There is a name for this

I’m reading a lot of crap about riots in my hometown. Fuck you all and your firehose of useless, self-serving, careerist punditry, your giant spotlight that cares not a whit about all the things it pretends to illuminate but will blather with equal earnestness and concern about the next thing tomorrow just like it did about the last thing yesterday and hope to get paid or praised for it all. Fuck me for adding to the noise, I barely have the stomach for it anymore.

I don’t live in Baltimore now. I’m writing this from Silicon Valley. Does that even count as being alive? I feel like I’ve been uploaded into the singularity already. I never felt that way in Baltimore. Baltimore is inevitably described by lazy writers as “gritty”. Something like that.

Anyway, I interrupt your punditry to tell you that all your commentary about riots is bullshit and confused and tendentious and fuck off. And that economists, God bless ‘em (no, not really), have a name for this.

Politically motivated riots are a form of altruistic punishment. Look it up. Altruistic punishment is a “puzzle” to the sort of economist who thinks of homo economicus maximizing her utility, and a no-brainer to the game theorist who understands humans could never have survived if we actually were the kind of creature who succumbed to every prisoners’ dilemma. Altruistic punishment is behavior that imposes costs on third parties with no benefit to the punisher, often even at great cost to the punisher. To the idiot economist, it is a lose/lose situation, such a puzzle. For the record, I’m a fan of the phenomenon.

Does that mean I’m a fan of these riots, that I condone the burning of my own hometown? Fuck you and your tendentious entrapment games and Manichean choices, your “my-team” ridiculing of people you can claim support destruction. Altruistic punishment is essential to human affairs but it is hard. It is mixed, it is complicated, it is shades of gray. It is punishment first and foremost, and punishment hurts people, that’s its point. Altruistic punishment hurts the punisher too, that’s why it’s “altruistic”. It can’t be evaluated from the perspective of winners or losers within a direct and local context. It is a form of prosocial sacrifice, like fighting and dying in a war. If you write to say “they are hurting their own communities more than anyone” you are missing the point. Altruistic punishment is not a pissing match over who loses most. The punisher disclaims personal gain, accepts loss, sometimes great loss, in the name of a perceived good or in wrathful condemnation of a perceived evil.

So you want to evaluate riots, then, as tactic. Surely these rioters can’t imagine that this — this — will reduce the severity of policing, bring jobs to the inner city, diminish the carceral state. By the way, have I told you, fuck you? Altruistic punishment is generally not tactical. Altruistic punishment is emotional. The altruism in altruistic punishment is not pure, not saintly. The soldier takes pleasure even as he takes wounds exacting revenge for a fallen comrade on another human who was not, as an individual, his friend’s killer. The looter takes a pair of shoes, because why the fuck not? If you perceive the essence of the riots in the shoes you are an idiot. Altrustic punishment is not tactical, it is emotional, and it is sometimes but not always functional. It functions, sometimes, to change expectations about what is possible or desirable or acceptable. In economist words, people’s propensity for altruistic punishment changes the expected payoffs associated with nonaltruistic behavior by those punished directly and, more importantly, by third parties who observe the unpleasantness. Changes in expected payoffs change the equilibria that ultimately prevail, in ways which may be beneficial for some groups or for “society as a whole”, however you define the welfare of that entity. Of course, there are no guarantees. Changes in expected payoffs can alter equilibria in undesirable directions as well. Drones anybody? This is a risky business.

Even if it is possible that events like rioting can do some good, surely there are better ways? Yes, surely there are. Why haven’t they happened? If you feel entitled to tut-tut the rioters, I hope you have organized against police brutality, marched all peacefully like the GandhiMartinLutherJesus you manufacture to condemn the very people whose cause those idols championed. Have you borne costs to engage politically to ensure economic security and social inclusion for all? You have you say? Well good for you, though I don’t believe you and it doesn’t matter because this isn’t about you. As a society, we have not done these things. On the contrary, we have done the opposite, we have in practical terms increased the distance between the kind of people who lobby congress or write articles and the kind of people who are forcing the Orioles to play for empty bleachers. In theory, a peaceful political process is absolutely the right way to solve the problems of brutality and exclusion. In practice, it hasn’t happened, it isn’t happening, there is no sign that it will happen. Blame the fucking victims for not producing a Dalai Lama if you want, it doesn’t matter, they don’t have one, at least not one likely to be effective, and even if they did, the limited success of the real Martin Luther Kings of the world may have had something to do with the threat of riot and rebellion, with the horde of angry sinners barely held back by those saints whom we bugged and harassed in actual practice.

