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In Praise of Looting

In the midst of all of this pain and misery, the media and the authorities have decided that the central story now is the looting and "lawlessness" that are taking place around the city.

In Praise of Looting

Blaming Katrina's victims for not being rich

By Harry Looter
For Infoshop News
(news.infoshop.org)
September 1, 2005

"The Iberville Housing Projects got pissed off because the police started to "shop" after they kicked out looters. Then they started shooting at cops. When the cops left, the looters looted everything. There's probably not a grocery left in this city."
http://www.livejournal.com/users/interdictor/

The devastation wrought on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina is clearly evident three days after the winds started blowing and the journalists scampered out from their hotels. Most of New Orleans is under water. The Mississippi and Alabama coasts are obliterated. The situation in New Orleans is dire as thousands of people struggle to survive and get out of the worsening toxic cesspool that the city is becoming.

In the midst of all of this pain and misery, the media and the authorities have decided that the central story now is the looting and "lawlessness" that are taking place around the city. The poor, mostly black, victims of Hurricane Katrina are being blamed for their response to the situation. Their logical response to having the homes and neighborhoods destroyed is understandable given that this disaster has been happening for a long time in their neighborhoods and lives. The ongoing disaster that they are reacting to is the catastrophe known as capitalism.

The media knows that playing up the looting on TV plays well in Peoria. Comfortable middle class white people watch the New Orleans situation on TV and resort to simplistic Christian judgments about right and wrong. Some of them understand that the "looters" have a moral right to take food and medicine, but they seize on news that looters have taken guns and TVs as evidence that the looters are bad people. The authorities help reinforce these beliefs with their constant pontification about how looters will be punished. This morning the authorities are further demonizing the poor people of New Orleans by suspending rescue efforts because some person fired at a Coast Guard rescue worker. We all know that if some white dude in a rich neighborhood that was under water fired at rescue workers the rescue effort would continue uninterrupted.

What exactly is so evil about taking a package of Pampers or some cans of food from a Winn-Dixie or a Wal-Mart store? These people are trying to survive in neighborhoods that are under water, with no services of any kind. Are the rescue workers, the media, or the state dropping pampers and bottled water into the flooded neighborhoods of New Orleans? Are the on-the-scene Fox News anchors putting down their microphones, rolling up their sleeves, and helping rescue people?

The media and authorities' obsession with looting is racist, capitalist and simply inhumane. What difference does it make what people take from the stores near their neighborhoods? They have no access to food, clean water, diapers, medicine, shoes, liquor, cigarettes and all the things that they need to get through this crisis. It's not like these corporate grocery stores are going to go bankrupt because hungry people clear out an inventory that will have to be destroyed once the waters recede. People are "dumpster-diving" from stores who are insured, well capitalized, and which will have to throw away all of their stock anyway.

The Government Can't Help You

The failure of the American state to respond to this tragedy is abundantly clear at this point. In its typical fashion, the state will turn the situation into a circus before the capitalist profiteers move in. On Friday, American president George W. Bush will fly into New Orleans to perform a photo op while some residents of New Orleans are still trapped in their attics. Many poor residents will be dying as Bush speaks useless words about the catastrophe. The hungry and wet people won't be fed by Bush's visit, but perhaps if he falls out of a helicopter while surveying the damage, the residents can make a good jambalaya with the presidential corpse. Meanwhile, there are reports that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was laughing it up last night at a production in New York City of 'Spamalot'.

The catastrophe in New Orleans once again demonstrates the inability of the state to take care of its subjects, especially its poorest citizens. For all of the talk about "homeland security" over the past few years, very little homeland security was available for the residents of New Orleans. There are reports now about how the government cut back on programs that would have helped New Orleans weather this disaster. The immediate response by rescue workers was hampered by the fact that the Louisiana National Guard is stuck in Iraq, fighting and losing an imperialist war staged by Bush and his Halliburton cronies. The evacuation plan worked for middle and upper class people with cars, but apparently there was no effort to bus poor people out of the city as Hurricane Katrina approached.

If there is a silver lining in this ongoing tragedy, it involves the small acts of mutual aid being done by New Orleans residents for each other. This includes people rescuing people from flooded houses, people helping move sick people to dry ground, people sharing food and materials with each other, and much more. In times of natural or manmade disasters, humans have shown time and time again their ability to help each other out via mutual aid. These responses play out organically and can't be organized by the state. In many instances, the state's efforts interfere with this mutual aid and make situations worse. It's pretty clear in New Orleans that the state totally failed the poor residents of the city.

Looting is not a problem in New Orleans right now. People have a right to take what they need to survive. Even if they take things that aren't needed for survival, those of us watching from the comfort of our dry homes have no reason to complain about these actions. Finally, let's remember that looting is a form of wealth redistribution. When rich people loot, they call it capitalism, good business practices, third quarter dividends, the new economy and "giving people job." When your neighborhood is under water and there are no relief services in sight, taking diapers from a Wal-Mart is not a criminal or immoral act.

Hooray for the looters!

homepage: homepage: http://news.infoshop.org

Well? 01.Sep.2005 17:58

omthunders

Hmmmmm,

Short of finger pointing what are you personally doing to help? Do you know of people trapped in attics? If so, have you alerted the proper authorities? Or, is it just an assumption, a fiction on your part?

