Mark Ames

American writer and journalist
Once you start seeing injustice in one place, it's like taking off blinders- you start to see injustice everywhere, and how it is all connected.

Mark Ames (born 3 October 1965) is a writer known for his work as a Moscow-based expatriate American journalist and editor. He is the founding editor of the satirical biweekly the eXile in Moscow, to which he regularly contributed before he returned to America. Ames has also written for the New York Press, The Nation, Playboy, The San Jose Mercury News, Alternet, Птюч Connection, GQ (Russian edition), and is the author of three books.


Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion, From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond (2005)Edit

  • Stress: the word comes up often in the study of rage murders. The problem is that even in spite of the awful effects of stress- from mental and physical health ailments to provoking massacres- we, the ones who suffer stress, are ourselves loath to describe our own stressed condition with language that might match the suffering it produces, for fear of sounding melodramatic, whiny- of not being able to tough it out. A little light goes on in most "normal" people's heads warning them not to complain about cracking under stress and risk being marked as a loser.
    • Part I: If He'd Just Got the Right People, page 23.
  • Anything, no matter how bizarre, was cited as the cause for slave rebellions except for the most obvious source: slavery.
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 50.
  • Slate's Dave Cullen thought he had solved the why riddle in his article, "The Depressive and the Psychopath: At Last We Know Why the Columbine Killers Did It", published on April 20, 2004, the fifth anniversary of the massacre. Cullen wrote, "[Eric Harris] was a brilliant killer without a conscience, searching for the most diabolical scheme imaginable. If he had lived to adulthood and developed his murderous skills for many more years, there is no telling what he could have done. His death at Columbine may have stopped him from doing something worse." Cullen's breakthrough, like the Richmond Enquirer's, is essentially this: Eric Harris murdered because he was an evil murderer.
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 58.
  • Yet what's missing from Cullen's explanation is a context for Harris' rage attack on Columbine High School. Even Hitler is given a context by serious historians- the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles and the failure of Weimar Germany- whereas rampage murderers, like slaves once before them, are portrayed as having killed without reason. Their murder sprees were and are explained as symptoms of the perpetrators' innate evil, or of foreign forces, rather than as reactions to unbearable circumstances.
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 58.
  • Another journalist, Joanne Jacobs, summed it up even more simply: "Evil, not rage" inspired the Columbine killers, she wrote. Well, that settles that!
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 58.
  • If a rebellion is small and just starting, it looks crazy; but if it begins to succeed, lasts, and builds up momentum, it inevitably legitimizes itself.
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 65.
  • Just as the American colonials' consciousness expanded from rebelling against unfair taxation in the 1760s to wide noble revolutionary goals touching on the inherent rights of mankind, so the Whiskey Rebellion guerrillas took on broader themes as injustice increasingly framed their consciousness. Once you start seeing injustice in one place, it's like taking off blinders- you start to see injustice everywhere, and how it is all connected.
    • Part II: The Banality of Slavery, page 65.
  • Under Reagan, corporations transformed from provider's of stability for employees and their families to fear-juiced stress engines. Reagan's legacy to America and modern man is not victory in the Cold War, where he simply got lucky; it is instead one of the most shocking wealth transfers in the history of the world, all under the propaganda diversion of "making America competitive" and "unleashing the creative energies of the American worker".
    • Part III: Ragenomics, page 87.
  • As the Economic Policy Institute reported, "What income growth there was over the 1979-1989 period was driven primarily by more work at lower wages".
    • Part III: Ragenomics, page 87.
  • People's memories are so short and America's propaganda is so powerful that most, even the greatest losers of this appropriation, have forgotten that a profound change occurred, which we now take for granted. We have been conditioned to react skeptically, even hostilely, to criticism of our current corporate values, values which form the foundation of everyday life today. What's more appalling is that huge numbers of those left behind in the wealth transfer genuflected to the new plutocratic class, celebrating the most vicious of the uber-CEOs. This craven CEO-worshipping is still going on today- middle Americans drag themselves home after work in order to gather around the television and watch billionaire assholes like Donald Trump deliver his "You're fired!" line to some desperate, stressed-out Smithers-abee.
    • Part III: Ragenomics, p. 87-88
  • Anyone could snap anywhere; anyone's a suspect. And that means that employees go out of their way to make sure they're not perceived as being potentially dangerous, no matter how cruelly they are treated... even the slightest hint of disgruntlement could be grounds for a visit from police, a forced psychological examination, and a destroyed career.
    • Part IV: Wage Rage, page 120.
  • Just as some survivors of the Standard Gravure massacre expressed sympathy with Joseph Wesbecker, [Robert] Mack was, to many, a kind of hero. This is a crucial point, because in the case of real random murderers like serial murders, survivors never express sympathy with the murderer. However, in rebellions, survivors often do sympathize, particularly if the rebel belongs to the same oppressed group as they do.
    • Part IV: Wage Rage, page 129.
  • In May 2004, a fourteen-year-old boy at a middle-class intermediate school in Walnut Creek, an upper-middle-class suburb east of San Francisco, was detained by police who stormed his classroom, cuffed him in front of the students and teachers, and frog-marched him across the quad... for posting a flash cartoon on his web home page. [...] A few years earlier the kid would have been given a serious sit-down, but today, America has no patience for touchy-feely liberal crap. If you step out of line, Team America will be called in to destroy you.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 176-177.
