Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-wzw2p Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-19T06:13:24.742Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The law of crowds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Illan rua Wall*
Affiliation:
University of Warwick
*
Illan rua Wall, University of Warwick, Law, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Email: i.r.wall@warwick.ac.uk

Abstract

From the Arab Spring and Occupy to the London riots and student tuition fee protests, the disordered crowd has re-emerged as a focal point of anxiety for law makers. The paper examines two recent cases where the UK courts have thought about crowds. In Austin, the House of Lords connected the crowd to an idea of human nature. This essentialist rendering placed the crowd within an old analytical register where it is understood to release a primordial violence. In Bauer, the Administrative Court utilised a very different sense of the ‘crowdness’ of the crowd to uphold the conviction of UK Uncut activists for aggravated trespass. In their novelty and difference, these two mutually exclusive senses of the crowd open an essential question of the relation between law and society. This paper introduces the ‘Law of Crowds’ as a distinctive way to understand the questions of protest, revolt and democracy.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society of Legal Scholars 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

My thanks to Dora Kostakopoulou, Philip Kaisary, Ana Aliverti, Jackie Hodgson, William Wall, Elizabeth Kirwan and Brid Spillane for reading the drafts of this paper, and to Andreas Mihailoppolis-Phillipopolis, Donatella Alesandrini, Suhriaiya Jivraj, Antonia Layard, Mairead Enright, Chris Butler, Lee Bridges, Amelia Thorpe, Anne Bottomley and Ben Golder, who have all provided invaluable comments and questions on the various iterations of this work in conferences, workshops and bars.

References

1. This task has been performed with infinitely greater nuance and deftness by many Crits in many different legal fields. See eg Williams, P The Alchemy of Race and Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Douzinas, C The End of Human Rights (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 1999)Google Scholar; Koskenniemi, M From Apology to Utopia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)Google Scholar; and Kennedy, D A Critique of Adjudication (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997)Google Scholar.

2. DC Johnston ‘Inequality may spark unrest, Davos elites worry’ Opinion, Al Jazeera 22 January 15; available at http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/1/davos-inequalityeconomicsinstability.html (accessed 4 February 2015).

3. AKT Sofroniew“Turba”: Latin’ in Schnapp, JT and Tiews, M (eds) Crowds (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006) p 30 Google Scholar.

4. On the changing nature of this ‘political disorder’, see EP, ThompsonThe moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century’ in Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York: New Press, 1993), pp 185258 Google Scholar; and Hobsbawm, E Primitive Rebels (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1964)Google Scholar. For an excellent recent reframing of this and many other ideas of crowds and power, in the US context, see Frank, J Constituent Moments (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010)Google Scholar.

5. Surowiecki, J The Wisdon of Crowds (London: Abacus, 2004).Google Scholar

6. D Forrest ‘In Sheffield we half-marathon runners turned a farce into a thing of beauty’ The Guardian, Comment is Free 7 April 2014; available at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/sheffield-half-marathon-runners-farce-water-shortage (accessed 22 June 2014).

7. This is not the place to delve into biopolitics, but for a good introduction see Lemke, T Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 2011)Google Scholar. For original work in the field, see: Foucault, M Society Must Be Defended (London: Allen Lane, 2003)Google Scholar; Agamben, G Homo Sacer (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998)Google Scholar; Hardt, M and Negri, A Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000)Google Scholar; Esposito, R Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008)Google Scholar; Rose, NThe politics of life itself’ (2006) 18(6) Theory, Culture, Soc'y 1 Google Scholar; Blencowe, C (ed) Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive Critique (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hanafin, PLaw, biopolitics and reproductive citizenship’ (2013) 4(1) Tecnoscienza 45 Google Scholar; Cerwonka, A and Loutfi, ABiopolitics and the female reproductive body as the new subject of law’ (2011) 1(1) Feminists@Law Google Scholar; Swiffen, A Law, Ethics and the Biopolitical (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010)Google Scholar.

8. Blomley, N Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010).Google Scholar

9. Austin & another v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2009] UKHL 5.

10. Edward Bauer & Ors v DPP [2013] EWHC 634 (Admin).

11. (1820) 3 Barnewall and Alderson 566.

12. 1985 IRLR 136.

13. Austin, above n 9, para 1.

14. Ibid, para 3.

15. Mead, DKettling comes to the boil before the Strasbourg court’ (2012) 71(3) Camb L J 472 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16. Austin, above n 9, para 6.

