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Peasants and Clients

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Oakland experiences a riot in response to the Oscar Grant shooting verdict. From The Guardian:

Rioters trashed parts of Oakland, California, today in protest against the verdict in a controversial court case in which a white policeman shot dead an unarmed African American.

At least 100 people were arrested after looting and confrontations with police in Oakland last night and early today. The protesters ignored a plea for calm by the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The policeman, Johannes Mehserle, 28, was found guilty yesterdayof involuntary manslaughter. The jury rejected the prosecution case that it was murder.

YouTube showed footage of Mehserle’s shooting of Oscar Grant, 22, who had been lying on the platform in a railway station on 1 January 2009, surrounded by police after a fight. Mehserle claimed he had thought he had reached for an electric Taser rather than his gun.

The case became a cause celebre in the US, with its echoes of the treatment of Rodney King, a black man whose severe beating by police in LA in 1991 was captured on video. The subsequent acquittals of four LAPD officers sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Police deployed in Oakland in riot gear yesterday and shops boarded up their windows in anticipation of a repeat of the rioting that took place in the immediate aftermath of Grant’s shooting. Up to a thousand protesters took to the streets last nightand early today, some wearing masks with images of Grant’s face. A banner was unfurled proclaiming “Oakland Says Guilty’.

Rioters, some dressed in black and wearing black masks, smashed shop and car windows, helped themselves to goods ranging from jewellery to groceries and trainers, and attacked police lines. Journalists were also attacked.

The Oakland police chief, Anthony Batts, told a press conference: “This city is not the wild, wild west. This city will not tolerate this activity.” He blamed anarchists coming from outside Oakland. “We started taking a number of rocks and bottles. We then made a dispersal order.”

Here’s a video of the Oakland looting.

Maybe it’s by chance or he’s just being timely and subtle, but Mencius Moldbug posted a blog about clients and peasants. He notes that peasants, aka the Tea Party, are mostly denoted as complainers, and rightfully points out that these same peasants elected the very ideology they’re now protesting:

If I had to describe it in a sentence, I would say that the rage is easily explained, but not easily explained in the terms of those who feel it. They are clearly angry about something, but the actual words that come out of their mouths are often nonsensical and contradictory. This is why it is so hard for so many to get a handle on. It is simply inarticulate demotic discontent.

The CAP historians mention these people a couple of times. Most notably, they mention the fact that this group, historically Democratic Party voters going back to the 19th century (“rum, Romanism and rebellion”), also historically urban, was living in the suburbs and voting for Reagan in 1980. They profess, however, to be entirely mystified by this transition. Surely, if we understand it, we can answer the question of what motivates the “tea partiers.”

What we can say quite clearly is that this tribal subpopulation has, in no temporary way, lost confidence in progressivism as a philosophy of government. Fortunately or unfortunately, they do not know how to unelect a philosophy.

And then talks about “clients”:

Last week I was at a party, at a warehouse space in one of the crackhead districts of SF, at which the subject of crackheads came up. The woman across the table, a member of my social class, expressed great sympathy for this class. I asked her if she had ever been victimized by such. She said: “two days ago, someone smashed a window in my car and stole my iPhone.”

And she perceived this crime through a pure Jean Valjean lens, with no sense at all that she had been *personally* victimized – much less, victimized by the government. Or a judge. Or an ideology. Or whatever. Rather, she considered it entirely normal and even laudable for a sophisticated, modern person to live in a city in which an iPhone cannot be left visible on a car seat, and she considered herself an idiot who had, for her $500 or whatever, purchased a valuable lesson about modern urban living….

Who would think this way? Well, perhaps if you were a Frenchman in 1944, and your property was looted and vandalized, by American soldiers on their way to kick hell out of the Nazis, you might think this way. The State Department thought this way about the killing of Cleo Noel. This is the way you think about your own clients and the excesses and abuses they commit. Certainly, if this woman’s car had been vandalized by cops, tea partiers, etc, she would have been enraged for life. We hate our enemies and not our allies – it is only natural.

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Written by xout

July 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

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