I’ve been trying to read as much as I can find about the riots in Britain over the last few hours. And you know what? All I feel while reading it is cold anger and cynicism. “I told you so” never felt that shitty: I’ve been saying for years that there’s few things more dangerous to the stability of a society than bored, prospect-less youth. And lo and behold, they went and proved me right, in a rather impressively nasty way. Chances anyone is going to learn the right lesson from this clusterfuck, and try to undo the alienation, desperation, and futurelessness of British youth? Not fucking likely. What’s more likely to happen is even more criminalization of youth, criminalization of poverty, more power in the hands of police (the riots started during a march for the victim of a police-shooting, btw), longer and harsher sentencing, and certainly no end to austerity measures, now that the riots really did cause a real blow to the economy, with all the looting, property damage, and closed businesses.
Already you have politicians stating that the riots are “just” criminality “pure and simple”(because that totally makes sense, right? A bunch of people randomly decided to become criminals this weekend. There couldn’t possibly be a cause, right?), and you have people spout stupid shit like “You have a generation of kids now that don’t respect their parents or the police”, as if a lack of authoritarianism were the fucking problem (granted, plenty of people are capable of seeing what’s really going on (including a number from that article). But if those will be the people who’ll be listened to in the end, I’ll eat a broom).
And when you look at Britain and then look at the US, you gotta admire the ability of the US elite to keep the poor and disenfranchised in check. The US is so much worse than anything experienced in Britain; compare the complete non-event that was the shooting of John T Williams with this shooting. Compare the poverty in American cities; and yet, it’s been forever since anyone rioted, or even protested much. If “austerity” measures that only target the poor are turning industrialized democracies into Banana Republics, then it’s pretty clear that the US are turning themselves into one much more skillfully than Britain is, having pretty much distracted and pacified its populace despite egregious abuses.
And since I’m in a shitty, morbid mood anyway, here’s a soundtrack for this shit: The Clash — Guns of Brixton