in the tyrant; and the return to human dignity, repentance, moral resurrection, becomes almost impossible.
–Fyodor Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead
The recent school shooting incident in Uvalde, Texas has once again ignited the gun control debate in America. Those on the Left, on the one hand, believe that such tragedies can be prevented by stricter gun control laws while conservatives believe otherwise. What both sides have woefully overlooked is that the state’s ultra-violent method of solving problems has an overwhelmingly negative influence on those governed.
What place does the government occupy for the governed, especially in terms of getting an actual person to do something for the supposed greater good? The government is not only the provider of law but it is also a major influencer on the masses from its position on the pulpit. The government is an entity beyond immediate reach; this makes it, in anthropological terms, an external mediator. When an external mediator arises, people are bound to imitate its actions without holding it accountable.
The government and its media apparatus, in their effort to control opinions, for example, continue to send a message to society that coercion and violence solve problems. When the state saw a problem in whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange leaking their classified materials, the state began actively persecuting and hunting down both individuals. Assange is now languishing in a British prison, awaiting extradition to the United States, while Snowden is in hiding in Russia. What message is the government conveying with these actions?
During the pandemic, the government saw fit to decree dubious medicines and enforce draconian lockdowns on millions of people, thus affecting their ability to work for a living and lead healthy social lives. As a result of these lockdowns, depression, domestic abuse, and physical health issues rose to astronomical levels. Doctors who spoke out on these issues were vilified and silenced by corporate monopolies with help from the state. When the government effectively turns an entire nation into a vast prison, what message is it conveying to the masses?
When the government sends troops abroad or sends billions of dollars worth of weapons to foreign nations in the hope of escalating wars, what message is it conveying? People like Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who are looking to capitalize on the Texas tragedy, are the same people who have promoted gun violence abroad and in the process murdered thousands of people in places like Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq. These people have also armed murderous neo-Nazi organizations like the Azov battalion in Ukraine–the very same Azov that has terrorized the Russian-speaking residents of the Dombass region since 2014.
Dehumanization, invasion, and violence: these are the signals that the American government sends out each and every day with its policies. On May 24, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos walked into Robb Elementary School with a weapon; he effectively dehumanized, invaded, and shot 22 human beings. What lesson is to be learned from this incident? Several opinions are floating around on the internet, each claiming to know the root cause of this murderous atrocity. While there is value in each of these opinions, we must consider one more that may help us grasp the big picture in its entirety. When the nanny does nothing but exemplifies violence, in full view of the child, do not expect that child to grow up to become a noble person.