What Turns A Shopping Crowd Into A Mob Frenzy?

If you’ve ever seen that video where all those customers stampede into Walmart, knocking people over and even knocking one woman’s weave off, you may have wondered what causes people to go bezerk like that. I’m reading Among The Thugs by Bill Buford, reporting on English soccer hooligans first-hand, and this passage gives insight:

I am attracted to the moment when consciousness ceases: the moments of survival, of animal intensity, of violence, when there is no multiplicity, no potential for different levels of thought: there is only one—the present in its absoluteness.

Violence is one of the most intensely lived experiences and, for those capable of giving themselves over to it, is one of the most intense pleasures. There on the streets of Fulham, I felt, as the group passed over its metaphorical cliff, that I had literally become weightless. I had abandoned gravity, was greater than it. I felt myself to be hovering above myself, capable of perceiving everything in slow motion and overwhelming detail. I realized later that I was on a druggy high, in a state of adrenaline euphoria. And for the first time I am able to understand the words they use to describe it. That crowd violence was their drug.

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