Blackspot

Is Rioting Revolutionary?

The London Riots as a political act.
Is Rioting Revolutionary?

Looters run from a clothing store in Peckham, London August 8, 2011 (Reuters/Dylan Martinez)

Watching the left's reaction to the London Riots, I am reminded of a discussion between philosopher Michel Foucault and French Maoist militants in 1971. The Maoists argued in favor of setting up a "people's court" to pass judgement on the police whereas Foucault took the contrary position and insisted instead on uncoordinated, unconstrained brutal "popular justice."

Foucault theorized that any attempt to create a judicial system, even a judicial system purportedly run by the people, would simply replicate the power structure that we intended to oppose. Nor did he shy away from taking this argument to its logical conclusion. Foucault went as far as embracing historic examples of disturbing mob behavior, explicitly recalling, and implicitly endorsing, the rash of extrajudicial executions carried out during the French Revolution's September Massacres of 1792 when over a thousand people were murdered by revolutionaries. This, for Foucault, was what "popular justice" looks like and even the "moral ideology" that finds these illegal outbursts repellant "must be submitted to the scrutiny of the most rigorous criticism." The Maoists, on the other hand, insisted that the people's fury ought to be channeled into appropriate (albeit revolutionary) party structures.

What Foucault and the Maoists were debating goes to the heart of how we imagine revolutionary change will take place. Will the revolution be an uncontrolled insurrection – whose symptoms include looting in the streets of London, for example – where the people's rage against consumerism is fully released and their judgements implicitly trusted? Or, will we fear the mob and act, more or less explicitly on the side of power and the status quo, to quell and control the released flows – grabbing a broom to keep the streets clean for the next day's ecocidal shopping?

This is, for me, the fundamental point: at what point does a riot become a revolution? Must the London youth don Black Bloc attire and shout utopian anarchist slogans while burning cop cars before their acts are recognized as a kind of political rebellion? Must they be able to articulate themselves in a way that is intelligible to readers of Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben and Antonio Negri before their riotous flashmobs are acknowledged as the highest form of networked insurrection yet achieved? I suspect that when revolution comes, the ones who have been too long waiting for it will be the very ones who miss it. For they will be too accustomed to looking in the wrong direction, waiting for the wrong words, the wrong actors, the wrong kinds of political deeds.

We are in a revolutionary moment. Prepare yourself: this global insurrection will unfold in ways we lefties may not like. There might be violence, although we desire nonviolence, and there might be pillaging, although we desire the peaceful transfer of wealth. But, let us pause to consider before passing knee-jerk judgement on the forces unleashed even if they do not act as we would prefer. Before we rush to set up approved structures of dissent, we should ask ourselves why we are so invested in denying that rioting is a legitimate political act. Rather than trying to channel, control or dissipate these forces, we must learn to play off of the chaos of the released flows.

"It is from the point of view of property that there are thieves and stealing," Foucault insisted at the end of his discussion. When we always see looting as nothing but thieving and refuse to grant to it the status of a conscious political act, an outburst of "popular justice" against a corrupt and corrupting capitalist system, we are assuming the point of view of the very forces we are trying to overthrow. The same goes for when we condemn any insurrectionary act that is not accompanied by an insurrectionary tract.

The London Riots may not be pretty but as the old-lefty adage goes: "Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection…" And the London Riots are, whether we like it or not, what an insurrection might look like if the forces of capitalism do not peacefully, voluntarily relinquish their stranglehold.

Micah White, micah (at) adbusters.org

Adbusters 111 Cover

On Newsstands December 3

At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.

Subscribe to Adbusters Magazine

274 comments on the article “Is Rioting Revolutionary?”

Displaying 271 - 274 of 274

Page 28 of 28

Anonymous

the london riots were not "the people's rage against consumerism." Quite the opposite. The riots had more in common with American 'black fridays' when people get crushed, stepped on and killed so they can get the newest product at a special low price for Christmas.

