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The Joy Of Rioting

I haven't taken much notice of the riots, down here in the country an "Enfield Vigilante" isn't a concerned citizen of a North London borough who just waves their hands in the air at the horror, the question is only which Mark and whether or not bayonets are fixed.

But as I am being asked by readers in our ex-colonies WTF is going on, is it Al-Qaeda, Al Gore or Alcohol? I thought it worth looking into.

The UK riots: the psychology of looting | Zoe Williams | Comment is free | The Guardian

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

Alex Hiller, a marketing and consumer expert at Nottingham Business School, points out that there is no conflict between anomie and consumption: "If you look at Baudrillard and other people writing in sociology about consumption, it's a falsification of social life. Adverts promote a fantasy land. Consumerism relies upon people feeling disconnected from the world."
At the other end of the authoritarian-liberal spectrum, you have Camila Batmanghelidjh's idea, movingly expressed in the Independent, that this is a natural human response to the brutality of poverty: "Walk on the estate stairwells with your baby in a buggy manoeuvring past the condoms, the needles, into the lift where the best outcome is that you will survive the urine stench and the worst is that you will be raped . . . It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession. Young, intelligent citizens of the ghetto seek an explanation for why they are at the receiving end of bleak Britain, condemned to a darkness where their humanity is not even valued enough to be helped."
Between these poles is a more pragmatic reading: this is what happens when people don't have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it.

Millions of trees are going to die as this sort of guff is spewed out.

As far as I can see no one seems to be pointing out the essential cause of all these riots. Rioting is fun, exciting and you get to pick a prize at the end. Even young bloods at Oxford have been known to smash stuff up for the hell of it. It relieves the tedium of it all.

The reason you and I don't do it is that the penalties outweigh the rewards. Penalties that are worn as badges of honour by some would be the end of our careers and our social standing.

The long term solution is about enabling people to have personal respect and ambition, freed from the serfdom of the council ghettos.
Make them more boringly middle class like us.

Immediately the balance between risk and reward needs to be tilted to disincentivise the behaviour.
And how to rebalance that cannot be understood unless it is acknowledged the sheer bloody thrill of being a rioting looter.


(Al-Qaeda, Al Gore or Alcohol? A bit of all three actually, hot weather, some illegal hooch and a soup├žon of radicalisation are all in the mix of why now and why here.)

Comments

I do wonder if any of the many talking heads, all from comfy middle-class and public school/Oxbridge/other privileged education backgrounds have ever actually stopped to consider a few of the realities of human civilisation/life?

As far as I am able to see from a study of history and observation of the realities of daily life in Africa, Asia, Europe, parts of the former USSR and the Middle East, any given group of human beings in any culture very rapidly sort themselves into three distinct groups - those at the top who are devious, wily or persuasive enough to convince everyone else they should be the leaders (Alternatively they are just more willing to use force), those content to be "Number 2 and those who will always take orders and accept the crumbs ... The problems always arise when some, usually well-meaning, person suggests to the third group that they should have more of the cake. The society undergoes a period of upheaval, the Top Dogs bite a few of the Underdogs, one or two Underdogs get to be elevated to Number 2 slot, some of the former Number 2s get downgraded or turned into scapegoats and the vast majority end up worse off than before.

There is no way we can all be Middle Class and the efforts of the Socialist Tendency to create such a society are doomed to repeat the Soviet "error" - where you wind up with a Political Elite holding all the privileges - and the rest having to share the dregs.

These riots are nothing to do with "social deprivation," much as the Guardianistas would like them to be, if they were we would have seen this sort of mindless destructive rioting in the 1930s or even in the 1890s or before that when there really were three "Classes" and the gap between Upper Class, Middle Class and Workers was really pronounced. The Really rich will always be really rich, the only changing order is between Middle Class and Working Class - this is where all the change of fortune occurs, but either our Socialist Tendency is too stupid to see it, or see it but don't wish to acknowledge it ...

The "consumerist" society has produced a desire to "have it all" whether it is affordable or not. Couple that with a total breakdown in personal responsibility, cohesive society (If such a thing ever existed) and respect for others livelihood, property and achievements and you have the scenarios we are currently seeing. It doesn't help that, despite the big words from the government, the lack of punitive punishment for criminal damage and criminal activity, certainly doesn't have any deterrent effect on these little scumbags.

This is essentailly youthful stupidity and an almost total lack of punishment. These kids don't expect to get caught or punished. The first riot and every riot they should fill the streets with police and concentrate on arrests. Follow that up with criminal trials, jail time, fines, and public disgrace. Make sure everyone understands there will be consequences and they don't get three free nights before the police are called up. This was a huge failure by the politicians and police.

One woman was asked if she knew her son was involved in the riots. She said he told her he was just going out to pick blackberries....

This is about simple immorality, and immoral entities getting a chance to behave as they wish to (their natural state). They hate the police, not because of any real grievance, but because the police 'prevent' them from doing things such as mugging and attacking innocents (of course the police generally fail at that, but that's another issue). These 'people' were not constructed with any ethical foundation, thus their immorality. When the riots stop, they'll get back to their usual victimization and muggings, rapes etc, that they do every every day for the past ten years, etc. If immoral parents are breeding, then their offspring have a good chance of being likewise degenerate. At what point are they being given basic morals? No where. The death of Christianity has left a void; and no one has tried to fill it with a means to morality. People do not become moral by accident. This has nothing to do with a 'consumer society' - as if no one has gone on a plunder-binge in the past!

And that's the reason why we don't join in, not because of fear of the consequences, but because we know basic right from wrong.

You do make one very fair point. A great many people like the adrenaline rush, just as football hooligans do. Whilst I never much wanted to smash anyonee' head in at football in the 1980's I do recall one or two instances of running for my life with lots of South London maniacs in pursuit, and I have to confess it was quite exhilarating, in an utterly terrifying way.

A mere hundrfed million in damage! Well, what are we worried about then. Oh, that's right. It isn't YOUR property they are destroying is it? I bet if it was your business destroyed or your car burned you wouldn't be so cavalier. If the police don't stop this then citizens will. This is an impossible situation and it cannot end well. Balkanization of England will lead to decades of violence.

London was inhabited by similar scum in the 19th Century. Back then, a reading of the riot act backed up by armed men sufficed. It would suffice now too - if only somebody still had the balls.

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