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250 responses to “London burning: Why here, why now? The sociology of civil disorder”

  1. Sam

    There’s an interesting video clip on the News Ltd site where a woman running off with a flat screen TV is asked why she’s doing this. “To get my taxes, back”, she replies.

    Forget this social inequality horse shit. This is a tax revolt, Tea Party Style!

    (OK, I don’t really believe this. But it will be spun this way.)

  2. Craig Mc

    First, looting comes from the belief that if you cannot get equality and cannot expect justice, then you better make sure that you “get paid”.

    Or you’re just a criminal shit who’s barely kept in line by the threat of punishment, but given the cover of a crowd will joyously revert to preferred behaviour. Afterwards you can always pretend to gullible intellectuals that you were “Looting for Justice”.

  3. Sam

    According to Nina Powell, who Mark links to

    One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this.

    The IPCC? Who knew that Tottenham was full of climate sceptics, and they would vent their rage by burning down shops?

  4. Terry

    You can kind of guess who would sniff the smoke in the air and sense that revolution was immanent – Tariq Ali, Nina Power, Laurie Penny. I’m sure a communique from the Stop the War Coalition is pending, and no doubt John Pilger will have something to say.

    The anti-capitalist credentials of those on the streets would appear to be undercut somewhat by their propensity to wander out of shops with flat screen LCD televisions. Perhaps David Cameron needs to implement a stimulus package so that they can buy them instead.

  5. verity violet
  6. verity violet

    Young people who feel they have nothing to lose, behave like this. Its a grave reflection on how well we care for the common good and share the common wealth. IMHO.

  7. Jenny

    Providing welfare to the disadvantaged is the moral thing to do. But I have long seen welfare as having the role of ‘protection money’ i.e. stopping the thugs from destroying our lives and property. So wealth earners need to remember that welfare is a cost of doing business. And exortionists need to remember that a burnt out neighbourhood yields no protection monies. And Governments needs to maintain the fiction that they provides welfare because it is the right thing to do. Because heaven help us if society’s losers realise that the size of their welfare cheques are related to their capacity to wreck havoc.

  8. pablo

    Interesting to contrast actions following the death by police assault of a middle aged white newspaper seller last year and the shooting death by police of an armed black man that supposedly triggered the Tottenham action. Initial reports of the Tottenham riot suggested it wasn’t racially motivated. A bit like saying that Islam had nothing to do with youths rioting in Paris a couple of years ago.

  9. Katz

    Or better still, think like historians:

    Where did the crowd come from? How did it form? How organised is the crowd? If there is some form of organisation, how is the crowd organised? How united are members of the crowd in their methods and aims? How determined are different elements of the crowd to persevere in their aims and methods?

    Until these questions are answered adequately, the subsidiary interests of social scientists float around in a fact-free zone.

    George Rudé asked these precise questions of the French revolutionary crowds half a century ago. His answers rescued ordinary Parisian folk from the hysterical shrieking of social commentators and “crowd psychologists” who sounded remarkably like CraigMc @ 2.

    And in the process the lived reality of the French revolution is now much better understood and Rudé’s methodology has been employed in popular actions through history.

  10. Craig Mc

    But I have long seen welfare as having the role of ‘protection money’ i.e. stopping the thugs from destroying our lives and property.

    Except it doesn’t always, and here definitely hasn’t. Indeed, it just acclimatises some people to expect something for nothing.

  11. Katz

    A half wit professional “reporter” on Local ABC has just proclaimed that these a “the worst riots in London’s history”.

    I wonder if she has even heard of the Gordon Riots of 1780. Wiki:

    “The army was called out on 7 June and given orders to fire upon groups of four or more who refused to disperse. About 285 people were shot dead, with another 200 wounded. Around 450 of the rioters were arrested.”

    London was a much smaller city in 1780. These figures would scale up to more than 10,000 dead in 2011.

    Facts would be helpful. Instant opinionating or worse still bloviating, is very boring.

  12. Eric Sykes

    “..it’s a tinderbox which could be set on fire at almost any moment…” yes, in the 80s youth hung at local tube station radios clasped to ears tuned to news 24 to find out where the latest trouble spots were, to get there quickly….nowadays apparently it’s twitter and other mobile networks…but the same tinderbox starting the same fires….the same underclass, the same cuts to basic services, the same conservative values offering no answers whatsoever…..

    “pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
    or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance..” Gil Scott-Heron

  13. Occam's Blunt Razor

    Burning cars – how very French.

    The UK is becoming closer to th EU every day.

  14. David Allen

    Doubts over shooting appearing in the news. The police in London have zero credibility. Always assume initial descriptions of an event given by police are self serving lies. The initial angry mob in Tottenham seem to have had some cause for grievance. We’ll see where this goes.

    Oh the irony of these looters being evil but the looters that have wrecked the world’s economy get bailed out.

  15. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Fucking hell. Looks like I picked the wrong year to visit London.

    If anyone has friends or family over in that city, here’s a Google map plotting all the riots around London town. My sister’s lives in Brockley, which hasn’t been hit by riots, but one of my best friend’s lives is in the Isle of Dogs, which has. I hope they are their respective spouses (and my nephew) are staying safe.

  16. Sam

    It is very 80s retro chic to see the blacks back in the frame for all that ails England after years of focus on South Asian Muslims.

    Cue Norman Tebbitt demanding to know which national cricket team they support.

  17. tssk

    I’m torn about this. I can understand the attitude of some of these kids thinking that they’re never going to get anywhere, being blamed for everything while the austerity measures being put in place seem to be penalising the poor while letting the rich get off scott free.

    On the other hand in my past as a disadvanteged kid in a single parent family there is no way on earth no matter how disaffected I felt that I would indulge in shit like this. There’s a big difference between feeling disaffected and feeling entitled.

    So here’s to looking at the social causes that caused this while at the same time not condoning the actions of those shits.

    And being (ex)welfare scum I feel for the vast majority of the poor not taking part in this shit, they face months or years of pain swallowing the collective punishment to come.

  18. Sam

    I feel for the vast majority of the poor not taking part in this shit, they face months or years of pain swallowing the collective punishment to come.

    Aside from that, it’s their communities that are being torched. They are being punished right now.

  19. Katz

    From Saigon’s excellent map:

    “Witness David Francis reports rioting in Camberwell Green, South London. He says he was punched in the face by “what felt like very reals pearls wrapped around a masked rioters’ fist.””

    I wonder how many times the extraordinarily facially sensitive Mr Francis has been punched in the face with real pearls.

  20. sg

    The British lumpen prole class, and the lower working class, is full of racist, semi-fascist thugs. Anyone who has spent any time on the streets of London outside of the wealthy enclaves will have seen it. I’ve been threatened repeatedly by strangers in London, passed crime scenes (stabbings and muggings) on a daily basis, been caught up in two football riots, and been to a NYE fireworks display (never again!) and seen the repeated, casual group violence that breaks out at anything resembling a major event that the British lower classes attend. This is just more of the same – Craig Mc is spot on at 2.

    I have very very little respect for British working class “struggle.” And as for the “violent masculinities” – they aren’t constructed by social exclusion, but by poor education and a shithouse media. I once walked through Fulham in the middle of a Fulham supporters crowd, listening to them all putting on their macho tone, not a woman in sight amongst thousands and thousands of men pulling fake cockney accents. That’s a supposedly posh team, and they’re all pretending to be tough-as-nails football lads.

    Furthermore, Londoners pride themselves on this stupid cockney grit. Why is it that the “Blitz experience” at the Imperial War Museum consists entirely of cockney voices saying horrible things to each other? They admire this crap.

    This is why they’re rioting – because they’ve built up a culture of greed and violence, and they’ve lost the ability to contain it. Hug a hoodie indeed … last hoodie I saw tried to push me off my bicycle while his mates sniggered.

    People nearly died last night because these stupid little shits deliberately burnt down a four storey block of flats. What a pack of useless bastards.

  21. Fran Barlow

    Sam said:

    Forget this social inequality horse shit. This is a tax revolt, Tea Party Style!

    This was intended as a throwaway but there’s something to this. Really, how much stronger an affirmation of the value of tangible goods over “fiat money” could you have? Perhaps the rioters (or at least the non-rioting looters) are really true right of centre libertarians, who understand the value of the products of capitalism.

    If through your words and deeds you make it plain to hoi polloi that their interests must in all cases be passed over when the interests of the elite as a group are concerned, tell them that all that matters is the satisfaction of perveived individual wants, that perception is reality, that “there is no society” and that we need not consider the wellbeing of others when we act, then it’s scarcely surprising that at least some people act out that paradigm. If you perceive that there is not a serious personal downside to such conduct, or are so angst-ridden that you can’t see it, then of course riot is the beginning of sense — personal sense.

    We saw in the US just recently, did we not, that at the very top of the system, about half the elected representatives of the country were willing to let the full faith and credit of the US beciome an international laughing stock out of no more than a desire to vent their angst at ‘big government’. These people wanted to protect the rights of the elite to loot the system, avoid taxes and to deprive the poor of healthcare. They weren’t bothered at all that over the last decade the top 1% had enriched themselves largely at the expense of the bottom 99%.

    In both the UK can the US one can see a tiny minority, playing out self-destructive cultural angst, and for all of the mess in London and Birmingham, the Tea Party folks and their Republican enablers are by orders of magnitude, the bigger wreckers and looters. They are inflicting far deeper wounds on the US and to some extent the world economy, than anything wounds being opened on the means streets of the UK.

    Some years ago, I knew a student whose practice was to self-harm. She explained that she did it because it helped her forget about how “f*cked up” her life was. I resisted the urge to point to the paradox, but recent events in Washington and London brought her rationale strongly to mind.

  22. Helen

    Thanks Mark, I had drifted away from reading Penny Red, what a mistake.

    The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

  23. Nabakov

    All part of London’s rich heritage of such things. The locals have always enjoyed a piss up, a punch up and a little thieving – whether in support of a higher cause or not.

  24. Fran Barlow

    oops … the post above had a few typos …. much passion and little proofing …

    {that all that matters is the satisfaction of perveived {perceived} individual wants … full faith and credit of the US beciome {become} … In both the UK can the US … {than anything wounds being opened} }

    Gosh I wish you had 30 minutes to edit your posts after posting!

