Warning: coldhearted cynicism ahead

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

13 comments on “Warning: coldhearted cynicism ahead

  1. Thanks for noticing/caring Martin. MPs rob us when they fiddle their expenses, the Metropolitan Police Service is corrupt from the top down, kills people without justification, fluffs investigations. The government and police forces have been sucking, nay gorging, on Uncle Rupert’s hind tit. Bankers get bailed out with the common people’s money and carry on as before. All of a sudden a sizeable chunk of the population these august bodies exist to serve decides that it too would like to benefit from criminal activity. Is anyone seriously surprised?

    At 61, I am an old man, but believe you me I can see myself crying “aux barricades” and throwing bricks alongside other silver surfers when the cuts really hit.

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)(attrib.)

    We write the insurgents off as disaffected acquisitive feral youth at our peril. I fear me that this is just the beginning, though I hope I’m wrong. According to Gideon Osborne what the country needs above all is the abolition of the 50p Tax Rate, which is scarcely going to help the physically handicapped, say, still less addicts.

  2. Sorry Jadehawk, I only had two hours sleep!

  3. David Marjanović says:

    I happened to switch on the news channel n-tv yesterday morning. A sympathizer or participant was interviewed. She said that the burning & looting was intended to show the police the limits of their power and put them in their place.

    The perhaps most interesting part was that that young woman, shown only from behind, had very light skin and light brown hair and spoke without a foreign accent (her voice wasn’t distorted). In the French car-burning riots of 2 (right?) years ago, the rioters, and the victim of the shooting that triggered it, were the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. They were French citizens and spoke the language natively, but had no jobs, no future, and not much more hope than in Tunisia itself, were discriminated against, and were to some degree living in a culture conflict. But in Britain, evidently, the natives are in it, too. And their rage is incredible.

    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.

    It gets worse. Williams carried a little knife around because he carved wood for a living. The British victim, apparently, did carry a gun, which was almost certainly illegal and almost certainly was a sign of some kind of bad intention.

    In the USA, as far as I can tell, it’s simply taken for granted that the police occasionally shoot innocents. (“Hey, nobody is perfect.”) Over greater-here, the police shooting innocents is a culture shock. (And, importantly, the police don’t shoot much in the first place.)

    Similarly, widespread poverty is taken for granted in the USA. Over here, “Governments are instituted among Men [...] to promote the general Welfare”, and when that doesn’t come to pass, it’s considered evil, and politicians are considered responsible for this evil.

    Such cultural perceptions of what is evil can run so deep that totalitarian dictatorships can be too weak to overcome them, even when they comfortably stay in power. Godwin alert! The Nazis famously started a program of killing every single handicapped person. Pretty soon they stopped because the public opinion was too strongly against it — and that without a single riot, AFAIK.

    …BTW, Ctrl+Z doesn’t work anymore. Also, I’ll listen to the soundtrack later.

  4. What worries this Brit is that Cameron (our sainted expense-fiddling PM, why was he not jailed in 2009?) has returned returned from hols to recall Parliament, also to spout on about ethics and morality and fighting back against sick elements of society without pausing to blush about the dodgy dealing in which he is known to be implicated. The governing Tory/Liberal coalition has already cut welfare for the disabled with only minor mumblings from those affected, but then we spazzies find rioting physically challenging. The cuts have scarcely begun to be felt yet, there is another 500,000 to add to the unemployment roll from planned reduction in public jobs in the coming months.

    If the police are going to continue to be seen as agents of the state, using illegal practices such as ‘kettling’ to stifle legitimate public protest, kill people people without justification and lie about it afterwards, then there will be further civil strife.

    Cameron, Clegg et al. claim that ‘we are all in this together but they lie in their teeth since as millionaires they are somewhat insulated against life’s vicissitudes in a world where only the ‘little people’ pay tax in any meaningful sense.

    The key to the solution is education, of course, which is not something we do very well here. Problem is that education takes time which is not a commodity that politicians have in abundance. All they are interested in is re-election. They do keep banging on about the need for economic growth, as if such a thing were possible in a finite world. Maslow offers them guidance,but they seem simply to regard the people they nominally serve as a means to an end.

    I am cynical, but I’m not bitter. I’ll die fighting.

  5. [...] a blog post about this week’s riots, Jadehawk hits the nail on the head: I’ve been saying for years that there’s few things more dangerous to the stability of a [...]

  6. Paul says:

    I miss when Walton posted here.

  7. Jadehawk says:

    I miss when Walton posted here.

    ditto. now he just steals my posts to annoy his conservative friends with them :-p

  8. andrewD says:

    Jadehawk,
    One of the best comments on the riots was from the North London Solidarity Federation here

    Of course Freedom Press and Solfed are anarchists so you would expect their position to be different to the main line press, Politicians (and dare I say it Walton).

  9. David Marjanović says:

    ditto. now he just steals my posts to annoy his conservative friends with them :-p

    Is his mustache long enough to twirl yet?

  10. Jadehawk says:

    One of the best comments on the riots was from the North London Solidarity Federation

    thanks, Andrew!
    That was a pretty good write-up, as you said

  11. Walton says:

    I miss when Walton posted here.

    *blushes* Oh, I’m still around. I always read Jadehawk’s posts; I just don’t always have time to comment here.

  12. [...] an excellent blog post, Jadehawk hits the nail on the head: I’ve been saying for years that there’s few things more dangerous to the stability of a [...]

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