Riot and Revolt: Selections from Alain Badiou’s The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings

“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe” (Frantz Fanon)

Grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson

“In these processes, where the state puts on its most hideous expression, a no less detestable consensus is forged over a particularly reactive conception that can be summarized thus: the destruction or theft of a few goods in the frenzy of a riot is infinitely more culpable than the police assassination of a young man – the assas­sination that caused the riot. The government and press hastily assess the damage. And here is the vicious idea spread by all this: the death of the young man – a ‘black hooligan’ , no doubt, or an Arab ‘known to the police’ – is nothing compared with all these additional costs. Let us grieve not for the death, but for the insurance companies. Against the gangs and thieves, let us stand guard, shoulder to shoulder with the police, in front of our property, which is coveted by a rabble foreign to our values…article-2727560-209B036E00000578-628_634x421
453689558Here, by contrast, it will be asserted that the life of a young man is priceless – all the more so in that he is one of the countless people abandoned by our society. To believe that the intolerable crime is to burn a few cars and rob some shops, _1
whereas to kill a young man is trivial, maxresdefaultis typically in keeping with…the principal alienation of capitalism: the primacy of things over existence, of commodities over life and machines over workers…encapsulated in the formula: ‘The dead seize the living’…image
Note, by the way, that while there is ‘zero tol­erance’ for the young black who steals a screwdriver, there is infinite tolerance for the crimes of bankers and government embezzlers which affect the lives of mil­lions. Sophisticated intellectuals, who shed tears at the sight of the millionaire director of the IMF in hand­ cuffs, consider the government ‘lax’ in the inner cities and think one cannot see enough Arabs and blacks in chains.” (Alain Badiou – The Rebirth of History)

ferguson-protesters-defy-curfew.siThe first goal of this meeting is to discuss Alain Badiou’s three categories of riots, i.e. immediate riot, latent riot, historical riot. The second goal is to have a group discussion about but not limited to: the accuracy and applicability of these categories as tools for analysis; riots as events of collective expression or catharsis; the viability of riots and revolts as means for generating lasting social transformation, the state and media labeling of and response to riots; and the differences between these tactics and other tactics or strategies of social change.

Selection from Alain Badiou’s The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings (2012).

Note that the location has changed because of the generous offer from Trinosophes to host. They are currently exhibiting: Power to the Vanguard: Original Printed Materials from Revolutionary Movements Around the World (1963-1987) From the Collection of Brad Duncan.

Discussion will be held Saturday, December 13th, 2pm @ Trinosophes: 1464 Gratiot Avenue Detroit, MI 48207