On the Riots

You know what riots I’m talking about. I don’t have anything to say about them that Lenin’s Tomb or Penny Red or An und fur sich hasn’t already said, though if you read those links, you’ll figure out where my politics lie on the situation.

I was talking to Scu today about gonzo academic writing and how it was really popular in the nineties, and maybe I’m thinking about gonzo because I’m reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels right now, but I think there’s something to be said about pure affect during Events like the U.K. riots.

I feel a kind of disgust at the people who are taking advantage of a political moment to get new couches. I feel a kind of proletariat pride for the people who are getting, as some of them have to believe, justice. I feel a profound disgust at the political comments that we’re seeing come out of the government of Britain. I want to punch the assholes who feel like the best thing to do in this time is to put pictures of rioters on the internet so they can crowdsource prosecutions.

All of that bubbles up in my mind. Anyway, Hell’s Angels has this quote in it, one that I feel really sums up a lot of the affect:

More and more often the police are finding themselves in conflict with whole blocs of the citizenry, none of them criminals in the traditional sense of the word, but many as potentially dangerous–to the police–as an armed felon. This is particularly true in situations involving groups of Negroes and teen-agers. The Watts riot in Los Angeles in 1965 was a classic example of this new alignment. A whole community turned on the police with such a vengeance that the National Guard had to be called in. Yet few of the rioters were criminals–at least not until the riots began. It may be that America is developing a whole new category of esssentially social criminals…persons who threaten the police and the traditional social structure even as they break no law…because they view The Law with contempt and the police with distrust, and the abiding resentment can explode without the slightest provocation. (Hell’s Angels, Thompson, 108)

This was published in 1966, mind you, and it came true; the existence of the people who have the potential to riot always justifies police action against the rioters from the perspective of the police.

In any case, I hope it keeps calming down.

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2 Responses to On the Riots

  1. Daniel Bolt says:

    I will have to read Hell’s Angels sometime… that quote seems to be very relevant these days.

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