Second and Main


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

Related Post Roulette

130 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “But I’m not ready to “dismantle the system.” I’m ready to hear about how the system can be reformed. I’m ready to hear about how things can be made better. I’m not ready to hear about how everything needs to be burned down to the ground.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Did he talk of burning things to the ground? Of destroying things? Because dismantle has a very specific meaning and can be viewed as both a constructive and destructive act.

    That isn’t to say that you should have felt differently. But if a man speaks of “dismantling” things and others hear “burn everything to the ground”, we are again left in a place where we aren’t speaking the same language.Report

    • Avatar Guy says:

      I dunno. “Dismantle” seems to pretty clearly imply taking the whole thing down and, at least absent any qualifiers or elaborations, not puting it back together again. It’s not as implicitly violent as “burn it all down”, but there’s a clear (to me) sense of “we will not still have this system at the end”. Whereas reform implies that the system stays, but becomes better.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Inherent to “dismantling” is that you are breaking something down to its component parts. That leaves the potential to reassemble all or some of those parts into something new.Report

        • Avatar Guy says:

          I agree; all I’m trying to say is that if the focus is on dismantling, it’s not clear that any sort of reassembly will happen, or how it will happen. If the ultimate goal was to dismantle and then reassembke into something new, I feel like the “something new” would be the focus of discussion.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I agree, @guy . As you said, the language was not nearly as violent as Burt implied. You are correct that nothing we have been provided implies that the old parts will be used for the new system but I also don’t know that we should assume the guy is advocating anarchy simply because he didn’t describe next steps or the new system. He might have just been focusing on, “Let’s do first things first.” Which can be criticized as a problem-solving approach in its own right.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              If it helps, it seemed to me the speaker was speaking from emotion more than he was calculation. And perhaps a possibility to be entertained is that the precise concept was not fully-formed, or perhaps it was not articulated with precision. What he meant may have been slightly different from the dissection of the word’s etymology I read here.

              I didn’t understand the man to be advocating “let’s carefully deconstruct the system with an eye towards a modified re-assembly.” Nor was he suggesting that we “disrobe” anything. I understood him to mean something much closer to “destroy” or “eliminate” and, frankly, that’s still how I understand the phrase as it was used in situ.

              Maybe I’m wrong to do so; by all means feel free to continue debating as you seem to be having a grand time of it. But it may very well be that he chose a word that didn’t reflect the exact connotation of what was in his mind. Lots of people express themselves orally without the hair-splitting exactitude of well-lettered correspondents such as yourselves.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                “What Do We Want?”

                “Carefully mediated incremental negotiated compromise where all stakeholders are rightfully empowered!”

                “When Do We Want It?”

                “At a Time, Place And Manner amenable to proper organization and operating within established protocol and norms!”

                “Now Comrades- To The Barricades!”Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m sold.


              • Avatar Francis says:

                Barricades? I’m thinking mediated listening sessions with key stakeholders, with some letter writing, in-person lobbying and the occasional direct action.

                Do you have any idea how hard is it to build a barricade out of Ikea furniture that will stand up to a basic police Crown Vic, much less one of those urban tanks that SWAT teams have?

                and Oscar, Charge? How ableist of you. Get thee right off to a sensitivity seminar. We use public transportation, thank you very much.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Hey now! I’m a disabled vet, I’ll have you know! I’ll charge if I want to!

                Well, it’ll be more of an excited limp…

                DAMNIT! Get me my walking stick!

                PS, Give me the right IKEA furniture, and I’ll get you a real nice barricade.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Good point, that – when I literally dismantle things, I generally am removing screws or bolts, and setting aside for reuse larger pieces of lumber or mechanical components in good working order. Fire is seldom a tool I use in that process.

      Also what “system” needs dismantling? The system of racial privilege and oppression? Or the system of all things that also includes sewer maintenance, public libraries, and the convention of driving on the right side of the road? I obviously didn’t hear this speech, so I can’t tell.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Wait, yinz get sewer maintenance?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        If you literally dismantle – taking out the mantle – the fireplace will then be more likely to burn the whole house down.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          Now you made me look up the etymology of ‘dismantle’ (for which, thank you – etymology is fun!).

          Sounds like the mantle in etymological question is the mantle that means ‘cloak’ not the mantel that means ‘framing around a fireplace’.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

            And yet, not once has “Let’s go back to my place so I can dismantle you” gotten the desired effect for me on a date. So much for women’s superior verbal skills.Report

      • The earth. The core and crust are both good things, but the mantle is a waste of space.Report

  2. You’re just concern trolling here. You don’t have to listen to BLM; I don’t think they want to talk to you.

    More here: Yet another concern trollReport

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      You make several good points in your post, @larry-hamelin . While you are under no obligation to, if you want to engage in a dialogue here I might advise making some of those points here directly.Report

      • Fair enough.

        It is not, I think, legitimate to simply declare oneself an “ally” of another’s movement. Once can support another’s movement, one can agree or disagree, but only the principals can designate allies. The preferences of non-principals and non-actual-allies are usually intrusive and inappropriate.

        Analysis is another matter: I think it is always legitimate to engage in analysis. But Mr. Likko does not here engage in actual analysis: he does not offer actual reasons why BLM (or the speaker) might not want to dismantle the system.

        And, analytically, I tend to agree with the speaker Mr. Likko dislikes: I think racism is so deeply embedded into American capitalism as to be inextricable. If Mr. Likko believes that the racism can be reformed without dismantling American capitalism, then he need not exhort others against advocating for dismantling the system; he need only actually successfully reform the system.

        To such reformers, I respectfully suggest perhaps a somewhat greater degree of urgency: black people been waiting at least a half a century and at most 150 years. Justice delayed is justice denied.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I think there are two things to discuss.

          1.) Burt’s position on “dismantling the system.” Burt disagrees with attempting to do so.
          2.) Burt’s response to an individual BLM member/support/leader expressing such a view. Burt opted to “leave” the rally. I put leave in quotes here because I don’t know how to qualify Burt’s presence: Was he attending? Observing? Participating? He alone can answer that question. Regardless, his chosen response was to cease what he was doing, disengage from any further involvement, and move along. He then opted to come here and describe/discuss his experiences.

          None of this seems objectionable. Disagreeable, but not objectionable (though maybe that is splitting hairs). I do not read him as telling the BLM movement — collectively or this individual person — what it ought to be saying, what its goals ought to be, or how it should go about saying the things it wants to say or pursuing the goals it wants to pursue. Rather, he seems to be offering some mild feedback: this particular language and position shifts him from “present” to “leaving”.

          That doesn’t necessarily address your point of, “Who asked Burt Likko in the first place?” which seems a valid question. At the same time, if we all waited to be asked what we thought… well, BLM wouldn’t have much of a voice at all.Report

    • Avatar Joe Sal says:

      I don’t know if concern trolling is exactly what Burt is going for here. I have read him enough to conclude for myself that is not his nature.
      I for one don’t much care for the BLM. Not because of their platform, but because they are another faction in a sea of factions.

      There aren’t many folks here that would endorse dismantling the system or even burning it down. I may be the only huckleberry of this crowd who would call that bluff.

      Enforcement is a faction. A paid faction. It may sound disrespectful at this time, but I will mention that they can be relieved of this duty. What happens after that?

      Laws and the legal system of enforcement are built upon people behaving/interacting poorly together resulting in a need for conflict resolution. How do you perceive the population depending on that, to ‘do it themselves’? Here is where it gets dicey, are people capable of handeling that task amongst themselves? What is your analysis there?Report

      • @joe-sal

        I don’t know if concern trolling is exactly what Burt is going for here.

        I agree: I don’t think he’s going for concern trolling, but that’s where he ends up. Concern trolling consists of saying, “Your goals are different from my own” or “I don’t like how you are pursuing your goals” despite not actually being a legitimate participant.

        I for one don’t much care for the BLM. Not because of their platform, but because they are another faction in a sea of factions.

        I’m not buying that.

        There aren’t many folks here that would endorse dismantling the system or even burning it down.

        Well, you can count me as one.

        What is your analysis there?

        I honestly do not understand your question. Could you restate it a bit more directly?Report

        • Avatar Joe Sal says:

          Are people capable of handeling conflict resolution amongst themselves without a legal/law enforcement institution?

          How would that work, functionally?

          Burt doesn’t outright say it, but there is some implication that BLM will need to show their work of what comes after dismantle.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Shunning and beard clipping.
            Oh, wait, beard clipping is a hate crime. Nevermind.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            I’m pretty firmly convinced that conflict resolution requires compulsory judicial process. I’ve handled enough motions to compel arbitration to know that even when people claim today that they will resolve matters privately and voluntarily, tomorrow they’re going to be so pissed off at each other that they won’t follow through with actually doing it.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal says:

              That is probably pretty accurate for the environment you are operating in. People so often are not able to build a resolution between each other.

              They have to have an ‘interface’ of some form to come to terms. Most of the time it doesn’t feel ‘resolved’ even after the event. They tend to blame the interface for not correctly meeting their desired outcome.

              IMO people have become too lazy to build wholesome resolutions between each other. They expect other people/systems to do it for them. Seldom are they happy with the outcome, because they really have little of their own efforts invested.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Does mandatory arbitration work as “compulsory judicial process”?Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                “Mandatory” arbitration to me means an employer says to an employment candidate, “You must agree to arbitrate employment disputes as a condition of being employed here; if you do not so agree there will be no job offer for you.” Similarly, a physician might say to a prospective patient, “You must agree to arbitrate claims of medical malpractice as a condition of my rendering medical services to you; if you do not so agree I will not treat you.”

                So those things aren’t “compulsory judicial process,” they’re inflexible bargaining terms in the negotiation of a contract.

                Having agreed to those terms, if you then bring your employment/malpractice claim in a regular court, the employer/physician then files a motion to compel arbitration, and if that motion is granted, the Court orders the case to arbitration. At that point, there has been “compulsory judicial process” by way of a court using its power to refer the matter to arbitration.

                Does that answer your question? Probably more elaborately than you’d wanted.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                yes, thanks.
                details appreciated. I may not be meaning to game the system, but the devil’s still in the details.Report

          • @joe-sal

            Are people capable of handeling conflict resolution amongst themselves without a legal/law enforcement institution?

            I agree with Mr. Likko below.

            [T]here is some implication that BLM will need to show their work of what comes after dismantle.

            It’s definitely preferable to describe an alternative to something one condemns. And there’s a fair amount of literature on alternatives to capitalism.

            But, even so, it is not always necessary to specify to specify a practical alternative to condemn an injustice, however deeply baked into some socio-political system. I would not, for example, need to construct a new model of an 1865 Southern agrarian economy to demand that the Southern slave system be dismantled.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal says:

              The hard part is to bring something forward that will displace the system producing the injustice. You have to be able to leverage past path dependency to get to a better path, or at least justify dismantle the current one.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              It’s definitely preferable to describe an alternative to something one condemns. And there’s a fair amount of literature on alternatives to capitalism.

              Demonstrating how “capitalism” (as practiced in America) gets us to the current state of injustice is also a necessary first step.* The second is showing how the proposed new system will somehow avoid or disrupt the creativity of people to rebuild the new system without baking in their bigotry & prejudices all over again.

              *I’ve seen a lot of diatribes against capitalism (in all it’s varied forms – lots of folks like capitalism to be their boogieman, as does socialism) as it relates to social injustice, but almost all of them fall into one of two categories: either they can’t answer the question of why it leads to bad outcomes, or they get the why right, but fail to recognize that they are no longer talking about capitalism, per se, but corporatism, or an oligarchy, or something along those lines.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @oscar-gordon — But so what? All that shows is the word “Capitalism” includes, like most words, multiple senses. When people call out to dismantle “global capitalism” or “American capitalism,” they aren’t splitting hairs about whether these “capitalisms” precisely match the lovely system in your PolySci textbook. They are talking about the real system in the world.

