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August 15, 2011 Comments (5) Views: 2203 Campaigns and Protests, Writing and Poetry

UK Riots? Perhaps it’s your fault

There have been so many things to talk about with the recent UK riots. The large financial costs and emotional damage to small businesses, the fear that so many people must have felt, the outlandish claims of ‘media professionals’, pressures on the emergency services and not to mention the awful deaths. But, what has shocked and worried me the most is the reaction of the majority of my ‘friends’. Now when I put friends in inverted commas I don’t mean they’re not my friends, I mean my Facebook friends, which is the same really, bar the few that I’ve met once or twice. In this digital age we have a revolutionary way of conversing with each other online en mass. Even if you have 50 ‘friends’ on Facebook that’s a large amount of people to talk to compared to the handful of people you might talk with over a few pints. So for that reason, even though Facebook is used primarily as a trivial thing, whenever you make a statement it reverberates a lot louder and wider than your run-of-the-mill social situation. Anyway, back to what I’m trying to moan about…

Instead of hearing varying degrees of questions, analysis or thoughts about what was going on all I saw was venomous tirades of abuse such as ‘lock them all in a room and make them fight each other’ ‘remove their access to benefits’ and ‘kill them all!’. Inspiring stuff if you’re a trainee facist. Really? Is this really what people want? I don’t see these same people calling for the death of rapists and paedophiles on a daily basis like the lowest-common-denominating headlines of the tabloids. That’s because as far as most intelligent people are concerned, it is established that we don’t just kill these people, we send them to prison or sometimes, ideally, try to rehabilitate them. It’s ok for us to help these people as they need our help. These are society’s rules so we stick to those rules. So when a bunch of people break society’s rules and go on the rampage why did so many people I know do exactly the same thing as them and break the same rules? Is it suddenly ok to kill people or treat them like it’s still the 1700’s and we ought to hang them or deport them because they did something wrong? An eye for an eye? I had honestly thought we as a society had progressed from that mentality. Especially the intelligent and articulate people that I call my friends.

The same could be said for the bankers that caused a global economic crisis. Where were all the calls for death or extreme punishments for them? Why was everyone so comparatively quiet then? That catastrophe has had a much worse and far longer lasting effect on all of our lives, and the lives of those right across the globe. Tens of thousands have lost jobs, tens of thousands have been marginalised and the recovery from that is going to take years if not decades. Surely the hate has been a little disproportionate and misdirected to say the least. People are inspired to call for the deaths of those that have cost us millions in the riots, but shake their heads and just carry on when they’re told about people costing us trillions – and are completely getting away with it.

I hate to quote Jesus but ‘He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone’. That is entirely appropriate quote for this situation. When I was younger I did loads of stuff I am majorly ashamed of now. Once I even smashed up more than one car in a night for the sheer hell of it. Or maybe it was boredom. Or maybe it was feeling powerful for once after being brought up in a system that left me feeling lied to, cheated and an immense sense of unfairness and powerlessness. Or maybe it was just plain dumb. Do I deserve death for that? Do my family deserve to have their benefits cut off (if they claimed them)? I was a child but I knew what I was doing. I had a good upbringing mostly so I cannot blame my family for being a little shit myself. I think most people would say that I was just a stupid kid that deserved a modicum of punishment but certainly not the aforementioned ‘solutions’. Can these people that call for extreme punishments also be clear of conscious and say that they have never done anything wrong? Can they actually cast the first stone? I doubt it.

It’s been 30 years since Thatcher and Reagan plunged us all into a self- obsessed, fear driven, looking after No.1 society where consumerism is the only thing to worry about. The children of that society are now immensely pissed off, detached, alienated and in many cases due to the lack of a good education, have no way of articulating what is wrong and how they feel. We have all bought into those ideals to some degree and let it carry on. We vote the next moron in to perpetuate the same bullshit that went before them and continue to toe the same party line and it just keeps on getting worse. We teach our kids that success is money, money means products and more products means happiness. What kind of crazy, fucked up society is this?! And people want to kill these kids for going crazy? We’re the crazy ones! We’re the ones that politely nod our heads and agree to all the wars that are fought unjustly in our name. We’re the ones that perpetuate the myth that consumerism is a good value system. We’re the ones that find it too difficult to say no to a system we all know is immensely flawed because it’s easier than trying to change things. We’re the ones that pay for bankers bailouts when they have been so irresponsible it’s untrue. And you want respect from the kids? The ones we have all let down by bringing them up in a vastly unfair, unjust and disproportionate world.

A good start would be to stop fighting amongst ourselves in this ‘them and us’ culture we seem to have developed as we fumble around trying to pick up the scraps that are left for us. I am no different from a ‘Chav’. I have the same basic needs and pleasures as everyone. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. A broken society will not be fixed if we throw more hate and abuse into the ring. We need understanding and critical thought. We need to lend a helping hand not a fist to the face. Yes indeed Mr Cameron, society is broken, and that is entirely your and your predecessor’s fault. Along with ourselves of course, the ones that bury our heads in the sand and play with shiny things to make it all better because being serious and effective is just way to difficult.

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5 Responses to UK Riots? Perhaps it’s your fault

  1. Gavin Smith says:

    I agree with parts of this but we cant just blame politicians and bankers for these intolerable acts of aggression against innocent people in my community. These people who ran riot destroyed their fellow citizens property, businesses and livelihoods. They were not making any social or political statement against the situation they find themselves in or against their community, except a nihilistic abuse of their fellow citizens who also find themselves on the poverty line and scraping by to make a living. 

    The ever expanding wealth gap between the have’s and have nots is unacceptable and needs to be challenged at every opportunity. However, the rioters mindless nihilist disrespect for anyone else in their own community holds them accountable for their actions and they should be punished. 

