The Las Vegas massacre is a peculiarly American crime, arising out of the social pathology of a deeply troubled society.
What is the social context of this latest episode of domestic mass killing? The United States has been at war more or less continuously for the past 27 years. The US government has treated tens of millions of people in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa as targets for extermination through bombs, bullets, and drone-fired missiles. These wars have penetrated deeply into American culture, celebrated endlessly in film, television, music and even sport.
Social relations within the United States, characterized by the growth of economic inequality on a scale that exceeds any previous era in American history, fuel a culture of indifference, and even outright contempt for human life.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up