The violent George Floyd protests will backfire

Civilization is not so stable that it could not be easily broken up; and a condition of lawless violence is not one out of which any good thing is likely to emerge.  For this reason revolutionary violence in a democracy is infinitely dangerous.
  [==Bertrand Russell, in 1922]

A protest movement accompanied by vandalism, looting and mob violence will not persuade the public to de-fund the police or impose restrictions on them.

I believe the violence accompanying the George Floyd protests is worse than being generally reported.  The destruction caused in the name of George Floyd will not be balanced by any public good.

Instead it will make the re-election of Donald Trump and the Republicans more likely.

News reports say the protests are “mostly nonviolent.”  I am willing to believe that most of the protest demonstrations are non-violent and most people taking part in demonstrations are non-violent.  But this doesn’t matter.

If you have a crowd of 200 protesters, and 10 of them throw brickbats at the police and two of them throw gasoline bombs, it is not a non-violent protest—especially if the rest of the group refuses to disassociate themselves from the brick and bomb throwers.

This is why the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. exercised such tight control over the demonstrations he led.  He did not want anything to happen that interfered with his objective.  Malcolm X differed from Dr. King in many ways, but he, too, insisted on discipline among his followers.

I am an elderly tax-paying, law-abiding, middle-class homeowner.  I am not a revolutionary.  I do not condone vandalism, looting or mob violence.

But I know enough of history to know that violent and terrorist movements have sometimes brought about social change.  This requires a structured organization that is capable of taking power or of negotiating a set of demands and keeping its side of the bargain.  The BLM movement does not have such a structure.

I don’t have first-hand knowledge of what is going on inside the protest movement.  I don’t think the national press does, either.  But I Infer that the protest movement is made up of the following elements.

PROTESTERS.  These are black and white people who want to end the very real abuses of poor and black people by police, and have no further end in mind.  My guess is that they are the vast majority of the protesters.

REVOLUTIONARIES.  These are the ones who throw bricks at police, storm public buildings, set police stations on fire and vandalize stores that cater to the elite.

Some of them are acting out rage at a society they perceive as fundamentally racist and imperialist.  Others are committed revolutionaries who are trying to “heighten the contradictions”—provoke the police, ramp up the violence and force people to choose sides.

I don’t know what role the Antifa movement plays in this. My guess is that Antifa is more a label than an actual organization.

LOOTERS.  These are mostly opportunists who do not necessarily overlap with the other groups.  They do great harm by destroying small businesses, many of them owned by African-Americans, Hispanics and non-white immigrants, and by driving necessary services, such as dollar stores, out of poor neighborhoods.

It is wrong to think of looting as collateral damage in a just war.  It does not contribute to the objective of social justice.  It may do more harm than the social justice objective would have done good.


Historically it is undercover agents who push radical groups to extreme action.


The Democrats’ Riots by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Corporate Media Is Ignoring Riots, But Americans Hurt By Them Aren’t by Michael Tracey on Medium via The Federalist.

Chicago erupts with violence and looting after police shooting by Oliver Milman for The Guardian.

The protesters were whiter than the police department, an interview of Peter Moskos for Spiked.

Hearing What Black Voices Really Say About Police by Michael Javen-Fortner for City Journal.

‘Mostly Peaceful’ Rioting and Looting Is Helping Trump’s Campaign on Moon of Alabama.

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5 Responses to “The violent George Floyd protests will backfire”

  1. Nikolai Vladivostok Says:

    Some prominent people on the left are coming around to this view. It will be interesting to see if sponsors, media and Democrat-controlled governments can bring the mob to heel if they attempt to do so. On the right, this is a point of contention.


  2. Chris Sterry commenting Says:

    Reblogged this on 61chrissterry and commented:
    The Trump administration will go to extreme ends to try to get Trump re-elected.

    As you say there could well be Police Provocateurs and these could well be Trump supporters who will just encourage the violent elements within the protesters to go further and cause major disruption and then withdraw.

    As for Trump himself he encourages his supporters to go to any levels to create mayhem and he then decries the outcomes by blaming the body of protesters.

    To prove this will be extremely difficult, if at all possible.

    I do support BLM, as they and other racial groups have been downgraded for centuries and Trump and the likes have been responsible for much of what is occurring in the US.


  3. silverapplequeen Says:

    This is the way revolutions work. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. & we are now in a revolutionary cycle. This is what the people who voted for trump wanted; I heard it dozens of times back in 2016. So here we are. I’m not exactly happy about it either. But it’s been a long time coming & there’s no stopping this train.


  4. williambearcat Says:

    That’s assuming the protestors are the ones doing the violence.


  5. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Rage is like fire. The more you fan it the hotter it gets. Get it hot enough and it goes out of control.

    You missed the group that is just out to have fun, the vandals. Destroying things is fun. The legitimate BLM protests are providing cover and an excuse for this. When you pull off the rules, some people just enjoy going crazy.

    At least the looters are acting rationally, if criminally. They are doing something to improve their own well being. I cannot speak for any other area but the looting in Santa Monica was highly organized with scouts and lookouts and stolen transportation and crews dedicated to stealing specific items. Expensive sneakers seemed to be the top theft items with personal electronics coming in second. Jewelry was also popular but most jewelry stores were harder nuts to crack.

    I’m thinking street gangs were poised to move in as soon as they caught wind of the planning for the protests. They counted on the fact that group identification (black) is more important to revolutionaries than justice – even though the revolutionaries are supposedly fighting for justice.

    In California we know a bit about fires. Sometimes you have to let the fire burn until there’s no more fuel.


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