  25. Sam

    Why are the English such gold medal rioters? Why not the Scots? If you’re looking for social causes Glasgow is as big a shit heap as anywhere in Britain.

  26. Fran Barlow

    Mark said:

    Just on that, Fran, there’s also a certain rationality to a perception that the working poor are taxed and receive little in return.

    I’m not sure “rationality” is the right term there. I doubt that even many elite people have an accurate model for working out the in hand value of the services provided from taxation to each citizen, poor or rich. I suspect it’s a more culturally diffuse “hey, we can tell we’re being screwed because others are doing very nicely” — which, while it’s not entirely wrong, is nowhere near accurate enough as a paradigm for working out how to respond constructively. Worse still, it opens the door to being radically counterproductive in how to respond, as we see right now.

  27. Adrien

    Another sign was when they allowed themselves to be referred to by the n-word. They weren’t simply seeking to reclaim a word. They were telling the world that they were the offspring of the “field negro”, not the trained “house negro” from slavery days. The field negro’s sole intent was to escape, and maybe even to cause a little damage to the master and his property.

    In London?

    I wonder how much Stafford Smith knows about the African diaspora or Hip Hop culture. The use of the ‘n’ word is simply inherited from Afro-American culture where it’s been in use since slave days. Within th culture it’s simply just a term that’s interchangeable with ‘brother’, ‘mate’, ‘man’ etc. There was an attempt in the 70s to banish the word and replace it with brother. It didn’t take. These days it’s a sign of ‘black power’ because you need permission to use it if you ain’t black.

    Around the world it’s simply ‘cool’ in exactly the same way and for the same reasons as it used to be cool to shave your hair down to a mohawk and dye it green. The life that Hip Hop expresses has to do with the slum/jail conditions of public housing wherein the rule of law does not exist (see Gang Leader For A Day). To a certain extent people all over the Western world identify with it. Either because they live in the same conditions or because they are attracted to ‘violent masculinities’.

    Knowing the culture and being a part of it I reckon Mr Smith is way over-estimating the extent to which the use of the word or the attendant phenomena is a product of historical consciousness. It’s actually more a riff from a pop culture cliche that makes sense to young people in a world that is both nihilistically void and awash with pseudo-moral psychobabble at the same time.

    If Mr Smith came down with his field negro riffs off Malcolm X I reckon the response from the Homes would be: N**ga stop talking shit!

  28. Marisan

    And now another 4 cities. Remember the old military truism, once is accident, twice is co-incidence and 3 times is enemy action. It’s not random, it’s orchestrated. And now, spectators are getting in the way of police. Why? what do the police want to do. Me thinks we are looking at the British Spring.

  29. Adrien

    It’s not random, it’s orchestrated.

    Yeah? Who’s responsible for the orchestration?

  30. Tim Macknay

    The trouble Britain faces is it no longer has the traditional remedy of transporting the miscreants to the colonies. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the glorious vision of a British Empire space programme.

    Why are the English such gold medal rioters? Why not the Scots?

    Probably for the same reasons that the Scots allowed the English to beat them into submission in the first place.

  31. Marisan

    It’s not random, it’s orchestrated.

    Yeah? Who’s responsible for the orchestration?

    Don’t know but identical riots in 5 cities smacks of some form of orchestration to me.

    Maybe it’s the manufacturer of Blackberries.

  32. billie

    Stafford Scott implied that the austerity measures include cutting police numbers when he said that the police were initially playing games with the demonstrators to dare the government to cut police numbers.

    Nina Powell said

    a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, . . . and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country . . . . . “social problems” (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest.

    And Mary Riddell says

    successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity now exacerbated by financial turmoil.

    Britain’s lack of growth is not an economic debating point . . . . any more than our deskilled, demotivated, under-educated non-workforce is simply a blot on the national balance sheet.

    Penny Red said

    They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong.

    Penny Red also said that the media only pay attention to social grievances when protesters riot, peaceful demonstrations are not newsworthy.

    Who has orchestrated the riots? The rioting has probably spread to other cities where the youth has the same sense of hopelessness and anger. Answer: stupid government policies

  33. billie

    CoFFEE centre’s Bill Mitchell of Newcastle [upon Hunter] University solution would be to create jobs so that there aren’t 54 applicants for every vacancy in Tottenham. People who have to go to work tomorrow don’t have time to hang around getting disaffected.

  34. verity violet

    Some of the orchestration appears to be coming in the form of the ability to share encrypted messages between blackberry smart phones. When pin numbers are shared covertly amongst groups of people, those groups may share access to messages that are not readable by anyone else. I think this stuff is totally accessible by people under 25. The rest of us are just scrabbling to keep up. I heard a techspert on the wireless describe people printing 2d bar codes on stickers and sticking them on shirts. When photographed and shared they are a low tech way of disseminating a high tech info sharing network via a pin. Fascinating.

  35. Marisan

    The social contract is broken and who broke it?

    The poor once had the hope that they could work hard and therefore move up in the world.

    That hope NO LONGER EXISTS!

    Why should we blame them when they use the only power that they have to better their lifestyle (As seen on their newly liberated flatscreen TV)

    In answer to the original question, we broke it and now we are reaping the whirlwind.

  36. Robert Merkel

    Marisan, are you familiar with the concept of emergent phenomena?

    For what it’s worth, I suspect Mark’s [email protected] nails an important factor here; whatever the initial trigger, there is probably a multiplicity of other motivations for rioting going on now.

  37. Marisan

    Marisan, are you familiar with the concept of emergent phenomena?

    Well I am now. Thanks for that.

    I see that as a form of cop out. ie: We can’t deal with the problem as we don’t know what caused it.

    I feel that the problem was caused by the alienation of an entire generation. (And it’s still happening today)

    I have children and I weep for their future.

  38. Sam

    Who’s responsible for the orchestration?

    Penny Wong, her partner and their baby/foetus.

    You gotta join the dots.

  39. Dr_Tad

    Mark, thanks for your thought-provoking post. Here is an initial response.

    The “crisis of hegemony” is something we’ve argued at Left Flank since we started last year in one way or another, so the London riots (and their proximal and more distal origins) are only a small piece in the puzzle. Indeed, we’ve stressed the way that the crisis of capitalism has played out in all kinds of spheres that are not reducible to some imagine “pure” economic crisis.

    So, in a post on Wikileaks I argued that the crisis was creating many (but not all) of the conditions that satisfied Lenin’s description of a “revolutionary situation”, which is analogous to Gramsci’s conception of the “crisis of hegemony” or “organic crisis”. I also noted that this situation was uneven and there was more of the crisis of the dominant class than resistance from below.

    I also quoted Buci-Glucksmann’s observation that Gramsci understands that in the West, “the ‘organizational reserves’ of the dominant classes in periods of crisis are always stronger than one would possibly suspect”. This is important because when an organic crisis unfolds in advanced capitalisms, it doesn’t look like Russia 1917, even if the underlying dynamics are similar. There is a rolling, mutating crisis of capitalist accumulation that shows no signs of being resolved, even on capital’s terms, but the social practices of the integral state (political society plus civil society) are hardly simply going to give up and go home because of this fact. If that’s what you’re looking for here, then you’ll be searching in vain this side of dual power.

    The main point, much amplified since the events in Tunisia and Egypt, is that there is a breakdown in normal systems of control, and erupting past that are increasingly radical subaltern struggles. 2011 is like 1968, a year where struggle after struggle has broken out on a global scale (only 1989 in Eastern Europe comes close to this pattern, but was delimited by the specifics of the Stalinist ruling class’ crisis of hegemony). What is happening in London is only a small part of that, but it also follows from other changes in British society; a revival of resistance after decades of retreat and quiescence.

    In summary, I think there are two ways of looking at 2011: (1) At all the trees of political crisis and subaltern resistance springing up everywhere, much more than at any time in the last 30 years and show no signs of going away. Or (2) at the wood that is a crisis of hegemony.

  40. Dr_Tad

    This excellent post by Richard Seymour is worth reading on the political articulations of rioting. An excellent defence of the oppressed against the media-state denunciations.

    And for those on this thread seeking to demonise the rioters, I’m sure you’ll recognise your sickening views among these.

  41. Dr_Tad

    Mark @50

    I’m not drawing direct lines (even though at the micro level some rioters will also have been on the student protests). I’m not a cause & effect kinda guy, and maybe thinking of what I write in those terms leads to misunderstandings.

  42. Dr_Tad

    Mark @54

    I was having a crack at formal logic, not trying to be a relativist. I think formal logic has limited purchase c.f. a dialectical approach (ducks, expecting howls of abuse and intellectual vilification from the non-Marxists on the thread).

  43. Marisan

    Over the centuries we, the powerless, have always believed in our lack of power and deferred to those that, we assumed, had power.

    We had no education, no jobs, no prospects and no future.

    The Arab Spring, however, has taught us that there is a power that we have. That is the power to threaten our Lords and Masters with the things that they have always visited upon us.

    Our Lords and Masters are very aware of this and are, quite rightly, terrified of it.

    We truly live in interesting times.

  44. suse

    As a part-Londoner, I’m deeply upset by what I’ve seen and read and listened to. There were causes, but the causes have receded into the distance already. People are smashing in hairdressers, people on bicycles are being set upon (by those who want to steal their bikes), buses are being torched.
    But what’s really telling is that so many politicians – Cameron, Boris Johnson – are returning from their summer holidays in other countries. London in August is left to the have-nots.

  45. Chris

    Some of the orchestration appears to be coming in the form of the ability to share encrypted messages between blackberry smart phones.

    Ah, yes the poverty stricken underclass wandering the streets with their blackberrys…..

    And totally off topic, but for some reason when I see video of riots in the London I half expect to see pictures of zombies turn up soon.

  46. Sam

    it doesn’t look like Russia 1917

    Indeed not. Instead of demanding “Peace, Land, Bread” the revolutionaries are demanding “Flat Screen LCD, iPad, Playstation 3”.

  47. Marisan

    People are smashing in hairdressers, people on bicycles are being set upon (by those who want to steal their bikes), buses are being torched.

    To use that horrible American term, these people are collateral damage.

    The real battle will be fought on the Streets, the Boardrooms and Parliament.

