This morning Paul K. sent me an email with this link and the following comment:
What grabbed me as I read this is the relevance to the culture of violent riots. Portland in particular is working very hard to serve as a test case for this phenomenon, normalizing political deviance for months on end.
In a follow-up discussion in the thread with others Jacob F. pointed out:
It’s similar to the idea of the Overton Window. Changing the framing of what is acceptable by mainstream culture.
This was incredibly timely because last night I ran across an interview with the author of the book In Defense of Looting. Here are some quotes from that article (emphasis added):
When I use the word looting, I mean the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot. That’s the thing I’m defending. I’m not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force. It’s not a home invasion, either. It’s about a certain kind of action that’s taken during protests and riots.
It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage—which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk. That’s looting’s most basic tactical power as a political mode of action.
It also attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that’s unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.
Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.
We have to be willing to do things that scare us and that we wouldn’t do in normal, “peaceful” times, because we need to get free.
“Without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.” Just as Lyle has frequently said something to the effect of, “They seek the freedom to do wrong.” And Solzhenitsyn had things to say that align closely with this. And even more directly he wrote of how the thieves “were allies in the building of communism”.
Wow! Just wow! How can the agenda of this crowd be made any more clear? How can it be demonstrated to be more evil? Do people need to wait for the Gulags and death camps?
Normalization of deviance is right.