Summer in the city
So it begins, the predicted summer riots started as a result of the police shooting dead a young man in Tottenham. Watching the news we hear lots of interviews with disgusted local residents and unfortunate people who have had their homes damaged. But to date I have not seen one interview with the family or friends of the victim of police violence, (but to be honest I don’t watch TV).
We see lots of images of young people, faces covered, smashing windows and striding out of shops with arms full of electrical equipment, overlaid with female commentary, ‘mindless looting’, ‘recreational rioting’, ‘senseless violence’.
Aren’t the owners and bosses of the big banks faceless?, in a week where one major international bank makes £26 million profit in six months, a record in greed and selfishness, they announce that they are throwing hundreds of their workers into poverty. That sounds like senseless, mindless violence to me. Are these looters of working class people’s lives condemned? Are the riotous ruling elite chastised for their recreational looting of working people’s pensions or health care or education?
The riots so far have no overt political direction, the rioters may well be driven by selfish individual desire for excitement and lucre. We live in a society where those things are valued above all others.
Everyone asks, ‘What are you doing for your holiday, anything exciting?’ If you said you were spending your time helping your mum around the house, you would be considered a bit odd or even feel a failure. How many people say they are going to spend their non-working time helping others? Or with their families? Or visiting an elderly relative in a care home?
These things are not valued in an individualistic, make money at any cost society. One of the most popular programmes on the TV is about how bright young things can makes as much money as possible, ripping people off, by criticising and belittling the others in their group. The person in this show that makes the most money is held up as a paragon of virtue.
Greed and excess are the everyday norm.
Our very own Government is made up of people who value individualistic self advancement and denigrate the collective sharing alternative. This so-called democratically elected government is made up of two minority parties. The party that got the biggest vote is in opposition. I’m not saying that’s why the young people are on the streets rioting but the only reason we have a government of covetousness and narcissism is the result of one person’s own desire for self-advancement, no matter what the cost was for the rest of his political party, friends and party colleagues.
The riots may not have overt political direction as far as the media are aware, and let’s be honest what do they know, they spend most of their time wondering what colour knickers Lady whatever is wearing. But riots are always an expression of extreme anger and alienation. The violence may be turned inwards with one group trying desperately to protect their income, but this exposes the entrenched structural racism that exists in this country, where still groups of people with similar cultural background are crammed into certain areas in our cities.
The rioters are outside of the decision making, aren’t we all? Who would want to be part of this bunch of decision makers? It’s not about democracy, it’s about equality. Equal access to all the benefits of society, goods, health, housing, education and freedom.