                We all know what the terms mean to denote.

                Now, if you want to take the next step and sell them on laissez faire or whatever, give it a shot. They can then point out that “real Marxism” has never been tried. Blah blah blah.

                Both of which seem stupid positions. No plan survives first contact with the enemy, and your pristine economic models will not survive their first contact with bureaucratic governance. So it goes.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                That’s kinda my point, with a caveat. Capitalism, like socialism, is a catch-all. Saying that you need to tear down capitalism is too vague, it encompases too much. And my caveat is, I don’t accept that capitalism is an acceptable shorthand for American Style Capitalism, because that is still a vast edifice, much of which works quite well toward the betterment of all. There are aspects with are irredeemably rotten and should be addressed, but to treat it all equally is to toss the baby with the bathwater.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic says:

                I don’t accept that capitalism is an acceptable shorthand for American Style Capitalism, because that is still a vast edifice, much of which works quite well toward the betterment of all.

                I think that last word is where a lot of people disagree with you.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Why wouldn’t “capitalism” be an acceptable shorthand for “American style capitalism”? Capitalism has had aggressive and powerful political defenders in the US for most of its history, it’s a very wealthy country and it has a high degree of political stability and ranks quite low in every reporting of political corruption. The US should be damn near a best case for capitalism, and by excluding it, it makes me wonder what exactly you’re talking about.

                Second, defenders of capitalism rarely refrain from citing the successes of the US economy as benefits of capitalism, in terms technological innovation, productivity enhancements, wealth creation, better and cheaper consumer goods, and the like. Without this record of success in the real world, it seems like the argument for capitalism becomes much weaker, but if you want to keep it, I think you have to take the good with the bad.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Why wouldn’t “capitalism” be an acceptable shorthand for “American style capitalism”?

                For the same reason we shouldn’t just talk about “socialism”, it’s imprecise. And that isn’t to say that you can never use capitalism as a shorthand for American Style Corporatist Capitalism, but one should probably make sure everyone is on the same page before resorting to shorthand. Otherwise, you get what @j-r was talking about, an assumption that the speaker wishes to end the private ownership of the means of production.

                Which is fine if that is what the speaker truly wants. But if they have something more specific in mind, then just saying “end capitalism” isn’t accurate and it’ll result in a whole bunch of arguably useless discussion while people try to pin down the specifics.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                And its not like anyone uses “socialism” as shorthand for “Soviet Style Socialism”.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Sure they do, and then we call them on it and ask them to be precise, provide specifics, wonder if they understand the differences between socialism, communism, and Soviet Style… whatever they hell they have these days (Stalinism with a healthy dose of Oligarchy?).Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                We all know what the terms mean to denote.

                I honestly have no idea what those terms are meant to denote, aside from a fuzzy catchall for everything that the speaker supposedly dislikes and an ardent insistence that he or she is on the side of the angels.

                To me and to most dictionaries, capitalism means the private ownership of the means of production. If you are arguing against capitalism, then I suppose that you are endorsing the collective ownership of just about everything north of personal property. And if that’s the case, then yes, I want to see how granting the state, or whatever body will be wielding all of this collective authority, almost unlimited powers over the lives of its citizens will result in a more personal freedom and more accountability for the organs of the state.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                +1 to this. In the thus-far-complete absence of anything resembling policy substance, the difference between “burn it all down” and “work within the system to achieve incremental reforms” is one of tone and affect. So I would like to hear what “the system” is and even a vague sense of what it would mean to dismantle it.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Try American system, with tariffs and all, rather than English system — neoliberalism would be the better word, but capitalism will do in a pinch.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                Like @j-r I have no idea what people mean by “capitalism” or even “global capitalism”. I can guess, but guessing is how we end up arguing past each other. If we want to fix the system we need to repair or replace the parts that aren’t working, and that means reaching a common understanding of what exactly is going wrong.

                High level terms like “capitalism” or “socialism” make for great sloganeering, but have little utility from an analytical standpoint.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Larry Hamelin: I would not, for example, need to construct a new model of an 1865 Southern agrarian economy to demand that the Southern slave system be dismantled.

              Though by not having a new working model on standby, African Americans in the South, once Rutherford B. pulled the federal troops out of Dixie, backslid into rather too close to the same economic, social, and poltical status that existed antebellum. The main difference was that something like the Great Migration could and did occur.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

              I would not, for example, need to construct a new model of an 1865 Southern agrarian economy to demand that the Southern slave system be dismantled.

              Actually, you would have to. If there had been no viable alternative to slavery, then slavery as such would not have been wrong. In order for anything to be wrong (or even pro-tanto wrong), it must be in principle avoidable. That’s because “ought” implies “can”.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                As our experience in Iraq demonstrated, there is always something worse than the status quo.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                Also as a practical matter, a politically viable movement to dismantle the Southern slave system only emerged in 1858/1860 because practical alternatives were proposed: colonization, compensation to slaveowners, apprenticeship and wage labor. Without alternatives, supporters of the status quo would have successfully demagogued that rootless negroes would steal jobs and possessions, rape and murder whites, etc.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      Wasn’t it BLM’s responsibility to put up ropes and signs saying “No concern trolls past this point.”?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      My defense against the accusation of “concern trolling” is definitional. To “concern troll” is to tell a political adversary what it ought to be saying if it wants to win. I’m not telling BLM what it ought to say. I’m not trying to put words in the mouths of the speaker of whom I am critical. He can say and do what he likes, what he thinks is right. If he thinks the system needs “dismantling,” he should say so.

      But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, nor does that mean I’m somehow out of place for speaking my own mind. I am a stakeholder in the system he’s proposing to “dismantle,” after all, as are you and everyone else.

      Would you have advised me to simply walk past the rally, disregarding it as an irrelevancy? If so, before or after I had heard any portion of what was being said?

      After all, you’re right, I don’t have to listen to them and maybe at least some of them don’t want to listen to me. But I’m not telling them what to say. I’m telling them what I agreed with and what I disagreed with.

