"It is reality that awakens possibilities, and nothing would be more perverse than to deny it. Even so, it will always be the same possibilities, either in sum or on the average, that go on repeating themselves until a man comes along who does not value the actuality over the idea. It is he who first gives the new possibilities their meaning, their directions, and he awakens them."
- Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is done with you."
- David Foster Wallace
You shouldn’t have to do pre-requisite reading about Marxism to understand Jacobin. We try to avoid language like “world historic” or “inexorable contradictions”—clichés that only make sense to people in the know. The Economist doesn’t require you to read The Wealth of Nations to get their articles. Marxism today has become this super-academic hobby that has lost its political urgency and intellectual ability to clearly communicate information about the present and change it.
I would very much prefer to be in a conversation with The Nation than The Baffler and not just because of size. I’d rather engage with the mass mainstream of U.S. liberalism. That’s the future of any left: people who identify as liberals, some of whom would be attracted to a structural critique of capitalism, especially if it offers a coherent, sane intellectual vision that’s both radical and pragmatic at the same time.
On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. It was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history.
Twelve days later, Australia’s government did something remarkable. Led by newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard, it announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. A decade and a half hence, the results of these policy changes are clear: They worked really, really well.
At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.
What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.
There have been some contrarian studies about the decrease in gun violence in Australia, including a 2006 paper that argued the decline in gun-related homicides after Port Arthur was simply a continuation of trends already under way. But that paper’s methodology has been discredited, which is not surprising when you consider that its authors were affiliated with pro-gun groups. Other reports from gun advocates have similarly cherry-picked anecdotal evidence or presented outright fabrications in attempting to make the case that Australia’s more-restrictive laws didn’t work. Those are effectively refuted by findings from peer-reviewed papers, which note that the rate of decrease in gun-related deaths more than doubled following the gun buyback, and that states with the highest buyback rates showed the steepest declines. A 2011 Harvard summary of the research concluded that, at the time the laws were passed in 1996, “it would have been difficult to imagine more compelling future evidence of a beneficial effect.”
Read the rest here:
“This isn’t a deposition, sir,” he hissed. “I was polite enough to give you time, foolishly I now see. Give it your best shot.”
Again, there’s just nothing like karma. If your answer to a perfectly sensible question is going to be, “Screw you, this isn’t a deposition,” exactly how long do you think it’ll be before you end up actually getting deposed? And forced to answer, under oath, just how much your opinions cost?
A couple of years, as it turns out.
So you might ask, what’s the appropriate financial penalty for a bank in HSBC’s position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we’re talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you’re the prosecutor, you’ve got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?
How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they’ve ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby’s auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don’t think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Sound harsh? It does, doesn’t it? The only problem is, that’s exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases.