Panic in the streets of London
I’ve been wondering the past few days about those riots in London.
A man (a father of four, we are repeatedly told) was shot by the police during some sort of operation. And then? Riots. Why?
Duggan’s death stirred old animosities and racial tensions similar to those that prompted massive riots in the 1980s, despite efforts by London police to build better relations with the city’s ethnic communities after high-profile cases of racism in recent decades.
Oh. So these are race riots? Funny, it’s not being covered that way.
But, as the unrest spread, some pointed to rising social tensions in Britain as the government slashes 80 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public spending by 2015 to reduce the huge deficit, swollen after the country spent billions bailing out its foundering banks.
Any excuse will do to loot and destroy.
So, what started as a race riot (I guess) has turned into class warfare. Via someone on facebook, is this piece which questions the political motivations of the rioters.
What we have on the streets of London and elsewhere are welfare-state mobs. The youth who are ‘rising up’ – actually they are simply shattering their own communities – represent a generation that has been more suckled by the state than any generation before it. They live in those urban territories where the sharp-elbowed intrusion of the welfare state over the past 30 years has pushed aside older ideals of self-reliance and community spirit. The march of the welfare state into every aspect of less well-off urban people’s existences, from their financial wellbeing to their childrearing habits and even into their emotional lives, with the rise of therapeutic welfarism designed to ensure that the poor remain ‘mentally fit’, has helped to undermine such things as individual resourcefulness and social bonding. The anti-social youthful rioters look to me like the end product of such an anti-social system of state intervention.
The most striking thing about the rioters is how little they seem to care for their own communities. You don’t have to be a right-winger with helmet hair and a niggling discomfort with black or chavvy yoof (I am the opposite of that) to recognise that this violence is not political, just criminal. It is entertaining to watch the political contortionism of those commentators who claim that the riots are an uprising against the evils of capitalism, as they struggle to explain why the targets thus far have been Foot Locker sports shops, electrical goods shops, takeaway joints and bus-stops, and why the only ‘gains’ made by the rioters have been to get a new pair of trainers or an Apple laptop.
And Rush is arguing that this is what we are heading for. This is our future.
But it’s more than childish destructiveness motivating the rioters. At a more fundamental level, these are youngsters who are uniquely alienated from the communities they grew up in. Nurtured in large part by the welfare state, financially, physically and educationally, socialised more by the agents of welfarism than by their own neighbours or community representatives, these youth have little moral or emotional attachment to the areas they grew up in.
See any urban area. See Wisconsin State Fair. See various events in Philadelphia and Chicago this past spring and summer.
We have a saying in Britain for people who undermine their own living quarters – we call it ‘shitting on your own doorstep’. And this rioting suggests that the welfare state has given rise to a generation perfectly happy to do that.