Everywhere there is talk of revolution. People are disturbed when they think of the future. There are those who look forward eagerly to a sudden violent change in the social order. It is said that the revolutions which have occurred in continental Europe are symptoms of a world movement; that bourgeois liberal democracy is inevitably drifting toward catastrophe. There are loyal defenders of the existing order who seem to see in any suggested reform signs of revolutionary conspiracy. And there are many liberal-minded people, neither revolutionists nor apologists for entrenched interests, who are confused by the din of excited propagandists. These liberals are not averse to the orderly process of change. They may even welcome what they would like to regard as trends toward a better social system. But they hear it said that liberalism is dead, that parliamentary government is ineffective and that resort to force in the settlement of present-day economic issues is unavoidable.
Are such fears or hopes well founded? What is a revolution? When is it likely to take place, if at all? How large a portion of the public has in times past participated in revolutionary movements? What has been the behavior of the crowd in such crises? What forces, historical, economic and psychological, have transformed social stress and change into deeds of violence? What, in the end, have revolutions accomplished for human advancement? Are we facing a revolution in America at the present time?
—Everett Dean Martin, Farewell to Revolution (1935), p. ix (from the Foreword)
The black bloc I joined met at Logan Circle, some two miles north of the inauguration parade route. We peered through bandanas to find friends. We gathered in bloc formation behind wood-enforced banners, filled the street, and began to march. The bloc takes care to stay together, move together, and blend together. Within minutes, bottle rockets were shooting skyward and bricks were flying through bank windows. You don’t know who does what in a bloc, you don’t look to find out. If bodies run out of formation to take a rock to a Starbucks window, they melt back to the bloc in as many seconds. Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty. If that sounds to you like a precondition for mob violence, you’re right. But this is only a problem if you think there are no righteous mobs, or that windows feel pain, or that counter-violence (like punching Richard Spencer) is never valid.
–Natasha Lennard, Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched–You Can Thank the Black Bloc
“And although it’s easy to assume that stampedes are caused by panicked crowds running away from something in fear, Seabrook found that, in general, that’s only true in fires. In most stampedes, the crowd is churning toward something. In the United States and Europe, stampedes are rarer than they are in the developing world, and they don’t tend to happen on religious occasions. Americans and Europeans stampede for other causes: Black Friday sales, rock concerts, and sporting events. No one person decides to stampede. But if there’s a connection between what attracts a crowd and what a society holds dear, then stampedes are a deadly illustration of those values.”
—Ruth Graham, “The Hajj Stampede: Why Do Crowds Run?”