“Every society has the criminals it deserves”
When I heard the first deep sigh of a slashed tire, and the first scream of breaking glass on May Day, I didn’t flinch. Property being the holy grail of our current society, one might expect a more visceral reaction. Furthermore, I was raised in a privileged life separated from the daily violence of our Society – police brutality, the unearthing of millions of years of ancestral energy, the release of toxic pollutants from that process, the caging and imprisoning of countless human and non-human animals – yet I still wasn’t shocked to be a witness of May Day. I’ve never been in the torrent of a riot (I still haven’t) – I had never even felt the light mist of collective vandalism before the 1st.
Nonetheless, I watched, unsurprised, filled with that feeling of living real life. Of course, YouTube and international blogs have given me half-experience of the Riot, but I don’t think this is what dulled my nerves. I knew I was witnessing the past culminating in the present moment, and as a student of life, how could I be surprised? Observing the targets – banks who calculate the upper limits of taking advantage of you…. apparel companies that peddle rape culture, sweatshop labor, and endless consumption… mobile phone companies that tear the worlds most rare (and toxic) substances from the ground… a federal court that justifies all of these aforementioned abuses, and sugar-coats the caging of humans who don’t abide the edicts of small, mostly-wealthy, mostly-white cadre we call “our” Legislature.
And for someone who has no delusions about the pain inflicted by a Society that treats profit as the highest moral priority, what path of recourse does this Society provide? How may one declare their moral outrage – or moreso – how can one actually declare their unwillingness to participate in such a destructive Society? What course of action is available to simply make things better? Letters to presidents of corporate boards perhaps? A vote once a year? Non-functioning impeachment processes? A civilian militia? Running for office themselves – only to be constrained and pacified by the system they need to change?
Whatever forms of recourse we are offered – it is plain and clear they are not functioning. The same abuses being protested on May Day have been protested for centuries, perhaps in different forms. Personally, after observing the homogeny and prejudice of “our Fore Fathers,” I am skeptical if “we the people” were ever even trusted to have a stake in changing Society in the first place. What a short time ago was the vote finally expanded to include Women, or non-whites – which does not even imply that it was an empowering tool in the first place. Still today, felons are stripped of their “inalienable” right, and your neighbor the undocumented immigrant has been considered by the state an “alien” all along. There is no “we the people,” there never was; it has always been “you people,” peons, civilians, citizens, workers; humans that ‘function best’ when labeled and controlled by larger institutions.
Even if we do sacrifice our precious autonomy and decide to deal with the government, it is plain and clear through research and reality that our voices don’t hold much sway in those halls of power – not even with the President of ‘hope and change.’ Perhaps we could influence them a bit if we had the cash on hand, but if you don’t have a masters or PHD, your real wages have been falling consistently for the past 40 years, and most of us need every penny we’ve got – at the least to have a drink or a smoke so we may pretend we are enjoying freedom.
This Society trusts us only as far as it can throw us, only as deep as it can hurt us, only as long as it can jail us. And it is not completely a story of “us” versus “them”. There is no “we the people,” there is only the multitude of peoples. People move in and out of different classes and ranks – like your friend that got that manager position and never was quite the same. Like your neighbor that ran for office and suddenly had excuses or “compromises” to respond to the community’s desires. Like your kind friend who became a police officer and is now beating his fellow humans. Like you, like me, who still from time to time wears the brands of the world we despise, and speaks the language of sexism or racism we are trying to expel.
I will condemn no person that is fighting for the reduction of violence and oppression in this world. I have solidarity with all those who have learned to identify oppression in their every day life, and don’t stand idly by. It doesn’t matter if we are drawn to the same books or banners – on the contrary it is of utter importance that we are recognizing the true diversity of perspectives that exists amongst humans. I have respect for those who smash the delusions of peace and stability. This world is not peaceful nor stable, and it must be transformed rapidly to survive, and there is no one path to get there. As many reporters, citizens, the mayor, and representatives of the police force have reminded us, the vandalism was a rude “interruption” of the city’s daily life. Interrupting the illusion is one of those paths to take.
Society has been breaking our windows for too long. What happened on Tuesday was simply a manifestation of it. Those windows were broken in the past. The city looked more honest when it was littered with broken glass.