Riots, left and right


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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13 Responses

  1. I don’t think the piece I linked to would even go so far as to say they “want” something like healthcare or housing. I’m sure they’d like better jobs, but I think the argument I wanted to highlight would say that that’s not necessarily the main or motivating principle. I think the overall question it raises is whether or not neoliberalism (I know you don’t like the term) privileges the individual or the wider community to such an extent as to render the former’s appreciation of the latter essentially nil. I don’t imagine this is an argument that libertarians are going to find inviting, considering the “there is no such thing as society” school of thought; you have to be with me/them in agreeing that there is such a thing as society before we can even get to the question above.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Elias Isquith says:

      Well I think there certainly is such thing as a society so I have no interest in conducting that debate. Then again, parsing out what privileges the individual vs. what benefits society at large is pretty tricky.Report

  2. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    Or ya’ know, we can look at what actually happened. The cops shot a guy and things spun out of control because asses have taken advantage just like asses have taken advantage of these sorts of situations since time immemorial. Hell, this is totally anecdotal evidence, but a friend over in the UK had a neighbor of his taking off their car plates to head down to get some free stuff and he lives in a perfectly middle class neighborhood.

    So, instead of blaming Big Gummermint, perhaps we should ya’ know, tell cops to stop shooting people for no reason. Now, I realize that doesn’t lead to long posts talking about political philosophy.

    But hey, if these riots spread to Sweden or Norway or Germany, maybe you have a point. Until then, this is an isolated incident that could’ve happened just as easily in a lot of places around the world.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      I’ve mentioned the police actions many times. Notably, I do not think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Beyond that, I think if we get into a shouting match over Big Gummint we are all doomed. There is such a thing as too-big/too-pervasive government. I think there is also such a thing as government which fails to provide the proper services to its citizenry. The UK government is leaps and bounds more pervasive than the US government, for instance.Report

    • As I keep thinking about the riots, the whole “not everything means something; this was just a thing that happened and that was stupid/awful” theory is calling to me more and more.Report

      • Avatar Anderson in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        Agreed. Someone must have linked to this Anne Applebaum piece ( already, but it’s worth repeating:
        “And yet it is their lack of politics that most clearly defines them. If the Egyptians in Tahrir Square wanted democracy and if the anarchists in Athens wanted more government spending, the hooded men in British streets want 46-inch flat-screen high-definition televisions. They aren’t smashing the headquarters of the Tory Party; they are smashing clothing shops. Instead of using social media to create civil society or cyberutopia, they use social media to steal. Someone circulated a text message on Monday night, calling friends to central London for “Pure terror and havoc & Free stuff … just smash shop windows and cart out da stuff u want!””

        ” Beware of sweeping political generalizations in the wake of these riots. We don’t know whether we have just witnessed a “new” phenomenon, or a more mobile and technically adept version of a very old one.”Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Anderson says:

          And yet…even unconscious acts have real causes. An effect needn’t understand its cause to still have an impact. The people smashing windows don’t have to fully grasp the political and economic conditions that paved the way to the destruction.Report

          • Avatar Anderson in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            A fair and intelligent point. But the piece also takes care to point out at the end how looting has occured throughout history at opportune moments. It leaves as quickly as it comes, so perhaps we shouldn’t be framing policy/economic questions based on this quick burst of summer chaos.Report

    • Antisocial behaviour by “the yobs” is already epidemic in the UK. This isn’t an anomaly, it’s a trend, and the Cassandras are saying I told you so.

  3. Avatar MFarmer says:

    As I said in another post, the excepts from what looters have said reflect direct redistribution, cutting out the middle man because they’re skimming too much before it reaches the people. This type of redistribution is much more efficient, and we thought the kids weren’t industrious!Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to MFarmer says:

      I am wagering you recall Joseph Sobran’s column on bribery and how it compared with the sort of patron-client relations commonly constructed between state agencies and constituencies. The title of the column was “Personalized Government Service”.Report