  • It is hard to imagine that the kid became a better person after this. More scared, more cautious, and more alienated from his peers, sure. Which perhaps is all we want.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 177.
  • Zero tolerance policies, heavy police responses to what would have once been considered empty boy boasting, and the increased fear and suspicion that they inspire only fuel more rage. The toxic school culture is only reinforced by repressive measures.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 177.
  • Like blaming evil, the copycat rationale is so empty that it doesn't even qualify as a convenient explanation... dismissing this rash of murder and sympathy- across the country, across a wide variety of students- as simply copycat shooters assumes that kids operate at about the same intelligence level as sardines.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 178.
  • The shootings are a direct assault on the American Dream- which is why they are so disturbing. The fear reflects how unsettling and piercing the crime is. And the fear reflects a still-censored recognition that the shootings have widespread sympathy among students, and that any student, at any school, could be next.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 184.
  • Americans wanted to blame everything but Columbine High for the massacre- they blamed a violent media, Marilyn Manson, Goth culture, the Internet, the Trench Coat Mafia, video games, lax gun control laws, and liberal values. And still skipping over the school, they peered into the opposite direction, blaming the moral and/or mental sickness, or alleged homosexuality, of these two boys, as if they were exceptional freaks in a school of otherwise happy kids. They searched all over the world for a motive, except for one place: the scene of the crime.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 184.
  • One reason why our society has failed to curb bullying is that we like bullies. Hell, we are bullies. Research has shown that bullies are not the anti-social misfits that adults, in their forced amnesia, want them to be. Rather, bullies are usually the most popular boys, second only on the clique-ranking to those described as friendly, outgoing, and self-confident. The Santana High kids and parents both felt that there was no point in complaining to the administration because they wouldn't have done anything anyway, a reflection of the fact that popular winners are treated better than losers. At Columbine, parents and students both felt that bullies were favored by teachers and administrators, and that complainers were often ignored or blamed. Indeed, losers pay for being losers twice over in our schools, taking both the punishment and the blame.
    • Part V: More Rage. More Rage., page 191.
  • Petty malice is now the major premise of American life. This meanness has become so common that it even dominates our leisure time, with Americans worshipping mega-millionaire assholes like Bill O'Reilly and Donald Trump. It's an utterly masochistic addiction- and no wonder, since Middle America has taken so much shit over the past 30 years, we've grown not only used to the meanness, but we can even get a rush off it. America is now Zed Nation: addicted to the pain that our masters so lovingly deliver to us, rewarding them not only with greater incomes, but with our admiration, our leisure time, and our souls.
    • p. 205
  • It's widely accepted today that high schools are miserable, nerve-pinching stress machines. They are governed by dim hypocrites; the climate favors the cruelest and shallowest students, and many, if not most students, are constantly suppressing a burning sense of injustice, shame, and powerlessness.
    • Part VI: Welcome to the Dollhouse, page 232.
  • Cruel and callous when on top, afraid and smiling all the way to the grave when not- that pretty much sums up the post-Reagan zeitgeist. And if you're not just as cheerful as the rest, "you've got some personal problems." You're a weirdo if you complain. It's your own fault if you're traumatized by a massacre. It's your own fault if you're poor. It's your own fault if you get downsized, overworked, bullied, and fail. Get over it.
    • Part VI: Welcome to the Dollhouse, page 239.
  • The whole country is infested with this meanness and coldness, and no one is allowed to admit it. Only the crazy ones sense that it is wrong- that what is "normal" is not at all normal- and some of them, adults and kids alike, fight back with everything they have.
    • Part VI: Welcome to the Dollhouse, page 239.
  • When Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1981, he told America he was literally willing to kill us all if we didn't give in to his wealth-transfer plan. It was so shocking that it worked. The air controller's union broke- and so did a whole way of life. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we are all miserable wage slaves, or schoolyard wretches being pressed and prepared for life in the office world. There is no other choice but that, or death. The way this country supplicated before Reagan's corpse, elevating him to a kind of Khomeini status with the seven-day funeral and the endless orations about his humanity, his intelligence, and how wonderfully simple life was under his reign, only reinforced the most disturbing conclusion that I was reaching as I wrote this book: that Americans have become the perfect slaves, fools and suckers, while a small elite is cackling all the way to the offshore bank.
    • Postscript, p. 241-242

The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia (2000)Edit

  • I was a student at Berkeley in the late Reagan years. We had a lot of ideas back then, big dreams about getting famous and destroying the "Beigeocracy" that we thought stifled and controlled American Letters. Everything seemed possible then: world war, literary fame ... Anyway, something Really Big, with us at the center of it all.
  • It was hard to imagine that Natasha had squatted out a baby. Her cunt was as tight as a cat's ass...
  • No! No, she's fif-teen. Fif-teen.' Right then my pervometer needle hit the red. I had to have her, even if she was homely.

Quotes about AmesEdit

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: