in defense of rioting: a translation16 Aug 2014
"woo wooooooo murder aw yeah this is cool"
There’s a post about the rioting (which didn’t really happen) in Ferguson that’s going around in jacobinmag, a magazine named after Jacobins. Jacobins, if you’re not familiar with history, were a group of French revolutionaries whose main claim to fame is coopting a revolution in order to stage a couple of years of widespread creative decapitation. The name of the magazine isn’t ironic, by the way. I know, it was a head-scratcher for me, too. So anyway, this article can be a bit hard to read if you’re not familiar with the parlance of these modern-day authoritarian jacobins, so I thought I’d post this handy translation of the key parts:
Rallies and protests erupted as people took to the streets — eventually culminating in a riot. Crowds went from holding candle light vigils at the site of Brown’s death to burning down a number of businesses and lighting molotov cocktails during confrontations with police. How did we get here?
Translation: recent mass protests over a police killing had a few instances of damage to property and looting which we’re going broadly characterize as “riots” in order to use it to justify everything that follows in an exercise of our lust for violence, power and – hopefully! – murder!
Riots, like other forms of political action, can build solidarity. They can create strong feelings of common identity.
Translation: Defense against aggression can be co-opted to empower authoritarian shitheads like us who want our hand on the tiller so we can start putting heads on pikes.
Rather than evidence of illegitimacy, the presence of these “outsiders” reflected the magnetic power of the political moment.
Translation: huge groups of people wielding power give us a giant murder-boner
The community was unified and ready to take action. The police were the problem, and they had to be stopped.
Translation: *whispers* muuuuurder-boooooner
Not only is this a more substantive analysis than what is often offered on the Left, but acting on this analysis is the only way to eradicate entrenched racial hierarchy.
Translation: rioting is the only way to eliminate racial hierarchy (ed: say, how’s that workin out so far?)
riots are often galvanizing community events with the potential to unleash concerted political energy in dynamic and unpredictable directions, the stale politics of respectability only leads to further marginalization and dislocation. Now, it’s possible to disagree with the utility of insurrection. But these communities’ responses to subjugation must be discussed in political terms and not simply dismissed out of hand.
Translation: Riots are “unpredictable”, so who knows what can happen! Maybe murder. Maybe not all murder is bad! let’s get started!
On the surface, addressing the effects of rioting is an important political issue. By framing themselves as a customer in need of their “corporate neighbor,” it’s possible that this person is acting not out of concern for the working people that lost their jobs — their actual neighbors — but from the fear that their shopping routine will be disturbed. Like Deandre Smith observed, we identify more strongly with broken windows than broken people.
Translation: this person is claiming to be sad that they don’t have a place to buy things from their neighbor anymore, but they’re wrong. They are stupid, and we know better. This rioting might be a good opportunity to put us in charge, don’t you think?
“Let’s find ways to honestly observe and discuss their political needs, rather than simply criticizing the nature of their response to social violence.”
Translation: uh …
“social violence”? Seriously? I don’t know how to translate that. I give up, fuck these people.