4Chan, Mass Shootings, & the Bloodshed of a Society in Decline

As I’ve written previously, there’s extensive evidence that American history’s most famous true crime horror stories, from the Manson murders to Son of Sam to the Unabombings, have been products of government mind control. The readily apparent connections that many of these incidents have, such as the Manson and Son of Sam cults being traceable to the same Satanic spiritual network, lend credibility to the idea that they’re products of a deeper trend. As well as to the idea that MK ULTRA was a relevant factor behind them, supported by bizarre connections like the Manson Family’s relationship to CIA drug experiments or the Unabomber’s trauma at the hands of CIA psychological manipulation. There are numerous other such cases, detailed in David McGowan’s book Programmed to Kill.

Yet the idea that all of the horrific violence we’re seeing in the news has been coordinated by the feds isn’t realistic. Since my writings on the MK ULTRA serial killer links, the U.S. has seen a massive wave of mass shootings. And in trying to explain this newest series of American horrors, I don’t seek to make a conspiratorial analysis, but a materialist analysis.

A materialist analysis takes into account the possibilities of deliberately manufactured violence by the intelligence agencies, but it also considers the socioeconomic and cultural factors which work to produce violence organically. Our society is collapsing, undergoing an accelerating decline in living standards, a breakdown in the faculties of a functioning state, and a consequential rise in militarization and paranoia. People are confused and angry about the increasing chaos of their conditions, and out of this mass distress is sure to come individuals who are eager to inflict brutality. These individuals, and those who’ve had a hand in pushing them beyond the brink, are feeding into the kind of destabilization which the state desires. Understanding who they are, and what their ideas are, can help us find how to end the madness which is America’s mass shooting epidemic. The picture gained from this is one of rising social factors that have the potential to produce violence, and that are being exploited by forces which have something to gain from proliferating violence.

The surface level: 4Chan, crypto trolling, & mass fascist radicalization

If you’ve paid attention to the headlines, you no doubt have a basic sense of the connection between the “Chan” sites and violence: angry young men have been getting their anger validated by unmoderated online communities, and in many cases successfully encouraged to take out that anger by hurting others. Yet the media’s analysis of this issue is lacking. It doesn’t sufficiently comprehend the intricate, and often subtle, nature of the propaganda that these hate communities have engineered.

For example, the media, politicians, and celebrities have failed to recognize the Nazi psyop which is the NFT trend. The Bored Ape Yacht Club, the NFT collection that’s associated the cryptocurrency with the image of an ugly cartoon ape, was created by a company that’s taken every opportunity to insert crypto-Nazi propaganda into its language and iconography. An hour-long documentary recently came out examining the fascist symbolism that Yuga Labs, the company behind the BAYC, has carefully woven into every aspect of the project. From ciphers designed to lead to Nazi references, to bananas in the company’s video game that are shaped like swastikas, to inside jokes about infamous colonial atrocities, to character design traits that symbolize Nazi Germany’s allies and historical predecessors, to a logo that’s directly inspired by the graphic design of the Nazi SS, all of the red flags are there for the company’s focus on apes being a callback to the dehumanizing simian racist caricatures of antiquity.

What does this have to do with mass shootings? It shows how in the 4Chan era, violent racist propaganda can gain massive cultural influence without the well-intentioned liberals who promote it being the least bit aware that they’re propagating racism. The figures behind all of the Nazi NFT symbolism show every sign of being products of 4Chan culture, with the biggest indicator being that they’ve pushed their agenda through means of covert trolling. Disguising extremist ideas through irony is one of the 4Chan white supremacist tactics that the media has long caught on to. With this NFT trolling operation, 4Chan has successfully fooled the media into assisting in the proliferation of these ideas.

When a prank is done to spread this kind of agenda, and has the platform for its hidden meaning to potentially become detected by millions of people, it feeds into the dynamic known as stochastic terrorism. This is the phenomenon where hateful ideas get spread to a mass audience, then some members of that audience get motivated to commit crimes, all while those responsible for the propaganda campaign can claim innocence. We’ve seen many times how the memetic racism of 4Chan and 8Chan, which has presented itself as jokes that you’d have to be a fool to take seriously, has helped indoctrinate the last decade’s white supremacist mass shooters. We’ve seen how the manifestos of modern shooters include meme references, no doubt designed to bring others into the pipeline. By dropping this gargantuan bomb of crypto-Nazism into popular culture, the Bored Ape Yacht Club trolls have made a major contribution towards stoking future attacks.