  48. Sam

    Not going to do a lot for London’s attempts to attract a gazillion visitors to the Olympics next year, which they’ll need to, to pay for it all. The Games organisers must be shitting themselves.

  49. Kim

    Very easy to say Marisan when you are safely far away.

    There’s nothing to like in any political mindset which can talk glibly and inhumanely of collateral damage whether it claims to be left or right

    Excellent analysis Mark.

  50. Jacques de Molay

    First, I think the “cuts=riots” equation is wrong. However, there is likely to be a meaningful relationship (if not a direct causal one) in that the forms of social discipline (miminal welfare, workfare, ‘youth centres’ and so on) becoming more stick and less carrot may incline some of those more attached to the logic of the system to become less so. It’s still important to remember that often those who are central to subcultural hierarchies are more often part of the informal economy than the social discipline of the official welfare economy.

    I think this might be fairly accurate, Mark. Things like this don’t just come out nowhere, this is a generation of young poor people told by govt & society they’re shit and they should be on their hands and knees in gratitude for the minimal welfare they receive.

    I don’t think it will be too long until we start seeing similar things happening (on a smaller scale) here especially with all these new Gillard Labor welfare “reforms” about to come in.

    Things like suspending people’s dole payments in full until they comply with a directive as opposed to Howard’s breach policy (who knew Howard was a bleeding heart leftie), coming down harder on the long-term unemployed with even more onerous “mutual obligations”, forcing those under the age of 35 on the disability pension into training, courses, rehab etc, making it harder for people to get the disability pension in future by making the impairment tables even more stringent (plays to the News Ltd crowd about “young bludgers” when in reality the fastest growing demographic on the disabilty pension is women aged 60-64) and of course cracking down on teenage parents.

    These “reforms” (kicking the shit out of the poorest & most vulnerable-see the “Malaysian solution”) aside from confirming the Labor Party I once knew has long gone and won’t be coming back, coupled with the sell off of public housing by state government’s to their Big Developer mates (ala Mike Rann) which will see people spend 20+ years on the waiting list for public housing will all have to be answered for soon.

  51. Marisan

    Very easy to say Marisan when you are safely far away.

    Maybe I didn’t phrase that properly.

    I have every sympathy for the people that are having their lives trashed.

    But in the view of the people that are fighting this battle (From both sides) that is how they are viewed.

  52. Joe

    From London and UK riots day three aftermath: live coverage:

    8.32am: Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington […]
    These young people, who seem to have no stake in society, are trashing their own communities.

    8.30am: This from Brian Tyler […]
    Last night the men from the local mosque were out defending the area. One shop was broken into, but thanks to them the situation was kept under control.

    Perhaps a coincidence, that on looking at the Guardian this morning these two reports were the first I saw– once again in close proximity two of the main issues which were discussed in relation to the Massacre in Norway– also described as a criminal act and not a political act. Or at least, inhabiting some grey area between the criminal and the political.

    These young criminals are destroying their own communities! Are they really? And the good Muslims around their mosques are protecting local property and ensuring that law and order is maintained in their neighbourhood.

  53. Kim

    Ok. Thanks for clarifying.

  54. Joe

    I’m going to squint my eyes and laugh a bit as I say, this lawlessness is an overture to what we’re seeing in global finance at the moment. Central bankers stealing from the citizens of their own countries and the citizens being told to keep faith and behave decently, while this occurs.

    It’s starting to dawn on many people here that while the ECB is massively intervening in European markets, nobody is able to understand exactly why and the central bank is acting increasingly without even the appearance of a legitimate democratic process. If there is a single issue which needs to be explained to the community from its politicians it is this one! What is wrong with the economy and what is being done to correct it?

  55. Tim Macknay

    But in the view of the people that are fighting this battle (From both sides) that is how they are viewed.

    Either that or it’s just kids havin’ fun.

  56. Marisan

    Either that or it’s just kids havin’ fun.

    It may have started as that but that is not the situation now.

    They have proved that the police can’t stop them so what happens next?

  57. haiku

    Why now?
    The fact that it’s August – school holidays; and what passes for summer weather in the UK – might play a role. Much harder to maintain enthusiasm for rioting when its zero degrees and drizzling.

    Also, the comment about Fulham being a ‘posh’ club: it’s always worth remembering that most clubs have several strata of supporters. Mr Al-Fayed might have brought money to the club (as Abramovich has with Chelsea), but there’s a base of supporters who are traditional ‘working class’, and like a few pints, some offensive singing, and perhaps the odd fight after the game. They’re not Millwall, though.

  58. Joe

    I mean, it is symptomatic of the times, that many people can’t see the difference between an international corporation using surveillance techniques on private citizens, in a way which the Stasi would have been proud, and anti-logging protesters chaining themselves to trees.

    I’m sorry, but you cannot be serious, when you say that what’s happening in the UK at the moment is just “kids having fun.” That is a most ridiculous proposition. I hazard to ask, what sort of childhood you had…

  59. Marisan

    To quote the famous Vladimir Ilyich Lenin the ” Either that or it’s just kids havin’ fun.” are the ” Useful Idiots”

  60. Tim Macknay

    They have proved that the police can’t stop them so what happens next?

    Presumably the government will call out the army.

  61. Tim Macknay

    I’m sorry, but you cannot be serious, when you say that what’s happening in the UK at the moment is just “kids having fun.” That is a most ridiculous proposition.

    You are correct. I was not being serious.

    I hazard to ask, what sort of childhood you had…

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people just can’t engage in a blog thread without getting personal. That’s where being “serious” gets you, is it?

  62. Marisan

    They have proved that the police can’t stop them so what happens next?

    Presumably the government will call out the army.

    Killing Bog Trotting Irish in Ireland (Where else) is a totally different thing to killing British Citizens in England.

    2 points:
    I doubt the British Army would do it.
    The pitchforks and torches would be in front of Parliament within a week.

    The British Government is between a rock and a hard place and both sides know this.

  63. Joe

    Dax down 7%…

    I’m sorry Tim, my deepest apologies, if you took that personally.

  64. akn

    I was present at and witness to two riots: one in Istanbul, about who knows what, and the other in Newcastle. The latter, at the closing of the Star Hotel, is one of the few actual ‘riots’ in Australian history. What most commentors miss is the sense of pure rebelliousness that pervades such circumstances. All grievances are at play, all rules are out, all is literally up for grabs. The riots and the social conditions that produced them are beyond commentary. The rage is inchoate and undirected; it is not a revolutionary situation primarily because of the absence of revolutionary leadership which has retired to nostalgic intellectualism in the face of the impossibility of revolution. Welcome to the punk future of ‘No Future’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaHhxRGYjFA).

  65. jumpy

    A locals opinion.


    She seams to know who’s involved, but not why.

  66. adrian

    I think akn is correct, which is why this is way beyond easy answers such as they are all racist thugs @ 24.

  67. FDB

    “Dax down 7%…”

    …In brighter investment news:

    Hoodies up!

  68. FDB

    Someone’s been reading Outcasts of Foolgarah again.

    Or failing to.

    I’m never sure which.

  69. PeterTB

    Good post thanks Mark

  70. Nabakov

    “All grievances are at play, all rules are out, all is literally up for grabs. ”

    Yup, that’s why they call em riots. I’ve seen some riots at first hand and whatever the cause or trigger point, lots join in for the sheer cathartic merrymaking hell of it.

    London’s worse riot, the Gordon Riots, saw members of parliament gleefully pointing out the homes of political rivals to the mob. All the damage was cleaned up very rapidly, a few hasty trials were held and everyone sorta agreed not to talk about it. Until the next time.

  71. Nabakov


    Most. Interactive. Olympic. Opening. Ceremony. Ever.

  72. Tim Macknay

    2 points:
    I doubt the British Army would do it.

    Marisan, I don’t really see why the British army wouldn’t obey an order to deploy onto the streets in order to suppress looting, if it came to that. Economic conditions in the UK are bad, but it isn’t Cuba in 1959.

    The pitchforks and torches would be in front of Parliament within a week.

    The British Government is between a rock and a hard place and both sides know this.

    Who are the “both sides” you’re talking about? The proletariat and the British ruling class? Given that these riots seem to be aimed mainly at the rioters’ neighbours, how effective do you think they will be to dislodge the British ruling class from power?

    For an allegedly organised insurrection, the rioters are doing a very good impersonation of a frustrated underclass engaging in unfocused vandalism and looting. As akn says, it’s inchoate and undirected.

  73. Marisan

    The riots and the social conditions that produced them are beyond commentary. The rage is inchoate and undirected; it is not a revolutionary situation primarily because of the absence of revolutionary leadership which has retired to nostalgic intellectualism in the face of the impossibility of revolution.

    The Star Riots lasted 1 day. This is going on for 3 days and spreading.

    There is Leadership somewhere. It’s just not obvious yet unlike the opposition to it.

    Mark my words, there are some very very scared people out there. (And I don’t mean the residents of the affected areas)

  74. Joe

    Sure it’s inchoate and undirected but not unexplainable…

  75. akn

    No Marisan, contain yourself. The Star riots lasted one night and the ‘leaders’ were pissed. Don’t look for coherence. Find the affect. Therein lies the answer. Nothing wrong with rebelliousness unless you are a closet Stalinist.

  76. Chris

    These young criminals are destroying their own communities! Are they really?

    When they’re looting destroying the local small businesses – restaurants, pubs, small supermarkets etc, then yes, they are destroying their own communities.

  77. Adrien

    Mark – As I read it, Adrien, some of what is going on now is existing gang networks and other community networks being extended through the momentum of events and organisation using word of mouth and mobile devices.

    Yeah I wonder. Is the police:citizen ratio in the UK at a low ebb? Cops don’t have their shit together? May ol’ Rupe’s playing Musical Commissioners in the UK too. So some Run Amok Meme bubbles up in the tenement noösphere. These crews use mobiles as organizational devices in aid of various shady deeds. Did it just come to a boil or did something kick it off?

    Well the Media Coverage will be out quick smart. And we can all then proceed to argue whether it’s Monbiot or Bolt who are evil and insane and then fling rarefied rhetorical cream puffs at each other.

    In some instances, it appears that there are turf/territory fights between particular subcultural groups and the coppers aren’t really in the picture.

