Tuesday, August 09, 2011

You, there!

You there, neoclassical economists, conservative idealogues, and fascist personalities, are you watching the riots in London? Are you watching the streets burn as the disenfranchised youth turn against everything? Are you making angry statements about the rampant criminality of it all? How the youth should be locked up along with their parents? How the army should be called in to lock down or shoot-up the streets?

To you, it is all about the individual. Society doesn't exist, only the individual does and he or she lives and dies by their own merits. The state? You say fuck the state as much as the kids burning the shops and attacking the cops and each other. This is your free-market free-fire zone at work. This is your economic crisis, the one that made your wet-dream of drastically reduced government come true. Cut back all the welfare you say, and people will have incentive to just go and get jobs. They'll all become entrepreneurs and slave away in the salt-mines so they can go to medical school or get MBAs. They'll be freely mobile labour, able to move to Sheffield or Northumbria at the drop of a hat if the market sent them there. They'd be able to buy stocks and become traders at the pull of a bootstrap. Or if they couldn't they'd just fade away into the ether or something as you bought up their decrepit neighbourhoods to gentrify with condos and overpriced lingerie shops.

You should be positively orgasmic over this. Government went and got all small and the dole-queens lost their cheques. But you're not pleased at all, are you?

Instead, you're scared. Terrified, as the zombie youth you created roam your cities, burning your shops, and bloodying your police, two-fingered rage to the cameras.

You still won't get it though. You'll scream for bigger prisons and more police to take all the lost kids away along with their prosecuted parents. You won't question your views, you won't listen to the people who might tell you exactly how we got here. Instead, you'll bemoan the lazy parents, call for compulsory youth camps and curfews (to be administered of course by the private sector), reinstate National Service for 16 and overs (at reduced pay of course because they're not adults).

Tottenham, Hackney, West Ham, places in Bristol or Liverpool, those are people's homes. Those places, poor and dysfunctional as they are, are the only places many of their denizens have ever known. They may not be employed or educated, but they must have something to do, they must have the means of feeding and bettering themselves. The youth must have some refuge, some means of a way out. The state provides these, government provides these. When you take those things away, you have taken away home and hope. This is not an incentive to get off the welfare and find a job. Without security of place, more so that security of jobs, there is uncertainty and fear.

Instead, this creates void where where a future should be.

The youth in England are at the bottom of a class-spectrum in these wealthy countries. Their problems are the immediate version of larger type faced by the those of us further up the line. In the US, those precious markets of yours have impoverished and displaced growing millions who maybe don't yet realise the hopelessness of their 'structural unemployment.' In the longer term those of us under a certain age see a future of dead oceans and scorched land and wonder what horror might await us, because you won't stop burning the ancient sun.  

I warn you, what you see in London is the canary in the mine. We are watching, and we are angry. I pray, and you should fear, that we do not need our Mark Duggan to make you change.


Oemissions said...


Rev.Paperboy said...

well said as always Boris, but they just won't listen. As Bruce Cockburn sings "somepeople never see the light, until it shines through bulletholes" - and I very much fear that is going to be the case here. How long before we get an incident in which the populace of Watts or Detroit or Harlem decide that rather than burn their own neighbourhood down, they will head on over to Belverly Hill or Grosse Point or Park Avenue where there is something worth looting? How long before a huge flash mob decides to descend on Palm Springs or some posh gated community for a bit of mayhem? Unlike the case in the UK, the poor and disenfranchised of the United States are just as well armed as the rich...

jimhenshaw said...

Yo! Fight the Power, Bro! Wasn't it awesome when the revolutionaries torched that car with the "Rich" baby in it?

And then they made that "Rich" woman who pretends to work as a cashier jump from the 3rd floor window of her burning flat! That'll show her!

Even better, they got that "Rich" Malaysian student to think they were helping him while they stole his game gear!

Maybe best of all, then they ran over and killed those three "Rich" Pakistanis guarding their mosque!

And what about all those so incredibly "Rich" they don't even have a record deal Indy artists who lost everything they owned in the Sony warehouse fire? The revolution sure showed them, huh!

Y'know Boris, I'd really appreciate it if you removed my website from your blog roll. I get enough idiots dropping by without having to put up with the mindless trolls you seem intent on breeding.

Boris said...


Regarding your comment, you'll note that nowhere do I excuse or justify the destruction of property and mindless looting. What I do articulate through the rhetoric are reasons for why it happens. People are not born looters and vandals but become that way when society fails to provide the means for people to better themselves.

Your comment actually support my thesis as you describe individuals' actions ignorant of social context and structure, as if the withdrawal of services, ghettoisation of neighbourhoods, police violence, etc did not exist. You only see the immediate criminality. I think you might have missed my point entirely.

Boris said...

Not sure how much traffic we actually sent you, but you're off the blogroll all the same :)

thwap said...

Rioting isn't pretty.

But it's often the result of the economic policies of the elites.

Peter said...

I think you might have missed my point entirely.

No, Boris, I think Jim understood your point perfectly. He just thinks you couldn't be more wrong. He's far from alone.

Boris said...


Nice link. She's clearly pulled herself up by her bootstraps and thus reckons everyone else can do it because all they need to do is find that "aspiration." Very Tory of her as she admits. Again shifting responsibility to the individual and ignoring the structural problems that create her 13%ers in the first place.

She also implores that these "idealists" get up of our arses and help others. Volunteer or something. Well, clearly the social services are chock-a-bloc with David Camerons and the like, decked out with B/MSWs. Universities are stacked with Jason Kenneys studying sociology and the structural causes of poverty and alienation.

Smartpatrol said...

"A riot is the language of the unheard" - MLK Jr.