It’s appropriate that cryptocurrency is the cultural angle they’ve used to gain this platform. Crypto is being sold to the young men who’ve been suffering under late-stage capitalism as a route towards prosperity, capable of bringing them into a glorious new future. The reality that crypto is as unsustainable as the rest of capitalism will hit this generation of 4Chan-influenced “doomers” hard, and will provoke many of them into embracing the narratives which lead to “normies” getting radicalized. NFTs, which are designed to replicate the financial bubble conditions that led to the 2008 economic crash, are no exception.

In 1995, Umberto Eco assessed that “Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old ‘proletarians’ are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.” What 4Chan has done is take a false savior from the present economic crisis, and use it as a tool for reaching the audience Eco talked about. When NFTs and the rest of crypto are revealed to be scams, many of the frustrated men who’ve bought into them will be able to easily access the propaganda necessary for radicalization. It’s displayed right there on the most prominent aspects of our culture.

The NFT psyop is just one part of the story. PragerU is also part of today’s online fascist pipeline, as is Fox News, as are the Chan boards themselves, and so on. What liberal commentators have missed, in addition to the Bored Ape trolling, is that it’s not just these infamous far-right propaganda sources which are helping radicalize the white supremacist shooters of tomorrow. Nazi propaganda is currently being integrated into the narratives put forth by the highest levels of the United States government. Which makes it all the more likely that the explosion of violence we’ve been witnessing is a modern equivalent of those famous 20th century murders, with their suspicious connections to the feds.

Below the surface: agitprop from our government’s intelligence centers

Washington’s support for the regime in Kiev, which has collaborated with the Nazi Azov Battallion, facilitated marches commemorating Nazi collaborators, and committed war crimes against Russian speakers motivated by Hitler’s Lebensraum ideology, is one giant stochastic terrorism generator. Throughout the U.S. anti-Russian proxy war in Ukraine, American white supremacists have been routinely traveling to the battlefields to gain firsthand combat experience. And now that the conflict has expanded, the probability of this producing domestic blowback in the form of further U.S. racial terrorist attacks is heightened.

The many instances where the U.S. media has directly platformed Ukraine’s Nazis by positively featuring individuals wearing the Azov logo, where cold warriors have promoted a Ukrainian Nazi slogan by declaring “Slava Ukraini,” and where Western leaders have repeated the anti-Russian narratives Kiev uses to justify its atrocities, are all feeding in to the mass radicalization process. When the CIA breeds Nazi terror abroad, you can be sure this will come to extend into the imperial center, whether through a propaganda pipeline or through actual military training for the terrorists.

This echoes back to the incidental nature behind many of the stories of how intelligence activity has contributed to serial murders. The evidence indicates that though the Manson murders were a product of the CIA’s violent mind control conditioning going intentionally right, Ted Kaczynski’s bombing project was not. Whereas the Manson cult members were deliberately primed to be numb to taking lives, the experiments Kaczynski was subjected to as a teenager were intended to break him down into giving up his anti-capitalist convictions. The latter experiments were a Cold War study on how to turn captured Soviet spies into double agents, and they had the side effect of making one boy feel so attacked that he decided to take violent revenge against the system. Whitey Bulger, the gang leader who became a mass murderer after being subjected to traumizing MK ULTRA experiments in prison, is another example. When today’s government engages in psyops, and these psyops lead to people committing terrorism, it has a similar nature: violence as a byproduct of the manipulations the state uses to wage war.

This stochastic terrorism effect is apparent in every aspect of the U.S. empire’s psychological operations. An obvious example, aside from the Ukrainian Nazism pipeline, is the general glorification of violence that comes from our culture’s saturation in military propaganda. For decades, the Pentagon has been regularly influencing the creative decisions of Hollywood film directors and digital game developers. Since 2013 with the repeal of a Cold War domestic propaganda ban, it’s been officially legal for the government to covertly meddle with the content of the news as well. What this media consistently does is make war look good, teaching the masses that violence is always the answer. As Eco continued, “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world.”

Combine this with America’s culture of individualism, and the entitlement that’s cultivated by patriarchy and racism, and you get a generation of men who can easily come to see shooting people as the right response to what makes them angry.

The things that make them angry can be class related, as shown by the famous Ted talk by a man who almost became a school shooter after a childhood of abuse from his economically unstable addict parents. No doubt the deterioration of our socioeconomic conditions is making such psychological pressures more severe, and contributing to the country’s steady rise in shootings. But overwhelmingly, the key ingredient behind why these mostly white men commit the attacks is a sense that they’re being denied what they’re owed by a social structure that’s supposed to serve them. This is evidenced not just by how many of the shootings are racially motivated, but by how studies have found great amounts of shooters have engaged in domestic violence. Some of them, like the incel murderers, have carried their hatred of women into the massacres themselves.

