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On the speed of unrest: “The public is a slow-moving riot,” writes philosopher Nina Power in “Thirty-One Theses on the Problem of the Public,” quoted in the chapter of Joshua Clover’s Riot. Strike. Riot that we excerpt in this issue. But this is also a way to explain the school-shooting epidemic, in New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell’s hands: “think of it as a slow-motion, ever-evolving riot.” As usual, the apologist of ruling-class ideology unwittingly expresses a facet of the truth. The public as we know it is a formal name for a long series of shooting sprees carried out by young white men, or, put another way: bourgeois society is war.
Within the theater of war are populations and zones marked as targets, and those who enjoy the protection of a sort of social camouflage. Riot. Strike. Riot concerns itself with the population “whose labor can never be objectified,” and therefore “whose modality is riot,” and whose unfolding is “not a demand but a civil war.” Clover notes that researchers from the Global Social Protest Research Group have found that the wave of uprisings since 2011are neither “Marx-type” or “Polanyi-type,” but a new form entirely: “Protest of the Stagnant Relative Surplus Population.”