    Yeah that’s why I reckon someone could have set it off on purpose. This ain’t no Crips, Bloods all the same squad. But a VCR DVD in the back of your car? Yeah. Some pretty audacious stuff going on.

    The social contract is broken and who broke it?

    It’s the culmination of a long term bipartisan project involving the most brilliant minds of two centuries.

    Why are the English such gold medal rioters? Why not the Scots?

    The Anglish are bunch of underpants wearing Nancy-walkers. In Glas’gae we have a riot ev’ry bloody Sunday it’s ca’d Fitba ye big granmother’s nightgoon.

  78. FDB

    Also, Marisan – no biggie, but if you identify when you’re quoting someone else (say, via the handy button above your comment field marked “blockquote”) then your comments will be easier to understand.

  79. Adrien

    Origin of the riot?.

    So when a local 29-year-old father, described by police as a gangster…

    And probably by himself and all his friends on the juice Monday night. It’s worldwide da gangsta wannabe virus. Put another record on man.

    was shot dead by an officer, the response came quickly. Mark Duggan was killed Thursday. On Saturday night about 50 relatives and friends protested outside the Tottenham police station.


  80. akn

    It’s a shopping spree. Credit free spring sales. Fucken’ good on ’em. The Poles will be envious.

  81. Joe

    FDB, DAX back up to -2.9% — them kids huh? Jus’ having fun, god bless ’em.

  82. jules

    This Micheal Ventura essay written during the LA Riots 20 years ago is pretty interesting to read today. Some points are still quite relevent.

    Kind of reflects what akn said @ 79

  83. jules



    Sorry, I’m a bit distracted.

  84. Fran Barlow

    Lenin never used the phrase “useful idiots” Marisan, the oft-repeated attribution notwithstanding. It’s an old trope.

  85. akn

    Jules: nice link. Good gonzo writing.

  86. Chookie Inthebackyard

    I thought it was interesting to hear some British journo mention off-handedly that the areas where the rioting started had poor educational standards and so people couldn’t “get up and get out” of their estates. It was the off-handedness that worried me — if stratification has increased to the extent that it’s taken for granted and accepted, of course the serfs are going to get angry.

  87. Nabakov

    Yeah, what Michael Ventura said.

  88. patrickg

    Great post Mark, and great following comments from you and many others, too.

  89. zorronsky

    There’s a gap and it’s widening. Which side of the gap are you looking from? Could be that one side of the gap, unlike the past, has communication.

  90. Darryl Rosin

    Some things I like about the Government’s response: 1. Recalling Parliament. Parliament seems to be taken way more seriously over there. I cannot imagine that any of our Parliaments would be summoned if there were similar crises here. 2. The Home Secretary (i think, a woman named Day?) ruling out use of water cannons saying ‘that’s not how policing is done in Britian’ (that’s saved for Ireland apparently).


  91. suze

    A friend in hackney says: “it’s hard to work out what it’s about –
    disenfranchised young people expressing themselves the only way
    possible? Or opportunistic thugs? Probably a bit of both.”

  92. suze
  93. jules

    2. The Home Secretary (i think, a woman named Day?) ruling out use of water cannons saying ‘that’s not how policing is done in Britian’ (that’s saved for Ireland apparently).

    So many pithy replies spring to mind d

    About the IPCC itself, the shooting of Duggan, this allegation of the beating of a minor by riot cops … etc etc

    The Ventura article is a good one. He even recognises emergent behaviour. Tho this was in the days before Rhizome, so there wasn’t the jargon for it. He wrote some great articles back then, during the days of Bush the first, especially about the way the US changed during the first Gulf War.

  94. Lefty E

    Its time to remind the British public that only registered sharetraders are permitted to engage in widespread public looting.

  95. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Great link, Jules. But depressing: the powers that be often won’t learn from a riot. David Cameron definitely will not.

    For more depressing stuff, there’s Lara Oyedele from the Guardian:

    Our society is breeding a whole generation of young people who do not expect to achieve anything productive in their lives. Graduate students are applying for jobs that, previously, would have gone to somebody with A-levels. Those with A-levels are applying for the jobs for people with no qualifications. So jobseekers with no qualifications are stuck…

    The looting doesn’t surprise me: it’s entertainment, something to keep young people busy. It’s not right, but those are the facts. Simply, if they had to go to work this morning they wouldn’t have been rioting last night. They’re disaffected, unhappy and upset, and they are looking at the likes of me, saying: you need to give me something, I need a job, I need you to help me.

  96. Lefty E

    Thats pretty much the reason for the 2006 crisis in East Timor, Down & Out.

    Dump the austerity measure, and increase taxes on the rich: problem solved. They can afford it; the general public can’t.

  97. Nabakov

    Anyway, it’s not like the rioters are taking bailout billions in taxpayers’ money to maintain a lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

  98. Lefty E

    Perhaps the lesson everyone learned from the GFC bailouts is that the nation *in fact was* built on getting everything for free.

  99. Lefty E

    “Things got out of hand and we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets.” David Cameron, Bullingdon Club – Christ Church College, Oxford, 1986.

  100. tssk

    So what’s the end game? Should we look at what caused these riots?

    Or will we see the easier answer?

    I reckon that the welfare state in the UK will now be dismantled quicker because of these riots and looting. Since it will be too difficult to work out who was involved and who wasn’t everyone one welfare will have to bear the collective responsibility and punishment.

    May God have mercy on them.

  101. sg

    I thought it was interesting to hear some British journo mention off-handedly that the areas where the rioting started had poor educational standards and so people couldn’t “get up and get out” of their estates. It was the off-handedness that worried me — if stratification has increased to the extent that it’s taken for granted and accepted, of course the serfs are going to get angry.

    The UK has compulsory education. If they have poor educational standards in these communities it’s at least partly because their own culture doesn’t allow intellectualism. Who’s to blame for this?

    On the BBC today the acting commissioner put out a message asking parents to “find out where their children are” because he wanted parents to rein in the kids doing this. This tells you all you need to know about the “proud working class culture” of modern England. Gangs of 13 year old nutjobs wandering around at 9 or 10pm and their parents too busy watching home renovation shows to care what they’re doing. And it’s so prevalent that the top cop has to ask parents to try and remember what their kids are up to.

    As someone said above, it’s kids having fun, London style.

  102. Joe

    I and many others have been pointing out for a long time now the simple fact that the global economy has been living way beyond its means for years. A massive transfer of income to the very rich has occurred while middle class real incomes stagnated. The middle classes only tolerated this because Central Bankers created housing booms to keep the impoverished middle classes borrowing and spending to give them the illusion of prosperity and stop them from revolting.

    Central bank polices haven’t changed though. Print and print and print. And if that doesn’t work, print some more. And as London burns, the point I have always made is that the US and UK are not like Japan in one very special way. Although Japan suffered a decade of pain it is a very homogenous, equal society. The UK and US are not. Some readers may not know that rioting and looting has broken out around London.

    While I hear the UK politicians denounce the looters as common criminals (which of course they are), I can’t help but think that Louis XVI in 1789 and Tsar Nicolas II in 1917 might have said the same thing.

    Via The Guardian and “Albert Edwards, the famously bearish Société Générale analyst, via FT Alphaville.”

  103. skepticlawyer

    I lived and worked in London for three years, for part of it in the Croydon High Street (now up in flames). What sg says is largely correct. The experience of sitting on the tube while a carriage full of Chelsea supporters eddied around me while chanting the following has stayed:

    What shall we do with Tottenham Hotspur?
    What shall we do with Tottenham Hotspur?
    What shall we do with Tottenham Hotspur?
    Gas the f*cking bastards!

    (To the tune of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’)

  104. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Too true, Lefty E.

  105. akn

    Eff me sg, you’re right, it’s the home renovation shows that are to blame. They make me feel like burnin’ and a lootin’ toniiiiight.

  106. Guy

    I’ve had a really crazy few days geographically – I was in Oslo over the weekend, and the slipstream from the uber-quiet and reflective calm of Scandinavia straight into front-page explosive London chaos has been a little surreal. I am sure there’s a post in there somewhere 😉

    It’s an interesting topic and its one that tricky to grapple with, whether you’re sitting at home in Central London (like I am) or on the other side of the world trying to make sense of it all through the media and Twitter. Tonight, locally its very quiet – there were around 10 cops on the beat on the main road nearby this evening, and several shops seemed to have closed early. An upmarket dry cleaner was hastily getting large wooden boards installed in front of their swanky glass frontage. In general, it’s all a bit hit and miss – complete quiet in most places, dare I say, with a few organic, unpredictable conflagrations. The conflagrations of course get all the attention.

    My reading of it is that the Duggan incident flipped the switch to groupthink, and gave every second shady character and wannabe gangster in London the psychological imprimatur to exercise some of their little fantasies. The people involved for the most part barely seem to have any association with each other, besides a shared desire to stick in the craw of the police and feel for just a few days like the cool, rebellious criminals they would like to be. Most of them probably don’t know much of who George Osborne or even David Cameron are.

    There’s definitely a socio-political undercurrent to the whole thing, but its definitely not an overtly political happening. The interesting question for me is: what can democratic governments twice or three times removed from the problems of people at the fringes of society do to prevent them from feeling this way?

  107. verity violet

    Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK: feral capitalism: where a tiny elite have looted society to increase their wealth at cost to all the rest of us…by capturing banking, capturing regulation, capturing the economics profession and by capturing states themselves (and most especially tax havens) from which to launch their attack on the well being of the vast majority.

  108. BilB

    Guy, do you think that the Norway slaughter in any way wetted the appetite of the alpha types who like to talk tough down at the pub, helping to loosen the moral constraints?

  109. Katz

    It’s Carnival (literally “farewell to meat”). The Lord of Misrule takes control of the streets and inverts the social order. Everyone knows that the inversion is strictly temporary.

    Participants threaten and lampoon their social superiors. It is protest of a sort, but a rather despairing sort. Participants know that the old order will be restored and rather look forward to that restoration. Thus, quite contrary to threatening the existing order, Carnival strengthens it by reinscribing lines of social status and power relations.

    This outbreak draws its energy directly from Europe’s most persistent folkways.

  110. tigtog

    The UK has compulsory education. If they have poor educational standards in these communities it’s at least partly because their own culture doesn’t allow intellectualism. Who’s to blame for this?

