How in the West and East, Mass Murderers are Bred (Elsevier, The Netherlands)
Is the world churning out more mass killers than usual? For Elsevier of the Netherlands, columnist Leon de Winter writes that Western societies, thanks to an odd combination of ‘extreme individualism’ and the growing capacity of people to live without human contact, are breeding a new type of mass murderer, able to nurture his madness in isolation. Meanwhile, an ancient form of killer is being resurrected in the East, bred as a tool by organizations intent on sending them to their deaths. And all this, oddly, at what is statistically the safest time to be alive in all of human history.
For Elsevier, Leon de Winter writes in part:
It is possible to live in complete isolation and stockpile weapons in secret. This was the case for James Holmes and for Anders Breivik as well. In Western societies one can survive, using abstract forms of government welfare and electronic resources, without meeting anyone in person.
One need not go out and harvest potatoes, pick strawberries, or work in the docks to earn money to provide a livelihood. You get benefits, paid straight into your bank account, and you need have no human bonds to survive.
We have reduced social controls as much as possible – even rightly – but this has an unpleasant impact on people who, for whatever reason, have become lonely and delusional. We cannot recognize and correct such people. They are intangible, invisible, because they elude our gaze and are able to avoid any form of human contact thanks to the structure of our modern societies.
“Didn’t his family notice anything?” we ask ourselves of these mentally ill people. No. If James avoided direct contact, or even remote contact via Facebook, e-mails or text messages, he could carry on expanding his madness unnoticed. These individuals are the extreme cases who, due to the extreme individualism of our society, have fallen through the cracks of the safety net. There aren’t many, but those that there are inflict immense pain and sorrow when they strike.
They are different from the religious zealot who caused such human devastation in Bulgaria. He was deliberately manipulated by an organized group. Whether you believe in the Joker or the expectation that 72 virgins await you in the afterlife – the delusions are similar. Only the people in the background differ.
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