Tag Archives: Structural Violence

The Hollywood BID Patrol’s Intransigence on Transience Provides Yet Another Performative Demonstration of David Graeber’s Theory of Violence, Stupidity, and Interpretive Labor

An astounding number of BID Patrol officers on Ivar Avenue by the library, June 30, 2015, milling around not being charged criminally for degrading everyone's quality of life by, through their open display of guns, passively threatening to kill anyone who disobeys them.
An astounding number of BID Patrol officers on Ivar Avenue by the library, June 30, 2015, milling around not being charged criminally for degrading everyone’s quality of life by openly displaying their guns and their self-evident willingness to use them, thus creating the imminent fear that they’ll kill anyone who disobeys them.
Watch here for the final bit of a Hollywood BID Patrol operation on Ivar Avenue on June 30, 2015. There are about 12 of them milling around on the sidewalk after, evidently, having kicked out a bunch of homeless people, most probably on the basis of suspected violations of disgraceful LAMC 41.18(d). Of course, if you know the spot you’ll know that there are homeless people there essentially all the time, only very rarely getting kicked out by the BID Patrol.

So what horrific incident was it that required the presence of about a dozen of Hollywood’s finest1 on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon on Ivar Avenue? Murder, rape, homeless encampment, street-preaching? The amazing thing is that no one there seemed to know for sure except, we assume given that the principle of charity requires us to assume that the BID Patrol both has reasons for its actions and at the same time knows what those reasons are, the officers themselves.

A witness to the June 30, 2015 incident who also had no firm idea of the BID Patrol's intention, but was willing to exert effort to come up with a shared theory that fit the known facts, proving that he, unlike the Patrol, has not yet placed himself outside of normal human society.
A witness to the June 30, 2015 incident who also had no firm idea of the BID Patrol’s intention, but was willing to exert effort to come up with a shared theory that fit the known facts, proving that he, unlike the Patrol, has not yet placed himself outside of normal human society.

One witness, though, spent the time and the effort to share his theory on the BID Patrol’s motivation with our correspondent. This is what David Graeber calls “interpretative labor,” an activity which, as Graeber has it, “much of the everyday business of social life” comprises, an activity in which people with guns, made stupid by their own potential for state-sanctioned violence, do not typically engage, as they clearly do not in this case:2

Thank you for filming, cause they only pulled up when I started talking about God and Jesus. I was just talking about God and Jesus and taking the Illuminati down, and every day they don’t never bother nobody, and let them sit here, right? Well, all of a sudden today I came and started talking about God and Jesus and taking down the Illuminati, cause I’m in the middle of a documentary, all of a sudden they get a hundred calls a day. God bless us all, the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.

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The Utopia of Rules and the Violent Stupidity of the BIDs

David Graeber's fine book of essays provides theoretical tools essential to the understanding of the violence of the BIDs, the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, and the both correlative and causal links between them
David Graeber’s fine book of essays provides theoretical tools essential to the understanding of the violence of the BIDs, the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, and the both correlative and causal links between them
David Graeber is one of my eternal intellectual heroes, and I recommend most highly to anyone who can read his stunning, transformative work, Debt: The First 5000 Years. His most recent book, a collection of essays entitled The Utopia of Rules: On Technology Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy is, while less sweeping than Debt, essential reading. In particular, for the purpose of understanding the violence of the BIDs and the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, one essay, Dead Zones of the Imagination, stands out above the rest.
David Graeber, looking as brilliantly ironic and as ironically brilliant as ever he has done.
David Graeber, looking as brilliantly ironic and as ironically brilliant as ever he has done.

I’ll run through the premises and argument after the break, but a crucial conclusion that Graeber reaches here, and one whose relevance will be immediately obvious to sane readers of this blog, is that

…violence is so often the preferred weapon of the stupid. One might even call it the trump card of the stupid, since (and this is surely one of the tragedies of human existence) it is the one form of stupidity to which it is most difficult to come up with an intelligent response.

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