summer 2020 was exactly like that, cycling back over the williamsburg bridge just before the curfew started, police at the bottom stopping anyone going the other way into manhattan, empty streets, looking out the window in williamsburg to see if anyone was out and about. and then the days after it stopped going downtown to look at everything boarded up, and everything had been covered by graffiti, some of the best stuff, all on BLM-theme and murals rather than tags, on the roof watching helicopters hover over hotspots in the day, listening to them come low overhead again and again in brooklynbeen here at a few times of isolated looting (when OJ was convicted, during some power blackouts) but never in the midst of anything big and threatening. but even in those cases, there was a definite edge in the air, a tenseness that feels ultra vivid. things are different when you see people scurrying home and businesses boarding up their windows.
also happened to be in London when some shit went down in 2011, but nowhere near the action. still a tenseness in the air.
it's hard to exactly be pro-riot, at least not equivocly, but there is a certain enjoyment to that feeling as a bystander. the whole city felt different, normal patterns of life and capital disrupted, a wide-scale change in behaviour, the state cracking down, the reality of the usual setup pushing through, that everyday life is contingent on the usual systems working and stuff like that being suppressed
This is very JG Ballard/Empire of the Sun.it does remind you that we take civil society, general obedience to rules, etc. for granted. it's not that difficult for it to all disappear, where things quickly spiral and it becomes every man for himself. that's essentially what looting is, the breakdown of lawlessness.
He was actually there on the day, handing out leaflets about levitating the Houses of Parliament.
Ian Bone's biography is an interesting and entertaining read if you're fascinating with riots as he's the nearest thing you can get to rioting as a complete political philosophy. I actually wrote a review of it back when I had a blog and called it out for being absolute balls as a set of ideas but interesting moment in history regardless. He did seem to have thought the government was close to falling, around the time of the Miners Strike.