So I am condoning the riots, really, right? Fuck you. Can you go to hell, really, right now? I am not condoning, I am not condemning, I don’t care if you think that’s mealy-mouthed, this isn’t about me or pissing matches within the high IQ professional idiocracy.

Riots do severe, immediate, harm, they are an escalation, they are violent, they are prima facie bad. Yet the fact that rioting sometimes happens, the uncomfortable possibility of it, has historically and may again create urgency and motivate political change that is ultimately good. Or, it might pull the velvet glove from the iron fist of our hyperstratified ever less democratic police state. That is a possibility too, though it would be costly to elites who gain real satisfaction from pretending that the society that has elevated them is reasonably just and virtuous.

We don’t know the counterfactuals. But I will say this. Although it is not thought out into policy papers, it is not tactical, it is emotional and impure and corrupt, it provokes and sustains war, and it puzzles a certain kind of economist, human affairs would be intolerable without altruistic punishment. In small matters, the fact that people will bear disproportionate costs to protest small ripoffs is essential to the integrity of everyday commerce. In larger affairs, the human propensity to altruistic punishment means we all bear costs of perceived injustice, we all have a stake in finding some mix of society and legitimating ideology under which outcomes are perceived as broadly right. We’ve been doing a bad job of that lately.

Update History:

  • 23-Sep-2015, 3:15 a.m. PDT: Move misplaced scare quotes: from my-team “ridiculing” to “my-team” ridiculing.
 
 

54 Responses to “There is a name for this”

  1. […] David Simon (creator of The Wire) has a take. The comments section is also worthwhile. Hillary Clinton publicly addresses the issue of mass incarceration after Baltimore riots. Riots as a form of “Altruistic Punishment”. […]

  2. Mike Norman writes:

    Thank you for this. It’s fucking awesome! (Re-posted on my blog, http://www.mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com)

  3. Bryan Willman writes:

    I think you will agree then with Willman’s Rule of Riots (rather obvious):

    A riot means there has been a major fuckup, or series thereof. Where and by whom may quite hard to sort out.

    Willman’s Observation on the Rule:

    Riots occur over large tracts of geography and over long periods of time, which strongly implies that fuckups are widespread, relatively common, and ongoing.

    Neither of these points is particularly enlightening, but they are worth remembering.

  4. Becky Hargrove writes:

    It needed to be said. Thank you.

  5. Peter K. writes:

    Well put, you’ve articulated what I’ve been thinking and feeling.

  6. John W writes:

    This article puts the words to something we’ve been hearing a lot of lately but no one seems able to articulate well. Many thanks.

  7. Patrick writes:

    Well done. I am going to be reading this again, with a dictionary, and many more times after that. I haven’t been this challenged by a piece of writing (other than the math and bio books I read in grad school) in a long time. It made me uncomfortable, with your views then mine and the situation on race relations in the U.S. as whole. It made my mind throw up a lot those “Yeah, but what about..” reactions and then immediately and swiftly addressed them.
    Seriously, thank you for writing this. I’m going to go walk my dog and let it sink in. Then I’ll be back to read it over more.

  8. Peter K. writes:

    This is a quality slap at complacent commentators, much as Tyrion’s slap of Joffrey was satisfying.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMC4A7GKhFM&feature=youtu.be

  9. Notorious B.O.B. writes:

    There is another FU perspective. It goes like this.

    Huge numbers are incorrigible, self-destructive, violent, ineducable, mendacious, irresponsible, unemployable, a source of constant daily micro-aggressions, transgressive behavior and violations of ordinary public manners and discourse. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with “funding” of schools or anything else or of oppressions from 150 years ago. The chosen “leaders” are corrupt self-seeking liars (see, Sharpton, “The Rev.” Al) and hustlers. The limousine liberal thumbsuckers are utter hypocrites and double-talkers. Ordinary bourgeois minded people — especially blacks get as far away as they can.

    And you know what? It’s not our fault! I’m not guilty — of anything! So..yes….by all means….fuck you…and fuck them….and fuck the MSM and liberal hypocrites….

    ….and wait until you see what a white riot looks like….

  10. Marko writes:

    Brilliant !

    Fuck them. Fuck them all , indeed.

