Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial led me to wonder about the history of riots in the U.S. and around the world, and if our era was particularly riotous compared with other times and places. Spoiler: civilization is rife with riot. Surprise!

Here is a list that focuses on the U.S from the 18th century on. Race riots, draft riots, labor riots. The Know-Nothing Riots, in particular, have a certain familiar tenor.

This list is international and covers a broader historical period — its first citation is of a riot in 44 BCE that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar.

This list is mostly focused on riots in the Pacific West and Northwest of the U.S. over the past 150 or so years. Portland is just the latest iteration.

Yeats’ poem is 100 years old. The passionate intensity is as old as civilization.

Everything falls apart. We (at least) can count on that.

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