17. Ibid, para 6.

18. Reicher, S et al ‘An Integrated approach to crowd psychology and public order policing,’ (2004) 27(4) Policing: Int'l J Police Strategy & Mgmt 558 at 560 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

19. R v Forbes [2001] UKHL 40 at para 15; Benedetto v R; Labrador (William) v R [2003] UKPC 27 at para 33; Jones v Kaney, [2011] UKSC 13 at para 166.

20. Sofroniew, above n 3, p 30.

21. Ibid.

22. Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Adapting to Protest – Nurturing the British Model of Policing (London: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Policing, 2009) p 85 Google Scholar.

23. Laclau, E On Populist Reason (London: Verso, 2005) p 38 Google Scholar.

24. Borch, CBody to body: on the political anatomy of crowds’ (2009) 27(3) Sociol Theory 271 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25. Nye, R Origins of Crowd Psychology (London: SAGE Publications, 1975) p 42 Google Scholar.

26. ‘A crowd is not merely impulsive and mobile [in its sentiments]. Like a savage, it is not prepared to admit anything can come between its desire and the realisation of its desire. It is the less capable of understanding such interventions, in consequence of the feeling of irresistible power given it by its numerical strength. The notion of impossibility disappears for the individual in a crowd. An individual knows well enough that alone he cannot set fire to a palace or loot a shop, and should he be tempted to do so, he will easily resist the temptation. Making part of a crowd, he is conscious of the power given to him by number, and it is sufficient to suggest to him the ideas of murder and pillage for him to yield immediately to temptation.’ Le Bon, G The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (London: Fisher Unwin, 1903) pp 4243 Google Scholar.

27. HMIC, above n 22, p 85.

28. Ibid.

29. Reicher et al, above n 18.

30. Hogg, M, Terry, D and White, KA tale of two theories: a critical comparison of identity theory with social identity theory’ (1995) 58(4) Soc Psychol Q 255 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31. Cocking, CCrowd flight in response to police dispersal techniques: a momentary lapse of reason?’ (2013) 10 J Invest Psychol & Offender Profiling 219 at 222 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32. ‘Riot psychology’ 10 August 2011; available at http://mindhacks.com/2011/08/10/riot-psychology/ (accessed 15 December 2014).

33. Drury, J, Stott, C and Farsides, TThe role of police perceptions and practices in the development of “public disorder”’ (2003) 33(7) J Appl Soc Psychol 1480 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34. Austin, above n 9, para 61.

35. See eg Loftus, B Police Culture in a Changing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and PAJ, WaddingtonPolice (canteen) sub-culture: an appreciation’ (1999) 39(2) Br J Crim 287 Google Scholar.

36. Weber, L and Bowling, B (eds) Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context (London: Routledge, 2012)Google Scholar; LSE & The Guardian Reading the Riots (2011) p 19; available at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/46297/1/Reading%20the%20riots(published).pdf (accessed 4 February 2015).

37. Drury, J and Reicher, SCollective action and psychological change: the emergence of new social identities’ (2000) 39 British Journal of Social Psychology 579 at 582 (my emphasis)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

38. For a full discussion of this, see Reicher et al, above n 18.

39. See Austin, above n 9, para 6 and Castle & Ors v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 2317, para 13.

40. Castle, ibid, particularly paras 21–26.

42. S Malik ‘Cuts protestors claim police tricked them into mass arrest’ The Guardian 28 March 2011; available at http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/mar/28/cuts-protest-uk-uncut-fortnum (accessed 5 February 2014). For a contemporaneous discussion of the arrests under aggravated trespass, see D Mead ‘Dropping the case against the Fortnum protesters is not as interesting as their charges of aggravated trespass. This is yet another threat to the freedom to protest’ LSE Blogs, 25 July 2011; available at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/37987/1/blogs_lse_ac_uk-Dropping_the_case_against_the_Fortnum_protesters_is_not_as_interesting_as_their_charges_of_aggravated.pdf (accessed 4 February 2015).

43. Bauer, above n 10, para 1.

44. Murdie, ATrespassers will be prosecuted’ (1995) 145 New L J 389 Google Scholar.

45. DPP v Barnard, quoted in Bauer, above n 10, para 12.

46. Ibid.

47. See http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/trespass_and_nuisance_on_land/ (accessed 1 February 2014). See also Mead, DWill peaceful protestors be foxed by the divisional court decision in Capon v DPP ’ (1998) Crim L Rev 870 Google Scholar.

48. Bauer, above n 10.

49. Ibid, para 9, quoting the District Court judgment (his emphasis).

50. Ibid, para 36.

51. (1882) 8 QBD 534.

