ARMED COMPETITIVENESS – The Working Class gets Called up to Fight Itself: Notes on a Recruitment Crisis

Who can afford to live inside the law?

War among the poor (or ‘war of the poor against the poor’, ‘civil/internecine war of the poor’, etc.) is:

– An exaggerated and reductive name (too bloody and too simple) for a real phenomenon. Intra-class competition is often violent, sometimes lethal, endlessly rhetorical and always managed from above. The proprietors’ 500-year Plan.

– An oxymoron, if opposing bodies of ‘the poor’ are supposed to be autonomous belligerent subjects rather than someone else’s cannon fodder. An essential feature of ‘war’ is ignored. Has any group of ‘the poor’ ever fought an organized campaign of destruction exclusively against other poor people except under the influence of generals or senior managers?1 Of course the poor have fought autonomously many times, but the enemy was always an army sent out by some department of ‘the rich’.

For anyone trying to show that violent competition between proletarians amounts to ‘war among the poor’, few social situations could offer less useful evidence than the urban riots2 in the US (2014-15), the UK (2011) or France (2005)3. No one disputes that some working-class people were badly hurt and a few killed by non-police violence during some of those events, or, for example, that most of the homes accidentally burned in London were rented by the poor, or that ‘working-class’ cars built the Paris barricades, etc. etc. The stories of Muslim ‘identity’ groups ‘taking over’ the fighting in France by force, ‘pushing out’ left activists and unaffiliated local proletarians, are also well known and much disputed. And there’s no more reason to disbelieve the many reports of ugly individual beatings/stabbings/robberies than there is to forget that these things happen every night in the cities concerned, or to pretend that they could serve any conceivable collective purpose of a riot. [Read more →]