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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

criminalizing the working poor? « Previous | |Next »
August 14, 2011

For the British Conservatives the reaction to the street riots can only be one of law and order. If the police can contain the violence and the government is able to portray the riots as a simple matter of law and order, then the prime minister may avoid any long term political damage. It's a question of zero tolerance, tough on crime (eg., curfew's, water cannons, prison), restricting social media and both evicting families from council houses and cutting the benefits of those who have been caught up in the rioting.

On the other hand, if the violence continues and Labour succeeds in creating the impression that government cuts have – at the very least – created an unhelpful climate, then Cameron's Conservatives may be damaged.

Rowsonm Defendingthestreets.jpg Martin Rowson

Tariq Ali makes an interesting point about the destruction and violence on the streets of London:

The young unemployed or semi-employed blacks in Tottenham and Hackney, Enfield and Brixton know full well that the system is stacked against them. The politicians’ braying has no real impact on most people, let alone those lighting the fires in the streets. The fires will be put out. There will be some pathetic inquiry or other to ascertain why Mark Duggan was shot dead, regrets will be expressed, there will be flowers from the police at the funeral. The arrested protesters will be punished and everyone will heave a sigh of relief and move on till it happens again

Britain is a country that is economically stagnating wages and employment prospects at the bottom have collapsed while those at the top have gone through the roof.

That implies a redistribution of wealth and supporting local communities by offering opportunities as opposed to slashing help from the state and cutting taxes for the rich.

The logic of the latter approach--the neo-liberal one--- in a declining economy is to kick people when they are down. This involves cutting back on the government safety net that is meant to save the poor from spiralling down all the way to destitution, criminalizing the working poor (a feral underclass) and poverty. So there will be laws to drive the destitute off the streets by outlawing such necessary activities of daily life as sitting, loitering, sleeping, or lying down.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:33 PM | | Comments (12)


"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
~Warren_Buffett, 26 November, 2006.

But that was a long time ago. They've won.

The riots are a sign of things to come. It will soon spread like wild fire, the realisation that the system we all believed in, is finished.Sure it wont be next week, next month, but it is in its final stages.

What's more, the political left have aided and abetted its demise.Not by fighting the bankers, shysters,the political corruption etc, but standing idly by arguing over the scraps,of an ideology that is kiling the planet.

Interesting times ahead.

it's a rather long bow to draw to claim:

that the system we all believed in, is finished; the political left have aided and abetted its demise; and done so standing idly by arguing over the scraps,of an ideology that is kiling the planet.

I'd be interested to see the argument why the political left is the cause of the riots. Its not obvious to me. Those who those who took to the streets last week in the UK failed to advance any cause, embrace any ideal or articulate any agenda.

I thought that a core political challenge is convincing a sizeable section of British youth, of all races, that they can be integrated into a society that won't educate or employ them.

mars 08
"But that was a long time ago. They've won."

They did. No doubt the social chaos in the UK will result in greater authoritarianism, more police powers and an emboldened far right. Still Britain is suffering from a profound political, economic, cultural and spiritual malaise.

David Cameron's "broken and sick society" only refers to the rioting youths, not the bankers, media phone hackers and MPs on the take. For Cameron it's all about children without fathers, schools without discipline, reward without effort, crime without punishment, rights without responsibilities, and communities without control.

The intriguing thing has been the sheer vitriol poured out by conservative pundits in the right wing media. They truly hate the poor and despise the lower classes. They don't propose any remedies, apart from more policing and harsher penalties. They are just revelling in an excuse to tell the world what shit the lower classes are.

Conservative accusations that liberals hate America are dodgy, but it's clear British conservatives hate England.

"I'd be interested to see the argument why the political left is the cause of the riots."

Nan I didn't say cause, I said aided and abetted by the left. There are some on the left who still believe in a caring sharing society, the labor party of today, the so called representatives of the kids rioting, has no such concepts.It has caved in to the same pragmatism of working the same failing system, as the Tories.

The kids know they are being screwed over by the high end of town, and they are showing their displeasure.Btw I'm not condoning it, but I am a realist.

George said what I was going to finish with in his last paragraph.

"aided and abetted" makes more sense. My mistake about ''cause".

If society is broken as Cameron argues than how do you fix it? Cameron says that absent fathers/poor school discipline are the cause of the riots (ie., a collapse of morality and this can be repaired by a big society-led moral renewal---whatever that means.

For the Conservatives the simmering rage and discontent expressed in the riots has nothing to do with inequality; or with the e bankers celebrating the rip-off of the public finances, or their increasing power and profit.

“Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” Mr. Cameron tells his fellow citizens. “Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences...."

He's not talking about the lads over at Canary Wharf, is he?

Many of the guys in the riots were just acting out Grand theft auto and other games.
I have been asking the young hoody types that I come into contact with in my day what they think of the riots. Cool they say. Much better than doing it in games.Hope it happens here is a popular answer.
This is the society we live in now. We will see more of these eruptions and more often in the coming years is my opinion.
The youth around the world in impoverished situations are giving up. Their revenge is chaos.

As with any youthful adventure, I suspect you'd hear a whole bunch of reasons for these actions. Revenge, poverty, boredom, greed, criminality, testosterone, peer pressure, mental illness...

The fact remains that people who are content with their lives (or have faith that it will improve)... do not riot.