52. Bauer, above n 10, para 31.

53. Ibid, para 30 (my emphasis).

54. El-Enany, N“Innocence charged with guilt”: the criminalisation of protest from Peterloo to Millbank’ in Pakes, F and Pritchard, D (eds) Riot: Unrest and Protest on the Global Stage (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), p 72 at p 75 Google Scholar.

55. Bauer, above n 10, para 36.

56. Perhaps the best account of this is Canetti's, Elias masterpiece Crowds and Power (New York: Viking Press, 1962)Google Scholar.

57. For instance, gay, straight, lesbian, white, black, Asian, Indian, Irish and British are all socially constructed identities.

58. In a different context, this is Brown's, Wendy critique in States of Injury (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995)Google Scholar.

59. Canetti, above n 56, pp 16–17.

60. There are a number of notable exceptions to this. In the legal field, there are few more insightful than Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. See Atmospheres of law: senses, affects, lawscapes’ (2012) 7 Emotion, Space & Soc'y 35 Google Scholar; and Spatial Justice: Body, Lawscape, Atmosphere (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014)Google Scholar. More generally, see G Böhme ‘Atmosphere as the fundamental concept of a new aesthetics’ (1993) 36 Thesis Eleven 113; Sloterdijk, P Spheres, vol I: Bubbles: Microspherology (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011)Google Scholar; and Sloterdijk, P Spheres, vol II: Globes: Macrospherology (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2014)Google Scholar.

61. Böhme, above n 60, at 114.

62. F Reidel ‘Music as atmosphere: lines of becoming in congregational worship’ (2015) 6 Lebenswelt 86.

63. Philippopoulous-Mihalopoulos Spatial Justice, above n 60, p 109.

64. Ibid, p 122.

65. Mead, above n 42.

66. Norrie, A Punishment, Responsibility and Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

67. See Liberty's ‘Supplementary evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights: “policing and protest” – private property’; available at http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/pdfs/policy08/supplementary-evidence-to-jchr-protest-and-private-land-.pdf (accessed 6 March 2014). See also Appleby v the UK (ECHR).

68. See Mead, D The New Law of Peaceful Protest (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2010)Google Scholar; Mead, DA chill through the back door? The privatised regulation of peaceful protest’ (2010) Pub L 100 Google Scholar; Mead, DOf kettles, cordons and crowd control – Austin v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and the meaning of “deprivation of liberty”’ (2009) Eur Hum Rts L Rev 345 Google Scholar; Mead, DStrasbourg succumbs to the temptation ‘to make a god of the right to property’ (2003) 8 J Civ Lib 98 Google Scholar; Layard, AShopping in the public realm: a law of place’ (2010) 37(3) J L Soc'y 412 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; A Layard ‘Protecting (urban) public spaces’, paper given in the ESRC series The Public Life of Private Law; available at http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2014/05/antonia-layard-protecting-urban-public-spaces-playing-by-the-rules-or-playing-out/ (accessed 4 February 2015); A Layard ‘A right to public space’ LSE Blogs; available at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/constitutionuk/2014/03/31/a-right-to-public-space/ (accessed 4 February 2015); Bottomley, A and Moore, NFrom walls to membranes: fortress polis and the governance of urban public space in 21st century Britain’ (2007) 18(2) Law & Critique 143 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. It is also worthwhile mentioning the Defend the Right to Protest group: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org (accessed 4 February 2015).

69. Douzinas, above n 1; Brown, W States of Injury (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995)Google Scholar; Brown, W and Haley, J (eds) Left Legalism/Left Critique (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Agamben, above n 7.

70. Benjamin, W, in Agamben, G, State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005) p 57 Google Scholar, see also McQuillan, CThe real state of emergency: Agamben on Benjamin and Schmitt’ (2011) 18 Stud Soc & Pol Thought 96 Google Scholar.

71. See, for instance, her analysis of Louis Post's subversion of the first red scare by holding an administrative rationality to a juridical standard of process and proof. Honig, B Emergency Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009) pp 6586 Google Scholar.

72. Lobban, MFrom seditious libel to unlawful assembly: Peterloo and the changing face of political crime c1770–1820’ (1990) 10(3) Oxford J Legal Stud 308 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

73. Mengesha [2013] EWHC 1695, at para 11.

74. Ibid.

75. See Arendt, H On Revolution (New York: Viking Compass, 1965)Google Scholar; and Honig, B Political Theory and the Displacement of the Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993)Google Scholar. See also Wenman, M Agonistic Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) pp 218262 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

76. See Loughlin, M and Walker, N (eds) The Paradox of Constitutionalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)Google Scholar; and Frank, J Constituent Moments (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010)Google Scholar.

77. Arendt, Honig and Wenman, above n 75.