Hurricane Harvey: 5 reasons looting is essential for survival

Residents

Looting is a rational response to disaster situations and price gouging. Liberals would prefer people to dehydrate, starve, or drown, while food rots underwater.

1. Price gouging and hoarding by capitalists goes unpunished

As Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas, Best Buy capitalised on the devastation to sell $42 packs of water amidst hundreds of others of cases of price gouging.

Houston's local state has responded to this not by requisitioning water from Best Buy and other retailers, but by enforcing an indefinite curfew between midnight and 5am to prevent looting.

The District Attorney in Harris County issued a statement last night stating that not only had 14 people already been arrested for looting, but that they would have additional punitive sentencing - including life sentences - under a Texas law allowing for harsher penalties during a crisis.

Meanwhile residents at a nursing home were only airlifted out after a photo of them up to their waists in water went viral.

These responses show the liberal state's insistence on enforcing property relations in the face of all basic common sense and regardless of the cost to human life

2. Looting is survival

In an area devastated by floods, people are fleeing flooded homes, rescue support and shelters are inadequately provisioned. Joel Olsteen's Lakewood mega-church in Houston was opened as a temporary shelter only after massive public outcry following an announcement it was going to remain locked.

Stores are the only source of food and water, and it's a choice between directly appropriating goods and death in the most extreme situations. Despite this, Tom Llamas, a journalist from ABC covering the floods, reported people entering an abandoned supermarket to police.

3. The people getting arrested for distributing commodities for free are the same one losing their jobs as stores close

Even if people fleeing flood water wanted to buy food and water, how are they supposed to do so when the stores themselves are closed - are staff expected to keep working and taking money in a metre of water? Of course Julie Turkevitz from the New York Times thinks that's a great idea:

4. Floods aren't the only time that commodity relations lead to starvation

The breakdown of property relations in disaster situations mirrors their irrationality in daily life. Famines are not due to lack of food, but due to lack of money. More than 15 million (over 10%) households in the US are food insecure 1, food deserts and other issues with access to fresh food mean that 85% of Americans have some kind of vitamin defiency.

5. Looting and other action against price gouging also has a long and rich history in the class struggle

Food riots were a regular occurrence during the American revolution.

On July 22nd 1918, Fisherman's wives began a national wave of rice riots and strike action when they attempted to prevent the export of grain in Toyama, Japan. In the '40s, Japanese workers seized factories and mines to run them directly to produce basic necessities in the face of hoarding by corporations and massive food shortages.

In '70s Italy, workers acted collectively to force transport and electricity price reductions.

Looting is not only normalised during natural disasters but during urban insurrections such as LA 1992 and Ferguson 2014.

Comments

RadBlackLove
Aug 30 2017 16:38

harsher looting penalties during a crisis. *sigh*

RadBlackLove
Aug 30 2017 16:43
Quote:
Looting is not only normalised during natural disasters but during urban insurrections such as LA 1992 and Ferguson 2014.

Is normalised quite the right word here? I've only heard of looting be demonized and stigmatized especially during urban riots that people of color participate in

Mike Harman
Aug 30 2017 17:11
Quote:
Is normalised quite the right word here? I've only heard of looting be demonized and stigmatized especially during urban riots that people of color participate in

It may well be the wrong word. I was thinking of riot situations normalising looting among the people involved - i.e. that people will participate in looting who might never do shoplifting outside that situation. And even in the context of demonization there will be some subset of commentary that sees it as merely an 'excess' in an otherwise justified protest, vs. say isolated ram raiding in a small town which doesn't get any explicit support at all.

Mark.
Aug 31 2017 13:30
Quote:

5. Looting and other action against price gouging also has a long and rich history in the class struggle

Food riots were a regular occurrence during the American revolution.

On July 22nd 1918, Fisherman's wives began a national wave of rice riots and strike action when they attempted to prevent the export of grain in Toyama, Japan. In the '40s, Japanese workers seized factories and mines to run them directly to produce basic necessities in the face of hoarding by corporations and massive food shortages.

In '70s Italy, workers acted collectively to force transport and electricity price reductions.

There are examples from Chile as well:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2010-03-01/chile-quake-looting-and-hoarding-streets

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8546411.stm

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/chile-earthquake-looting-reported-as-tsunami-hit-regions-wake-up-to-scenes-of-devastation-10505295.html

Edit: libcom article and thread on this:

https://libcom.org/news/chile-private-property-rule-law-take-priority-over-human-life-post-earthquake-chaos-0203201

wojtek
Aug 30 2017 22:40
RadBlackLove
Aug 31 2017 04:23

In the hood them speakers convert real well to ca$$$h.....then you can get shoes, water, clothes, more bread......

Steven.
Sep 1 2017 10:05
RadBlackLove wrote:
In the hood them speakers convert real well to ca$$$h.....then you can get shoes, water, clothes, more bread......

On that note, for me perhaps the best photo of the LA riots is the guy looting nappies for his kid: