Flutterby™! : On the London Riots

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

On the London Riots

2011-08-18 17:23:39.634499+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

I haven't said anything here about the London riots because... hell... it's the other side of the world, and what can the events in a monarchy tell us about life here in our democracy? I have, however, been reading once again some history about the 1700s. On the one hand, yeah, busting up small shops is petty theft, on the other hand the Brits have a long history of brutally and viciously exploiting their lower classes and this merely seems like the latest volley in that fight.

A few links: First, New Statesman: Damn or fear it, the truth is that it’s an insurrection:

Bankers loot the Treasury, MPs fiddle their expenses . . . and then the establishment turns on deprived young people in England’s inner cities and calls them criminals. The August disturbances weren’t riots: they were the revolt of the working class.

And why David Starkey is a racist. Starkey is a historian who was on some panel show who blamed the current unrest on "black culture". Which reminded me of that line from The Replacements:

Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud.

[ related topics: Quotes Politics Music Weblogs Movies Invention and Design Sociology Work, productivity and environment Law Enforcement California Culture ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-20 20:22:35.267469+00 by: TrevorM [edit history]

Dan, I think maybe your wit eludes me, separated as we are by a common language. I guess you're referring to your George the second, rather than ours (born Germany 1683 - no need to demand a birth certificate for that one, Mr Trump). However, I think the idea that the riots were somehow brought about by bankers and deprivation is very wide of the mark. One prime example of a rioter here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new...3443/UK-riots-Oxford-University- graduate-and-RAF-hopeful-in-court.html and a wonderful rant here: http://dotsub.com/view/6474921d-8943-443b-9128-de62aa3b3e54

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-19 15:33:22.021497+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, little addition to my note to TrevorM above: Because it probably isn't clear, my "...events in a monarchy tell us about life..." is meant to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt, given that we just overthrew George the second here.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-19 15:32:06.956753+00 by: Dan Lyke

I don't see the U.S. as closer to civil unrest as it was in, say, the '60s. Unless you're seeing things I'm not, when I compare the bombings and street actions of that era to a few protests by the Tea Party today, it's really a different world.

And the Tea Party thing is largely self-correcting: Once they manage to cut off their own welfare payments, they'll quiet down (or die off) pretty quickly.

Or maybe I just live in a very contented area.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-19 14:38:05.079571+00 by: ebradway

It's not really a problem with the economic system, per se. It's a problem with our legislators taking from the poor and giving to the rich. The poor are starting to get a little agitated.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-19 11:54:53.554729+00 by: Larry Burton

Can any of you think of an economic system that doesn't favor the upper classes and without destroying them? Any economic system that allows for the existence of upper classes is going to favor those upper classes. Isn't it? Yeah, some systems will favor the upper classes more than others but the very existence of classes mean that those on top are favored.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-19 03:41:22.968768+00 by: ebradway

I guess the London bankers were also "in it for some laughs and freebies" too.

One of the things I'm struggling to get my head around is that the US is probably closer to widespread civil unrest than it has been in decades if not over a century. What's most challenging about it is that I disagree on many points more with the people creating unrest than I do the upperclass who have orchestrated the macro machinations that set the environment for unrest.

For instance, I find myself agreeing with Warren Buffet (who probably didn't orchestrate the situation but definitely profits from it) more so than I do the Tea Partiers.

To put this in perspective of London... What the young people did - rioting, petty theft, etc... What made that even a possible course of action... was the economic situation that was created by the bankers and which continues to favor the upper classes.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-18 22:09:18.052549+00 by: Dan Lyke

I believe that the recent adventures of Will and Kate tend to support the notion that Britain is still a monarchy. And my reading of history of the 1700s suggests that whatever the exact flow of power at the top, citizens of that era existed for the goals of the state, not vice-versa.

And I struggle with the difference between "in it for some laughs and freebies" and a political agenda. It seems that when authority has comported itself in a way that makes collateral damage like we're seeing "laughs and freebies", there has been a fundamental breakdown in a culture. I think we saw this in Vancouver earlier this year, and I think it's important to dig into the things that feed such a divide and sense of entitlement.

Thanks for popping in! I have some preconceptions about the cultures of the Isles, mostly gleaned from a woman I knew for a few weeks back in the '80s who was a middle class Londoner who'd spent a lot of time in Ireland, and am glad to have those concepts broadened.

#Comment Re: The London Riots made: 2011-08-18 19:25:21.070583+00 by: TrevorM

As someone from 'the other side of the world' - and pretty much an escaped Londoner - I am deeply ashamed of those riots. However, a few observations: Firstly, would you not agree that England effectively ceased to be a monarchy in the Glorious Revolution of 1688? Secondly, could I persuade you that the riots had nothing to do with any 'revolt of the working class'? I agree that 'Brits have a long history of brutally and viciously exploiting their lower classes', but in this case many of those taking part were well-off, well-educated opportunists. It seems that few, maybe none of them had any political agenda, they were just in it for a bit of a laugh and some freebies. The only 'cause' that any of the rioters might possibly claim was the shooting dead of a know gangster who pulled a loaded weapon on police officers - officers who in this case where armed only because they had been sent to intercept that particular criminal. I don't know, but I would guess that something like that might not start a riot in the States. It might even be applauded. So I agree with your implication that there is an underlying social malaise in the UK, but I think it is entirely wrong to ennoble it as any sort of class or rights struggle. It was much, much baser than that; just a lack of moral character.