    This — a spontaneous , real-time twitter response by Orioles exec John Angelos to a local broadcaster spouting the standard line — made my day :

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/orioles-john-angelos-baltimore-protests-mlb

  11. John Myers writes:

    So, some 400 years ago you take a group of people, identifiable because they are all the same skin color. You beat, rape, torture, destroy families, belittle, hang, brand, treat as cattle, withhold education, treat as non human, tell them they are stupid, etc. you do this until recently (it continues but sporadically) and then when they refuse to comply with “social norms” you ask “what’s wrong with these people. “

  12. […] ser una salida racional. Steve Waldman, un economista americano originalmente de Baltimore, escribía ayer sobre la estrategia del castigo altruista (altruistic punishment) como una forma de romper este […]

  13. Eric writes:

    @John Myers –

    Yeah, what the hell is wrong with those Irish?

  14. fu2 writes:

    All these protests have just made me more racist. How’s that for a payoff? Bring on the group competition.

  15. HenriRouquier writes:

    Best piece of explanation I’ve red so far on The End Of History And The Last War.

  16. Roger Bigod writes:

    Made me think. That’s always a little painful, but for some reason I’m grateful.

  17. Jerm writes:

    Just curious, has anyone on this site participated in a riot? It’s easy to craft narratives after the fact, and to predict rioting through data analysis. But that doesn’t tell you much about the experience of rioting, and what really motivates the urge to violence and looting as part of a crowd. Associating rioting with altruistic punishment is an interesting idea, but difficult to assess, except trivially, through submission to one’s priors. My priors are a healthy respect for the relationship between sadism, outrage, and self-serving reasoning, and the sheer pleasure of destroying things as a group with unusually low personal consequences.

  18. John Newman writes:

    I always wanted to have a punk band called “Martin Luther Gandhi and the Altruistic Punishers”, but I think I like GandhiMartinLutherJesus and the Altruistic Punishers better!

    Thanks for this!

  19. NoniMausa writes:

    Altruistic punishment — thank you! I knew the dynamic, just didn’t know what it was called. And it is common. It’s what honeybees and ants do when the nest is disturbed, it’s why lions, tigers and bears generally avoid humans, even though humans are, individually, pretty wussy opponents.

    If the 99% ever figured out strategic altruistic punishment, our social world would look very different. How to boycott a multinational, hydra-headed corporate parasite? How to regain control of a political system run by and for that hydra? Tactical strikes and boycotts targeting, in sequence, the worst bad players? That would give new meaning to the phrase “short term pain.” But if the workers at each targeted corporation were supported by the AltPun majority when they quit, en masse, leaving the leviathan beached and gasping, it wouldn’t take long before the others changed their ways. Maybe.

    One distinct disadvantage of today’s suckered Americans is their lack of grass roots options. In the dirty thirties people could go back to the farm, live with relatives, raise a few chickens, cut firewood. It was not luxury by any measure, but it was possible. Today’s population doesn’t have farms to go to, relatives to live with, or enough trees to keep them all warm. Also, paradoxically, their relative prosperity keeps them trying to scramble back into the middle class, though that raft is no longer large enough to hold them the way it used to. Pressed gently, slowly off the raft since 1980, they still consider themselves occupants, just momentarily embarrassed vis à vis dry space on the deck.

    Rioters, by contrast, know they have never had space on the deck. How long till this dawns on the previously secure white middle classes? I am guessing the children and grandchildren of the upcoming wave of dying baby boomers will notice something when they realize there is no inheritance there because the nursing homes bled it all away, no more basements to live in because the house went to pay for the nursing home care, no helping hand, and because of a flattened job market, no way for them to help their own children and grandchildren.

    Noni

  20. Christian writes:

    Did you know you are a Daoist sage?

    Dao De Ching
    Chapter 5.
    The Use of Emptiness.

    1. Heaven and earth do not act from (the impulse of) any wish to be benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt with. The sages do not act from (any wish to be) benevolent; they deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with.

    2. May not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a bellows?

    ‘Tis emptied, yet it loses not its power;
    ‘Tis moved again, and sends forth air the more.
    Much speech to swift exhaustion lead we see;
    Your inner being guard, and keep it free.

  21. […] Source […]

  22. […] “In theory, a peaceful political process is absolutely the right way to solve the problems of brutality and exclusion. In practice, it hasn’t happened, it isn’t happening, there is no sign that it will happen….Riots do severe, immediate, harm, they are an escalation, they are violent, they are prima facie bad. Yet the fact that rioting sometimes happens, the uncomfortable possibility of it, has historically and may again create urgency and motivate political change that is ultimately good.”  (“There is a name for this”, Steve Randy Waldman,  Interfluidity) […]

  23. The Heretic writes:

    Steve, you wrote the following:
    ‘Altruistic punishment is generally not tactical. Altruistic punishment is emotional. The altruism in altruistic punishment is not pure, not saintly. The soldier takes pleasure even as he takes wounds exacting revenge for a fallen comrade on another human who was not, as an individual, his friend’s killer.’

