One out of four Americans has no one to talk to even in the worst emergencies. Most of those people are men. For deeply disconnected and resentful men, social norms can fade; angry shooting at random others becomes possible. This is an especially American phenomenon. In 2017 so far, we have had 152 mass shootings. No other developed nation has had anything remotely like that. Why? One reason is that all other developed nations have gun controls and none have an unchecked gun industry that relentlessly equates guns with manhood. Another reason is that other developed nations have powerful unions and political movements that direct people’s anger about the pain in their lives toward its social causes and especially the inequality and instability of capitalist systems. They connect people to change those social and economic conditions together.
For 150 years from 1820 to 1970, every generation of families led by white men did better economically than the generation before them. Even in the Great Depression of the 1930s prices fell faster than wages; employed men even then earned more than their predecessors. That historical process of improvement stopped in the 1970s. The belief in American exceptionalism did not stop with the changed reality. That left American white men with self-blame for their economic difficulties and the resulting psychic pains. Worse still, it left them with the idea that they could individually overcome their intolerable situations.
What we need in order to stop the carnage of mass shootings is a social movement that articulates a social analysis of America’s problems and is unafraid to put the capitalist system at the core of those problems. We also need a social movement committed to social changes that include going beyond the capitalist system. If people could join together, face that their lives are plundered in order for capitalists to increase profit, and face that gender stereotypes distort our shared humanity, then together we can change the conditions of despair, rage, and loneliness that generate mass shootings.