Why Riot?

Why Riot?
PIC: Bryan Tong Minh (CC)

PIC: Bryan Tong Minh (CC)

A thought provoking must read on a largely misunderstood topic:

Via Ultra

So I’m writing here for simple reasons: to defend the riot as a general tactic and to explain why one might engage in a riot. By this I mean to defend and explain not just the window breaking, not just “non-injurious violence,” and certainly not just the media spectacle it generates, but the riot itself—that dangerous, ugly word that sounds so basically criminal and which often takes (as in London in 2011) a form so fundamentally unpalatable for civil society that it can only be understood as purely irrational, without any logic, and without possible defense.

I aim, nonetheless, to defend and explain the riot, because we live in a new era of riots. Riots have been increasing in absolute number globally for the past thirty years. They are our immediate future, and this future will spare Seattle no less than Athens or London, Guangzhou or Cairo.

Who am I?

I am a member of the poorest generation since those who came of age during the Great Depression. Born to the “end of history,” we watched the ecstatic growth of the Clinton years morph seamlessly into the New Normal of Bush and Obama.

We have no hope of doing better than our parents did, by almost any measure. We have inherited an economy in secular stagnation, a ruined environment on the verge of collapse, a political system created by and for the wealthy, skyrocketing inequality, and an emotionally devastating, hyper-atomized culture of pyrrhic consumption.

The most recent economic collapse has hit us the hardest. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth of people under 35 fell 55 percent between 2005 and 2009, while those over 65 lost only a fraction as much, around 6 percent[iv]. The result is that if you calculate debt alongside income, wealth inequality is today increasingly generational. Those over 65 hold a median net worth of $170,494, an increase from 1984 of 42 percent. Meanwhile, the median net worth of those under 35 has fallen 68 percent over the same period, leaving young people today with a median worth of only $3,662[v].

Read the rest.

  • Antediluviancurrent

    It’s what the Fouding Fathers/Jesus would have done.

  • Anarchy Pony

    If you have to ask, you don’t get it.

  • Oginikwe

    This is a very well-written article with a lot of heart.
    What I don’t understand about civil violence is why it is never aimed up at the people in power but always winds up being horizontal or directed towards people even less well off.

    • Rhoid Rager

      Like rioters storming the Fed or the White House? There would have to be considerable unity of intention among the rioters to get past all the shooting and overcome all the guards…it would be like…”they’re coming over the top!”


      • Oginikwe

        I have the same problem with Hackers. Hack Wall Street, delete every mortgage in the country, then you’ll get our attention. Not only that, but get caught and no jury in the country would convict.
        THAT would be interesting.

      • emperorreagan

        Whereas they try something like this and three guys are almost able to win over numbers that should crush them: http://io9.com/something-weird-happens-when-three-master-fencers-battl-1570551641

        • VaudeVillain

          I’ve done similar exercises, and I’ve gotta say that crowd was particularly bad. They also had a pretty favorable rule set for the three, allowing only a single small target and only one real vector of attack.

          • emperorreagan

            Did you have a random crowd or people self-selecting as being interested in some sort of combat exercise?

            Also wonder how would differ culturally – e.g. a culture where people grow up playing sports that largely rely on mobbing (like football or rugby) versus other sports.

          • VaudeVillain

            Both, sort of. I’m an on-again-off-again boffer. I’ve done similar things with several groups, all of which were more or less self-selected, but most of which did so from a pool of people that I would not generally describe as physically adept or inclined.

        • Simon Valentine

          perhaps tangential to some, however Blizzard Entertainment *should* have data on such things. it’s a pattern seen in strategy games, and, really, most games. and if abstracted to graph theory … well …

      • Oginikwe

        Frickin’ hate zombies . . .

    • wolfe23

      You mean like when they tried to occupy wall street?
      Police are thee weapons of oppression and tools of thee elites, and one thing they’ve become really good at, is containing rioters within certain bounds.

  • Rhoid Rager

    Riots are full of rationality….each person is following their own rationale. What’s not rational is for people to participate in a money-driven suicidal economy that strips away both our collective wealth in the earth and our value as individuals. Participating in that isn’t exhibiting our own rationality, it’s just duplicating and propagating the singular rationality of those at the top.

  • Echar Lailoken

    This is excellently written, yet I still view the act of rioting as a negative reaction to another negative. I do want to create a shift though. Perhaps it’s out of all of our hands, and shit just happens?

  • Tchoutoye

    I lost faith in rioting when I saw videos of cops engaging in riot behaviour as agent provocateurs.

  • godozo

    Franklin Delanor Roosevelt once meet with a bunch of progressives about some things they wanted. After they gave their list of demands, FDR said “They’re all good demands. Now make me give them to you.”

    IN short: Nothing is given without demands and shows of power and force. (why else are right-wing gun nuts getting their way all the time?)

  • ersatz

    i’d imagine the controlling powers enjoy riots actually…since the chaos then allows them to then ratchet up the police-state further,with heavier handed responses as a normalized counterpunch.
    that’s why the authorities will send in more violent provocateurs to help goad the crowds to a frenzy, while they themselves get to sit back and watch the violence and destruction all play out in hi def.

  • DrDavidKelly

    Rioting adheres to the Warhol concept of fame in that “don’t worry about what they write, just measure it in inches.” Don’t worry about what you do just do it loud. Rioting is a means more than an ends. It’s a great way to get noticed. I don’t think anyone could honestly say they wouldn’t enjoy a bit of unregulated destruction of property. It appeals to the animus and is a logical rejection of authority.

  • PrimateZero

    Rioting the unbeatable high…..tomorrow you’re homeless, but tonight it’s a blast.

  • IokSotot

    I have only been on the fringes of a one proper riot in my life, purely by accident and I was prevented from really getting into it because I was basically a member of the group the rioters were rioting against – but I can honestly say it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Better (more “intense” would be a more appropriate word) than the best sex I ever had. There’s just nothing like it.

  • howiebledsoe

    Rioting just helps the police learn about crowd control. Afterwards, the politicians can justify spending more tax dollars on better anti-riot gear. In the end, riots are just poor cops against poor citizens. The rich are watching from their vaulted towers, drinking wine and placing bets.

  • Simon Valentine

    I have the answer

    • Echar Lailoken
      • Simon Valentine

        normal business is a riot

        they’re not hungry
        they’re insane

        • Echar Lailoken

          A mediocre riot of petty manipulations which suffocate the soul of a free spirit.

          • Simon Valentine

            how very accurate

            petty manipulations
            get the stone chisels out
            this rock of a minds gotta remember that