This past Tuesday was May 1st. It’s celebrated by two different, yet equally destructive groups. For Communists, today is International Worker’s Day, an Orwellian holiday which ostensibly celebrates many of those same millions that Communism kills. For Nationalists, it is, apparently, Loyalty Day. A celebration of a government that seeks to control the lives of its citizens, murders people without trial around the world, and routinely jails innocent people for victimless “crimes”.

Yesterday hooligans attacked the city I love. They smashed windows and impeded the life of the polis that I call home. The threw firebombs, smashed shop windows, and tried their best to derail and destroy civilization.

I’m happy to report that they failed once again.

Government, as it always does, responded with hollow threats, and empty proclamations.

Not all of the demonstrators on Tuesday were violent, of course. The vast majority were peaceful and took to the streets not with sledgehammers and masks, but with signs and slogans. These protesters are, in a way, evidence of the antidote to barbarism. I strongly disagree with most of their messages, but they tried to reason with me rather than coerce me. They were civilized in the truest sense of the word, and in stark contrast to the barbarians who sought to cow us rather than convince us.

Through it all, normal people went about their business. They worked, played, and enjoyed their lives, voluntarily pursuing their own aims and desires. They were, for the most part, heedless to the two groups, one that wanted to destroy the things they built, and the other than want to control them.

My girlfriend and I recently hired a cleaner. This may seem like a non sequitor, but it relates completely. We voluntarily paid a couple of enterprising people to come clean our apartment because we have projects to which we’d rather devote our time. Voluntary exchange in which both parties benefit. This is anathema to both the riotous barbarians who would smash everything we have built and the fascists who would seek to control it. Value freely exchanged for value. My girlfriend and I come home to a sparklingly clean apartment and two hard working, entrepreneurial individuals leave with the price they command for their labor. We engaged in neither violence, nor coercion. Goods freely exchanged for labor, and both better off for the trade.

The day following the riots my friend Chris and I walked through downtown on our lunch hour. Just 24 hours after the demonstrations and unrest, the city looked as if nothing ever happened. Many of the smashed windows had already been replaced. Much of the graffiti was either gone or in the process of being washed away. Seattle, after a brief, low-grade fever, was quickly on the mend.

I have a theory that there’s a sort of civilization-level LD-50 for for barbarism. The higher the concentration of people in society who get what they want by violence, coercion, and extortion, the more likely it is that the civilization will fall apart. Various institutions (like free market capitalism, institutional transparency, and good governance) can drastically increase a society’s tolerance, but it’s ultimately heightened concentrations of thugs and parasites that brings down a civilization.

I have no strong evidence this theory, but it helps me explain some of what I’ve seen in the world. Fortunately, Tuesday’s demonstrations and the orderly cleanup thereof tells me that our society is still very healthy. That we’re still well below the levels of social corruption that begin to truly threaten the system. Most of the people aired their grievances the way civilized human beings do: peacefully trying to convince one another. And the few that chose violence did no noticeable long-term damage to either my beautiful city, or our civilization.

So take heart. There were riots on Tuesday, but all evidence of them was gone by Wednesday. And even during the thick of it, there wasn’t much to fear anyway. Our civilization is healthy, and it can easily withstand a few adolescent thugs smashing windows.