      I’m not sure why you find my pointing out that I’ve done things to address racial equality in my professional life is somehow wrong. Perhaps you read a greater import to the word “ally” than I intended, buttressing @kazzy’s point that despite a common vocabulary people might be signifying different things. I don’t think that because I’ve handled cases attempting to redress racial inequality that I, personally, am entitled to a seat at the table of determining BLM strategy or rhetoric. It means I claim to be neither neutral regarding nor opposed to BLM, that I possess good intentions, that I’m someone who has demonstrated a degree of sympathy to at least some of the arguments being made.

      I want to support BLM. I hear rhetoric like I did at the rally, and find that some of it goes farther than I’m willing to extend that support. Saying so is not “concern trolling” any more than is any other critique of anyone’s political arguments.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @burt-likko @larry-hamelin

        FWIW, I’m pretty sure you’re both wrong. 😀

        Burt, I’m totally on board with needing to go because it’s lunchtime, but if you left because that one speaker was going too far for you – standing at a rally should not in itself represent unquestioning agreement with all that is said. Most protests have room for a variety of views, only some of which are unanimous among its members. This may or may not make them less effective, but it’s a common feature of protests. No one of good faith should assume that you are 100 percent in agreement with everything a speaker says. For myself, I’ve found that the point where I start disagreeing with people who are less privileged than myself on some axis is exactly where I should *listen to them more closely*, not where I should leave. Because that’s where I’m going to learn stuff, not just support them as far as I already agree with them (even when I end up learning that I still think they are mostly wrong – at least I’m giving them a respectful hearing). I’ve been working a lot on being able to listen without needing to speak my piece OR leave, in contexts where I am both rightfully-marginalized and uncomfortable. It’s hard! And probably the less liminal one is used to being, the more awkward it feels to just listen supportively rather than feel the need to more fully engage or disengage….

        That said, I’m really glad you wrote this piece, which I DON’T see as an example of that. This is you opening your OWN experience up for other people to learn from and exist in dialogue with, as we do all the time on this site, which is part of why Larry is wrong.

        Talking about your own experience – how your day went – on one’s own site, @larry-hamelin, is far different from concern trolling. Burt may or may not be right in his perceptions – and it’s fair to call him on those perceptions – but personal reflection and discussing one’s reactions to an experience is not the same as lecturing someone with “Well, for your own good, what I would recommend is…” Speaking as someone who is often subject to the latter, I cannot state strongly enough that they are Not. The. Same. Plus if you read the post as a holistic narrative, rather than picking it apart, it’s obvious that Burt is, overall, far more interested in it being meaningful and right for him to have shown up and been part of the protest, because of the injustice that does need to be addressed, than he is in his disagreement with that one speaker. Do black people in general or in particular need to care what Burt thinks? Of course they don’t! And he’s not presuming that they should.

        Also, you’re wrong on the face of it that people cannot/should not declare themselves an ally to Black Lives Matter. Because the actual founders of the movement, on their website, say that they want people – ALL people – to do that, if they will then act accordingly (with respect for the founders, also). They even provide a pledge that they encourage people to sign off on. That pledge is a very strong call for change, but it does NOT talk about dismantling the system. Based on Burt’s post here, I’d be utterly unsurprised if he was comfortable with every point in it. (I am. I think. Need to ponder a little bit more, and then I will probably sign it.)

        In case y’all didn’t immediately rush over there to read that pledge, one thing it does talk about, and which I think is important to anyone claiming to be an ally of, stand with, or in whatever way support the movement, is:

        “We pledge togetherness— we will not allow ourselves to be divided.
        We pledge to allow our thinking and actions to be guided by love.”

        I think those are important ideals for any protest movement, or really for anyone who wants change, and they are part of why I bothered to comment. Unless we’re talking about real damage, people who are on the same side should recognize each other’s same-sidedness, as far as we can, and work to support each other rather than dismiss each other’s efforts. (As a pertinent example, the original BLM women have been very patient about both expressing their frustration with being sidelined, but also not dismissing or rejecting those who have (in their view) taken over their cause – except where those folks have goals they cannot in conscience support (like trying to get specific people imprisoned).)

        Does accusing people of ‘concern trolling’ for being honest about their experiences really further anything? I’m having trouble seeing how.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          The fact of the matter is, I could have comfortably stayed there an additional half hour or so and still made my train without all that much stress. I left because I felt uncomfortable with what was being said, whether that was right or wrong, for good or for ill.

          For myself, I’ve found that the point where I start disagreeing with people who are less privileged than myself on some axis is exactly where I should *listen to them more closely*, not where I should leave. Because that’s where I’m going to learn stuff, not just support them as far as I already agree with them (even when I end up learning that I still think they are mostly wrong – at least I’m giving them a respectful hearing).

          This is a great ideal, and I candidly admit that I probably didn’t fulfill it very well yesterday. In my defense, I did stop to listen in the first place, which is more than a lot of other people walking around downtown did. But I admit that I could have stayed longer and listened more and perhaps been, if not persuaded, at least better educated.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @burt-likko Given that I think one of the most valuable parts of telling our own stories is that we can learn from each other being less than perfect, I am grateful for you posting from where you are, not where you or I think you should be. Being able to post from where I am, when I know I’m not where I might prefer to be, is something that I struggle with.

            And by saying you are / were wrong, I didn’t mean to imply that you ought to have been perfect, for sure.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          I strongly agree with @maribou , though on different grounds.
          It is my position that hyperbole should be recognized as such and taken for what it is, rather than mere semantics elevated as the most lofty of inherent meanings.

          And I would have thought that by being on the internet for so long, you would have developed a thicker skin for that sort of thing by now.

          As for dismantling the system, I agree whole-heartedly.

          Well, depending on what system is in question.

          I, too, have experienced first-hand the “rough ride” in the back of a police van.
          Likewise, I have complained to a police disciplinary committee, and understand quite well what a farce these things are. The whole point of them is to enter a finding of no wrong-doing by the police.

