Law and Order Unites Main Street
by Ilana Mercer
The book In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action has become emblematic of the times we’re living through. Its “thesis” is that looting is “joyous” and can produce “community cohesion.” Shortly before the mad-hatter media became hip to the socially redeeming aspects of looting, I briefly blogged, on August 28, about In Defense of Looting not imagining it would become such a hit.
The reason for this early mention was the Economist. The news magazine -read religiously – had dignified author Vicky Osterweil’s argument for criminality, calling it “a live debate,” which is good English for, “We need to have a conversation.” These usually smart people wrote:
A few radical activists, including some associated with Black Lives Matter in Chicago, argued that looting can be legitimate. One woman, protesting at a police station that held arrested looters, called it a form of ‘reparations’ for white oppression.
Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action, published this month, sets out the same argument at book length. Looting by the poor, black or otherwise repressed is a radical tactic that brings welcome change, in her view. Peaceful civil-rights demonstrations are too easily ignored, whereas ‘riots and looting are more effective at attracting attention to a cause.’ The shared experience of looting can also be ‘joyous,’ produce ‘community cohesion,’ count as a small act of ‘direct redistribution of wealth’ and, she reckons, does little harm to those who have insurance. She thinks it also leads people to question high levels of inequality.
To go by Osterweil’s “argument”: if looting a man’s property is morally legitimate, why not taking his life? Doesn’t he have life insurance? When will murder be likewise mitigated with the same degenerate logic? For the specimen we’ve witnessed foaming at the mouth and in the faces of the police, the act of murder fits on the same continuum of affirmation. Not wishing to appear as though they were prejudiced about the perks of pelf and pillage, the Economist countered with judgment-free utilitarian economics:
[Osterweil’s] claims are unconvincing. Those who snatched swag from Gucci or Louis Vuitton in order to sell them on hardly share her anti-capitalist views. Nor is it clear that looting spreads solidarity in poor neighborhoods. The grandmother of the man shot by police condemned the looting. Ms. Osterweil might be right, however, that residents of poor areas, who rarely even set foot in the wealthy central parts of their city, are fed up. Looting is not a helpful way to respond, but the resentment at this disparity is real enough.
Here, the Economist joins the menagerie of morons that is the American media in considering and dignifying Osterweil’s political pornography.
Her thinking readers, however, were soon on to her. Late in August, In Defense of Looting still had all but two rotten reader-reviews on Amazon:
- “Poorly written, poorly reasoned.” One star.
- “Garbage: terrible ideas and a terrible book.” One star.
Yet it had a rather good Amazon rank. How, you wonder? The rank was likely not market-generated, but due to the corrupt enterprise of university book-buying. State subsidized university libraries have enormous budgets for indoctrination. Just as the colleges have abandoned their duty to educate, so too have publishing giants long since betrayed their mandate to publish quality books. These conglomerate quislings collude to ensure that a lot of dough is forked out for a lot of drek.
Down to its libraries, the American university is a corrupt enterprise. You’ll find In Defense of Looting safely ensconced at the Harvard Book Store, and likely other “elite” schools across the country. China might control thinking on its campuses, but can you imagine the Chinese Communist Party instructing its apparatchiks to promote material meant to make the next generation thieving, dumb and decadent? Unlikely, considering that the Chinese have a wicked work ethic, low-crime rates and that criminality is severely punished.
Since that blog post, the book has become the toast of the towns not yet burned down by the putrefying left. Its author, Ms. Osterweil, a welcomed guest on many “probing” programs, presumably to explain her “provocative” “thesis” of theft. Indeed, we inhabit a culture in which high-brow polemics are banned and banished from the public square by grubby, low-brow, social engineers, from Facebook functionaries to the once-august Publishers Weekly: it dubbed Osterweil’s debut a “bracing rethink” of something or another.
A new kind of Kafka confronts any author whose thoughts veer from those of the mono-cultural mainstream. Books that enlighten never see the light of day or are digitally burned by the Amazon monopoly; pamphleteers that dim debate find publishers and “respectable” reviewers. Happily, however, Amazon reviewers were having none of the looter lady, who, mind you, merely “identifies as a woman,” which is not the same as being a woman (in my non-expert opinion).They have not reconsidered their “bracing” views about Osterweil’s immoral enterprise. These book reviews are a riot of hashtags like #violence, #steal, #stupid, #vicky, #waste:
I gave it 2 stars instead of 1 because, while it is empty headed garbage, it was a bargain since I shoplifted it.
Since Amazon doesn’t have a physical bookstore from which I can steal this book, will they please implement a virtual looting option? One star.
Sam says 1.0 out of 5 stars: “Garbage: terrible ideas and a terrible book.”
Understated, yet “Astounded” gives In Defense of Looting 1.0 out of 5 stars, writing, charitably, that it “seems rather shallow and malevolent.”
If you think these Amazon reviews are the work of Russian trolls acting for Trump, “Century Rider” provides a corrective cue: “Want another 4 years of Trump?”, writes the reviewer on August 29. “This is the kind of ‘reasoning’ that will get Trump re-elected.”
Clearly, the restoration of law and order and the reverence for private property rights are the most powerful principles with which to unite main-street America, left and right, in the ramp-up to the November election. This is what Republicans must remember, before they scamper down the judicial rabbit hole of abortion. As to the book: here’s the true disgrace of In Defense Of Looting: someone read the book, endorsed its publication, someone edited it, someone else set it in type, designed a cover, compiled an index, read the proofs. Now people are reviewing it.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s currently on Gab, YouTube, Twitter & LinkedIn, but has been banned by Facebook.