    Trust the modern economist to debase the meaning of words to spread confusion.. What kind of behaviour is this? Just an angry lashing out at anyone within range. It is an emotional reaction of the weak, attacking those who they can attack. Fighting for the good of someone else is altruistic, acting to punish crime is altruistic, harming someone who is not directly or indirectly (ie supportive) of the crime at hand is criminal and sadistic. Furthermore, this behaviour often creates more enemies, as people who might have been neutral or supportive of your cause become angry, and thereafter look to undermine your cause. It is why governments who use widespread, unfocused counterinsurgency programs often plant and fertilize the seeds of revolution. It is why Israeli use of overwhelming firepower has failed to stem against Palestinian terrorists; the kill one terrorist but spawn 3 more from among the civilians they kill. In effect, it pits the 99% against each other. In Toronto there was one case of large scale rioting by the black community in the downtown, it only managed to garner more support for ‘law and order (and fascism)’ policing of the black minority.

    It would have been much more effective to be very disruptive but peaceful demonstration against the targeted group. oward the group that does bear some responsibility for violence. Perhaps a large scale sit in at the police station would send a clear message, or a noisy but peaceful march through a elite white Baltimore neighbourhood, or in front of a very expensive private hospital would send a much more effective message, and galvanize further support, then wide scale rioting and random looting (of businesses in your own neighbourhood).

  24. The Heretic writes:

    To do good for another at the cost to yourself is altruism

    To do good for another at the cost of the perpetrator who did the harm, is justice.

    To do good for another at the cost of an innocent (usually weaker than you or ignorant of the harm done to them)….this action could have many labels depending on the interior or ulterior motive of the actor. Adjectives such as self serving, may be appropriate, but never altruism or justice.

  25. Zach writes:

    Heretic:
    You ascribe a meaning you choose to the word. Altruism in a biologic sense is different.

    It’s this sense that Steve is using. And, as described in the article to which Steve linked, it’s the reason you can have high minded debates about how someone should react to something. Without it cooperation amongst the unrelated is less likely.

  26. mgd writes:

    Is this the correct application of the concept of ‘altruistic punishment’?
    As I understand it, altruistic punishment applies when a third party who has no interest in the violation of a particular norm, punishes the transgressor even at some cost to themselves, and accruing no benefit. But in the case of the Baltimore riots, the rioters are the second party, ie the injured party. On a sympathetic view, they benefit by punishing the portions of the community who have harmed them, even if they harm themselves. On a cynical view, they benefit themselves via looting. What am i missing?

  27. curlydan writes:

    You and MLK are nailing it. As MLK said: “But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

    — “The Other America,” 1968

  28. Steefan writes:

    mgd I’d guess the cops, maybe. Is it a trick question? Maybe it’s all but I’ll go for none. As an UK person the rambling American style was a ride but altruistic finished me;-)

    Looking bad and getting too regular over there in US; the apparent defranchising of certain communities seems deliberately provocative. I’m thinking Hillary ‘the most popular woman is United States 13 years in a row’ is all up for outdoing her husband who doubled the prison population(I’ve heard?) and so reap the rewards of this ongoing New World Order slave trade. Along with her mates throughout your corridors of power. You can get away with so much more in massive countries,see USSR, China.

    Good Luck getting Them to back off Buds, but I fear it’s all just practice.

  29. Noumenon72 writes:

    I tried Googling altruistic punishment and it may not be a real thing. It also seems like it’s practiced on an individual level. This is more under the heading of crowd violence. On this topic, try reading chapter 7 of Randall Collins’ Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory. He’d say this bears the characteristics of a “home turf protest”.

