Collective violence, extending from riots to warfare, presents a challenge to our ordinary understanding of free will. Actions that would rarely be taken by an individual on their own seem to be embraced when supported by a larger group. This can occur in societies ranging from the communist regime of Soviet Russia to the capitalist free market of modern day England. Given this commonality, perhaps the collective violence of a riot can be best understood as a biological event in which evolved cognitive responses encounter a unique environmental threat. And if that is the case, do individuals caught up in such incidents have any choice in the matter?
Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute say they've uncovered a pattern that triggers riots wherever it's found. What is that pattern? The price of food. When it rises to a certain level, social unrest & violence are soon to follow. According to their calculations the food price index is due to peak in August of 2013, assuming no corrective action is taken. The original paper is here.
posted by scalefree
on Aug 21, 2011 -
In anti-war protests in Australia yesterday, children as young as 12 were shown on TV coverage participating not only in protests, but in the violence that followed when the protesters attacked police. There has, in the past, been condemnation of those who bring their children along to protests, but this is the first time I have seen large numbers of children protesting on their own behalf - most of whom would have been truant from school and, judging by the way many hid from cameras, without the permission of their parents. Should we take them seriously, or are they too young to really understand what it is they are protesting against? [more inside]
posted by dg
on Mar 26, 2003 -
Riots in Cincinnati. Cincinnati city police have this odd habit of killing unarmed young black males. In November, two men were killed. One was shot, another was crushed or suffocated while already in police custody and, according to witnesses, not resisting. Several weeks later a policeman shot and killed a twelve year old out joy-riding. Saturday night an officer chased down and shot a nineteen year old he 'thought he recognized' as someone with outstanding traffic warrants. Every time someone is killed Cincinnati city council promises to look into the matter but does nothing. Today someone decided to take action, even if it was in a destructive and politically impotent form of action.
posted by krakedhalo
on Apr 10, 2001 -