Thursday, 18 August 2011

England's Riots! Are Britain's marginalised youth, 'Mustering for War'?

English radicals have always looked upon the common people with distrust and suspicion. Writing in the 1790s, William Godwin, who some regard as the first modern anarchist, believed that there was: "nothing more barbarous, cruel and blood thirsty, than the triumph of the mob."

Godwin, believed that the task of social change should be left to a "few favoured minds." His wife, the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, also eyed the 'poor' with a certain contempt:
"I have turned impatiently to the poor...but alas! What did I see! a being scarcely above the brutes."
There is of course nothing new about riots in this country. Many of us can remember the poll-tax riots and the riots in the early 1980s. But 18th century middle-class radicals like William Godwin, were wise to be wary of the mob. In Godwin's time, England, was said to be one of the most riot-torn countries in Europe and the mob was often used by the authorities, to intimidate and harass radicals and political malcontents.

In his 'Radical History of Britain', Edward Vallance, points out that during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, the mob while in London, engaged in "a carnivalesque orgy of violence and destruction targeted at foreigners and immigrants." In one street alone, it is claimed that the mob beheaded thirty-five Flemish weavers. They also beheaded many members of the nobility who were associated with introducing the dreaded Poll-Tax.

While riots and protests against government austerity measures have been taking place throughout Europe in countries such as Spain, France and Greece, the CONDOM coalition Prime Minister, David Cameron, along with other other British politicians, have been quick to deny any connection between events in England and other countries:
"We're different in Britain from our Mediterranean friends", said former Labour culture minister, Tessa Jowell, "Walthamstow in north east London, is not Athens or any other Greek city."
Cameron is also emphatic that the riots have nothing to do with race, poverty, social deprivation, or his government's policies. According to Cameron, the riots are down to pure and simple criminality, symptoms of a 'broken Britain', a 'sick Britain' where there has been 'moral collapse' and where people don't take responsibility but engage in lawlessness and opportunistic crime. He feels that it is necessary to take tough measures against the thugs and hooligans who have engaged in looting and the destruction of property.

In a series of headline grabbing initiatives, Cameron, has announced that the government are considering withdrawing benefits from offenders, barring people who are suspected of causing unrest from Twitter and Facebook and apart from tougher sentences, making offenders homeless and destitute, which will no doubt lead to further crime.

'Troubled families' (120,000), are also going to be put on the 'Family Intervention Programme' which is run by the government`s 'Family Champion', the multi-millionaire, Emma Harrison, the founder of A4E. Families who do not participate are threatened with losing their homes and kids.

This is all a far cry from the 'compassionate conservatism' that Cameron once preached and his 'hug a hoodie' speech five years ago, when he was ridiculed by the New Labour government for pleading: "Let`s try and understand what has gone wrong in these children`s lives."

While some people no doubt saw the riots as an opportunity to steal (or to expropriate goods), to deny that the riots had anything to do with government policies, spending cuts, race, or poverty, is ludicrous, as many politicians know only too well. Only weeks ago, middle-class students were trashing stores in the West End of London in opposition to government policies. As Ed (Milibore) Miliband, grudgingly conceded, there is always a 'connection between circumstances and behaviour.'

As one might expect, both politicians and many in the media have been eager to dismiss any suggestion that there may be underlying reasons behind the riots. What they cannot accept is that successive governments for the last thirty years, have pursued policies which have incubated poverty in this country and which has led, to a giant leap in poverty and inequality in Britain. What they have created is a nation of ghettos, an economic apartheid, and a 'pandemic disease of working-class poverty'.

Though the Tory Daily Mail has been trawling through the English courts to find middle-class looters in order to demonstrate Britain`s so-called 'moral collapse', many of those arrested are youths from the inner cities who are often unemployed and have little or no prospects of improving their situation. Of the 2.5 million unemployed in this country, nearly one million 18-24 years old, are now unemployed. In Tottenham, (one of London`s poorest boroughs) where the riots started, there are 10,000 people claiming JSA and 54 applicants chasing every registered job vacancy.

A week ago, The Daily Telegraph columnist Mary Riddell, wrote in her column that though mob violence must always be condemned and that poverty does not ordain lawlessness, "those terrorising and trashing London are also a symptom of a wider malaise." According to Riddell, the economic situation in Britain today, is similar to what occurred prior to the 'Wall Street Crash' of 1929. She points out that in his explanation of the great crash, the economist J.K. Galbraith, set out four major factors which are all in evidence in Britain today: (a) bad income distribution, (b) corporate larceny, (c) a weak banking structure, (d) an import/export imbalance. Riddell argues that it is no coincidence that the riots in London took place at a time when the global economy is poised for freefall. Referring to the 'bubble of the 1920s', she adds:
"Today, Britain is less equal in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the richest combined fortunes of the richest people in Britain rose by 30% to £333.5 billion. As London burned, Europe`s leaders, our own Prime Minister and Chancellor included, were parked on sun-loungers. Successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity, now exacerbated by financial turmoil. Watch the juvenile wrecking crews on the city streets and weep for all our futures, the 'lost generation' is mustering for war!"

The social unrest which has been taking place on Britain's streets, shows that there is an enormous amount of discontent among young people in this country. Like those disaffected young people in the Arab world, many feel that they have no prospects, no education, and nothing to lose but are paying the price for a financial crisis brought about by incompetent and crooked bankers. Politically, all parties now pander to the whims of the Daily Mail reading uneducated middle-classes, and are socially and politically indistinguishable.

Mary Riddell, the well-paid Daily Telegraph columnist, may indeed believe that 'poverty does not ordain lawlessness' but as that famous 19th century English novelist Charlotte Bronte once said in her novel 'Shirley', "Misery generates hate", a quote which can also be found on the front cover of Beveridges' pioneering 1942 report 'Full Employment in a Free Society', which laid the foundations of the modern welfare state.


Dick Dutch said...

Vallance's views on the latest riots are here. Predictable clap-trap from historians, he's not the only one either. You would have thought studying history would have taught him not to be hasty about forming conclusions.

Sir Pitt Crawley said...

It was a dead certainity that 'Dumb' and 'Dumber', Clegg and Cameron, would bring social unrest onto the streets of England. It was only a question of when it would happen. Under these two dozy bastards, the country is going to the dogs! Cameron is now on his fifth holiday in the last eight months. And yet, according to the Lancashire Evening Post, they`re now giving out food parcels in Preston to hard-up families from a community food bank.

Anonymous said...

According to a report "Fair Society, Health Lives", which was published last year, health inequality in Britain is so pronounced that in the wealthiest area of London(Kingston & Chelsea), a man will have a life expectancy of 88 years. A few miles away, in Tottenham Green north London, in the area where the riots started and one of the capital`s poorer wards, male life expectancy is 71 years, a period less than that found in Ecudor, China and Belize, countries all with no national health systems. The review which was led by leading epedemiologist, Sir Michael Marmot, found that in Britain, poor people suffer disease related to inadequate diets, lack of exercise, smoking, poor pay and job insecurity. People with the lowest levels of education also, have the highest levels of lung cancer.

judi bola said...

The youth in England should be realize how important they are for the future of their nation