Monday, 15 August 2011

"Tomorrow You're Homeless, Tonight It's a Blast"

Impressive quantities of drivel is being talked about the recent riots. Here's some non-drivel:

For myself, the only conclusion I've come to is that simple-minded 'they're all criminals' explanations won't do. 'The rioters' are not a homogenous group, and the reasons why one person gets involved - smashes a shop window, grabs a pair of trainers from a window already smashed, throws rocks at the police, gets in a fight, watches a fire without trying to put it out, starts a fire - may be quite different from the reasons another does. Some have grievances - against the police, against particular austerities, against the political and social conditions of their lives; some have just had it up to here, and grabbed an opportunity to express their anger; some are more-or-less opportunistic thieves; some see other people getting everything they've been taught to value while they have nothing, and think it's only fair to rebalance things; some are bored kids excited by destruction and communal action; some just got caught up in a crowd.

My main worry is a turn towards authoritarianism: the current government will sell what any big constituency wants to buy, and just now it looks like that's revenge and security theatre. So, more money and powers for the police; collective punishment for the families of people accused (not even convicted) of rioting; the usual bullshit about responsibility.

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