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“This is criminality, pure and simple…”

August 9, 2011

If you have been following the riots on BBC News like I have, you might appreciate the following perspectives to balance out the reified mainstream version of events, which endorse David Cameron’s view that it is impossible to trace the events back to any socio-economic/political context whatsoever:

Nina Power’s article in The Guardian:

John Hutnyk’s brief but dense ’11 notes on the disturbances in London’:

For my part, I made up the following joke that isn’t supposed to be funny:

What do you get when you cross neo-liberalism¹ with David Cameron’s Conservative government²? Social unrest: rioting and looting

¹ The reduction of the meaning of life for the proles to what one can and cannot buy. (For the capitalists, the pursuit of super-profit).

² The intensification of class along the lines of the bourgeoisie/aristocracy on the one hand (Eton-Cambridge-Government) and the proles on the other. All moves towards social equality (of opportunity) retracted in favour of the old-school system of priveledge and inherited power.

I would say that the “rioting youths” have realised that they cannot, and are unlikely to ever have, the kind of life/work that will afford them a truly care-free life of consumerism and family security that a certain section of society have and tell them that they should be aiming for. But also, like Prof. Hutnyk says, don’t burn down houses, only capital!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. flashbank permalink*
    August 9, 2011 4:41 pm

    Day 4 Highlights from The Guardian blog:

    4.19pm: Patrick Barkham was present for Boris Johnson’s bittersweet address to the people of Croydon earlier this afternoon.

    Patrick writes:

    If local rioters craved attention in Croydon, it worked. An hour after David Cameron visited, Boris turned up to look at destroyed shops.

    “I’m very sorry about what happened. Thank you very much for coming,” he told a crowd of 200 people.

    Not everyone was pleased to see the mayor.

    “He’s not the hero. Don’t love him, bruv,” shouted one young man, who said people were struggling to pay their mortgages or fill their cars with petrol. “If shops are getting burst and people are walking past, take that shit, because no one is giving you shit.”

    The mayor grinned and fled beyond the police cordon.

    4.14pm: Boris Johnson is speaking in Croydon now. He says he felt “ashamed” that people could feel such disdain for their neighbourhood as to burn down buildings there.

    It’s “just amazing” to see how a “tiny minority” in London can let down and frighten the rest, the mayor says. He says there is no “ideological justification” for the rioting, and repeats his view that he does not want to hear socio-economic reasons for the violence.

    “London will cope brilliantly with the Olympics,” he says. He calls this a “dark day” for the city – yet everything functioned perfectly on the day of the royal wedding, he says.

    He says he wants rioters “to experience punishments that they will bitterly regret”, and says “we will do our utmost to make sure nothing like this ever happens again”.

    3.21pm: Henry McDonald, our Ireland correspondent, says that if the English police start firing plastic bullets to quell the rioting engulfing cities in Britain then they potentially risk opening a Pandora’s box.

    Paradoxically the reluctance thus far to deploy the anti-riot control weapon only confirms the view in Northern Ireland especially in working class republican communities that there is one law for one side of the Irish Sea and one law for the other in the United Kingdom.

    According to the main indices of Ulster Troubles’ deaths 17 people have lost their lives after being struck by rubber and latterly plastic bullets. Worrying still is the fact that eight out of these victims have been children.

    Even during this summer’s Ulster loyalist marching season the Police Service of Northern Ireland continued to deploy plastic baton rounds during riots in Belfast. Dozens of plastic bullets were fired during two night’s of rioting at the edge of the republican Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

    As the PSNI riot squad heavily protected in ninja-style armour and helmets with visors started letting off baton rounds and deploying water cannon on a small but dedicated gang of young republicans opposed to a loyalist march passing by Ardoyne on 12 July, a local priest contrasted the attitude of police in his city to those handling last autumn’s violent student protests in central London.

    “There would be an outcry if these types of weapons were used on the streets of Brixton, Toxteth or any English city,” noted Fr Gary Donegan whose Holy Cross church was caught in the middle of the violence over those 48 hours.

    We now await to see if the authorities in England are prepared to follow the PSNI’s strategy in coping with rioters or not.

    4.00pm: The London mayor, Boris Johnson — who was forced to return from holiday early by the riots — visited Clapham Junction, scene of some of the worst unrest, where he came under severe criticism from local residents complaining that they hadn’t had enough protection from the police, Caroline Davies reports.

    Straining to make his voice heard over the heckling, he thanked everybody who had come to clear up.

    “That is the real spirit of London,” he said, before telling those who owned a shop or business in the area “how very sorry I am for the loss and damage you have suffered”.

    But the local people gathered refused to be placated by his words shouting over him: “What happened?” and “where were the police?”

    Shouting above them, the mayor tried to continue with his set speech, saying: “I also want to say to the people who have been involved in instigating these riots, those who have been robbing and stealing, that they will be caught, they will be apprehended and they will face punishments that they will bitterly regret.”

    But the heckling continued. “I know there are questions about the police response and about police numbers,” he shouted over the noise. “I understand that, and we are certainly going to be dealing with those”.

    A woman interrupted: “You talk about robust policing. What does that actually mean?”

    “Tonight we are going to have huge numbers of police on the streets,” he replied.

    “But where were they?” shouted another woman. “By 5pm we knew they were going to hit. I was in my salon when a brick came through the window, and no one was there to defend me”.

    The mayor replied: “I know, I know, I understand; that is why we are putting many more police on the street.”

    He continued: “It’s time that people who are engaged in looting and violence stopped hearing economic and social justifications.”

    2.44pm: Boris Johnson says he does not want to hear social and economic justifications for the rioting.


  1. More on that UfSO #riotcleanup or #riotwhitewash spike « trinketization

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