Rioting and looting are happening in many places across America. All it takes is a small incident, and protesters suddenly lay waste to downtown areas and take merchandise from businesses. Many decry the actions as lamentable. Some blame the problem on “outside agitators.” Others try to excuse the acts as the excesses of “mostly peaceful protests” gone awry.
However, some people unapologetically defend looting. They make no excuses. They see the act of stealing something from another as morally good. Society has reached the abysmal depth that people now justify looting as an expression of social justice. The left has embraced this absurd proposition as if normal and reasonable.
The Mainstreaming of Looting
In a world turned upside down, looting is being mainstreamed as something morally acceptable. Author V. Osterweil has just released a book titled In Defense of Looting. The book celebrates the practice as “a new energy of resistance,” building up across the nation. Rioters who smash store windows and steal merchandise are to be commended, the author sustains, for their role in righting the unjust distribution of property.
This warped communist vision of reality is carefully and cynically put in a social justice context. In an August 27 interview with NPR, Osterweil makes the distinction between mass expropriation of property or mass shoplifting during upheavals or riots and plain stealing. Perhaps to coax suburbanites into indifference, the author denounces home invasions and “forced” robbery as wrong. Property can only be taken during riots, it is asserted, because “the general laws that govern society no longer function, and people can act in different ways in the street and in public.” During riots, an atmosphere of jubilation and comradery prevails.
The Target Is the Same
Osterweil claims looting is liberating since it allows people to have immediately for free what would normally require working for a boss who only seeks profits. Looting is also liberating because it demonstrates “that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”
The core argument in favor of looting is hardly original as it coincides with Marx’s system: the abolition of private property. However, Osterweil painstakingly puts a racial spin on the topic to make it more acceptable to “woke” readers. In the NPR interview, the author claims that “The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police.”
By affirming that property-owning is racist and enslaving, Osterweil morally justifies as good the stealing of merchandise by the masses. Like Rousseau, the author calls private property unjust. The social act of “rioting” is a festive celebration of the freedom to imagine what a world without property could be like.
Loss of the Notion of the Common Good
In normal times, such ravings would never get very far. That people today can discuss “the social act of rioting” is testimony to how twisted and abnormal times have become. When looting is defended as morally good, then all that can be said is that the tyranny of politically correct opinion has plumbed to unimaginable depths.
This skewed vision will destroy society. A society that legitimizes looting has lost the ability to distinguish between good and evil. It can no longer understand an order oriented toward the common good. Members of a “looting society” do not seek the common good but only their individual interests. Their actions harm the particular good of others and the commonweal. They deprive society and individuals alike of the means to provide for their future and advance the general welfare.
This looting society is doomed because it is self-destructive. Few, if any, will step forth as leaders to assume the arduous task of leading and serving such a dysfunctional and evil community. People will no longer rightly form their consciences to have a moral sensibility that determines behavioral propriety in terms of right and wrong. They will think only about themselves. Such situations work against the action of God and His Grace that orients humanity to the practice of good.
Is it any wonder that society is coming apart when the praises of riotous looting gain currency?
Property as the Fruit of One’s Labor
However, the core of the defense of looting centers on a materialistic and amoral perception of private property. Looters claim that their revolutionary “right” to the property of others is greater than owners’ legitimate rights. “Property can be rebuilt. . . . Property can be replaced. . . . Property can be recouped from insurance proceeds,” they cynically shout. “Lives cannot be replaced.”
Such arguments amount to nothing more than catchy soundbites. They are empty slogans. They are flawed and morally unacceptable.
The right to private property is sacred. It is defended by two Commandments of the Law of God: “Thou shalt not steal,” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
It is a matter of the most fundamental justice that individuals have the right to the fruit of their labors. Justice demands that they receive their due for the work done. Wages are the fruits of labor, and workers are free to spend them as they wish. Private property is nothing more than the accumulation of the fruits of an individual’s work. The fruits were saved instead of being spent. Real estate is one expression of these saved fruits of labor, and homeowners rightly take pride in providing for their families with beautiful houses. Family businesses are the fruits of labor. Business people help themselves, their families and communities by continuing to work and facilitating the peaceful exchange of goods and services in commerce.
All these property-holders are free individuals. They own the fruits of their labor in any of its multiple property forms. They can do with them as they please.
However, there is a name for others who do not have the right to the fruits of their labor. They are called slaves. They are not free because others take from them the fruits of their labor. Those who take away the legitimate fruits of others’ labor are called slave owners.
Thus, looters are slave owners. They turn all society into slaves. They take away the rights of individuals inside a community to the fruits of labor. They terrorize the community by threatening these rights at any moment and making them insecure. They conveniently and criminally attempt to suppress the right of a community to protect the rights of individuals who have property that they earned by the fruits of their labor. They reduce the community into a slave colony run by criminals and sustained by big government.
Defending looting in these days of unrest is criminal. Looting represents no “new energy of resistance.” It is a sin that offends God and destroys society. Riotous looting is an evil attempt to sink America into communist slavery.
Adobe Stock Photo © Bumble Dee