Whoa! England’s going mental! One week back and a man is shot by the police, a peaceful protest is made in reply, a couple of idiots start a riot, and the media causes a bunch of riots over the whole of England for the rest of the week. Oh, no, wait… It wasn’t the media it was the parents. No, wait, it was the government. No, it was society, and actually, we’re not surprised this happened at all.
Everyone’s talking about it and everyone has a point of view. Debates are raging on Facebook statuses and more people have been defriended this week than during any other (complete speculation but probably true judging by some of the heated debates I’ve seen). People seem to think that there are only two, clear-cut points of view on this. There are those who believe that this is the government’s fault for years of alienating the working classes and that, rather than punish the looters, let’s give them a hug and tell them that we all understand why they did it, that we are sorry our society is built on material wealth and they feel they have to keep up, and that if we weren’t all so middle-class and well-off then we’d probably be out there looting with them, side-by-side. Like brothers. Then there are those who believe that this is the fault of the parents and the individuals; that people are responsible for their own actions; that they know stealing is wrong but did it anyway and for this they should have their hands cut off, their eyes gouged out, and be sold to market as drones that roam blindly on their knees, forever scrubbing the pavements of the Big Society with the modified brushes strapped to their stumps.
Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ might seem like a great idea in the predominantly white middle-class majority that voted him in but, as has been widely suggested in the news, many of the people who were part of the riots probably don’t feel part of ‘the society’ and so feel that they don’t owe that society anything; after all, what has it given them? This would seem to be a logical assumption, but it is just that – an assumption – coming mainly from the liberal middle-class. Or an assertion coming from a bunch of kids in hoodies after the reporter has asked them a question like “Do you think that the rioters feel that they are not part of society and that this is why the riots started?” instead of letting them form their own answers to an open question. “Yeah, definitely,” comes the inevitable answer.
Who really knows what the cause was? I’m willing to bet that most of the looters don’t know themselves. They’ll probably say “oh yeah it’s cos that bloke was shot [innit],” but only because that’s the sequence of events they saw on the news.
Seumas Milne from the Guardian writes:
The London mayor and fellow former Bullingdon Club member Boris Johnson, heckled by hostile Londoners in Clapham Junction, warned that rioters must stop hearing ‘economic and sociological justifications’ (though who was offering them he never explained) for what they were doing.
This just before he launches into a diatribe about how the reason for the riots were due entirely to the economic and sociological failings of the government. Well we know they didn’t hear them from you, Seumas, but I’m pretty sure there are scores of other liberal journalists who have already expressed your point of view far and wide enough for them to hear. Had every reporter on the planet not rushed at once to give their own personal, and often completely unfounded, opinions on the underlying problems with the government or society or parenting or cuts or individual responsibility, then I imagine that the looters would have more trouble coming up with excuses as to why they felt compelled to go out, smash a shop window and steal a bunch of Paul Smith watches.