I agree, in principal, with most of the comments made in the article, it is true that the 2011 UK riots, arson and looting are criminal acts and not a form of legitimate protest. And it is right to question the reasons.
An analogy, because I like analogies that simplify, is that of a doctor and a sick patient.
Society is the patient, the health of which depends on an awful lot of systems working correctly. Then the government is the doctor, who should understand how the patient works well enough to recognise symptoms, make a diagnosis, prescribe the cure and advise on preventative measures.
So the patient is currently very ill. Not one system has failed, but due to an unhealthy lifestyle, a history of over indulgence and a succession of poor medical care, a bunch of systems have failed. The riots are the visible symptom of the illness, a fierce, gangrenous infection on the extremities of the patient’s limbs.
The doctor has taken a tarnished silver spoon, attempted to scoop out the infection and rely on the anti viral/bacterial qualities of silver.
Obviously this has failed to cure the problem. But the rot has set in, and more systems are failing as a result.
I believe that we haven’t even begun an effective treatment yet. I predicted pretty much every aspect of this recession back in 2005, the reason, the timing and even the trigger. Those that know me well, who were adamant back then that I was just a gloomy person with a death wish on society, now ask my opinion.
It is hard not to say I told you so.
Needless to say, I predicted the riots, their extent and outcome. So when I am asked what’s next, my answer is never received too well. No, I am not psychic or clairvoyant. I simply reach out to a lot of people from different walks of life, observe and listen. I consider this to be a part of my role as a writer. I also take a keen interest current affairs, the economy and on political commentary. So, anyway, enough of blowing my own trumpet and exploiting my bragging rights.
Back to the article. And rioters.
Rioting is a part of human behaviour. Any teacher will tell you that an unattended class room of children can erupt into a disruptive riot.
In the 1990s well-to-do teenagers trashed a home in my neighbouring village in Derbyshire during a party. They caused over £100,000 of damage to the home and the owners business. They also destroyed the dental records of thousands of locals (it was a dentist’s home practice). And yes these kids were middle class, many educated at private school. So the dynamics of destructive behaviour are fascinating and terrifying but, importantly, not simply a symptom of class structure. Rioting is a behaviour that is conditioned out of us to a certain extent. But for those who are ‘genetically’ prone to rioting, violence, following the crowd and so on, reversion is more than likely to occur under the correct circumstances.
True, the government’s statistics, if reliable, show that the rioters who have been charged and convicted tend to have been from impoverished areas, but a significant proportion of the rioters were kids from better socioeconomic backgrounds.
Some rioters and looters were motivated by greed, others by politics. For the majority who were drawn in, rioting satisfied an inherent hunger for excitement and violence.
As for the triggers, well, we are only ever seven hot meals away from civil war, which, by the way, is why farming is so heavily subsidised, oh, and to create an unfair trading environment for developing countries – I digress. Marie Antoinette, it is said, triggered the French Revolution by exclaiming Let Them Eat Cake. Whether or not this is true, Chicken and Chips may not be enough this time round. The world is so much more complicated!
A sad fact about our society is that there are people out there who will look for any excuse for violence.
This was the cause of the riots, along with an environment of general dissatisfaction. The sad shooting that triggered the violence was unfortunate and purely incidental. I therefore have to disagree with some of the article. My political persuasions have changed since I was twenty. I now like to believe that I am pragmatic and don’t follow any particular party line. I don’t agree with communism, fascism or socialism nor do I agree that capitalism is a good system. And I believe that democracy is simply an illusion to satisfy the worker bees within the colony. So I am neither left, left of centre, centre, right of centre or right. I am at the nail between the two ends of the political horseshoe and refuse to be nailed into the hoof.
I despise politicians, not personally but in essence, because they usually contribute to the problems or indeed become the problem.
So should I be commenting on this article at all?
Yes, I think so. Because, like anybody else, I believe that my own opinions on politics and politicians reflect the general attitude of the population.
I was sickened by the riots, yes. But a deep, dark, and almost ashamed part of me thought, about bloody time. Not because I supported the rioters but because they emphasised the fragility of the stability we foolishly take for granted. The revolutions in the Middle East could happen anywhere, including the UK, well, England in particular.
And I defy anyone who didn’t suffer at the hands of the criminal rioters, to completely disagree that the riots sent the politicians and the bankers a powerful message. Because, I believe that, ninety five percent of the population is deeply dissatisfied with the system and with those that supposedly lead us.
Since the Second World War, the UK has been poorly governed from the left and the right. And now leadership by committee from Europe is proving even less effective at creating a fair society that encompasses a higher moral obligation towards its people.
So, I agree with the observations within the article. But I could never agree with political leanings or suggestions that it is the fault of the Conservatives or Labour, the Lib Dems, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Socialists, Communists and plethora of religious groups. We have simply become too used to rubbish management, whatever its guise and the ideals it professes. Politicians usually and inevitably disappoint.
The cure has been overlooked because the doctors can’t agree.
What is the cure? I hear everyone asking.
My answer would be unacceptable to anyone caught in the trap of “traditional” politics. I’m sure we will meander toward utopia. But the future will evolve, no matter how painfully, in its own sweet way. We are but a part of nature, rats in a labyrinth (not a maze). And our “leaders”, like King Knud, are powerless against the tides of time. Yet we still need ideals, a philosophy, a belief system, a society and leadership. And this is the paradox of politics. King Knud understood this. So did Marx. I’m still trying to.
I should point out, before I finish, that the Occupy protesters who have a cause without a solution are not criminal, and have every right to highlight some of the injustices and inadequacies of the present capitalist and fiscal systems.
But maybe the pending collapse of the current economic system will be the watershed. It may drive us one step towards a better future. Or we could end up back in the dark ages. I cannot profess to predict which way we will go.