Their attitude that the women in their lives need to be physically forced into submission, combined with a culture that’s conditioned them to turn to weapons, produces a great deal of these instances where they snap. Both their misogynistic abuse and their random atrocities come from their impression that they aren’t getting the respect they deserve. As usual with the violence that U.S. imperialism cultivates, this all comes full circle; one of the veteran white supremacists who went to Ukraine would later use the military equipment from his time in the Army to try to kill his ex-wife. It seems only a matter of time before one of these American Ukraine fighters comes home to do a shooting. We’re already halfway there, with one of the recent shooters having worn a circular Nazi symbol that’s popular among Azov members.

This also applies to QAnon, which has inspired numerous acts of terrorism ranging from the January 6th attack to more minor assaults. The paranoid worldview Q puts forth, where MAGA patriots are struggling against a Satanic blood-drinking cabal determined to destroy America, has been amplified by the intelligence centers. There’s evidence that the original Q activities on 4Chan were perpetrated by feds who sought to pin their agitprop on Russia. And the conspiracy which grew out of this has repeatedly been amplified by the same members of the “deep state” that Q followers believe they’re fighting against. Q has also promoted regime change propaganda against Iran, one of the biggest red flags for a federal op that you can imagine.

As Eco wrote, “at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside.” The Q conspiracy’s antisemitic nature, where the followers are told of blood-drinking rituals based on the ancient Blood Libel claim about Jews, makes it fit into this. It also makes Q overlap with the kinds of ideas promoted by the Nazi 4Chan trolls.

Like the white nationalist shooters or the violent misogynists, these Q-inspired attackers are experiencing a collective psychosis in the face of late-stage capitalism. Our ever more chaotic conditions have encouraged them to be paranoid, and this paranoia has been nurtured by a government which bombards them with inciting material. The next layer in this investigation reveals why our government is willing to nurture the mayhem. Namely that mayhem is what lets the ruling class justify suppressing dissent.

Deep down: when the terrorism isn’t stochastic

If the U.S. government has been willing to support neo-Nazis in Ukraine, or death squads in Latin America, or Islamist terrorists in the countries it militarily intervenes within, the equivalent can be true in the country’s own borders. The purpose that such deliberately engineered terrorism serves in the imperial center is twofold: creating a narrative precedent for the expansion of the police state, and frustrating the efforts of liberation movements. It’s part of a counterinsurgency against domestic dissent.

January 6th has enabled the Biden administration to increase funding for law enforcement and the military, opened up social media for more state-backed censorship, and led to an expansion of the surveillance state. Unsurprisingly, much of the attack was plotted out in the open, with the DHS acting apathetic towards the threat until the time came to exploit the ensuing chaos. In parallel, America’s mass shooting paradigm has made for schools to become far more militarized, surveilled, and policed, especially in the impoverished nonwhite communities where law enforcement already amounts to a military occupation. The crime that capitalism perpetuates is used as an excuse for police militarization and mass incarceration. Our society’s drumbeat of violence justifies the violence that the state inflicts upon its people.

Because the state has a vested interest in cultivating a violent society, naturally it does more to create this violence than flooding society with inflammatory propaganda. There’s a school-to-prison pipeline that keeps young people in a lumpenized cycle of incarceration and gang life. There’s also a military-to-shooter pipeline. As David Swanson has written, a conservative estimate shows that at least a third of shooters have been trained by the military:

In reports on individual mass shootings, any mention of involvement with the U.S. military is usually a minor footnote. In many cases, I simply do not know, with my very limited research, whether a mass shooter is a military veteran or not. This is why my figure of 36% could be low. Regarding patterns in mass-shootings, media reports tell us, as well they should, about access to guns, types of guns, criminal records, mental health records, misogyny, racism, age, sex, and other features of shooters’ backgrounds. If mass shooters were at all disproportionately red-headed, homosexual, vegan, left-handed, or basketball fans we would damn well know it. Its relevance would be mysterious, but we’d know it. Yet the fact that well over a third of them, and maybe more, have been professionally trained in killing is unmentionable, despite its obvious relevance and the supposed cultural value of “following the science” wherever it may lead.