  30. matrixhead writes:

    Great article …good example of altruistic punishment here …plus a good example what shit most ordinary people are…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BTTCsY7LXU

  31. Mark Mullin writes:

    Beautifully written, especially the alchemical conversion of obvious anger into vulgar humor, and I mean that with all respect and as a compliment – not easily done.
    To those that have posted alternative views, especially to the ones asking what we will do when we see white riots – that is the single biggest fear of my life – for that too has turned into a mess, where those that really prized a career of inquiry into both humanistic and scientific fields often find themselves horribly in debt and with a job involving supersizing things – I don’t care about ten thousand enraged “Tea Partiers” I care about highly knowledgeable, utterly disenfranchised people who too grow to feel there is nothing for them and nothing for them to loose. They can do real damage – and forget hacking the electronic infrastructure, its the bio majors that really scare the hell out of me, with a decent sequencer going for 5 grand or so – and we have seen precursors to this already………

  32. 400 ppm writes:


    riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable

    ~~MLK~

    Is a riot merely a sudden *capitulation* from those who had been living in *quiet desperation*? Same thing on Wall*Street when you see players dumping stocks for whatever price they can still garner? Players who held on longer to avoid admitting mistake early? Admitting to self? Taking lumps up front?

    As we grow ever closer to the breaking point of overpopulation, will you now see more frequent events of capitulation? As July grows warmer from our AGW, anthropogenic global warming capitulation by rioting will destroy more property of the poor than property of the wealthy. We have irreversibly castled the knight of overcrowding, overly warming, and overly awakening the

    Sleeping
    Giant
    !

  33. […] Interfluidity on the Baltimore riots; not my view, but of course it is worth entertaining a variety of […]

  34. […] Interfluidity on the Baltimore riots; not my view, but of course it is worth entertaining a variety of […]

  35. Jacob writes:

    You fucking idiot. Do you think the gang members and teenagers were the owners of small asian businesses and such which were targeted in the riots? How were they hurting themselves?

  36. Jacob writes:

    Do you think the gang members and teenagers were the owners of small asian businesses and such which were targeted in the riots? How were they hurting themselves?

  37. austrartsua writes:

    Who exactly is getting punished in this scenario? The store owners, car owners, innocent bystanders who had their property and bodies damaged?

    I’m sorry mate, but this article is nonsense. Not all riots are the same. Some riots may fit your description. But let’s not forget that self interest exists. Many of the rioters might have been, cover your eyes, exploiting a bad situation for selfish reasons? At this point you’ll mutter f u. But this is a more likely explanation than your fancy pancy game theory

  38. Much, much, much more needs to be written about this:

    On the contrary, we have done the opposite, we have in practical terms increased the distance between the kind of people who… write articles and the kind of people who are forcing the Orioles to play for empty bleachers.

    Every topic that makes up part of the national discussion is dominated by two institutions: academia and the press. Thus, the single most important change in American democracy in the 20th Century has gone almost entirely unexamined. That change was the shift from a press written by working class individuals to a press written by college educated and (worse) J school educated elites. Bob Woodward has always been a pompous and useless idiot. Bring back Nellie Bly.

    The failure to examine this leads to endless amounts of misdirected liberal activity aimed at Fox News and corporate America. This analysis suggests that Corporate America somehow didn’t exist in the time of the New Deal or the Great Society, but is a recent development that stymies our political system. It’s really, really dumb to blame new problems on something that used to be more powerful than it is now.

  39. Yancey Ward writes:

    Just once, I would like to see these mobs march on City Hall and burn it to the ground. I hear it even has LCD televisions you can loot.

  40. Joe Average writes:

    Fuck altruism.

  41. fuck you writes:

    No, fuck you.

    Thanks for lobbing holier then thou shitlib bombs about how we are enlightened because we stand with the rioters all the way from SV.

    Blacks are failures because of their genes. They will always be failures because of their genes. They don’t have jobs because of their genes. Get with it. It’s not racism. it’s genes. I’m not going to watch my city burn down so that you can bloviate about how these fucking people were sent by God to punish us for our sins. You got a problem, take it up with fucking evolution.

    You got your way in the 70s. You let these people run wild. They cleared out every major city into a fucking hellhole. It only ended when we told police to do what’s necessary to control black dysfunction. Do we have to go through all that again. What the fuck is going to be different form the last time. Oh wait, you figure SV real estate is expensive enough to keep them out of your city center you fucking asshole. Middle class whites can just go fuck themselves so you get to feel holy.

    And all of those fucking shitlib policies you pushed the last few decades. The ones that led to 80% illegitimacy among blacks. You fucking defended them on this very site you fucking shithead. You don’t give a fuck about anybody. The only one you’ve ever given a fuck about is yourself. Feeling good about yourself. Sounding off to your friends. And the whole rest of the world can burn for your selfish fucking shitlib idealogy.

  42. ad writes:

    So who are the altuistically punishing rioters altruistically punishing?

