No Virgins for Joe Stack

February 19, 2010

After American nutter Joseph Stack III flew his light aircraft into a tax office in Austin, Texas, citing government and coporate oppression as his cause, the American press has been very quick to reassure its readers that his actions are utterly different to “islamo-fascists” (sic).

The New York Times reports that “Two serious injuries were also reported in the crash and subsequent fire, which initially inspired fears of a terrorist attack and drew nationwide attention.” Putting on its security expert hat, the paper then explains that “in place of the typical portrait of a terrorist driven by ideology, Mr. Stack was described as generally easygoing, a talented amateur musician with marital troubles and a maddening grudge against the tax authorities.”

The paper doesn’t make clear precisely what constitutes “the typical portrait of a terrorist driven by ideology” (although we have to assume that religion and skin colour weigh heavily upon such a definition. Instead, the Times suggests that Stack was simply a lone madman, unconnected to either genuine social grievances generated by capitalism or social networks developing within American society (both left and right) in response to those grievances.

But a brief look at Stack’s fascinating suicide note dispels such a facile description. Of course Stack was motivated by ideology – leavened by a lifetime of what he saw as exploitation and betrayal by the authorities. For instance, at one stage he talks about how bankers have soldified their position as the elites of American society, shunting the multitude well and truly into the economic wilderness:

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

And Stack then made an explicitly ideological appeal for people to follow him, writing that:

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are.

Yet the Times, as with the rest of the American media, are unwilling to admit that Stack fits the terrorist mould snugly. He formulated a violent act with a political purpose in mind, posting details about his suicidal motivations to a website. Isn’t that precisely what Islamic terrorists are conventionally thought to do? Or is it the case that true terrorists have to have booked an appointment with heavenly virgins before they board the great Cessna to the sky? To put it more pointedly, do they have to be muslim?

Perhaps Americans wish to externalise terrorism, to maintain the virginal purity of their Republic. Unfortunately, any such analysis has long been false (and indeed, what was the Ku Klux Klan but a highly organized and brutal terrorist society?).After all, Timothy McVeigh expressed the same anger at elites and lamented the destruction of the American middle class, under assault from offshoring, attacks on organized labour, unfair tax laws and stagnant wages.

None of these problems have disappeared. The objective roots of domestic American terrorism remain intact. Today, for example, it is reported that Barack Obama sees the economic crisis lifting. “Our work is far from over but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis” he says, citing his £787 billion stimulus plan as the reason for saving “2 million jobs.” But at the same time, the Federal Reserve is warning that, while economic growth will accelerate, “the unemployment rate is expected to remain between 9.5% and 9.7% in 2010, easing to 8.2% to 8.5% next year.”

Such forecasts are invariably optimistic. What the U.S. government is saying is that American workers are in line for another jobless “recovery” while corporate profits are replenished and the hollow promises of “trickle-down economics” are exposed again as a brutal sham.

This is naturally generating immense anger amongst a population accustomed to rising standards of living. This allowed millions to adjust their perceived social status from working class to “middle” class during the twentieth century. Now it is forcing a reconsideration.

The reformation of the American working class is ongoing, and it will be a violent process.


3 Responses to “No Virgins for Joe Stack”

  1. Craig Cobb Says:


  2. watsonlow Says:

    Alex Jones has the crash as staged by the government as a response to the Tea Party Movement’s success in taking back the levers of government. He says that the Oklahoma bombing was also organised by the government and for similar reasons. I guess we can’t get Jack Stack’s opinion on this, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense. As to whether or not Jack Stack is classified as a terrorist, I suppose it is only an issue for those seeking to promote the notion of evil islamists looking for chances to do their worst. It seems that there are other dangerous profiles around.

  3. kiosa Says:

    “The reformation of the American working class is ongoing, and it will be a violent process.”

    Certainly the Hedge Fund Portfolio managers hope so.

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