McKenna set down her drink, a mix of seltzer, wine and vodka. “So what do you guys think about this new tax plan?”
“Ugh, it’s horrible,” said Maya. “Trump wants to stop state tax deductions so the states cut their social programs. Just another attempt to screw over minorities, women and the poor.”
“You know she’s right,” Ronnie lisped. “He’s just trying to hurt everyone who didn’t vote for him.”
The darkest member of the group, having a Nigerian father and Korean-Norwegian mother, McKayla spoke up last. “That man is a racist, and he was elected by racists,” she said. “Either we get rid of him, or he’s going to turn this country into Nazi Germany with the Klan enslaving all of us.”
Cucky McCuckerson listened in the background. At age 64, he had long given up on the possibility of real existential pleasure in life. He knew what life was: go to his job, at which he would never advance or be fired, then pay his bitch of an ex-wife alimony, call his ungrateful kids who were more interested in Tinder and Grindr than him, then go by Whole Foods for a few well-deserved treats, namely pre-prepared ethnic food and three bottles of mid-grade wine. This was his life, and it would never change. He had lost money on the sale of his previous house, paid most of the rest to the ex-wife and child support, and now was going to work until he died, or would have to retire early on $2500 a month and go do… what? No one at his job would care if he disappeared, and his social group would evaporate as soon as he did not at least have the cash to stand a few rounds at the bar. Already he felt weak inside, and perceived that everyone else in the group was the focus of attention while he sat in the background, nursing a drink and thinking about how he was just counting days until the end.
He would show them. A few machine guns, he could buy those in the barrio for half-price. Body armor and hall cameras? He saw a video on YouTube. He had no real interest in living, but he wanted to go out a hero.
One of the more exhaustive studies on terrorism shows us that people become terrorists for the same reason that they start doing drugs or buy unnecessary consumer goods: social status, or peer pressure, otherwise known as socialization pressure.
The pathway towards the participation in a suicide mission can be analyzed as the result of an accumulation of socialization processes that can be accounted for by classic social psychological mechanisms. This is congruent with the empirical evidence about how the process of joining a terrorist group usually is heavily influenced by the prevailing political and social environment shared by friends and relatives. Several studies conclude that becoming a terrorist is basically an issue of socialization (Fields, 1979; Silke, 2006). Radicalization and engagement in violent activities are facilitated by contacts and links with people who already have embraced an extremist ideology. Social interaction is the vehicle through which individuals receive the “reasons” that motivate and “justify” their desire to give up their lives to carry out a terrorist attack.
Like suicide bomber, a spree shooter like Stephen Paddock or James T. Hodgkinson knows that he is headed on a final one-way trip: if he is not killed during the event, he will most likely be executed for his crimes. Spree shooters at schools and nightclubs do not intend to survive; they want to kill and then die.
There is some evidence that suicide is inextricably linked to the desire to kill groups of others:
Why are some mass shooters more likely to kill themselves? If we go beyond the armchair psychology and diagnostic labels in the coverage of this horrific tragedy, the data from past rampage shootings (see also this paper and this) may partially reveal some motivations.
It’s about self-loathing and perceived injustice. And location matters.
Psychologists have long theorized that there’s a connection between rage against others and rage against the self.
When you combine the spree killer mentality with the justification afforded by ideology, you have something like the suicide bomber: someone who wants to die, and wants to take revenge on the world in the process, but is also socialized to the degree that he wants to commit his murder-suicide in such a way that his social group will applaud and for once, even posthumously, he will be “famous” in his group and the center of attention. He will no longer be a loser.
Add to that the effects of depression — such as that brought on by a dead-end career, alcoholism, failed marriages and other parts of the usual modern toxic stew of personal tragedy — and you have weaponized misery:
People with mental illnesses are influenced by their environments, Paul said, and can be vulnerable to extremist rhetoric.
“Certainly people who fit the pattern of having relatively low levels of social skills, often times being more withdrawn, are more likely to respond to extremist language on radio, television and that sort of thing,” Paul said. “If you look at the history of cult development, that’s very often where they get their recruits.”
The Left is brewing up the next generation of spree killers through two methods: violently binary rhetoric, and social events where people talk about politics more than anything else.
Leftist rhetoric tends to be binary because Leftism is not directly related to reality, but to how reality might be improved. Thus Leftism is an option, and people either say yes or do not, and everyone who says yes is an ally and by the converse, everyone who refuses to join the cult is an enemy.
We can blame the media, and surely they are one vehicle for this thinking, but they are not the cause of it. The cause is ideology itself, which tends to impose cult-like thinking.
Some aspects of the mind control methods of cults are inherent to Leftism when it occurs in a social setting (excerpted partially):
- Isolation of the person and manipulation of his or her environment.
- Control of information going in and out of the group environment.
- Separation and/or alienation from family and friends.
- Induced dissociation and other altered states by putting person in mild form of trance (through speaking in tongues, chanting, repeating affirmations, extended periods of meditation or prayer, lengthy denunciation sessions, long hours of lectures or study, public trials or group humiliation, about seat criticisms focusing on one individual, sexual abuse, torture, etc.)
- Degradation of the person’s sense of self, through confession, self-reporting, rebuking, criticism and self-criticism, humiliation, and so on, in individual or group sessions.