    1. The policies that underfund schools in lower socio-economic status areas? The fact that under-resourced teachers (understandably) can’t wait to get a transfer to a school in a “better” area, therefore rapid staff turnover leads to
    (a) teachers not becoming strongly attached to and emotionally invested in their future relationships with and/or mentoring of their pupils, and the students naturally reciprocating?
    (b) a poor sense of tradition/pride/legacy in the teaching culture in these schools, and the students naturally reciprocating?

    I’m not blaming individual teachers for this – it’s only natural to want to work in a school with adequate resources in a pleasant area, and to resent being treated as an afterthought by the education department. I’m sure that they do the best that they can under the circumstances, but it’s undeniable that a teacher who is happily hoping to spend their future years until retirement in the same school is going to have a very different attitude than a teacher who is applying for any job that arises in a “nicer” area. One can’t fairly blame the students, or their families, for sensing that their teachers are not planning to stick around, and to therefore find it difficult to look at them as truly meaningful mentors, and therefore not absorbing a scholastic mindset.

    2. A severe lack of local employment, so that students don’t see their neighbours getting a job based on their schooling achievements. Those who do get employment generally leave these areas to be closer to where they are working, and often their whole families follow, so they’re not there for others to point to as a good example.

  111. CMMC
  112. Terry

    But there is some good news from Manchester:

    “A recently–opened fashion boutique in King Street owned by former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher was been hit by looters.”

  113. Eric Sykes
  114. Terry

    Unless Ed Miliband does somehting bizarre like support the rioters, its all upsides for UK Labour. They can condemn the criminal behaviour, thereby distaincing themselves from the Nina Powers of the world, while blaming this on Cameron’s policies undermining social cohesion.

  115. Sam

    One of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants has been attacked.


    Now, they’ve gone too far.

  116. Katz

    This is/was no insurrection. The sine qua non of an insurrection is the existence of a replacement power structure and some organisation dedicated to replacing the old structure with the preferred new structure.

    Nothing of the sort exists in the present disorder. Moreover, all political groups who might be tempted to thrust themselves to the head of these inchoate events have avoided the temptation like they would Ebola virus.

    Nothing will arise from this but politics as usual.

  117. Eric Sykes
  118. Dr_Tad

    Terry @130

    The problem for Miliband is that his opposition to the Tory-Lib Dem cutbacks is largely verbal and people know it. In fact, he agrees the cuts must happen, just more slowly. He hasn’t just condemned these riots but also attacked the June 30 public sector strikes, a much more traditional, organised and politically cogent response to what the government is doing and Britain’s social conditions in general.

    He is unlikely to gain much benefit from being part of the law and order brigade; the Tories are the traditional beneficiaries of that kind of argument. All he will show is that he is an impotent non-alternative. And the lack of coherent political channels for the anger of the poor kids of the UK’s inner-cities will continue.

  119. sg

    tigtog, it’s possible to get a good education even if you go to a shit school. I know, because I did. You need parents who care about education, and who don’t teach you thieving and violence at every turn.

    And as for unemployment, spare me. There’s plenty of work in London, and generations of families who won’t do it.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in London, but once you meet a couple of hoodies in a dark alley or a pub, and see how they behave – and onceyou’ve seen Britain’s “proud working class” dealing with each other – it becomes pretty clear that the problem is working class culture. Daily Mail reading thugs don’t rise up against the government; they steal a wii, punch a passerby and burn the shop down, then go home to brag about it with their mates.

  120. suse

    Zoe Williams on the psychology (and sociology) of looting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/09/uk-riots-psychology-of-looting

  121. Dr_Tad

    Back onto Mark’s point about crises of legitimacy, it is interesting to read STRATFOR’s take:

    The Crisis of Legitimacy

    This, then, is the third crisis that can emerge: that the elites become delegitimized and all that there is to replace them is a deeply divided and hostile force, united in hostility to the elites but without any coherent ideology of its own. In the United States this would lead to paralysis. In Europe it would lead to a devolution to the nation-state. In China it would lead to regional fragmentation and conflict.

    These are all extreme outcomes and there are many arrestors. But we cannot understand what is going on without understanding two things. The first is that the political economic crisis, if not global, is at least widespread, and uprisings elsewhere have their own roots but are linked in some ways to this crisis. The second is that the crisis is an economic problem that has triggered a political problem, which in turn is making the economic problem worse.

    I’m not endorsing the specifics of STRATFOR’s mechanical linking of economics and politics, nor their take on the nature of the economic crisis, but they are sniffing something in the wind that suggests we may have passed the “bifurcation” point.

  122. Eric Sykes

    Not an insurrection no. I am interested in reports on the use of the public order act in the recent months leading up to this anger. The sus laws were certainly a factor in the 80s; police stop and search in the UK is a very different thing to that which Australians might experience; Australian police are also “obviously armed” which changes the whole dynamic of the police in their long term (cultural) relationship with disadvantaged youth so its hard to make comparisons and judgements. But this outbreak is not surprising, things have got worse for youth in UK since the 80s, not better.

  123. Eric Sykes

    There is “plenty of work in London”. It might appear that way if you are just passing through, but over a lifetime, I think not.


  124. Craig Mc

    I think the bit of the Laurie Penny link some people missed was how frightening all this is to live through.

    It would be frightening enough just to be Laurie Penny.

  125. Katz

    You’re correct, ES.

    Clearly, the British state has turned intrusive surveillance and provocation into policy.

    These measures are the bastard offspring of the terrorist threat. Vast bureaucratic and career structures have been built to meet these threats. They are both expensive and misconceived. Yet they exist. And existing they must be deployed.

    In the absence of genuine threat these resources are deployed against alternative targets. And who better than Britain’s non-White young, male underclass.

    Interestingly, among the most prominent vigilante activists against the rooters are various pre-existing and ad hoc Islamic groups.

  126. Fran Barlow

    There’s an astonishingly analytic account of the etiology of the disturbances on, of all places, Fran Kelly’s Breakfast on RN.

    Camila Batmanghelidjh: Founder of the two leading British youth charities: The Place to Be and Kids Company

    I despaired of the day when something worth listening to on that show would puncture the vacuity that is the stock-in-trade of its regular host. Today at least, there was someone capable of brushing her and her tropes to one side and speaking sense.

  127. Fran Barlow

    I’m not sure one can puncture vacuity of course. Mea culpa

  128. Fran Barlow

    Katz noted:

    Interestingly, among the most prominent vigilante activists against the rooters are various pre-existing and ad hoc Islamic groups.

    Indeed. I’ll be interested on how that is taken up in the mainstream press. I wonder if they will shoehorn “sharia” into that coverage, or if their heads will simply explode from trying not to say it.

  129. Ian Milliss

    This Clausewitzian consumption by other means by people who under different circumstances could have been bankers, having all the natural acquisitive instincts required, should really just be regarded as the beginning of the new normal, a state of affairs that will endlessly repeat as the human races starts its slide into extinction.

  130. Eric Sykes

    Yes Fran @ 142 it was a surprise in the car this morning to hear your namesake speak with Camila, who clearly knows what she is talking about.

  131. adrian

    Well said tigtog @ 126. As usual we are getting fed a lot of simplistic tosh from some people, often based on little more than a couple of personal anecdotes.

  132. Ian Milliss

    Fran @ 142 on the other hand did you see Leigh Sales on TheirABC last night throwing trashy tabloid questions at Ken Livingstone’s former race adviser Lee Jasper, who fielded them easily. You had to despair at the feeling that there was a lot more that could have been revealed if she had been competent.

  133. Chris

    sg @ 135 – well said. You see it here in Australian disadvantaged schools too.

  134. su

    She makes complete sense Fran, what is completely new to me is that she says a large percentage of kids she sees cannot access welfare because they don’t have a birth certificate. Does this mean their births were never registered ( I presume not all of them will be from immigrant families)? If so it would mean that they are at least the second generation to be completely disengaged from the usual civil structures, so the tensions have been brewing across generations.

  135. dylwah

    Eric Sykes – Dont for get the ASBOs. they were worn as a badge of pride by many when i visited in the early noughties.

    Looks to me that many of these rioters have swallowed the line that there is no society, only individuals, the recent defunding of the services that provided a modicum of support for them has only reinforced the idea that they mean nothing to whatever passes for a wider society. as a response they have taken possession of businesses, stripped them of their assets, and left smoking hulks. looks a lot like the corporate raiders of the 80’s. i know i’d like to blame PM Thatcher, and her cult of the individual, but it is too trite and this isn’t twitter.

    Camila B in Fran’s link @142makes a good point about the corrupting influence of the illegal drugs trade, there are bucket loads of cash to be made for relatively little work and it encourages the development shadow justice systems that legitimise violence in the eyes of participants and reward the successful participants. just more proof that the experiment of criminalising drug use has failed.

  136. Dr_Tad

    Fran @142

    Thanks for sharing that; wonderful stuff.

  137. Eric Sykes

    Ahhh yes the ASBO, another coffin nail hammered home, thanks for reminding me.

  138. Sam

    Fran 144, quoting Katz Interestingly, among the most prominent vigilante activists against the rooters are various pre-existing and ad hoc Islamic groups.

    It’s not interesting at all. We all already knew how Muslims feel about sex.

  139. Katz

    One political consequence: the English defence League, of which racist mass murderer Anders Breivik was a fanboi, pledges to send vigilantes onto the streets.


    Any chance of co-operating with the Muslim vigilantes?

  140. dylwah

    Fran is commenting from her phone again, some of the auto corrects are a hoot, but rioters to rooters is gold. If only the police had Rooting King on their side.

    speaking of which, London does not need more police on the ground, they need James Brown

  141. Lefty E

    Loads of UK and EU money went into Brixton and South London following the Brixton riots in the 1980s – which made it the perfectly calm place I lived in the mid-90s. Expect the same to follow in Tottenham and other places. Law and order can’t possibly control this – only a shift in distribution of national wealth and hope.

    Truth us these riots will – unconciously perhaps – bring political change.

  142. Fine

    A friend who lives in London has posted this on FB.

    “I live in Hackney at the minute and it’s awful and scary but surprising….?! Not to me. I just this lunch time walked past a bus shelter that had a SPORTS SHOE ad with the logline “Be the weapon not the victim” with a boxer punching with one hand and holding a (ridiculously overpriced probably made by underpaid workers in China) shoe in the other hand. These kids are getting very conflicting messages and very little moral support and guidance.”

