Listening to the news and watching videos of the so-called riots across cities in England was a pretty awful experience. I wasn’t here during the 1980s and the Brixton riots stemmed from different causes. The disruption and anger is most probably pretty similar though.
I must say, listening to the politicians, youth workers and religites having their say around the ‘debate’ tables of the BBC and other channels, being interviewed on TV by incompetent interviewers and watching that well-heeled Cameron spruiking rhetoric in the House about broken societies and how he will fix them is enough to make me puke!
One thing Ed Miliband does have right is that Cameron’s analysis is “shallow and superficial”. The other thing that Clegg has right is that bandaids with barbs won’t help at all. Taking away benefits and council housing will exacerbate the problems.
Now we have a Yank begging to become British so he can take the top police job and teach the English police how to deal with rioters, L.A. style.
The swathe of problems felt within capitalist societies are so endemic that silly phrases like: “ …turn around every troubled family in the country”; “a wake-up call for our country”; ”moral neutrality” would not “cut it any more”; ‘”the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations” must be confronted’; “concerted all out war on gangs and gang culture”; and so on ad nauseum make me shake my head in disbelief.
I really do understand why people get so sick of listening to politicians. They trot out phrases like trained marketing experts (which, of course, is Cameron’s background); meaningless but great sounding drivel and amelioratory, platitudinous waffle.
I can’t come up with any answers for holding this sort of society together. But I can point to some inequities that are insoluble in this type of society. And those inequities trigger flash points of anger and its flow on. It all started generations ago of course but currently …
When ‘Fred the Shred’ Goodwin was reported as taking a pension worth $700,000 a year plus a contract severance of several million pounds, he, together with ex-British Gas boss Cedric Brown and others, became figures that we all loved to loathe.
When the expenses scandal hit the airwaves and has continued to stay afloat as politicians are gaoled for corrupt behaviour, the anger maintained currency. The phone-hacking scandal with the Murdochs added yet another soupçon to this volatile dish.
A welfare state does have benefits and disadvantages. That is not just here in the UK. I noticed this in Australia as well. And, by the bye here is a take on the English riots by Guy Rundle, an Australian journalist living in London and writing for Crikey.com, a pretty good and left wing alternative on-line newspaper. Here’s an excerpt:
From the moment he gained the Tory leadership, David Cameron worked hard to present himself as the first truly post-Thatcherite leader in the UK — aware, after three big electoral losses, that it was only by thoroughly distancing themselves from that era that the Tories would persuade a section of the prosperous but socially liberal middle class to vote for them again.
The centrepiece of that strategy was the “Big Society”. Ostensibly and theoretically, it was an argument that both state and market had evacuated voluntary and communal social life. The implicit theory was humanist and social — a philosophical repudiation of Thatcherite individualism and her extreme Hayekian notion that “there is no such thing as society — there are individuals and there are families”. Yet in practice, and as probably always intended, the “big society” argument focused almost exclusively on the allegedly morale-sapping and disempowering effects of the state, and had nothing to say about the market. The argument was a way of making significant cuts to public services, while avoiding owning them as a moral discourse…
The underclass of poor immigrants, with second and third generation poor immigrants for whom there are fewer and fewer underclass jobs, is growing. These people were and still are brought into this country to take the jobs that more and more ‘educated’ British people were and still are being told are beneath their capabilities. What a joke that turns out to be with 27% of school leavers being innumerate and illiterate.
Let’s remember where there’s no money, families will disintegrate – it is normal in this type of society. The frequency and extent merely show up burgeoning financial inequity. Let’s not forget the appalling case of Baby P and
other babies; the increase in VAT; cuts to services; disappearance of jobs. And I note today that rail fares are set to rise by 8%. We can keep adding bits of flavours to this smouldering stew and stop beating our breasts and crying “Why, oh why are these thugs rioting and looting?”
The major problems are not able to be solved. Firstly, the burgeoning population – predicted to be 55 million by 2035 – that’s the limit of the carrying capacity for England.
Secondly, technology in all its forms makes for fewer jobs for humans – there will never be full employment again – how to properly care for the disadvantaged members of this society we try to share?
Income distribution is way out of control. No one is worth millions a year. No one. It offends me let alone a black or white kid on the dole and living in a Council estate not paying any rent but not feeling terrific either. No wonder looting and property damage are the hallmarks of this type of civil unrest. And, contrary to what is touted, gangs DO rule these poorer, disadvantaged and neglected housing estates.
The have-nots are growing in number while the obscene haves are featured daily in our media. Small wonder there’s opportunistic looting. It spills over in mob behaviour. Trying to quell that behaviour is a deep-seated problem.
There will never be enough police to contain the unarticulated anger and disrespect for a hated authority. Force is not what is needed.
Oh, and the final thing – multiculturalism does not work. Races do not love each other holus bolus and will always prefer their own company to that of the ‘other’. The race distribution in this country is no longer reversible; the racial problems are here to stay. The ‘melting pot’ of the 1960s is not working. Welcome to the real world, not the deluded fantasy that we are fed by politicians, social academics, philosophers and the like.
Now – politicians – how to tackle these problems in a fairly quickly imploding capitalist society?
Well!! This little edit is linking to exactly what I have been saying and seems to be echoed by Miliband in The New Statesman today.