How To Start A Riot
The Psychology of fear and uncontrollable violence
So you want to start a riot,
You’ve come to the right person.
I’ve been a constant observer, never taken part in one,
succumbed to my human tendencies on some days and felt the thrill
Of sudden loss, of nightmares.
I seek refuge when it breaks out.
But I survive, and I learn.
I am like those lucky odd shops which someone, somehow, forgot to gut, between two gutted shops, two masticated lives, two butchered dogs.
They forgot about me, I blend into the shadows, I sit still.
But I lived where others couldn’t, I refused to die.
I’ve seen many of these by now,
you can venture forth to call me an expert.
An expert on riots, a social scholar in my own right.
It’s a formula, and its about mathematics, about numbers. About economics, about politics, about the biology of survival.
You can start a riot too.
You just have to observe where you are,
so that you know when the time is right,
and if the time is right.
‘Ethnic’ group 1
This group, who are the majority,
fear the minority because they do not know them.
They have increasingly been isolated from their ‘other’,
ever since they were told that they could at last do whatever they willed,
by an all pervasive feeling of an inherent right to do so,
an independent nation where they could rule, they thought, by majority.
This group feared the other’s faith, their rigor and their dedication.
Only in front of ‘them’ do they associate with the ‘us’
They sensed a kind of fervor which they themselves could never match. They attributed this to schemes, plans and plots
to overthrow them.
And to terrorize them.
That is how they rationalized
that which they did not try and understand.
Their own religion was a way of life, they had their own gods,
from the hundreds to choose from,
a rich repository of stories and teachings to choose from.
A framework of a faith and knowledge which had been polished through centuries,
and evolved to work for the individual,
and the self, and the surroundings.
But they chose to see through that.
And abandon their lessons, and instead
became scared, and threatened.
‘Ethnic’ group 2
The other group, the ones who were in minority,
Into their days of glory,
when they had themselves ruled the roost,
amongst the rest
They lamented the loss of their culture,
of the nuances which made up life,
the beauty which had been beholden.
They looked back at the richness of the aroma, the taste, the senses.
They look back far beyond they can see,
and fall prey to unsubstantiated stories and story-tellers
as they promise to guide them,
through this past.
They’re accused (by inciters within them)
that they have turned away from their past,
their legacy and their religion.
And that is all which separates them from their past.
They’ve been told that ‘the other’ has taken advantage of this ignorance
this meek apathy to their heritage
and wants to trod on them
and drive them out of their lands
But faith will, at the end prevail.
Because their faith is the supreme faith,
and beyond it, there is no other.
“If you want to reclaim your present, look to the past, and the only one reality which can be, and had been”
And so this one prays for things to be as they were,
And the other gets uncomfortable because of it.
And this one senses this discomfort, and prays more.
Harder, with more fervor, tries to prove his faith.
The other proceeds to try and shake their faith, to assert their own majority.
In fear that their other would do harm.
The other clings on to their faith, in the fear that their other one would do harm without it.
Us vs Them
A self fulfilling prophecy, a confirmation of this bias.
Now lets start a riot.
Step 1 Entropy
This is where you put on your smart, analytical hat.
The curious researcher.
Study the disorder, the entropy.
Read the papers, know who owns them.
The Media, the current propaganda.
Study what stokes the fire, what fuels the machinery.
The polity, the economy and the illusions of the separate worlds.
The benefits it will bear to whom, the survival it will threaten for whom.
Detach yourself from your own system and witness the misguided madness unfold as a process.
A point where the disorder, the discomfort, the entropy
Your history lessons will teach you when.
Start working on your rumors.
Step 2 Rumors
Approach the right people, feed off their fears and serve them a dish.
Know that everyone is insecure, and can be made to be.
Tell them their worst fears, how it has come true.
Tell the homemaker, the housewife who manages the affairs behind closed doors. The horror should make them shake,
and find herself at great unrest
The household chores would be noticeably forgotten.
Children would get affected, and petrified and scared.
The men, would get to know.
The ‘men of action’ too.
Those who seek out something to do,
they’re your pawns to play with.
They would stand at busy intersections,
and project their insecurities onto more of their kind.
They will be heard, questioned, noticed.
And with this exhilaration, they’ll discover how they’ve transcended individual, purposeless existence,
and have found a connect with a higher group,
a community of their own.
A feeling of closeness and belonging.
A selfish way to grow close to your own at the expense of the other.
They’ll conjure rumors you would have no idea of,
from the depths of their own repressed fantasies,
your plan will seem to be working.
Let this simmer, this communal bond,
wait for two islands to be formed,
wait for it uncoil and explode.
Step 3 Events
Be on the lookout.
A watchdog , a storyteller.
Observe ethnic group 1, and report to ethnic group 2.
Or whichever side you choose to be on.
They don’t intermingle.
And very gullible to whatever you take to them about the other.
Make an incident out of an occurring.
An event out of the incident.
Whisper in the streets and hear the wave flow.
Create the distance and the divide.
Fury and Rage would bind them together.
Call the peacemakers cowards.
Timid, Scared pacifiers.
Add those labels which no one would want to be known with.
Grow a community of sympathizers and revenge seekers.
Who find legitimacy and support in their thoughts with the others.
Thoughts which would turn into actions.
Step 4 Milk and salt
The day you see white milk flow through the gutters like a river. That is the day your plan will come to life.
The day when the rioting begins.
It always has been, all the riots I have observed.
And this is your part to play, your final act, before you watch your game unfold. You have to spread the word.
About how this morning’s milk had being poisoned.
By the other ethnic group.
At the factory, at the plant, at the dairy
The technology and the imagination,
can be your own.
This riles them up.
This is the final limit.
Children survive on milk.
There is intimacy in milk.
A sense of protection ever since you were born.
To your mother, your family, your responsibilities, your duties, your community. How dare they poison milk?
Something as sacred as milk?
They will empty the milk into the gutters,
without any questions
Milk, in its flow, will signal to the neighbors,
the heinousness of what they believed happened.
Your lie, which they would willingly buy into.
A white river of hatred and contempt.
Anger and mistrust.
Your very own riot has been setup.
(Use can use salt too,
it works like milk.
Or maybe the next time.)
Step 5 Imaginarium of the Obscene
This stage, this last stage of your plan,
the one which you had been building up to.
This last stage will not be in your control.
Be of stout heart, do not give in to guilt.
What you witness may be your doing,
what you see may be because you willed it.
But it might not be what you had expected or wanted.
It would not be what you had expected or wanted.
You’ll witness horror, unimaginable scenes of murder,
Un-recallable, unrecoverable acts of violence.
Unrequited hate from meaningless source.
It will build up on its own,
into a catharsis of all your horrors.
Watch the definitions of morality, of rationality, of existence,
as they fade away.
Watch the dark possibilities which the human mind,
in its most unreal setting, would set to course.
Come join me, I seek refuge when it breaks out.
I know the mechanics of this machinery
I know the horrified stupor you find yourself in,
wondering if you ever wanted this,
if this can ever be worth anything.
You look at me with contempt, blame me for what I lead you to,
As I look into the imagnarium of the obscene.
A theater of purge.
An ugly scar in time.
An alternate world in the present.
Now, a reality.
Your very own riot.
Use it well.
(Inspired by and based on Sudhir Kakar’s research into the psyche of communal riots,in his book
“The Indians: Portrait Of A People”)