    I lived in London years ago for a while. Never liked the place. What struck me about it was the general lack of niceness and courtesy on an everyday basis there. People didn’t seem to have much time for neighbours and community. People were abrupt and rude to an alarming extent and their energy seemed to go into just surviving. That’s in comparison to other large, tough cities like New York and Paris.

    It seemed a really tough place to be, as well as being an almost impossible place to live if you weren’t rich. This was during Thatcher’s England and I’m sure it’s got much worse.

  143. adrian

    There was an excellent program on SBS recently on the disintegration of civil society in Naples where the local branch of the mafia has basically taken over the city.
    Particularly disturbing were the rows upon rows of desolate housing estates where the only currency seemed to be drug dealing. It was difficult to imagine anything positive emanating from such a wasted environment.

    I fear that we are seeing the British version of the same disease.

  144. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    From a tweet: “Bloody immigrants. Coming over here, defending our boroughs & communities.” If shit goes down, I’d rather have all the Turks, Kurds, Arabs and Iranians to have my back than Nazi skinheads or those “Australian Patriots” I observed at the anti-Burqa rally on Saturday.

    Eric [email protected]: Are we reading the same article? It doesn’t say “Youth unemployment rate at lowest rate for 20 years”.

  145. Fran Barlow

    Dylwah said:

    Fran is commenting from her phone again, some of the auto corrects are a hoot, but rioters to rooters is gold. If only the police had Rooting King on their side.

    I agree that it is gold, but sadly, I copied the quote from Katz and failed to note the error. Affirmation bias in receptive literacy is a wonderful thing.

  146. Patrickb

    “But I have long seen welfare as having the role of ‘protection money’ i.e. stopping the thugs from destroying our lives and property”
    Yes but, I think you’ll find that roving bands of thugs and looters pre-date the welfare state. And a lot of people on “welfare” are women with dependants, the sick, the elderly; not really the types that you’d think you’d need to pay “protection” money to. And given that “welfare” payments aren’t that great I would have thought that any self respecting stand-over man would have considered it chicken feed.

  147. Adrien

    I fear that we are seeing the British version of the same disease.

    Coming soon to a bit of 60s Brutal Architecture near you.

    It’s globalization innit? We’ve downsized social management as per a cost/benefit analysis. Rather than deal with all that get Foxtel, double-glazing and blinds that make a room pitch black at noon.

    The Third World Armageddon Bonaza Now playing in over 160 countries worldwide. Do like Sherman McCoy does and insulate, insulate. What? You don’t wanna insulate? Okay.

    You sure? It ain’t pretty sunshine. Just ask Hypatia. 🙂

  148. Eric Sykes

    Down and Out of Sài Gò[email protected] 160. No it does not say that you are right. My link was a response to sg @ 135 who reckons there’s plenty of work in London (cause apparently he understands it all better than the Office of National Statistics 😉

  149. akn

    Dr Tad: that STRATFORS link is a cool headed appraisal. Thanks. The rest of the site makes interesting reading; I’m amazed at the guidance on what to take on holidays from the CEO – a torch with which to blind the locals, a high end folding knife, whipcord for abseiling, an anyphalactic shock injection and a survival belt designed to be used as a tournique or, presumably, a weapon. Makes me wonder where he goes to relax. Tottenham, maybe?

    As for the thread topic: these kids don’t even come near the working class and leave the concept of lumpen proletariat gasping for air. JG Ballard’s depictions of the UK as an anomic wasteland were prescient. These riots have brought the preoccupations of mass media and Hollywood together in one efficient moment: shopping and violence.

  150. Fran Barlow

    No 1 son is still in Bristol … I’m carefully listening for news …

  151. Katz

    Yep, my phone still thinks has stopped thinking that rioters are rooters.

    Clever phone!

  152. Dr_Tad

    Well, well, I just saw this from an FT editorial:

    Over the past four days, the state has lost control of England’s streets.

    Links the police response to their shellacking in the phone hacking scandal. Argues that Cameron must crack down hard but then also address “the resentment and dislocation among the have-nots of British society”.

    Elsewhere there’s an article arguing the government is labouring under a “grim mood of crisis management” with two recalls of parliament in succession (the first for nine years).

  153. Katz

    But it does not recognise the “strike” tag. Hence the strange sentence above. Strange.

  154. Adrien

    Truly extraordinary speech by fearless West Indian woman; viral – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rbkzVkXuMY&NR=1

  155. tssk

    Something else that contributed to the last few days.


    May was responding to a warning from the Superintendents’ Association president, Derek Barnett, that severe spending cuts could undermine their ability to cope with rising social and industrial tensions as a result of the government’s austerity package. Her speech also follows alarming predictions from the Police Federation that up to 40,000 police staff jobs could be lost as a result of a 25% cut, opening the way for a “Christmas for criminals”.

    May told the police: “The British public don’t simply resort to violent unrest in the face of challenging economic circumstances. We must have a rational and reasonable debate about policing. Your association has a long and proud history of constructive and sensible contributions to policing policy-making – long may it continue.”

  156. akn

    And this from a west Indian man in Croydon, London:


  157. Fine

    [email protected] 170. I heard Triq Ali, on the World Today, saying the police may have been doing a ‘go slow’ in some places.

  158. Brian62

    Perhaps the disparate group’s that are the make-up of these “protests” have a shared premise,palpable powerlessness, some reacting by traditional methods/ indignation, others in the group acting out in aggressive fear, symbolically taking back the power defiantly,theft violence etc.,marginalizing the the perceived not marginalized.

  159. jules

    All those people are Poms not West Indians. That sort of description is how these divisions are maintained.

  160. tigtog

    Guardian video article from July 31st: Haringey youth club closures: ‘There’ll be riots’


  161. Brian62

    Fine perhaps these riots are an convenient distraction in context to the spotlight on their activities in recent times.

  162. sg

    Eric Sykes, do you think that the youth unemployment rate in Australia is significantly better? How low does it need to be to prevent rioting? Is Australia’s low enough, and when it was higher in previous years did we have rioting? Rather conspicuously absent, wasn’t it? This is because Australia is not the UK, and Australia’s working class and lumpen proletariat doesn’t have the nihilistic culture that you see in Britain.

    Yesterday the Police Commissioner was on TV asking parents to find out where their kids were. In Australia you just don’t see the kind of unsupervised rabble wandering the streets that you do in the UK. You don’t see people speaking to their children and their partners in public the way you do in the UK. You don’t see the same vicious localism, either. It’s a different culture.

    If you look at the footage of the riots you can see a huge amount of straightforward, ordinary crime, of the worst and most banal kind. The teenager being robbed on the bridge; people breaking into houses; arson; smashing bus stops; ordinary corner shops being looted for sweets.

    Statistics from Britain support the conclusion that there is huge social exclusion and inequality. To leap from that to the kind of inchoate savagery going on in the streets there now is impossible unless you incorporate one crucial factor: working class and underclass culture. And when you look at the culture of the “socially excluded” in Britain, you will see what I’ve described above. Unsupervised children, self-serving justifications for petty crime, viciousness and anti-intellectualism.

  163. Brian62

    Revealing link tigtog,perhaps/ you burnt our important places now we burn yours mentality?

  164. tigtog

    @Brian62, I doubt it’s anything that simplistically tit for tat, just like it’s not so simplistically just about sg’s broad brush negative “chav” stereotypes nor just about my own points about the failings of the education system in these areas either. Public policy in the UK has been writing their underclass zones off for decades now, whether people living there are part of the criminal element within that underclass or not, and resentment thrives in such situations.

    From the video it appears that not so long ago the unemployed and disaffected youth around London had quite a few publicly funded places to go to that they felt were their space to be themselves without onlookers judging and where they could just relax, and now they don’t have those places any more. This is just one more drip drip drip in the stripping away of public amenities from these areas, and it all adds up.

  165. Brian62

    [email protected] Explanation, I was referring to attitude not ethnicity.

  166. Adrien

    That sort of description is how these divisions are maintained.

    HAHAHAHA… yeah is all about the nomenclature. Just change the language and everybody dances in the Circle of Love.

  167. adrian

    sg, I don’t know where to begin on how much you have got wrong in the above contribution. You seem to have come to a conclusion on these riots based on your limited experience, and are now fitting whatever ‘evidence’ there is into this pre-determined conclusion.

    Sure this is largely criminal behaviour, but identifying the behaviour doesn’t begin to explain the complexity of reasons for it.

    And while we fortunately don’t have the economic conditions prevalent in much of the UK, if you don’t believe there are large number of teenagers roaming the streets in areas of Australia, you haven’t been here for quite a while.

    Which is to say that this kind of behaviour isn’t limited to a particular ‘working class’ culture as you seem to imagine – it could happen anywhere with a decaying social fabric and sense of community, and economic dislocation. It’s already happening in parts of Europe and the US, although the manifestation is largely different in the US.

    As for anti-intellectualism, if you think this is a peculiarly British disease, welcome to Aussieland.

  168. Huggybunny

    sg “self-serving justifications for petty crime, viciousness and anti-intellectualism” these are not the attributes of only the undepriveledged youth. Pretty well describe a number of content free managers I know and have known over the years.
    In the latter partof the 19th century Australia was afflicted with gangs of children and youth who made mayhem in the streets. The problem was fixed by the introduction of free and compulsory education. Note that the rich bitterly opposed the scheme , just as they opposed the introduction of sewerage and piped water. If you want to find the best remedy for social and existential ills look to the programs that therich oppose.
    My real question is, at what point do the pommy ruling classes call for air strikes against the rebel forces , or are they going to invite in Gaddafi or Assad to deal with the problem ?

  169. adrian

    “No 1 son is still in Bristol … I’m carefully listening for news …”

    No 3 son in London. I know how you feel.

  170. Brian62

    tigtog I agree with your thoughts,the psychological burning of their safe houses may have some bearing, though not completely.

  171. wizofaus

    sg, I’m glad to see you moved away from blaming individuals (there are violent-prone individuals everywhere, and no rational reason for supposing London has an especially higher proportion of them than elsewhere) to blaming the “working class culture”. At least it’s conceivable that there is something particular about the ‘working class culture’ in the UK that sets it apart notably from similar cultures in other nations. But it’s still worth asking what generates that culture, and further you couldn’t seriously suggest that that if the economic prospects for these working classes were arguably decent that there would be anything like the motivation to engage in such behaviour.
    It seems to me that any argument that the violence is not to a large degree an outcome of hopeless economic conditions boils down to some sort of assumption that there is a class of people that are innately violent and innately unable to ever get ahead in life. I wonder then…was there was such a class of people when we were small tribes of hunterers and gatherers?
    Furthermore, but if you hold that view what on earth are you going to propose as a solution?

  172. jules

    Adrien how long does someone have to live in London with a London accent before they stop being called West Indian?

    Makes you wonder what cricket team they support.

  173. jules

    Its obvious the oinks aren’t civilised. They should probably be transported or something…

  174. Brian62

    tigtog “Public policy in the UK has been writing their underclass zones off for decades now,” perhaps strategic re-defining (move on principle) of real estate values is a Capital influence,as in the Bronx or inner city Australian re-engineering.

  175. sg

    tigtog @179, when I was in the UK there was also nowhere even for adults to go to do anything they wanted to do. Public spaces in the UK are extremely threatening, even though there are always people around, and especially in the summer. They lock the parks at dusk, for example, and have done for years; in wealthy areas they have private parks you can’t use. The streets are thronged with drunken men, and they had to ban alcohol on the tube because of the violence it caused. Try going to a significant public event in the UK and you will feel the edginess and violence that’s always just below the surface. I’ve seen people fight over public toilets in the UK, and it’s the same issue – lack of public investment in public spaces. But this is hardly unique to poor areas.

    And would you set up a new supermarket in those areas after witnessing this?

    I think the same conditions applied when I was a child growing up in the UK, which is why I think this is not the effect of any recent policy changes. I and all my peers wandered around unsupervised until 9 or 10pm at night, and I had some really disturbing close shaves when I was just 8 or 9 years old – and I wasn’t alone or unusual.

    As for hopeless economic conditions – the UK just had a long period of economic growth, and there is a huge amount of work for unskilled workers in the service industry. The problem is that the same people you see running around smashing cars because “there ain’t no work for the yoof” will refuse to take a “demeaning” job that they think only immigrants should do. Look at the complete absence of the famous “white working class” in the service industry in the UK and ask yourself why it’s dominated by eastern Europeans and antipodeans.

    Yes, there is massive inequality and social exclusion in Britain, but the working class there is so sunk into a mixture of deferential toryism, blame-johnny-foreignerism, and ignorance that they can’t conceive of a better solution than to let their kids wander around all night setting fire to local businesses.

  176. Lefty E

    Seriously: check the absolute bankruptcy of the convetionmal response to these riots. They really have nothing to say. More police! More Laura Norder! Like’s going to make any difference with riots this huge in so many places. Give up!

    Nothings going to work but dumping austerity measures in the bin, where they belon, reintroducing services and opportunity for youth, and paying for it by increasing taxes on the wealthy – especially the traders and banks who caused the GFC in the first place and then got bailed out by the public; who were then thanked by have services slashed.

    Problem solved.

  177. sg

    Lefty E, I don’t think that prescription is enough in this case. Britain has had a long-term welfare program, and it hasn’t worked particularly well. I think there are three things that are needed:

    – a serious effort to stamp out police corruption and incompetence. They need a British equivalent of the Wood’s Royal Commission, they need to get rid of the IPCC and replace them with something that works, and they need a root-and-branch review of their whole policing system, its cozy links with government and corporations, etc.

    – a massive intervention in local authorities to get them working again. The problem historically wasn’t just under-investment, but corruption and waste in local government. Fix it.

    Both of these actions will involve charging a lot of people with serious corruption crimes.

    – the leading parties and agencies of the left and organized labour need to stop making excuses for the ongoing, horrible behaviour of the working class, and get some spine back into their local communities. They could start by taking all the advocates of New Labour’s policies out the back and shooting them. Then they could do the same with all the dyed-in-the-wool old schoolers. And they could start telling working people: the government can fix some problems, but your nasty fashion, your nasty manners, your nasty attitude, your nasty dogs and your nasty children are your problem.

    – Labour and the Guardian need to stop blaming everything on Thatcher. FFS, the Labour Party was run by a Vampire between 1997 and 2007, and has 50% responsibility for the GFC. Get over Thatcher!

    – they need to reform the housing sector. London and Britain in general are overcrowded, dirty and dismal. This is largely because of housing policy, which is linked to New Labour’s prescription for electoral success (banking ponzi scheme + housing ponzi scheme).

    – they need to have a serious, public and open discussion about class. This won’t happen until the left stops making excuses for the poor and gets rid of its New Labour skidmarks. These little oiks are “intensely comfortable” about people being filthy rich. Sure, in some other society.

    – start looking overseas for ideas, because Britain is fresh out of them.

  178. sg

    oops, also commentators should learn to count.

  179. Fine

    Katz asked some questions upthread about who the rioters are. I’m not sure that they all fit into the ‘disaffected youth with no opportunities’ trope. In the footage and photos I’ve seen many older men and women who do just seem to be using it as an opportunity for a bit of thieving. And I think there’s some young ‘uns just there for a bit of anarchic fun and biffo.

    I heard a witness on the World Today (dunno who as I missed the start of the interview) saying he saw looters jumping into flash cars to drive away. Are we just making some major presumptions here about who the rioters are and why they’re doing it?

  180. Tiny Dancer

    “…reintroducing services and opportunity for youth, and paying for it by increasing taxes on the wealthy…” Personal responsibility? Does it exist on the left?

  181. Fine

    Even Scots seagulls are getting into the act. When will it all end? It’s looting gone mad!


  182. Marisan

    I may have been mistaken (I said ” may” my head is bloody but unbowed) when I said that this was the precursor of revolution but I feel it is a mistake to negate that view.
    Those that would bring revolution upon us are, no doubt, watching events unfold with great interest.
    This worked, that didn’t. Now let us come up with a plan that fits our observations and goals.

    Think of it as a dress rehearsal for the British spring. (The Rose Revolution maybe?)

  183. tigtog

    I heard a witness on the World Today (dunno who as I missed the start of the interview) saying he saw looters jumping into flash cars to drive away. Are we just making some major presumptions here about who the rioters are and why they’re doing it?

    Certainly some of the existing gangs who make plenty of money through illegal activities (thus the flash cars) must be joining in the looting etc – how will they maintain their “street cred” if they don’t show up conspicuously as “hard enough” to get out there in the middle of it all? Also, some of those cars may well be stolen anyway.

  184. Eric Sykes

    sg says “but your nasty fashion, your nasty manners, your nasty attitude, your nasty dogs and your nasty children are your problem…”. Yup I know, but I have checked twice and he did actually say that.

  185. Lefty E

    Happy to go with that SG, and I broadly agree, but lets not sit around pretending this is all somehow unprecedented. Its more generalised this time, but similar riots have occurred in London before, involving similar communities.

    Like I said, the Brixton riots *worked*. After the mandatory meaningless and empty-headed cant about laura norder govts were quietly shovelling funds into those communities hand over fist.

    As far as I can see Brixton featured in the riots this time around, but not as one of the major sites.

  186. Lefty E

    Toally agree about police corruption but its also about stop and search. One commentator was bascially saying black youth are scared on the streets every day, so …welcome to our world whitey.

  187. dj

    For all those banging on about football supporters I can reassure you that we have been managing to have a discussion using big words and all, talking about what really is to blame, getting on the ground reports from people in London and having a reasonably well-mannered discussion between the ‘string ’em up’ and those with more nuanced views on the Spurs forum that I am a member of.

  188. adrian

    Rundle makes a lot of sense.

  189. sg

    Marisan, you definitely don’t want that lot as the vanguard of your revolution!

  190. alfred venison

    i know its a bit late, but …

    marisan @ 77
    “I doubt the army would do it.”


    Tim MacNay @ 87
    “I don’t see why the British Army wouldn’t obey an order to deploy”

    with respect (and marisan, i like much of what you have writen above), are you serious?

    soldiers don’t get to choose which orders they’ll obey. i doubt it will come to this

    (“calling out the army”), but if it does, then the british army will do what it is ordered

    to do, because the alternative is mutiny (yes, mutiny) and mutiny in the army is, of course,

    prelude to civil war.

    and, by the way, gratuous insults to the irish (“bog trotting irish”) are unnecessary to

    your point. to pick up on the gist of your comment, though, (without insulting the *british*

    citizens of ulster) perhaps the gov’t could deploy royal irish regiments to manchester,

    london and (even) birmingham to enforce a curfew.

    yrs sincerely
    alfred venison

  191. Lefty E

    Rundle’s categorization into three groups makes a lot if sense of the different types of disorder evident: some politicized, some simply opportunist

  192. Joe

    is co-opted to another purpose, the propping up of simplistic Right and Left formations, which have long since lost any power on the street or in everyday life, and exist in debate and discourse only.

    Actually, I feel fairly confident about saying that the left, in it’s current form and as I think Rundle uses the term has vacated the field. Doesn’t really exist. The left no longer argues about the good of society, but uses the same arguments as the right to argue for the individual benefit from social justice issues at most! In particular, I’m thinking about contemporary discrimination issues– these things are never argued for in terms of the progress of society.

    I think it’s fair to say that Marxism is now on the historical scrap heap, even though many people are still writing about it. Some of it will no doubt be reincarnated but the posturing of a left politics is really just a kind of kooky liberalism. We now, more or less, all share the American world view in this regard.

  193. Adrien

    Adrien how long does someone have to live in London with a London accent before they stop being called West Indian?

    Wouldn’t have a clue. But I’m not sure it’s at the heart of all this.

  194. Marisan

    Hi SG

    Marisan, you definitely don’t want that lot as the vanguard of your revolution!

    No I don’t but cruel rough people are always the vanguard of any revolution.

    Nice lefties didn’t create the tumbrils

    And it isn’t my revolution although I think it’s inevitable.

    What did Barrack Obama say to the bankers? “I’m the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks”

    Well the pitchforks are coming!

    I don’t know, however, which side of politics the pitchforks are coming for.

  195. akn

    Joe, you are correct to assert that we are all liberals now. The problem isn’t Marxism. It is that Marxist class analysis doesn’t make any sense in a world where the material conditions of class existence operate to prohibit the possibility of the working class forming a consciousness of and for itself. Instead of collective action we have individualised action that intermittently coagulates into a mob. As Rundle notes in Greece there is enough political consciousness around to ensure that windows are broken in protest but looting does not follow. But England has degenerated in such a squalid mess. In these conditions anarchist disruption doesn’t merely make sense – it’s the only course of action if you’ve a will to act at all in protest against the sort of social conditions the usually generate rage and despair.

  196. akn

    Chantal Mouffe makes a lot of sense. In relation to the riots in Greece after the Police murder of a teenager and the absence any political demands:

    This is clearly the expression of a crisis of representation in politics due to the political move toward the centre; particularly by the socialists and the social-democratic parties, who seem to identify with a certain kind of middle class and leave many segments of the population, like traditional workers and the youth, without a discourse within which to address their demands. There is no political form of expression for those demands; so when the conflict erupts, it erupts in an antagonistic way and not in an agonistic way.

    It appears that this logic applies to the English riots. Referring to both the Greek riots and the riots in France in 2005 she says:

    To come back to the case of the banlieues in France or the uprising Greece, it is precisely because those young people had no channel, no institution, no form in which they really could have their voices heard. They are completely excluded from politics. It is then entirely understandable that when they want to express themselves, they do so in ways that are antagonistic. I think that we will probably see more and more of these phenomena because of the growing population of young people who don’t feel that there is a place for them to voice their concerns.

    In any event rioting and looting is far preferable as protest to Breivik’s solution.

  197. Marisan

    Hi AKN

    But England has degenerated in such a squalid mess. In these conditions anarchist disruption doesn’t merely make sense – it’s the only course of action if you’ve a will to act at all in protest against the sort of social conditions the usually generate rage and despair.

    Those that have nothing to lose have nothing to lose.

    All the mobs in England are missing is leadership. When they find this, and they will, all bets are off.

    And, thus, the dominoes will start falling.

    The leaders of the world are aware of this and are already making their plans to counter it.

    It started with People Power in the Philippines and it’s continuing in Syria.

    The problem in the Philippines is that the people never finished it. They got rid of Ferdinand Marcos but they never cleaned out the rest of the corruption.

    Now, the people of the world, have learnt that a job half done is a job not even started.

    Pity Karl Marx is not around to see it.

  198. Joe

    thanks for the link, akn 😉

  199. alfred venison

    ah marison . . .
    pity bakunin is not around to see it, either . . . or rosa luxemburg or karl liebknecht . . . or ericco malatesta . . . or, even, raymond williams, eh?
    alfred venison

  200. adrian

    Please Marisan, can you use the blockquote thing, or even quotation marks would be better than nothing.

  201. Jikky

    This all started when the public servants and bankers joined hands to rip off, dispossess, and dis-employ people of this ilk in the Northern Hemisphere.

    So it all started with Hank Paulson. Hank organised the stimulus which let loose the Keynesian economic-fallacy genie and at the same time thru millions of Americans out of work as the statistics clearly show. He then went on to organize the bailout …. the greatest theft in all world history, which thru more millions out of work, and established that the rich will steal TRILLIONS if they can get away with it so why should not the working man, or the unemployed man, steal a rocking-horse.

    Those viruses that Paulson started went general in the Northern hemisphere. Wherever stimulus came thousands upon thousands were thrown out of work. This is what happened here also. As the statistics show without controversy.

  202. Marisan

    Hi Adrian,

    “Please Marisan, can you use the blockquote thing, or even quotation marks would be better than nothing.”

    Where is the block quote thing?

    I use Firefox and it doesn’t show up.

    I’m happy to use quotation marks however.

  203. Jikky

    Absolutely it says something about the rioters. They were dispossessed and disemployed by this formentioned dual act of horrendous thieving. These are men. They aren’t going to take that sort of abuse and bottle it up and it not come out sooner or later. You can laugh and joke about scamming us with the stimulus package, and the bank heist. But there will be a reaction sooner or later.

  204. akn

    Joe, oops, here’s the link to Mouffe: http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=2801

    Marisan: yes, leadership is a significant issue. Mouffe makes the point that socialists and social democrats accepted that there is no alternative and therefore have no capacity to provide intellectual leadership. Tony Blair is the standout example of this but Gillard’s Quisling like capitulation to the xenophobic right on refugees should be understood in the same terms of a failure by social democracy to create an inclusive democracy.

    The real danger, then, is what reactionary forces are going to fill the leadership vacuum. Breivik, tragically, is merely a signal of racist fascism likely to come.

    As to attempts to squeeze these events into a framework of class conflict the fuller quote from the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte is informative:

    Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under circumstances of their own choosing, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionising themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language.

  205. akn

    Oh jeez, and then I rooted it anyway.

  206. Tim Macknay

    Marisan, if you want to put something in quotes, put the word ‘blockquote’ inside less-than and greater-than signs at the beginning of the text, and then put ‘/blockquote’ inside greater and less-than signs at the end of the text.

  207. Marisan

    “The shocking acts of looting may not be political, but they nevertheless say something about the beaten-down lives of the rioters”

    Interesting, in the last 12 hours, the media has gone from thieving looting thugs to beaten-down rioters.

    I wonder why that is?

  208. akn

    Ah yeah, I wish I’d said that Tim.

  209. Jikky

    Look if society says that being an apex predator is where its at thats a lesson that goes down to the people who do the work, and pay for the apex predator. Or to the people the Apex preadators dis-employ.

    So if public servant apex predators, in the public service promote stimulus packages, and if apex predators in the banking funny-money rort, promote bank-thieving heists, thats a LESSON LEARNED for the benefactors of these criminals, and for those that these apex predator criminals have thrown out of work.

  210. Joe

    akn, yeah, got the link from the other thread. We need more like Chantal! Absolutely relevant read.

  211. wizofaus

    Mark, did you read any of the comments on that Zoe Williams article (which I’d already read, I actually thought it was one of the links you had above)? This one was interesting:

    To suggest that this is a natural response to being told you need consumer goods you can’t afford is right up there with the notion that a provocatively dressed woman deserves to be raped.
    …By all means, let’s discuss improving our laughable current level of social mobility in the weeks ahead, but right now the focus needs to be getting these morons off the street and demonstrating that the authorities are actually still in control and people can feel safe in their homes.

  212. Tom Davies

    tigtog way back @126 — I once knew someone who taught at a ‘bad’ primary school in Birmingham. They had a police presence at every parent teacher night. There was definitely a ‘cultural’ problem, i.e. a significant percentage of the parents were thugs and had no problem acting like thugs. There may be resourcing problems too, but there’s far more to it than that.

  213. Keithy


    Go war for oil responsibility, yeh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    What is the cure? Well, I must say I like the fact that the UKs Prime-Minister acknowledges IRRESPONSIBILITY as a problem!

    I now have hope….

    WE HAVE TWO WORDS OF THE DAY: Responsibility and Susatainability!!

    Some people like to call responsibility RESPONSABILITY!!

  214. Keithy

    Why don’t I check my spelling? (IRRESPONSIBLE ME…!!)

  215. Fran Barlow


    That quote from The 18th Brumaire… has always been one of my favourites.

  216. Joe

    The Prime minister of UK:

    The prime minister says a “major police operation” is under way to track down looters caught on CCTV “picture by picture”, and that “phony human rights” issues won’t stop them being published.

    He wants anyone convicted of violent disorder to be sent to prison…

  217. Keithy


  218. sg


    cruel rough people are always the vanguard of any revolution

    That’s telling you all you need to know about the value of revolution.

    But this is not a revolution, these are not “people with nothing to lose,” and they are not going to find leadership – or if they will do, it will be the biggest thug on the block.

    These people aren’t thinking about political theory or marx – you’ll be lucky if they’ve ever read anything but Nuts and The Daily Mail. They’re thinking about organized violence for the hell of it, and a new DVD player. Check the pictures and video if you aren’t sure about their motivations. Even the people upbraiding the rioters have a very poor ability to express their political goals. In a nation with a historically strong union movement and compulsory education this is a failure of local culture, not a failure of the system.

    To the extent that some of these rioters have been dispossessed and grown up in tigtog’s abandoned areas, they haven’t got a coherent program or any social connections beyond the vicious localism I talked about up above. They aren’t offering society a new way, just a new set of fears.

  219. Lefty E

    Also from the piece Mark cites: ‘The same politicians now denouncing the mindless violence of the mob all supported a system of political economy that was as unstable as it was pernicious. They should have known that their policies would lead to disaster. They didn’t know. Who then is more mindless?’

  220. Lefty E

    Yes, and considering the riots indisputably started in Tottenham over a police killing, some tendentious and very long bows are being drawn with “apolitical violence” arguments.

    Some of it, yes. Some of it, very clearly not. In between, a lot of ‘anomie: just do it’ style action – which speaks volumes on all levels of social, local, family and individual culpability.

    UK – a fragile state.

  221. Lefty E

    Agree Mark – Hinds’ piece is the best Ive seen.

  222. Fran Barlow

    Theree’s also this from Will Hutton:


    Fairly obviously, when Hutton says:

    Britons need to return to core moral values, where fairness in rewards and punishments is the overarching principle. {my emphasis}

    I’m going to cringe, but some of his account remains interesting nevertheless.

    He was at his best when he said:

    {…} everyone at the bottom is made to feel that they are just losers and that there’s no opportunity then to get to the top because that’s just the way it is, they start behaving like losers and that’s what we’ve been watching in Britain.


    I was very disappointed with David Cameron’s statement yesterday which was all about, you know, sympathy for the businesses that were looted and sympathy for people who were worried about it and making no attempt to understand or recognise that these people had reasons for doing what they were doing, which also have to be addressed.

    You have to, it has to be twin pronged. And if you just talk about repression, policing, that you’re just, you’re worthless criminals, you’re useless riffraff, we want you back indoors or behind bars, all you do is reinforce the sense of monumental unfairness.

    If all you’re going to do is put more police on the street and try and lock these guys up, there will be more and more of this in the years ahead. That is not the way to solve it.

  223. skepticlawyer

    SG wins the internetz today. Everything s/he says has been spot on, but comment @192 is a highlight.