          The difference between me & those protesters is that I will be entering a t14 law school.
          And no matter how many internet claims to the effect that no person whomsoever might gain knowledge of law by means of formal instruction in a classroom environment, this is certainly no legal argument, as its authority is apocryphal.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            And I would have thought that by being on the internet for so long, you would have developed a thicker skin for that sort of thing by now.

            Yeah, I’d have thought that about myself too. Written communication is different than being live and in the moment, is all I can say.Report

        • @maribou

          Talking about your own experience – how your day went – on one’s own site … is far different from concern trolling.

          I dunno. I think one can do both. But my main point is: simply saying “I disagree with this position or this tactic” without analysis is at best unhelpful and at worst disrespectful.

          Speaking as someone who is often subject to the latter, I cannot state strongly enough that they are Not. The. Same.

          As someone who has also been subject to the latter, I did read Mr. Likko’s essay as concern trolling, which is in this case is no more than a solecism. But still unhelpful.

          [T]he actual founders of the movement, on their website, say that they want people – ALL people – to [become allies], if they will then act accordingly (with respect for the founders, also)

          I didn’t read the website that way. The exact words are “Stand with”. You either stand with them or don’t; that doesn’t seem an invitation for them to move and stand somewhere else.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @larry-hamelin But the founders aren’t calling for dismantling the system. Many participants in the movement are, but the founders aren’t. They are calling for specific, limited-if-sweeping reforms. So who is asking for them to move and stand somewhere else?Report

            • @maribou Briefly, I think there is a difference in what is appropriate based on whether one is in some sense an “insider” or an “outsider”. I am taking the position here (which could be mistaken) that Mr. Likko is an “outsider” in this case.

              As I noted earlier, the theory of alliance is complicated, and I don’t know that my own thoughts are entirely clear. If time permits, I will write more on the subject soon.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                You’d be welcome to offer that as a guest post, or a cross-post, on these pages.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @larry-hamelin leaving this apparently not-likely-to-be-resolved argument aside, are you familiar with the call for “accomplices, not allies”? I’ve been finding it more meaningful in general – and seeing it referenced in the writing of my friends who are people of color – and it may play into your theory of alliance, if you haven’t already come across it. (If so, well, hey rest of the readership, if you haven’t seen this you might find this interesting/provocative/educational/inflammatory/useful.) The original statement was written in the context of indigenous rights, but it’s been taken up as somewhat of a rallying cry / instruction by many activists, and I’m even seeing it in some of my friends’ writing about their own civil rights struggles in the simplest way – using the word accomplice to talk about those they truly trust to be friends to their cause, when 20 years ago they might have said ally or supporter.Report

              • @maribou

                this apparently not-likely-to-be-resolved argument aside

                At least not likely to be resolved today.

                I hadn’t read the pamphlet earlier. It looks to have an anarchist slant; I lean more towards Marx (Karl, not Groucho; the latter is an anarchist).Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @larry-hamelin I would suggest that telling people that if they want to help they should stay in the system and subvert / attack it from within, rather than overthrow it, is not traditionally anarchist any more than it is Marxist, despite the use of words like “saboteurs”. (Though I’d be happy to hear that I’m wrong, as someone who really wishes anarchism could be reclaimed from the obnoxious hipsters and returned to socialist roots.)

                I also think it’s a mistake of analysis to try and pigeonhole indigenous theorists into a Western system of categorization.

                And the part that had the most impact on me was where it talks about having people’s backs and standing at their sides, and how that differs from an alliance. Thought that part might be relevant to your work, but maybe not.Report

              • Interesting points. I have a hard time following a lot of threads in a discussion, and your points deserve more careful thought than I presently can give. All the problems of the cannot be solved in a day; we’ll probably need a couple of months at least.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Eggslut? Now that’s the type of slutty behavior everyone can endorse!

    “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”


    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Although if this (courtesy of Will) is true, we may be getting past that awkward stage.

      I think we can still make the system work, but I’m pretty much convinced the only way that will happen is for judges to start applying a use of force standard that is not so utterly unbalanced towards the police.

      Of course, I’m not giving up breathing or sex waiting for judges to get a clue…Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Perhaps we are.

        “when justice is not done, there is no legitimate state and no obligation to obey”

        I’d argue the obligation is to overturn the injustice. Something about the Tree of Liberty and Tyrant blood and all….Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          This is what bothers me. All the attention is paid to the police, but if I take a page from Hanley, I have to step back and look at the incentives. The problem is police training, in that they are trained to be aggressive and put self preservation first & foremost. The incentives for that are two-fold. The first is just normal “I want to go home at night with all my bits intact”. Can’t fault that one. The second is “I have what is effectively legal carte blanche to take whatever action I deem necessary to satisfy the first incentive.”

          Seems that the second incentive is driving the issue, and that isn’t (entirely) something the police have any ability to change.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            I’d agree. But I have a different view of our public servants. Sure, you want to go home at night, but your job is to protect the public–and sometimes that might me NOT going home at night. The public has a higher priority, so if that means you’re life is at greater be it.

            That means, you don’t wait until you have 40 cops and the swat team to go into an active shooter incident. That means that if you treat a prisoner harshly or lie or do plant a gun, you go down HARDER than a civilian. That’s the rules they should be playing to.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              You know I agree with you, but again, the police aren’t the only ones perpetuating that paradigm. DAs have to be willing to push charges, and judges have to be willing to play hardball with cops & DAs.

              The voting public has some manner of ability to influence those players, but first & foremost it has to stop buying the BS that crime is out of control*.

              *Of course, not having so many minor things be crimes might help…Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Agreed. More DAs need to man up. Immunity needs to be conditional and malfeasance needs to be investigated in the DA office, judges, and cops. All of it needs to be prosecuted.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                meh, I’m still going with Plan A and burn it to the ground every twenty years. Give those social constructors something to keep busy.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                The problem with burning down constructs with some manner of utility is that too often, those carrying the tinder & torch don’t really have a plan for what to do while the construct is being rebuilt.

                Or worse, they are naive enough to think that their imperfect but temporary construct won’t become, or heavily influence, the new construct.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Ah, and this is the bridge isn’t it?