This enormous prevalence of military involvement in the shootings is hidden because it reveals the sinister dynamic our government is fostering. When you’re not only providing someone with encouragement to commit violence, but giving them the tools and instructions to do so, that’s more than stochastic terrorism. It’s criminal negligence, if not acting as an accomplice to the crime.

The same applies to the fact that the CIA is behind the domestic distribution of the drugs which gangs depend on to sustain their quasi-military governments. Capitalism is designed to produce social ills, which provide the ideological justification for the existence of the capitalist state. Because these problems exist, it’s assumed that the capitalist state must exist, even though the state is what’s behind the problems. When it comes to producing violent and anti-social individuals, the way the state manufactures evil is a dual process: depriving people of the social outlets that encourage pro-social ways of acting, while providing them with social outlets that encourage violence. The same goes for the information people in our society receive. Our day-to-day media doesn’t have art designed to instill a sense of community, like is largely the case in socialist countries like China or the DPRK. It has military propaganda, which has lately been exploiting our dire socioeconomic situation by promising that enlisting will bring you out of poverty. It probably won’t. More likely it will turn you into the kind of person who goes on a shooting spree.

Given these factors, it’s unsurprising that shootings have been especially rising during the War on Terror, and even moreso during the escalations of Washington’s hybrid war against China. There’s an intuitive relation between imperialist military training, racist propaganda against groups like Asians, and increased potential for violence. The question is whether the feds have been deliberately and directly coordinating any of these shootings, like how they did with the serial killers in Programmed to Kill. To this I can say that no theory should be accepted as a given without hard evidence, but that we should look at these shootings while considering the many proven instances of the state creating criminals and terrorists in such a way.

We know that the FBI has sent informants to seek out impoverished and mentally ill individuals, then manipulated those individuals into declaring scripted intentions for terrorism after the agents have supplied them with weapons. This corrupt kind of sting operation has been done by the FBI dozens of times since 9/11, and it reflects the state’s tactic of exploiting the social ills it creates to manufacture excuses for repression. We know that the feds send agent provocateurs into protests to create violence so that social movements can be vilified, and so that the police can crack down on these movements. We know that infiltrators try to earn the trust of organizers, then plant weapons on them before police raids, attempt to persuade them into committing violence to get themselves in trouble, or steer them towards ultra-leftist ideas which lead towards potentially violent leftist infighting.

These COINTELPRO tactics for destabilizing revolutionary parties tie into the violence the state created during the original serial killer wave, which was created in response to the uprisings of the 1960s and 70s. If these tactics are still being applied, and they’ve been expanded into the War on Terror’s sting operations, how often could they also be involved with the stories behind mass shootings? There’s more substantial evidence for this than the instances where shooters have complained of mind control, though that in itself has a parallel to the MK ULTRA-related murders. This evidence is in the mere fact that COINTELPRO continues to exist during the internet age.

The feds are constantly working to infiltrate virtually every political community on the internet to achieve maximum narrative control. And when it comes to reactionary communities like 4Chan, this can easily take the form of inciting people to violence. Far more easily than when it comes to the left, because the left is hurt by random acts of violence and therefore has an incentive to avoid them. Like Eco said, fascists are obsessed with violence, making them perfect targets for modern MK ULTRA programming.

With this intelligence-assisted online pipeline for right-wing extremism being so successful at producing violence, it’s no wonder 4Chan is a hotspot for gore content. Sharing real-life murder videos is regarded as shock humor within Chan communities, and it’s easy to find gore threads on the site. This is another way history is repeating itself. During the murder spree that the Son of Sam cult committed, the members filmed the death of one of their victims, and saved it for agitation propaganda purposes. They produced a snuff film in order to prime their recruits to carry on their mission. ISIS has done the same thing with its beheading videos, which are meant to attract those susceptible to Islamic extremist ideology. If the feds have nurtured violent Satanism and violent Islamism, and snuff material has defined both of these strains, the same could apply to the reactionary online communities which traffic in a similar vein.

When you look deep enough, you find historical patterns in every aspect of the horrors America is experiencing. The difference between the Son of Sam era and our era is that those proliferating these destructive ideas now have better technologies, which they’re using to manipulate people on a wider scale. Whether or not the Bored Ape Yacht Club trolling is a federal operation, it has all the characteristics of a psyop. And it should therefore be seen as an example of the kinds of psychological weapons that have produced our current bloodshed. How much of this bloodshed can be traced to actual intelligence operations, and how much of it to random rage outbursts, doesn’t ultimately matter. Both types can be ended by ending the social order that’s behind them.