Is America by Nature a Violent Society?

Hence, the combination of three main factors – namely, the artificiality of the American social fabric as a result of a population that has been uprooted from their ancestral roots, the deprivation of basic rights such as the “Freedom of Assembly” on the part of a shadowy central government, and racism – all make America an inherently violent country and society, as Hannah Arendt argued. But interestingly, Arendt noted that the racism and violence in America are greater in the liberal north than in the rural south. Arendt wrote:

“In the North, where I think the problem is more acute than in the South, we deal with a group uprooted through recent migration and hence no less lawless than other immigrant groups in their initial stages. Their massive arrival in recent decades has hastened the disastrous disintegration of the big cities, to which they came at a time when the demand for unskilled labor rapidly was declining. We all know the consequences, and it is no secret that racist feeling among the urban population today is at an unprecedented high.”

And at the heart of the racism and violence in America is the paradox of “civil rights” and “de-segregation” without equality and integration. In explaining the wave of urban riots which took place in predominantly black neighborhoods in America’s major northern liberal cities in the 1960’s which coincidentally was a decade when some of the biggest breakthroughs were made by the famous African-American civil rights movement, Janet Abu Lughod noted: 

“Many white Americans reacted with shock and fear to this ‘inexplicable’ (to them) expression of pent-up anger. And since much of the destruction took place within predominantly black segregated neighborhoods, they asked not why African Americans were confined to ‘ghettoes’ but why ‘they’ were burning down their own communities.” 

The concentration of crime and violence in America’s major cities as a result of the paradox of “civil rights” and “desegregation” without equality and integration has in turn led to the “decentralization” and “fragmentation” of America’s major cities over the course of time. Cities are now surrounded by “suburbs” which in turn have expanded the social stratification of the urban areas. And as one scholar wrote:

“The modern city is losing its external and formal structure. Internally it is in a state of decay while the new community represented by the nation everywhere grows at its expense. The age of the city seems to be at an end.” 

Thus, liberal ideology – which is based on the “quantification” and “tokenism” of social progress – has actually led to the breakdown and disintegration of their main power bases, namely, the liberal northern cities. And while the liberal and petty bourgeoisie will inevitably deny the facts and realities, a sustained effort at educating and informing the liberal and petty bourgeoisie may make a difference over the long run. As Mao argued:

“It is inevitable that the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie will give expression to their own ideologies. It is inevitable that they will stubbornly assert themselves on political and ideological questions by every possible means. You cannot expect them to do otherwise. We should not use the method of suppression and prevent them from expressing themselves, but should allow them to do so and at the same time argue with them and direct appropriate criticism at them. Undoubtedly, we must criticize wrong ideas of every description. It certainly would not be right to refrain from criticism, look on while wrong ideas spread unchecked and allow them to dominate the field.”

Mao added:

“Mistakes must be criticized and poisonous weeds fought wherever they crop up. However, such criticism should not be dogmatic, and the metaphysical method should not be used, but instead the effort should be made to apply the dialectical method. What is needed is scientific analysis and convincing argument. Dogmatic criticism settles nothing. We are against poisonous weeds of whatever kind, but we must carefully distinguish between what is really a poisonous weed and what is really a fragrant flower. Together, with the masses of the people, we must learn to differentiate carefully between the two and use correct methods to fight the poisonous weeds.”

Thus, there is a method to the madness per se, which in turn is educational and pedagogical at the same time. 

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