                I think the Hobbes Error can be found here. If people can live amongst each other in peace with individual constructs they may do well with their social constructs if/when needed.

                If people can’t live amongst each other with individual constructs, they may build social constructs that create conflicting factions.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              I’m actually pretty sure SCOTUS has ruled that the police do not have a duty to protect you. Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                They don’t. So why are we paying union wages to a bunch of folks who harass the population, extort money from them, and treat them like crap? If they have no responsibility to do anything, why are they needed?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Who else will we turn to when the hoards of Mexican rapists and Muslim terrorists and gays and black super predators and nanny staters come for us?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Given they have no duty to protect, you might as well just turn to Jesus, for all the good it’ll do ya.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The honest to god shits who thought they’d go to Philly and hunt black men?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “My arsenal of freedom”?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                We aren’t. The folks in Alberqueque are.

                Why are they needed? Well, folks gotta have gangs. If the police do their job too damn well, the police becomes the fucking gang.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                DeShaney v. Winnebago County and Castle Rock v. Gonzales are equally maddening.

                Whose responsibility are you?Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                When it comes to those cases my advice is be careful what you wish for. In the current paradigm where overreaction and excessive use of force is a major problem I’m not sure that we want to tell the police they can be sued for failing to intervene. It’d be another incentive to escalate every situation.

                ‘The suspect was behaving aggressively and I feared if I didnt shoot he might attack a bystander and I would be subject to liability,’

                I mean, that argument actually sounds better to me than ‘I was afraid for my life due to the suspect’s furtive movements and fighting stance.’Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That wasn’t where I was going.

                I was more going for the point that the government has, officially, said that it’s not our keeper. So taking private gun ownership off the table in the hopes that the police will protect us is…

                Well, I just try to make people read those court cases again.Report

          • Avatar Lyle says:

            One other issue is the use of the police as a revenue source, and giving them a quota of tickets to issue. (This was definitely the case in Ferguson, and also in Mn)
            Of course improper training is a big issue, in the Mn case if the cop thought that Castile was truly a robber he should have done a felony stop. (exit car at gun point, with officer behind police car door, walk backwards with hands up and get down on the ground, then handcuff, as seen on many cop shows). This is actually as much for safety of all involved since there is less chance for a gun to be pulled.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Yeah, I’m fully against such. I’m not sure how best to deal with such issues (route all fines to the state & have them distribute by need; other schemes that break the direct link between money & issuing agency?), but having law enforcement be an expected source of revenue is just asking for the law to target those least likely to contest the fine.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                All net revenues from fines must be spent on non-justice-related civic services, split between the ZIP code where the fine was issued, and the ZIP code where the fined person resides?

                Obviously it wouldn’t help things entirely, but at least it might help avoid
                – cops funding their own departments through fines
                – fines as a tool to rob from the poor and fund services in the rich neighbourhoodsReport

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Damn. I’ma have to think through how that might be implemented, but that’s a pretty damn creative idea.Report

              • Avatar Lyle says:

                I might propose the fines first go to a crime victims fund to pay expenses of crime victims. Of course my first idea is a $1 tax per bullet on all sales to pay the health expenses of non suicide gunshot victims as well as the funeral expenses of those killed in gun homicides. (Medical costs for gunshot injuries are over $2 billion a year)Report

        • @damon

          Of course, politics is what people do when they disagree about justice.Report

  4. Eggslut is a chef driven, gourmet food concept

    I stopped reading right there.Report

  5. @burt-likko

    But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, nor does that mean I’m somehow out of place for speaking my own mind.

    You certainly don’t have to agree with it. But speaking your mind to say just that you disagree at the very least does not seem helpful.

    I’m not sure why you find my pointing out that I’ve done things to address racial equality in my professional life is somehow wrong.

    I don’t think I said that they were wrong. I said they don’t make you an ally of BLM.

    Perhaps you read a greater import to the word “ally” than I intended, buttressing @kazzy’s point that despite a common vocabulary people might be signifying different things.

    That is almost certainly correct. The theory of alliance is contentious. I will perhaps write more on the subject soon.

    I want to support BLM. I hear rhetoric like I did at the rally, and find that some of it goes farther than I’m willing to extend that support.

    Noted. So what? If their goal is to dismantle the system, and you don’t want to dismantle the system, you’re almost by definition not an ally: you and they have fundamentally different goals.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      By the way, @larry-hamelin , please comment more here; agree, disagree, or orthagonal. I like your style, even if today you aimed it at me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Beat me to it but, welcome @larry-hamelin . Care to share how you found us?Report

      • @burt-likko Thanks. I will do so, as time permits. And y’all are welcome to comment on my own blog, The Barefoot Bum

        @kazzy To be honest, I don’t really remember how I found this place. I read a lot of different blogs, so I assume someone linked to you. I thought OG looked interesting, so I added it to my RSS feed, and have been following the site for the last few months or so.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “not an ally” is not the same as “an enemy”.

      although maybe it is, for those who think that “don’t agree” is the same as “not an ally”.Report

  6. Avatar Brent F says:

    On that Bernie Sanders thing. Is it fairly common at these sorts of events to have what I think of as a “protest bait and switch” occur? i.e. The protest is sold as being about one thing but ends up being about a grab bag of pet causes seen as somehow related or within the same political melieu?

    My standout memory of this was a big climate change march in Vancouver I attended, naively thinking it would actually be about climate change. When I was there it ended up being about a grabbag of local issues of the granola set and with a big dollop of various and sundry native rights issues. This irritated me to no end because:

    – The political contents of said event were not as advertised
    – There was an applied assumption that since I cared about one issue I was ready to get aboard with the platform of Naomi Klien types.

    This went a long way towards making sure I’d never attend anything like that again and henceforth view the movement they supported (if not the cause) with suspicion.

