London has been burning the last few nights. Riots have made almost all of the city insecure. There was an extremely heavy riot police presence a few yards from my house the night before last, last night there was a heavy police presence and tonight (10th August) the presence of police is more sporadic. I hope by tomorrow things would be perfectly settled.
Other parts of the city that have a weaker immune system than London are now in turmoil, I spoke to my mates in Newcastle where racist attacks had taken place, there are reports of severe rioting and looting in Liverpool, Nottingham and Manchester.
Hackney, Peckham and Croydon are some of the worst affected areas in London. I cycle through Hackney a lot and it was sad to see my usual cycling paths destroyed or damaged.
The resilience of many people in this saga has come out. This woman who shouted at rioters and later saved a boy from them is remarkable, The great dignity and steadfastness of this father whose son was killed is both moving as it is admirable.
All in all London is recovering with the resilience that only a great city with great people can. This clean up operation that instigated great communal feeling is truly marvellous. Of all the images I have seen of great communal spirit in the midst of this whole saga, this would surely be the best.
There have been various people voicing varying opinions about this issue. One thing is common amongst everyone, this criminality and hooliganism is absolutely disgusting and should be condemned and the perpetrators of these crimes should feel the full force of the law. I have no reservations in saying myself that these are terrible acts and all those looters should be punished in proportion to their crime.
However the response of self professed centrists and right wingers is absolutely disgusting vis a vis all that took place the last few nights. By saying this I am not admitting to being a leftie, I am not, the Left isn’t devoid of sins either. Twitter and facebook has been full of all sorts of views, some of sympathy , some of hope and some absolute rubbish.
What we have to understand is this, every action is born out of a fertile climate that creates it. Fire cannot spread in a vacuum however much someone tries to. However much someone tries to instigate disorder and anarchy in society, one would absolutely fail to succeed in that if the people in the society are recipients of the moral, physical, emotional and financial justices in the system. If discontent is rampant and people suffer with severe disadvantages and hardships and there were disparities in the way people are treated, all that’s needed to start a roaring fire is an accidental spark, and it spreads and spreads and spreads.
What the government needs to do now is to immediately stop the fire first, and then extract the reasons that create a conducive environment for such carnage.
The government is doing the right thing by creating law and order first, well and good. But if it stops there and even if all the perpetrators are locked up and yet the authorities do not attend to the cause – Creating law and order will be purely for cosmetic purposes and history will repeat itself.
Tuition fees have been trebled, there have been cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), Councils are rampantly closing down youth centres amongst many of the other actions taken by the government that surely has contributed to youth restlessness and frustration. With the closing down of these institutions, one of the few bodies outside the family unit that can keep youth out of mischief has been rooted out.
“But it’s also a nonsensical position. If this week’s eruption is an expression of pure criminality and has nothing to do with police harassment or youth unemployment or rampant inequality or deepening economic crisis, why is it happening now and not a decade ago? The criminal classes, as the Victorians branded those at the margins of society, are always with us, after all. And if it has no connection with Britain’s savage social divide and ghettoes of deprivation, why did it kick off in Haringey and not Henley?”
“It then erupted across what is now by some measures the most unequal city in the developed world, where the wealth of the richest 10% has risen to 273 times that of the poorest, drawing in young people who have had their educational maintenance allowance axed just as official youth unemployment has reached a record high and university places are being cut back under the weight of a tripling of tuition fees.” (link)
Jean Valjean, the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, an otherwise righteous man was imprisoned because he stole a piece of bread out of severe hunger to feed his sister’s children. The saner move would have been to eradicate hunger and poverty from that society all in all so that no one else steals out of hunger.
For those of you who don’t know. David Cameron and Boris Johnson were part of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, an elitist club where members can join only by invitation. Members were usually from the most aristocratic families. After meetings or events, Bullingdon club members are known to go about breaking windows and causing havoc in the communities. I distinctly remember Ed Miliband once taking a shot at David Cameron’s Bullingdon Club past.
I came across this brilliant open letter to David Cameron.
Seeing all these riots, I can’t help but wonder if this infamous quote from the Joker is apt in this situation.
“You see, their morals, their code…it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these…these civilized people…they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.”
Stay safe if you are in England and enjoy the rest of the week.
Update – Just read RD’s post on the same issue.