    The city government? Because as I understand it, they are all Democrats and were elected by an electorate that is sixty percent black. Or the police department that is controlled by that city government?

  43. This_Just_This writes:

    No, fuck you.

    Thanks for lobbing holier then thou shitlib bombs about how we are enlightened because we stand with the rioters all the way from SV.

    Blacks are failures because of their genes. They will always be failures because of their genes. They don’t have jobs because of their genes. Get with it. It’s not racism. it’s genes. I’m not going to watch my city burn down so that you can bloviate about how these fucking people were sent by God to punish us for our sins. You got a problem, take it up with fucking evolution.

    You got your way in the 70s. You let these people run wild. They cleared out every major city into a fucking hellhole. It only ended when we told police to do what’s necessary to control black dysfunction. Do we have to go through all that again. What the fuck is going to be different form the last time. Oh wait, you figure SV real estate is expensive enough to keep them out of your city center you fucking asshole. Middle class whites can just go fuck themselves so you get to feel holy.

    And all of those fucking shitlib policies you pushed the last few decades. The ones that led to 80% illegitimacy among blacks. You fucking defended them on this very site you fucking shithead. You don’t give a fuck about anybody. The only one you’ve ever given a fuck about is yourself. Feeling good about yourself. Sounding off to your friends. And the whole rest of the world can burn for your selfish fucking shitlib idealogy.

  44. […] the wrath of Steve Randy Waldman, I have a few thoughts. My own ancient left prejudices led me to see the property destruction as an […]

  45. Floccina writes:

    Interestingly some cops thing that they are doing some altruistic punishment when they rough up those that they consider troublemakers.

  46. Floccina writes:

    Interestingly some cops think that they are doing some altruistic punishment when they rough up those that they consider troublemakers.

  47. This altruistic punishment looks quite mad. It’s great for the news biz, filling space between the ads. Racists and right-wingers love it, justifying all sorts of militarized police.

    So I get the altruistic part. I don’t see how it helps the folks rioting. Hitting yourself in the head as performance art?

    Perhaps history can put this in a more useful perspective. In Ferguson and Baltimore we have peasants’ protests. Common as dirt among oppressed people with weak leadership structures (esp when the police/military are recruited from the peasants — in effect, they switch sides). It’s part of the oppression process, burning off rage and damaging their own communities.

    When the oppressed get leadership and burn down their oppressers’ works we get revolution.

    When they get smart leadership and intelligently channel that rage (e.g., 4th generation war) we get successful revolutions. Sometimes.

  48. Tim Broberg writes:

    Nailed it. The message is, “Don’t mess with us: We’ll hit you back, man.”

    Government – black lives do matter. All of ours do. Respect our rights. …or else.
    Rioters – every body else’s lives and work matter too. Go create something.

  49. Elle Plato writes:

    Holy crap I never knew it had a name. Back at my first real job we had an open and sharing culture, but some people would get hired, learn from the scripts or documentation others wrote and then not share back to the community. I always made it a point to vocally state I would not cooperate with people until they started sharing and to encourage others to do the same. I also encouraged people to embrace those people whenever they changed a little. I figured it was the taxes I paid to keep the culture pro-social.

    I’ve since done this in other contexts, but never had a name for it other than “tilting at windmills.”

    This was fucking awesome in an incredibly depressing sort of way. Humans are not rational creatures, but I will claim that altruistic punishment is rational. You sacrifice yourself for the good of your genes, with your children being the closest, but your species being 99.9% identical but even animals are 30% to 95% identical to us depending.

    Life is in this together, and a certain amount of self sacrifice is necessary if we intend to keep life worth living.

  50. brendan writes:

    Suicide bombers bear personal costs for their choices. Most rioters don’t: they’re a drip of destruction in a sea of it. One rioter bears little extra cost for participating.

    And the punishment is being dealt out indiscriminately. What’s a “black owned shop” sign mean? It means the opinion of rioters is: fuck you too Pakistanis, Koreans, and of course whites.

    Even if this looked more like altruistic punishment, more like a non lethal version of suicide bombing, for it to be admirable in any way would require that its participants have a reasonably clear view of their problem and their enemy. Yet the irrational bigotry of these people dwarfs that of any other group in the US.

    What garbage.

  51. […] suburban culture…) Freddie Gray’s life a study on the effects of lead paint on poor blacks There is a name for this Lefties, meet your candidate: Why Bernie Sanders is the only authentic alternative to Hillary […]