    It is a sign that something is very wrong in our society and while an obsessive consumerist society might go some way for explaining some of it, people robbing, mugging people, setting fires to peoples houses and businesses is totally intolerable and is in real danger of destroying the trust and confidence in our local communities that many people in these communities have worked so hard to bulid up over many years. 

    Working towards a safe environment where people can live their lives in freedom whatever their political, cultural and religious views is more important than any social-political agenda that has eminated from this debate. 

    Rehabilitation has to come from these rioters knowing what is important about living in communities, how society works and how if you want to be a member of this society you have to take part in it and you have to give to it. 

    Just to take from society like they have done is reason enough for their removal from it. Until they treat fellow citizens with the respect other law abiding citizens do to each other in our communities why should they be allowed to do what they like? It is them taking freedom away from their fellow citizens, forcing many people to feel unsafe on their own streets. It is they who dictate a life of lawlessness on our streets, it is they who dictate a level of fear and intimidation in our society, and you are calling people who want justice the fascists?

    Rehabilitation should come from a hard line intolerance on anti-social behaviour, parents should be held accountable for their children mugging and attacking innocent people. Schools should direct a serious proportion of the curriculum towards lessons in life studies, what it takes for a community to operate and how it can only exist with cooperation and respect from everybody. 

    All my life even when I was a teenager there has been gangs on the streets who bully and mug citizens and are often congratulated by their friends and given certain street cred and status. It is the beginning of a life of criminality, gang culture, and just taking what they like from society and never giving anything back. 

    Gang culture has grown bigger and bigger as I have grown up and we have stood by and watched these people rob and destroy their communities. Now it is time to take a stand and say NO, we will not let you destroy our communities. 

    And while the politicians have failed to protect it citizens from cuts and the bankers too have also robbed from these communities it is down to ourselves to take some responsibility, to stand up and protect our communities, to protect the people we love, to protect the people who can’t defend themselves, we too have a duty to take an active roll in our communities to protect them from people who only want to destroy them.

    I think unchecked capitalism and consumerism plays an ugly roll in the build up to much of the unrest but I think we have to stand up against these disgusting acts of aggression against innocent people and say this is not acceptable and you will no longer get away with it.

  2. Argumentatron says:

    I think we should be saying the exact same things you have just said, and taking the exact same actions you have reserved for those at the very bottom of our social pecking order, and applying them first to the politicians, the bankers, the billionaires – ie: the ruling classes who destroy our communities in far more subtle but infinitely deeper-reaching ways by dodging taxes, shipping our jobs out to the cheapest country available, besmirching our country’s name across the globe in the interest of oil and other resources and diverting our attention to a bunch of admittedly completely thuggish, uncaring, nihilistic morons who are the by-product of the sick-from-the-top-down society THEY created.

    I’M NOT EXCUSING MUGGINGS, ARSON, BEATING, BULLYING, VANDALISM OR THEFT (I have to put that bit in caps because no-one seems to see that whenever any attempt to step back and look at the issue without blood-covered spectacles is made) and I’m as sickened and scared by these horrible people as anyone else but, where’s all the spite and vitriol for those people at the top who bully, extort and steal from us every single day, albeit within the boundaries of a set of rules THEY created, and you appear to be more comfortable with?

    No, it isn’t JUST the fault of the people at the top, and I agree that everyone must take responsibility for their own actions, but those in power have been attempting to destroy the pride, honour, unity and solidarity of the lower classes for decades simply because unity among the people (whatever class they may consider themselves) threatens their ability to rule over us. The total lack of respect, values and morality that you describe increasingly seeing around you is a direct result of that battle to divide and conquer the very same community that you admire for having struggled to maintain its dignity.

    Yes these people are idiots, yes they are wrong to do the horrible things they do, and yes they deserve some kind of punishment (or better still, people paying some attention to them when they’re NOT throwing bricks through shop windows), but save your anger for the people who have dedicated their lives to trying to make them that way specifically and deliberately in order to maintain the status quo which benefits them so.

  3. Gavin Smith says:

    I have enough anger for both the bankers and rioters, both should be held accountable for their actions.

    While i do not agree, I can see why there has been more of an outcry over the riots than the banking collapse since their crimes are more overt. Bankers as far as we know didn’t actually break the law, yes they have manipulated the law, they have deliberately used their influence over governments to move away from regulation and by doing so have managed to walk away with millions of pounds as their own companies collapse and governments are forced to bail out the markets at the expense of the tax payer. But their actions, however shifty, have on the whole currently failed to be proven unlawful. Yet the rioting was clearly law breaking vandalism and at the extreme, murder, played out on our TV screens. People are understandably going to get very upset about that.

    We need to put pressure on our governments about our financial system to stop this clearly irresponsible trading of loans etc, but I disagree that the intention of all billionaires and politicians is cynically to keep the poor poor.

    We do not live in a country that is purely capitalist, we do not live in a society  that is simply governed by market forces. Historically over the last century massive progressive steps have been made to improve the lives of all people in this country. There is still plenty of work to be done but where I feel we disagree is that i believe all-encompassing ideological anti-capitalist rhetoric is over-simplistic and a distraction towards focussing on bringing people to justice, bankers and rioters.

    You are right we do need a debate on this rather than just hysterical reaction but that doesn’t mean these people should not be brought to justice. I will admit however that the news today of some very tough sentencing is highly questionable.

  4. Wonderloubs says:

    just to note, you comment that schools should teach about community and encourage this understanding – currently these lessons are called Citizenship and David Cameron is dropping all these persons from the curriculum in the many cuts he’s making to cover the gov debts, something he is still happy to do even in light of the riots

  5. Wonderloubs says:

    I meant lessons, not persons, please excuse my abnormal predictive text!

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