One might be mistaken for thinking that the recent shootings in Aurora and Wisconsin, as part of a trend of distinctively modern mass-murders, could only be understood with reference to distinctively modern phenomena. Indeed, factors such as resurgent neo-Nazism, an atomised society and a glorification of trigger-happy vigilantes in popular culture are all elements which can clearly been seen as contributing to an environment in which such tragedies can occur.
Increasingly though, as the crimes relentlessly re-occur, such
analyses fall somewhat short. A purely modern engagement with this most
troubling of issues provides an understanding of the criminal, and an
understanding of society, but no clear reason for why so many
individuals decide to engage with society in this particular fashion.
Perhaps we must look at these cases from an alternative viewpoint to
provide some insight.