No Country for Old Men and Raleigh
In Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country for Old Men, just before Anton Chigurh kills Wells, puts a bullet in his head, he says to Wells: “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”
Americans desperately want, even need to deny that the rule we followed has brought us to “Raleigh,” i.e., to mass murder involving family members as well as strangers, by mass murderers who are only fifteen years old. But we deny it all the time, claiming that events like the recent ones in Raleigh, N.C. are madness, aberrational behavior attributable to some kind of “brain sickness,” and not attributable to the rule we have followed. Modern psychology is a kind of knowledge that obscures the concepts of social or political responsibility and causality, thus making it useful in a corporatized, militarized, technologically sophisticated society that relies on cruelty, e.g., mass incarceration, in order to function and appear decent.
So, in a way, madness was invented or discovered in part because it served to obscure or disguise the cruelty of our civilization. And, of course, the invasive and pervasive spying on people, even or especially ordinary people – another result of the rule we have followed – is another way of controlling or minimizing the effects of this cruelty. But this all Sisyphean because the more violence that is created – and violence is “the rule we have been and are following” – the more surveillance and psychiatry we will need.