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In Defense of Looting

In Defense of Looting

A Riotous History of Uncivil Action

A radical argument for why rioting and looting are our most powerful tools of dismantling white supremacy.

Looting–a crowd of people publicly, openly, and directly seizing goods–is one of the more extreme actions that take can place in the midst of social unrest. Even self-identified radicals distance themselves from looters, fearing that violent tactics reflect badly on the broader movement.

However, in this deftly argued corrective, Vicky Osterweil argues that while looting is often maligned in today’s society, it is, and has always been, one of our most powerful tools of dismantling capitalism and white supremacy. Stealing goods and destroying property are a direct means of wealth redistribution and a practical, immediate way of improving life for the working class– not to mention a brazen message to the police, the state, and an unjust society. All our beliefs about the innate righteousness of property and ownership, Osterweil explains, are built on the history of anti-Black and settler oppression–meaning that belief in the right to own property is innately, structurally white supremacist.

From the slave revolts that started a social revolution in the South to the more recent #BlackLivesMatter and climate change movements, Osterweil makes a convincing case for rioting and looting as weapons that bludgeon the status quo while uplifting the poor and marginalized. In Defense of Looting is a history of violent protest sparking social change; a compelling reframing of radical activism; and a practical vision for the redistribution of wealth, a new relationship to property, and a radically restructured society.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Social History

On Sale: August 25th 2020

Price: $16.99 / $21.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 288

ISBN-13: 9781645036678

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"In Defense of Looting is a clear and damning indictment of the origins and evolution of property rights, race, and policing in the United States. Ultimately, Osterweil demands we not only overcome the respectability politics animating our desire for 'peaceful protests,' but that we ambitiously work to abolish the racial capitalist logics at the heart of American empire."—Zoé Samudzi, coauthor of As Black As Resistance
"In engaging and accessible prose, Vicky Osterweil lays out an intellectual defense of looting that is as thorough and compelling as it is necessary and revolutionary. The history here is alive and vital, and Osterweil's grasp of it pushes any reader who has doubted the legitimacy of looting as a political action to search deeply and reconsider their position."—Mychal Denzel Smith, author of Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream
"With the right ideas at the right time, Vicky Osterweil has given us a powerful tool for resistance in the 21st century. In Defense of Looting could change American politics forever."—Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days: The Making of Millennials
"A passionate, in-depth study of one of history's most radical-and reviled-forms of direct action. In clear, precise prose, Osterweil lays bare the racialized settler-colonial roots of policing and property in the US, outlines the possibilities of militant resistance, and emphasizes the necessity of Black and Indigenous liberation. In Defense of Looting is a bracing and necessary read, written with great care and radical hope. As Osterweil herself says, 'The future is ours to take. We just need to loot it.'"—Kim Kelly, labor columnist, Teen Vogue
"In this book the act of looting is the starting point for challenging the conventional beliefs around people, property, and justice. How we treat looting, whose acts are considered looting, and what is looted frame essential interventions in understanding uprising. The stakes are not of 'stuff,' TVs, and clothes; they're about ourselves and our communities. Whether at the policy level or in our personal daily politics, the historical insights and moral clarity of this book illuminate a way forward from the real crimes that structure our society."—Ayesha A. Siddiqi, writer and emeritus editor-in-chief of The New Inquiry
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