American Bloodlands

The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates.

By Chris Hedges and cross-posted from Consortium News.

The tinder that could soon ignite widespread violent conflagrations throughout the United States lies ominously stacked around us.

Millions of disenfranchised white Americans, who see no way out of their economic and social misery, struggling with an emotional void, are seething with rage against a corrupt ruling class and bankrupt liberal elite that presides over political stagnation and grotesque, mounting social inequality.

Millions more alienated young men and women, also locked out of the economy and with no realistic prospect for advancement or integration, gripped by the same emotional void, have harnessed their fury in the name of tearing down the governing structures and anti-fascism.

The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates. They stand poised to tear apart the United States, awash in military-grade weapons, unable to cope with the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, cursed with militarized police forces that function as internal armies of occupation and de facto allies of the neofascists.

The spark that usually sets such tinder ablaze is martyrdom. Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, was wearing a loaded Glock pistol in a holster and had bear spray and an expandable metal baton when he was shot dead on Aug. 29, allegedly by Michael Forest Reinoehl, a supporter of antifa, in the streets of Portland. A woman in the crowd can be heard shouting after the shooting: “I am not sad that a fucking fascist died tonight.” On Thursday, Reinoehl, allegedly armed with a handgun, was shot and killed by federal agents in Washington state.

Once people start being sacrificed for the cause, it takes little for demagogues of the radical left and the radical right to insist that self-preservation necessitates violence and is a prerequisite for victory.

Violence is a narcotic. It fills the emotional void. It imparts a feeling of God-like omnipotence to the powerless. It instills feelings of comradeship and belonging to the alienated. It gives to social outcasts, crippled by humiliation and rejection, a sense of meaning and higher purpose. It obliterates the despair that once defined their lives and replaces it with feelings of ecstatic self-importance and self-adulation, a state of being outside the self. The world suddenly becomes a Manichean battleground between them and us, the forces of dark and the forces of light 

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