    In retrospect, it strikes me that one of the most difficult things involved in organizing political events is preventing them from being hijacked by the pet causes of the local activists who form the volunteer and insitutional support necessary to get them off the ground.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      This is a general aspect of left-protests. We have a hard time keeping to single issues and feel bad about not letting everyone have their say. I can’t think of a left protest I have been to or heard about that did not devolve into everyone raising their pet flag issue.Report

      • Avatar Brent F says:

        Strategically, this seems like an excellent way to poision the well on all of your issues by making getting mainstream support a practical impossiblity.

        It appears the real goal of left wing protests is to make the activist-set feel great about how polticially active and socially just they are while never actually advancing any of the causes they proport to care about.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          I think it is tricky. Part of successful coalition building is letting people have their say. Part of it just might be connected to the heart of the left and it feels authoritarian to tell people not this time.Report

          • Avatar Brent F says:

            I think part of the issue though is that what we term the “left” in this case only wants to coalition with “their type of people.” A subsection of the population that is too small to really effect positive change.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          I get this feeling to. A lot of leftists are more into political theatrics than actual politics.Report

          • @leeesq Yeah, people on the right never go for political theatrics. 😉Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              Rightists tend to combine theatrical politics with electoral politics more frequently though. Theatrical politics has a point but most political and good deal of social change comes through the institutions of government.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        That was a big problem with the Iraq II protests. Bush was going ahead but they would have been much larger if they didn’t become general protests against Western imperial capitalism. Sometimes single issue focus is good.Report

        • Avatar Mo says:

          My, not generally the protesting type, friend went to an anti-Iraq war protest. I asked him if there was a ‘Free Mumia’ flag there and he said, “How did you know?”Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            The Left sees these protests, mistakenly, as opportunities to convert people to the cause. Lots of cutting off the nose to spite the face going on.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      With this in mind, I wonder if the “system” he wants to “dismantle” is more economic than it is criminal justice. If he is a Bernie Sanders supporter, that term takes on a potentially very different meaning.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I can sort of see where you are coming from but do think you might have an institutional bias.

    We are both lawyers and your practice seems to hew more to the defense-corporate side. We are both prone to want to defend the system when people are outraged by it. I get defensive too when people are outraged by a judge’s decision (that follows established law) or by not understanding that something is a right and it is not “I support free speech unless I find it icky.”

    Most people are not trained as lawyers. They don’t seem to understand or have a hard time grasping that lawyers must advocate for clients even if they disagree on a personal level or that judges might not agree personally with the decisions that they make.

    But when it comes to BLM and Police Reform, the police seem rather hard to reform and there seems to be more and more evidence that they are really out of control. How do you explain what is happening in Oakland where the police seem to be embroiled in such a scandal that would be seen as unbelievable if it were in a Hollywood movie? Or that cops seem to be extremely trigger happy in many circumstances?

    The whole point of structural racism and oppression is that it is baked into the system and simple reforms won’t fix it. To me this essay sounds like you are struggling with the systematic part, possibly because you are part of the system in your own way as a lawyer even if it is only civil law. Can you see this possibly on an existential threat level? What happens to me and my career if the system is burnt down and replaced wholecloth?Report

  8. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    First, Burt was not the oldest person there.

    Mrs. Daniels was there, after returning from Grand Central.

    And as an extremely pale woman of a certain age, she didn’t feel like a part of the target audience either, as she related her experiences to me last evening.

    Her impressions were largely Burt’s, although she missed the “Dismantle” comment; instead she heard the other comment, where a speaker urged everyone to turn and hug the person next to her.
    She liked that.

    I think there is a struggle within outsider groups, as to how wide to cast the net.

    When I used to host MoveOn rallies, they became like welcoming beacons to everyone and anyone who had some sort of cause to champion, from GMOs to chemtrails, from people who wanted to tweak the system to people wanting to burn it all down.

    The problem is harder for BLM, IMO, because the stakes are so high and the topic so incendiary. At the rally there were people like Burt and Mrs. Daniels, who had a mild interest and open mind. But there were also people there who have personally experienced the brutal face of the LAPD, and had much less willingness to trust “the system” and have no patience for lectures on how they should process their grief and rage.

    Its also the case that not all political activists possess the nuance and skill to be able to project a message of “Reform-not-Dismantle”, or incremental change, which in itself requires working within a corrupt system.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I don’t remember the hugging suggestion; no one hugged when I was there. I’d have liked that too if I had heard it. So maybe she wasn’t there at precisely the same time as me. All the same, a very near crossing of paths!Report

  9. Avatar Francis says:

    Tools exist for reining in the police, but many of them require buy-in from multiple levels of government. A few thoughts (mostly belonging to other people):

    — any use-of-force case should be investigated and prosecuted by a special unit of the AG’s office. County level prosecutors are just too close to cops for their investigations to have credibility.

    — whether it’s civil forfeiture or running up the parking tickets, the funds collected by police should never be used for police purposes. Send them into a State education fund.

    — State governments need to take much greater responsibility for ensuring that counties and cities are appropriately sized, shaped and funded. See point 2 above. This is a really arcane area of the law and one in which you get very strongly focused opposition and no strong proponent.

    — Police officer privacy rights should be very narrowly construed. They are the public face of government.

    — Police academy training should be a robust topic of conversation. De-escalation techniques, managing the mentally ill, balancing the rights of the homeless with the rights of everyone else to a clean safe urban environment … the public should know what’s being taught to future cops and demand input into that training.

    — Consequences for misconduct. Returning to the demonstration that Burt attended, two cops acted (apparently) within the law but with gross disregard to applicable rules of conduct. If prosecution is impossible (due to the very deferential standard given to any officer facing a drawn weapon), we should at least expect that they’ll be fired.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      +1 to all

      Regarding your last point, I think oftentimes, police leadership would like to fire officers that regularly cause them PR headaches, but can’t. More than a few times a year I hear about an officer who was fired for (what I would think of as a bulletproof cause) being given his job back because the Union forced the PD to take him back (through court action or arbitration or the like).