Anonymous

the london riots were not "the people's rage against consumerism." Quite the opposite. The riots had more in common with American 'black fridays' when people get crushed, stepped on and killed so they can get the newest product at a special low price for Christmas.

Anonymous

Please email the following to many organizations(including trade unions) in Europe and N. America

-------------------------------------------------

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy the bourgeois governments

in all over western Europe, beginning on Nov 15, followed by uprising in USA, Canada in Nov 19 (Arm yourselves; do not hesitate to shoot the police, if they attack you, by any means)

-----------------------------------------

Unprecedented Deception Tactics make copies and distribute

The Bourgeoisie has fooled people so

well that an average person (of lower class,

middle class) in response to the establishment

of a socialist State which will guarantee the basic

rights of employment, free education, housing,

adequate income, freedom of faith, among

others, gives the same answer that his abuser,

oppressor, the Bourgeoisie gives:

That is dictatorship (against the capitalists).

That is suppression of individuals rights

(in favor of people’s collective rights).

Some say the genes of these people are

just too stupid to read the unspoken words.

Some know the heinous Bourgeoisie is

a clever fox.

Let’s destroy this fox once for all.

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to

destroy the bourgeois governments in all over

western Europe, beginning on Nov 15, followed

by uprising in USA, Canada

in Nov 19 (Arm yourselves; do not hesitate to shoot

the police, if they attack you, by any means)

Copy, email, attach this in bathrooms, bus stations, etc.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The End of a very Dark Era in Sight

Sex trade in millions (involving adults

and millions of children).

Divorce in hundreds of millions imposed

on people (to increase consumption).

Indecency, immorality, humiliation, sky

rocketing.

Indirect crimes: eviction, sweat labor, high

level of theft, bribery, etc, etc.

Child labor: 200 millions (5,6,7 year olds)

To survey everything will take long. Let’s

make the long story short by saying: Destroy

all the Bourgeoisie political parties to get

justice . attach this in public bathrooms.

Make copies and distribute

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy

the bourgeois governments in all over western Europe,

beginning on Nov 15, followed by uprising in USA, Canada

in Nov 19

Copy, email; attach this in public bathrooms, bus stations, etc.

From Liberation Front
----------------------------------------------
They have mastered the art of controlling

the people’s minds make copies and distribute

They have to expiate their crimes against

humanity, before God, and before that before

the people.

For every 4,5,6 year old child who has to work

for his family to survive(200 million child labour

in the world). For every innocent woman and girl

who has been deprived of her honour, forced

to sell her body (prostitution, pornography).

For every person, forced to leave his/ her dwelling

so the fat landlords get fatter.

For every student who had to drop out of school

or university because of poverty.

And many, many more injustices

We will need to arrest all the Bourgeois

politicians, bring them to trial, ask them piercing

questions—and then spit at their faces, while

pronouncing death penalty for them.

If you have any ounce of humanity, honor, gut,

in your blood, you will be there in harmony with

others off work in rallies/uprisings beginning in

Nov 15 in many European, and Nov 19 in

N. American countries.

Attach this in the bathrooms, walls, etc
From Liberation Front of N. America and W. Europe
---------------------------------------------------------

Time to kill the Bourgeoisie

Those who say that Stalin, and communists

killed many people, never say who did they kill.

They killed very heinous individuals, like pimps,

those who abduct children and girls, forcing them

into sex business, those who order the pension of

pensioners to be stopped, those who order the eviction

of the working class people, and like that.

Hence, the critics of the socialists by and large fall

in the category of these heinous, criminal individuals

who will be destroyed, abolished in the very near future.

And the remaining of the critics, (from among the

working class) are just brain washed lunatics who do not

even realize who is on their side, and who is against them.

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy

the bourgeois governments in all over Western Europe,

beginning onNov 15, followed by uprising in USA,

Canada on Nov 19 (Arm yourselves.)

