The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

As Baltimore Riots

I don’t have a great deal to say about this. I’ll simply note that if you shove peoples faces into the concrete enough, it’s not strange that they will riot. Given the well documented rate at which police have been killing African-Americans (and getting away with it, in most cases), well—Baltimore is a city with a long tradition of poverty and police violence in any case.

I’m not going to wring my hands about this. It’s unfortunate, but those who want peace must work for justice, as Pope Paul VI once noted. Instead of just condemning the rioting, the middle and upper classes might bear in mind that those lower on the totem pole, and especially Blacks, live a very different life than them, one in which the police are a constant oppressive force which appears completely unaccountable.

(I will note, again, that rioters need to get it through their heads to take their rioting to the rich areas of town. Rioting in your own backyard is not particularly productive.)

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The Rise of the Islamic State


Is Violence Ever Justified? Does Violence Ever Solve Anything?


  1. Spinoza

    Those who rush to condemn the violent demonstrations of the lower and working classes are the first to contort and bend over backwards to excuse, justify, and “understand” the brutality of the powerful and their dogs.

    Whenever I hear the wailing of the rich and their hired liars about violence and cruelty the words of Mark Twain come to mind, when speaking about the French Revolution,

    “There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”

  2. Monster from the Id

    @Spinoza: Most of us, and I will admit to belonging to this category, feel safer dealing with the devils we know than the devils we don’t know. This is reinforced in modern times by the grim fact that the chief rival to imperial capitalism, Communism, proved to be simply a different devil. Why risk everything, up to and including, one’s earthly life, when even if one succeeds, one will merely have exchanged one ruling gang of criminals for another such gang?

  3. different clue

    Just a speculation . . .

    Maybe large parts of White America don’t loudly condemn Police America for torturing and sport-killing selected or random targets from among Black America because those large parts of White America are afraid that if they express too much disapproval to Police America that Police America will turn around and say : You shut your mouth. Or you’ll be next.

  4. EGrise

    Rioting in your own backyard is not particularly productive.

    Agreed; but I suppose there’s something to be said for home field advantage.

  5. Roman Berry

    Dunno if you’ve seen the statements made via Twitter today by Orioles COO John Angelos, but I think it’s well worth the few minutes. USA Today (in the sports section) has compiled the tweets. I hope maybe we’re reaching a tipping point. If the COO of a rich baseball franchise can say these sorts of things out loud, maybe the pols (and the people) are not too far behind.

    “Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

    That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

    The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

  6. SW

    The COO of the Orioles should ask himself at whose behest the “political elite” do all of these bad things and then look in the mirror.

  7. Seattle resident

    @different clue, I suspect White Americans in large part don’t condemn police violence against blacks because 1) They in large part are not victims themselves; People as a matter of nature for the most part don’t concern themselves with problems that don’t affect them. 2) More that their friends and family agree with the actions of the police and would be seen as sympathetic to black criminality and dysfunction.

    That being said, I think the Blacklivesmatter movement(s) would see fit to frame their protests as one of a broader problem of unjustified and unpunished institutionalized fascist police state violence against harmless citizens rather than a movement against police violence that targets blacks even though it is the reality so that they can incorporate more working class/middle class white people into the movement.

  8. And “taking your rioting to the rich areas of town” — or anywhere else — will hand the abusive, corrupt, racist, authoritarian National Security State a gift on a silver platter. Good luck with that.

  9. Ian Welsh

    The situation of blacks and the poor sure has improved in the last 40 years, when middle class types told them to never use violence.

  10. CMike

    SW says:

    The COO of the Orioles should ask himself at whose behest the “political elite” do all of these bad things and then look in the mirror.

    After reading those tweats you’re thinking it’s John Angelos who ought to be asking himself that question- what, for the first time?

    BTW, his dad, Peter Angelos, is the majority owner of the Orioles and his bio at Wikipedia reads in part:

    His parents are from Menetes, Karpathos, Greece. Angelos is a graduate of Eastern College of Commerce and Law the University of Baltimore School of Law. He began work as a criminal defense lawyer following graduation. For most of his legal career Angelos made a living as a lawyer representing Baltimore labor unions and their members in his own private practice, which he founded in 1961.

    Beginning in the 1980s, Angelos refashioned his firm from criminal law to civil class action suits. In 1982, his wealth and law firm expanded exponentially when he represented a large number of plaintiffs in asbestos litigation and won. He reportedly made over $100 million on this single case. Angelos was also enormously successful in representing the state of Maryland as lead attorney in a suit against Philip Morris and suing Wyeth, the makers of part of the diet pill combination fen-phen.

    It was after this that he became a major player in the Baltimore community. Angelos’s law firm currently has offices in Baltimore; Philadelphia; Cumberland, Maryland; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Knoxville, Tennessee.


    A lifelong Democrat, he held a seat on Baltimore City Council from 1959 to 1963. He was the first Greek-American to be elected to the council. Angelos ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1964 as an independent, and while he lost with less than 10% of the vote, he became the first candidate in Maryland’s political history to run as the lead on a bi-racial ticket. Three times in the 1960s he unsuccessfully challenged Republican incumbents in the Maryland Legislature.

    Think maybe dad needs a primer on the nature of the power structure in America, too?

  11. SW


    I didn’t say anything about John Angelos’ dad, so I’m not sure how his history is relevant to my point.

    I was making a statement about the John Angelos quote in Roman Berry’s post. He was blaming some unnamed “political elites” for sending jobs away from Baltimore and other cities. I would have had no issues with his quote if he blamed “business and political elites”.

  12. CMike

    Allies? The self-righteous don’t need no stinkin’ allies.

  13. different clue

    What exactly would a 2nd-generation modestly wealthy sports team owner’s son have to do with making International Free Trade Conspiracy policy?

  14. SW

    CMike and different clue:

    Your points are well taken. My original comment was self-righteous and poorly thought out. Better for me to appreciate the fact that John Angelos is trying to make people understand the root causes of this situation.

  15. CMike

    I need to work on my own tone in comments, that’s for sure. His concern may have been a bit more literal than what we’re looking at but like the man said [LINK].

  16. different clue


    The sometimes-poverty of the language we are given to do our thinking in may help to sloppify the thinking we try to do in that language. ” The One Per Cent” is a good attention-getting battlecry. But once attention is gotten, we need more precise language to analyse separately the separate layers and sectors within that One Percent. A rather few super-rich Overclass Overlords set the goals and the agenda, and the layers below them design and engineer and deploy the policy. And the layers of upper middle-class money-managers and law-appliers and etc. just below that do the organizing and overseeing work of serving the Overclass’s needs within the confines of whatever the Overclass policy happens to be.

    So what might we call this tiny ruling fraction of the One Percent? The Old Money Dynasties? The Tippy Toppers? The Upper Crust? I once saw suggested the expandable acronym OPOOP. The OPOOP . . . as in the One Percent Of One Percent. And the OPOOPOOP could be the One Percent Of One Percent Of One Percent. We could add as many OOPOOPs to that string as we need in order to target the tiny Overclass layers we wish to think about. But we need the words to think in. And the “One Per Cent” is not a precise enough word.

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