      You have that happen a few times, and you stop trying to clean house.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Re: “dismantle the system”:

    I’m of a mind – and not on a trivial, sloganeering type level – that power. will. win. Given that, dismantling the system will lead to better results for a given advocate of that view according to only two metrics: that such dismantling will personally benefit the individual speaker because that person personally possesses enough power that “dismantling the system” will constitute a net benefit, or that some other institutional structure, one which will lead to “better” outcomes for the speaker along a perhaps wider set of metrics, possesses enough power to realistically claim the mantle of the dispossessed. I’m skeptical of both.

    So my view is that pure power – and power differentials (most definitely including gummint!) – are like the poor: they’ll always be with us. Given that, the best option for folks brought to the edge by what they view as a hopelessly and irredeemably corrupt system is to realize that and advocate for reforms of existing institutional structures instead of revolution or burning it all down.

    We’ll always have cops and courts (and politics and culture (and ambition and self-interest…)). The goal should be to improve the institutions we have rather than create new ones from scratch. And that requires the exercise of power applied to those institutions. Even if improving them requires dismantling a part of the system.

    And adding: Excellent post Burt!Report

  11. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    I’m a day late but I’ll chime in.

    IMHO it’s naive to think tearing down the system would make things better, as opposed to worse.

    I also wonder how much of this is election year pandering to mobilize the base.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I’m not sure that pandering to the base is a legitimate excuse for politicians’ behavior in a representative democracy. It’s sorta their job, actually.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        …it’s not that I disagree with you (I don’t), but imho the BLM movement is channeling their efforts unproductively. If the movement were about reducing the number of dead bodies, then ending the war on drugs needs to be part of the conversation and, as far as I can tell, it’s not.

        Short of that, there are things we can/should do, but mostly they also isn’t part of the conversation. The list(s) of demands seems pretty unorganized and fairly removed from reality (dismantling the police is unlikely to lead to good things for their communities).

        This seems more like base mobilization than a serious movement.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:


          Similarly, I don’t disagree with your view here either. It seems entirely obvious to me (fwtw…) that criminal justice reform in a more general sense is required for BLM interests to be achieved. The whole “war on drugs” thing is a quagmire of complexity, one whose negative attributes are perhaps easy to identify but which also suffer from equally obvious uphill battles (political, institutional, monetary, cultural, etc) to effectively correct. Which brings me to the one area I DO disagree with you about.

          This seems more like base mobilization than a serious movement.

          The concept of base mobilization strikes me as implying that partisan individuals within institutions with the power to determine policy are (as you said upthread) pandering to the emotions of a segment of the electorate to gain their votes. Personally, I don’t see it that way at all. The opposite in fact. BLM is an instanc of the base imposing upon the current institutional power structure views which make individuals withing that structure tremendously politically uncomfortable. And that strikes me as the case even if BLM’s proposed solutions are unsatisfactory given the scope of the problem or – even worse – remain unarticulated.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Btw, my above comment reminds me of one of the few times I’ve robustly agreed with something Hillary Clinton has said during the primary. When BLM confronted her with (their view) of the scope of the problem as they see it, her response was to effectively concede that institutional policing methods DO constitute a problem for blacks in America but also to challenge BLMers to articulate specific policy proposal sufficient to correct them. As far as I know, that request was gently brushed off the table, perhaps in order to refocus on the complaint side of the debate.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            Stillwater: …The concept of base mobilization strikes me as implying that partisan individuals within institutions with the power to determine policy are (as you said upthread) pandering to the emotions of a segment of the electorate to gain their votes.

            Not “power”, more like “money”. My expectation is that the people funding BLM are the same people paying for Hillary. Yes, the bulk of the movement are true believers (in what is unclear) but it’s odd how their actions never really do her damage. Bern seems a lot more like a natural ally for BLM than Hillary, but that’s not how it played out.

            BLM wants “massive change”. Bern ran as a revolutionary, Hillary is a moderate and one of the founders of a big expansion of the war on drugs/crime. Somehow he was taken to task and his meetings disrupted while she was not. That’s over and above the idea that Hillary is going to do the massively good things for BLM that Obama has not.

            Stillwater:Btw, my above comment reminds me of one of the few times I’ve robustly agreed with something Hillary Clinton has said during the primary. When BLM confronted her…

            Oh, I agree with her too. She handled that really, really well… it made me wonder how much of a “surprise” BLM’s visit was.

            Hillary doesn’t think on her feet, adlib, or go off script, if she’s pressed she’ll just evade and say basically ‘nothing’ (mostly this is a strength). And that was the only time I can think of where BLM “confronted” her.

            Somehow I suspect after the election when they’re no longer useful, BLM will experience a substantial budget cut. In short I think they’re being used.Report

  12. I apologize: work and the molasses-like slowness of my mind have delayed my response.

    I originally planned to write more on the theory of alliance and concern trolling, but I quickly realized my thoughts on the matter were banal and vapid.

    Instead, I have written on the more substantive question: how can we think about the concept of “dismantling the system”? My thoughts are here: Burning down the house.

    To summarize: The question of whether or not the proletariat (or some other class or group) will or will not actually dismantle the capitalist system is largely a descriptive question, not a normative question.

    The proletariat will dismantle the system when they believe it is in their material interest to do so; the capitalist system will endure as long as the bourgeoisie ensure that the proletariat is materially better off under capitalism than it would be to try to move to socialism.

    The key moral question is not whether or not capitalism is better than socialism; the key moral question is: What means are revolutionaries on one hand and the bourgeoisie and their allies on the other willing to use or tolerate to dismantle or preserve the system?

    This question cannot be answered out loud; more precisely no one can trust a verbal answer. I pose it for the purpose of inspiring private reflection.Report

  13. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Depth perception.

    If you see the issue as some bad branches on an otherwise salvageable, possibly even good tree, then of course you’re going to cringe when someone concludes the entire tree is rotten.

    “What?? Chop it down?!? That’s crazy!!”

    One can say this & call to spare the tree for the sake of the fruit they speak of it bearing, but if there is indeed good fruit on it all too many are not getting to taste it. When people are denied such, the question of if the tree is bad or whatever fruit it bears is Not For Us eventually becomes moot.Report