Summary: By now the true nature of the Berkeley protests should be obvious. But it’s not, obscured by lies from both sides and the usual flood of hysterical commentary from the media. This post gives the short version. But the future is more important. What the Berkeley riot lacked shows a path to a better future for America.
Political protests in America: Left and Right fighting to control a trash can.
Different camera angles on the Berkeley riot
Raw ABC News video of the 15 April riot in Berkeley. See another video at the end of the post.
Another perspective on this riot, showing the Left and Right in a street protests.
Another perspective on this event
On the streets of Berkeley we saw children acting out, acting with the purposeless violence of young men lacking adult supervision. It’s Lord of the Flies.
The likely next step is their coalescence into real and antagonistic gangs — capable of more serious violence. Young men do this automatically, as Muzafer Sherif showed in his famous — and disturbing — “Robbers Cave experiment (see the book).
All this can produce is political violence, not political solutions.
What is happening?
The people at Berkeley pretend to be doing politics. Just like people chanting “Hitler Hitler Hitler” to Bush Jr. And those chanting “Hitler Hitler Hitler” to Obama (“Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.“). And chanting “Hitler Hitler Hitler” to Trump. Neither are serious political actors. Both are have fun and expressing themselves.
The Berkeley riot was — like the Ferguson riot and the 1992 LA riot, and the countless ones before that — a typical peasants’ protest. People organized to pursue rational political goals, with leaders and plans, do not do these. These protests occur when people — mostly young men — are frustrated with their lives (usually for good reasons) and alienated from society’s political machinery.
Peasants’ protests are welcomed by a society’s ruling elites as a means of releasing accumulated stress — as a safety value vents steam from a boiler. Properly managed — with police knowing how far to let them run — they act to stabilize the existing order. The young men have fun. Their leaders can be identified at an early stage and dealt with. The violence boosts support for the regime.
What would worry our ruling elites?
America’s young people and oppressed minorities lack the two factors that would make them effective forces for political change. First, a vision of what they want done. Not just “better”, but what specifically they want change. They need to see an alternative.
Second, they need to want leaders. Occupy, the Tea Party, Antifa, Black Bloc — groups today reflect the desires of their members: they do not want leaders. Leaders are no fun. They create organizations and hierarchies which limit individuals’ ability to express themselves. Our rulers will fear them when these people value political effectiveness more than fun.
Until these changes occur in the minds and hearts of protestors, these riots will generate income for the news media and joy for the 1% — and little else.
Other posts about the Berkeley riot
- The “sucker punch” at the Berkeley riot reveals the rot in our politics.
- Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.
- Stories of the Left & Right about the Berkeley riot reveal much about us.
- Is the Berkeley riot the start of an uprising of America’s young men?
For More Information
- Important: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
- How to stage effective protests in the 21st century
- How do protests like the Tea Party and OWS differ from effective political action?
- Why don’t political protests work? What are the larger lessons from our repeated failures?
- Swarms of hate against Obama and George Will, peasants’ protests in New America.
- The protests in NYC repeat those in Ferguson, and probably will end the same – as wins for the 1%.
Another video of the Lord of the Flies protest at Berkeley on April 15