I have been homeless several times and have been poor for over 10 years. I can tell you that your words do not help the situation, not do they bring about much needed relief to those suffering or in dire need.

Real change in our system takes place when real people do real work. Finger pointing and assorted other "blame-game" tactics only serve the person speaking them.

The country, states, and communities need new and real leadership. I say, that real leaders are those who have proven that they can successfully lead themselves before stating that they can or should lead others.

The global and local situation will not change until the residents (us) choose to not be sheep. The sheep never get to choose the shepherd, do they?

The neo-Marxist viewpoint of complaining has, proven to be a time waster. Making others angry enough to cause violent revolution will only repeat its natural historical process.

Simply put:

Today's violent "liberators" become tomorrow's violent oppressors. To let go of anger and violence as a solution is to walk a path to peace. It is sadly, one we have not chosen.

The hour is late, time to choose wisely.

Amen 01.Sep.2005 18:47

Charles de Gaulle

I'm amazed at how looting and not poor black people losing what little they have and getting nothing from the federal government is the story of the day. Oh wait, I'm not at all surprised. But a good bit of posting. I agree with it.

Looting 01.Sep.2005 19:26

naysayer

Agree with you on the incompetence of the evacuation efforts to get out those without an automobile. In terms of looting, taking what you need to survive is OK, and regarldess of the moral issue, Wal Mart isn't going to suffer if you take a TV from them. If you take something from a small business person who most likely has invested everything and may be indebted to the business, however, you are seriously harming them for no particular reason besides opportunism.

... 01.Sep.2005 19:28

this thing here

your house is burning. or it is underwater. or it is wrecked.

you struggle to make it to a highway overpass in the 90 degree heat and humidity.

your sick grandfather dies. there is nowhere to bury him. you have to find something to wrap him in. the police tell you to "get the fucking body out the way, goddammit".

your baby daughter has no protection from the sun and has had no formula or water for two days. the fucking cleanly dressed media crews come around you have to plead for help and you hold up your child to the camera and cry.

you have not had food or water for two days.

WHAT THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO?

AND IF I HEAR ONE MORE GODDAMN PIECE OF SHIT RIGHT WING WHITE AMERICAN COMPLAINING AND WHINING ON THE GODDAMN T.V. ABOUT THE "LOOTING BLACKS" AND THE "TROUBLE MAKERS" AND THE "WHY DIDN'T THEY LEAVE THE CITY" AND THEIR ABSURD WONDERING "WHY THEY SEEM SO ANGRY"... FUCK THEM. FUCK THEIR COMPLETE AND UTTER LACK OF EMPATHY. THEY HAVE NO CONSCIOUS, AT ALL.

THE INDIGNITY OF IT. THE COMPLETE INDIGNITY OF THE POOR OF NEW ORLEANS BEING TREATED LIKE ABANDONED ANIMALS, LIKE SHIT IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. AND THE COMPLETE ABSURDITY, THE DISGRACEFULLNESS OF PEOPLE WONDERING WHY THE LOOTING IS HAPPENING, WHY THE PEOPLE "SEEM SO ANGRY".

no. it's not the looting that is the disgrace here....

Freedom isn't free 01.Sep.2005 19:29

remember this?

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here." ---Rumsfeld on the Iraqi looting following the 2003 invasion

"real people do real work" 01.Sep.2005 19:31

you mean,

like the National Guard troops on oil convoy duty in Iraq?

(surely that's a better and much more necessary use of their time and your tax dollars than Katrina relief in NOLA)


Arrrrrgggghhhh! 01.Sep.2005 20:47

p.o.ed pirate

Hundreds, maybe thousands of people are dead and others are suffering from the horrors of a major disaster. More people dead I bet than in the 9-11 deal. But do we get much media coverage? I turned on the devil box at lunchtime two days running and all I saw was the helmet-heads standing in front of ruined luxury resorts and casinos.Boo-fucking-hoo! Then after a few minutes it's all about how gas prices will rise then it's back to cute-puppy-kitty stuff and how Martha Stewart is off her house arrest. Where are the flags lowered to half-staff?

Who is really being greedy 02.Sep.2005 03:22

Lucid Apparition

I heard a newscaster call the so called "looters" greedy for taking TVs and DVDs. Is it not just as greedy or more so to try to protect material possesions at gun point?

respectable vs disrespectable looters 02.Sep.2005 03:37

me

The reason why the looters in New Orleans lack respectability is not that they have looted TOO MUCH. It's that they have looted WAY TOO LITTLE. Loot the national treasury of billions of dollars in false charges on no-bid contracts, and you will be very very respectable. Occupy and loot a whole country and you will be more respectable yet.

smash the fuck out of capitalism 02.Sep.2005 15:34

destroy business as usual

oh yea, those poor innocent (capitalist) small business store owners. you mean the same ones who are willing to violently defend their 'property' from real people?
i could have been a small business owner too, but im not a fucking jackass.
they don't fuck as many people over as corporate owners, but that's because they don't have enough power/money too yet.
capitalism is capitalism.
all businessmen/womyn want is profit.
everything is up for looting.

these people 02.Sep.2005 23:00

aren't just looting

they are surviving. Even when a nonessential item is taken. Hell, these people have nothing now- taking a TV is their only insurance for the future, as far as they're concerned. So yes, everything should be up for grabs.
And yes, i also agree with the "smash capitalism" sentiments completely.