This has been an unprecedented explosion of anger. Not the anger of the ‘baying mob’ but of Middle England and all its fellow travelers. This has been England’s Rorschach moment, where the collective bile against the underclass that 30 years of neoliberal policy has created comes to the surface. ‘What we’re now seeing across the cities of England is the reflection of a society run on greed’. As we move from the Big Society to a Sick Society here are some other responses…
Seamus Milne writes of the riots in Toxteth and Brixton : “30 years ago the people of Brixton and Toxteth were denounced as criminals and thugs, but within weeks Michael Heseltine was writing a private memo to the cabinet, beginning with “it took a riot”, and setting out the urgent necessity to take action over urban deprivation.
This time, the multi-ethnic unrest has spread far further and faster. It’s been less politicised and there’s been far more looting, to the point where in many areas grabbing “free stuff” has been the main action. But there’s no mystery as to where the upheaval came from. It was triggered by the police killing a young black man in a country where black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than their white counterparts. The riot that exploded in Tottenham in response at the weekend took place in an area with the highest unemployment in London, whose youth clubs have been closed to meet a 75% cut in its youth services budget.
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.” Read the full piece here.
On Socialism or Barbarism...”We don’t think “these people” are “apes,” rats,” “dogs”. But we believe that you truly see them that way, and that what happens now is not the reason for your belief: it is merely a confirmation of how you’ve always thought of those who are definitely more poor and often more brown than you. As for the claim that your error lay in that “we should have helped the IPCC come closer to the Mark Duggan’s family more quickly,” it seems that you have already helped the police come plenty close to his family, in the worst way possible. One can’t really say that it was the delay of the IPCC’s approach to the family that is the problem here, can we? Doesn’t it have more to do with the fact that he did not shoot at the police who murdered him?”
Darcus Howe’s interview on the BBC exposes the gulf in reality between state media and the people who live here…
Finally this view from Indymedia London: “Looters don’t give many press conferences. This made all of the conversations on today’s BBC morning show a little bit one-sided…The guy who showed up today to fix the smashed windows on Brixton Road may live just down the street from the shattered glass lying on the pavement; it’s unlikely that he’s a currency speculator or a hedge fund manager on the side. Any money he makes from fixing the windows will be mostly spent back in the local community.
The merits of endlessly sucking money out of the pockets of working people into the reserve accounts of the supercharged risk-takers at Canary wharf are quite a bit less clear to me, at present. The crisis is entering year five. Throwing hundreds of billions into the endless rounds of bank bailouts, corporate tax breaks, and other props for a global economy which increasingly resembles that of the USSR circa 1987 is not clearly a winning strategy.
The eruption of economic chaos in the Eurozone, and the police bullets which ripped into Mark Duggan, ending his life, are now two events which are bound together in a massive sequence of riots in London, the European continent’s largest financial centre.”