emperor: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 12:09pm on 09/08/2011 under
There were rumours of disturbances in Coventry, but thankfully they seem to have been just rumours. Violence in Birmingham is a bit alarming, though. I hope all my friends in London (and elsewhere) are OK!

There's always a danger in commenting on ongoing events, that your comments end up a hostage to fortune. Still, much of what I've seen written so far has been rather unsatisfactory. In particular, it seems to me that whilst just dismissing the rioters as mindless thugs and suggesting the army should be called in is unsatisfactory, it also won't do to tell someone terrified by the violence that this is all about the uprising of a repressed underclass. I don't claim to be able to manage anything much more sophisticated here, but I think we need (regardless of our political persuasion) to resist narratives of these riots that suggest the cause is straightforward to explain[0].

I think it's fair to say that the causes of the rioting include: the shooting by police of Mark Duggan; the recently-exposed corruption in MPs, journalists, and the police; a feeling that the rich (bankers) caused the current economic woe and yet are escaping the hardships that result; a feeling that the government is systematically undermining the support for the poor; the enormous inequality in British society; herd behaviour; the feeling that the police are powerless to stop one looting shops; warm summer evenings; boredom.

If I'm even remotely correct, then we need to be able to both condemn the violence, and consider how some of the proximate causes of it might be addressed. Politicians will want to do what Maggie Thatcher did in the 80s, and dismiss the rioters as "simply criminal" and avoid looking hard at where society might be going wrong. They must rise above the easy rhetoric, but so too must those who would assign political motives to the rioters and ignore the unpleasant criminality that has been seen on the streets recently.

[0] I found myself, while writing this, continually trying to frame a theory of my own. Like many people, I want to make sense of what has happened. I want to talk about gross economic inequality and how we should address that; but I think that's for another post.

Reply

From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

September

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
          1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29 30