Attach this in public bathrooms; email
From Liberation Front of N. America and W. Europe

Anonymous

Please email the following to many organizations(including trade unions) in Europe and N. America

-------------------------------------------------

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy the bourgeois governments

in all over western Europe, beginning on Nov 15, followed by uprising in USA, Canada in Nov 19 (Arm yourselves; do not hesitate to shoot the police, if they attack you, by any means)

-----------------------------------------

Unprecedented Deception Tactics make copies and distribute

The Bourgeoisie has fooled people so

well that an average person (of lower class,

middle class) in response to the establishment

of a socialist State which will guarantee the basic

rights of employment, free education, housing,

adequate income, freedom of faith, among

others, gives the same answer that his abuser,

oppressor, the Bourgeoisie gives:

That is dictatorship (against the capitalists).

That is suppression of individuals rights

(in favor of people’s collective rights).

Some say the genes of these people are

just too stupid to read the unspoken words.

Some know the heinous Bourgeoisie is

a clever fox.

Let’s destroy this fox once for all.

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to

destroy the bourgeois governments in all over

western Europe, beginning on Nov 15, followed

by uprising in USA, Canada

in Nov 19 (Arm yourselves; do not hesitate to shoot

the police, if they attack you, by any means)

Copy, email, attach this in bathrooms, bus stations, etc.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The End of a very Dark Era in Sight

Sex trade in millions (involving adults

and millions of children).

Divorce in hundreds of millions imposed

on people (to increase consumption).

Indecency, immorality, humiliation, sky

rocketing.

Indirect crimes: eviction, sweat labor, high

level of theft, bribery, etc, etc.

Child labor: 200 millions (5,6,7 year olds)

To survey everything will take long. Let’s

make the long story short by saying: Destroy

all the Bourgeoisie political parties to get

justice . attach this in public bathrooms.

Make copies and distribute

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy

the bourgeois governments in all over western Europe,

beginning on Nov 15, followed by uprising in USA, Canada

in Nov 19

Copy, email; attach this in public bathrooms, bus stations, etc.

From Liberation Front
----------------------------------------------
They have mastered the art of controlling

the people’s minds make copies and distribute

They have to expiate their crimes against

humanity, before God, and before that before

the people.

For every 4,5,6 year old child who has to work

for his family to survive(200 million child labour

in the world). For every innocent woman and girl

who has been deprived of her honour, forced

to sell her body (prostitution, pornography).

For every person, forced to leave his/ her dwelling

so the fat landlords get fatter.

For every student who had to drop out of school

or university because of poverty.

And many, many more injustices

We will need to arrest all the Bourgeois

politicians, bring them to trial, ask them piercing

questions—and then spit at their faces, while

pronouncing death penalty for them.

If you have any ounce of humanity, honor, gut,

in your blood, you will be there in harmony with

others off work in rallies/uprisings beginning in

Nov 15 in many European, and Nov 19 in

N. American countries.

Attach this in the bathrooms, walls, etc
From Liberation Front of N. America and W. Europe
---------------------------------------------------------

Time to kill the Bourgeoisie

Those who say that Stalin, and communists

killed many people, never say who did they kill.

They killed very heinous individuals, like pimps,

those who abduct children and girls, forcing them

into sex business, those who order the pension of

pensioners to be stopped, those who order the eviction

of the working class people, and like that.

Hence, the critics of the socialists by and large fall

in the category of these heinous, criminal individuals

who will be destroyed, abolished in the very near future.

And the remaining of the critics, (from among the

working class) are just brain washed lunatics who do not

even realize who is on their side, and who is against them.

join the uprising (strikes, rallies, total halt) to destroy

the bourgeois governments in all over Western Europe,

beginning onNov 15, followed by uprising in USA,

Canada on Nov 19 (Arm yourselves.)

Attach this in public bathrooms; email
From Liberation Front of N. America and W. Europe

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.