Virginia Tech: Laying The Blame


Virginia Tech: Laying The Blame


Karen Harper

22 Apr 2007

There will be a lot of blame dished out in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre. But one element will be missing and that is the system itself. Capitalism and the society it nurtures will remain unscathed in the big business press.

In the aftermath of another school shooting in the US, many will be asking why and some will be trying to lay blame. The shooter's parents will be blamed for how they raised him; the school will be blamed for how it dealt with his mental illness; and his schoolmates past and present will be blamed for how they teased and ostracized him. However, the blame will mostly not be laid where it appropriately belongs; on the head of capitalism and the social values that it has nourished.

No individual can be looked at out of context of the larger society, and this young man and what he became cannot be understood without first looking at the society he came from. Unfortunately, the "angry loner" type that has done these sorts of shootings in the past is not the product of an isolated genetic mutation that happens unpredictably and that cannot be prevented. Such people are a real product of their environment and the direct result of capitalism's impact on personal development and mental health.

This society promotes individuality, self-absorption, and competition over solidarity and collective struggle. Is it any surprise that some young people are so incapable of not only identifying with the group and its larger good, but also of even, in severe cases, forming any kind of meaningful relationship with another individual? These people after years of painful experiences can come to the conclusion that they are completely unloved and unlovable. Because we are social beings, this conclusion makes life difficult to continue.

Capitalism is daily bombarding our self-esteem; we are never good enough under capitalism. There is always some drug to make us happier, some surgery to make us thinner, some car or house or job that will make us more respected. The inevitable consequence of this pressure is that some people will consider themselves failures when they judge themselves up against the values of this society. In some cases this will only further increase some individual's isolation and anger.

This terrible brutal crime is an ugly, warped but nonetheless, direct product of big business'‚ value system. Capitalism will continuously attempt to encourage an obsession with money, fame and the worship of individualism. This in turn will inevitably be accompanied by what we saw at Virginia Tech this week. This will not be the last individual so void of solidarity as to massacre his classmates. The outpouring of empathy towards the victims of this crime is a sign of the enormous human and working class solidarity that exists in this society. The crime itself is a consequence of the corrupt and rotten values of those who are in control at the top.


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Karen Harper




Brent Jesiek


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Karen Harper, “Virginia Tech: Laying The Blame,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 14, 2024,