- Peer and leadership pressure, especially using powerful guilt mechanisms.
- Induced anxiety, fear, and confusion, with joy and certainty being offered through surrender to the group; instilling the belief that the person’s survival physical, emotional, spiritual depends on remaining with the group; also induced crises, so that the person must submit to symbolic (or real) acts of submission to the group via betrayal and renunciation of self, family, and previously held values.
- Extensive indoctrination sessions (through Bible lessons, political training, sales training, self-awareness lessons, lectures by leaders).
- Alternation of harshness and leniency in a context of necessary discipline.
The Leftist cult begins by isolating the person through creation of a social group. This social group then dominates the life of the person involved, and by its nature, occupies time when the person could socialize with others, while simultaneously demonizing all who do not belong to the group.
In this group, the induced disassociation through mind-numbing repetition of talking points, propaganda, studies, and cultural artifacts — including rock music, popular books, movies and rage-inducing articles — also amounts to information control, since the cult is hostile to sources which do not share its ideological bent, and so members cannot admit being exposed to those. Leftists will shun anyone who even pays attention to moderate-Right sources like Fox News.
Degradation of the person’s sense of self and peer pressure occur through both shaming to those who do not conform, and an inherent sense of guilt for being privileged enough to be an armchair Leftist. The rich rage against the rich, the white rage against the white, and the intellectuals rage against intellectuals; this achieves inculcated guilt which is only alleviated by “doing the right thing,” according to the cult at least.
Leftist writings and movies tend to induce anxiety through their apocalyptic outlook. Climate change, which causes a sense of futility and despair, has been especially useful.
Alternation of harshness and leniency is administered through social methods. Basic discipline is non-existent, but if someone crosses a line, they are punished with scorn, disparagement, impugning of their moral character, and social exclusion. For this reason, people in a Leftist social setting are always attention to what is de rigeuer and whatever the most recent no-no is, because whoever crosses that line will be destroyed, but at the same time, members are continually encouraged to cross lines in order to draw more attention to themselves and advance the narrative.
Since the social nature of the activity snowballs to the point where the members have no other social outlet, they quickly become dependent on the group for their self-esteem and guidance, which means they will have nothing if they offend the group. Total control has been imposed.
Cucky relaxed in his hotel room. Earlier he had purchased a bottle of Hillrock Solera, which he considered the best bourbon available on the market. For the past five years, he had denied himself any such extravagances, but now he sipped his second glass.
On the bed before him were ten rifles and thirty-five loaded magazines. He had purchased these, one a month, over the past year from a friend of the janitor at his job. At $500 apiece, they were draining his account, but soon he would not have to worry about that. Or anything. He thought of death like going into outer space: farther and farther from anything he knew, until he was in the total cold and blackness, with nothing to perceive, then getting sucked into a black hole and compressed into nothingness, even unaware of his thoughts as the bioelectric impulses were torn apart by the intense gravity. Painless forevermore. He liked that.
He had bought ammunition a box or two at a time, always on the way home from visiting his children in a nearby city where they lived with his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and now a girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s boyfriend. He thought they were all having sex, but his kids were old enough not to care, and besides, they were having plenty of sex themselves, when they were not strung out on Ritalin, Valium and Xanax. He was irrelevant to them: old, gross, sexless, weak, broke and tired.
But now he felt wonderful. The warmth stretched through his body as the whisky and anger spread. Tonight, he was top dog. He picked up the first weapon, took a deep breath, and opened fire through the closed window. He knew little about guns, but imagined himself aiming a garden hose strapped to a stick, and soon saw flashes as his bullets struck the metal gates around the crowd. He corrected, but then was out of bullets. The illegal fully automatic modification to these guns, AR-47s and AK-15s or something like that, made them shoot at the full 800 bullets per minute, so the little magazines ran out quickly. These, too, were bought from Juano at a reasonable twenty-five per.
He swigged more bourbon, letting it burn down his throat and fill him with a feeling like fire. Up came the next gun, and he began hosing down the idiots across the street again, delighting in watching them fall as they crushed each other in their panic. He moved the gun in little circles as he fired, and this time when he heard the ching! of an empty magazine, he gleefully seized up another and repeated. When all ten were fired, he went back to the first and inserted a new magazine, then began the process again, firing a thousand dollars of ammo in a stream of hot leaden hatred.
Down to his last magazine, he checked the camera feeds displayed on his laptop. Ah, yes, the pigs — cops were usually Republicans, he thought — were coming up the hall, clearing rooms. He was mostly out of bullets anyway, and the sweet sound of screams came to him from across the road. He knew he could not live on after this, live through a trial at least, and so it was time to exit stage right. He thought of the party that weekend that his social group would have, and how they would talk about him every minute, unable to take his deeds out of their thoughts. Good.
The first flash-bang went off in the hall. He had seen a YouTube video on those, too. Next step would be smoke grenades and then door breaching, followed by flash bangs again and a hail of bullets. Time for his grand exit. Time to liquefy this brain. He took one last sip of the bourbon, relishing how fine it was, like this his moment of triumph. Then, he put the tip of the gun in his mouth and rested his thumb on the trigger. I have all of the power now, he thought. I am God. I have made my mark. He tightened his grip and began the slow squeeze.
Thy will be done.