Another vital piece examining the root causes of the riots, which remain debated. The Arab revolts made sense, their goals easily perceivable; justice, basic human rights, democracy, freedom from fear. They took to the streets and the squares to claim visibility as a means of change. As a city that has everything, materially and structurally, London’s unrest is much foggier. Gangs come out at night, dressed in black and fully masked. Smoke and fire is becoming the emblem of their plight. People are being asked to look inward, towards parental homes and inner communities, in order to stave off further trouble, and it’s looking like this particular civil unrest has stemmed from years of spiritual corruption. There is no figurehead for this dissatisfaction, no leader to depose. In the short term there is clearing up and policing and the in the long term there is a system in need of reform that can no longer afford to make the underclass a secondary priority.
Panic on the streets of London by Penny Red (via NaomiAKlein) — "Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart." One of the most intelligent and level-headed accounts I’ve read was written while television talking heads were still speechless.
If the rioting was a surprise, people weren’t looking / The Guardian by Stafford Scott — "Yes, indefensible – but not unexpected. Clear signs of deep problems in our youth were ignored as being a black problem" Covers commonly prescribed root causes: gangs, turf wars, ghetto culture. Fails to mention how that translates to outside London incidents, but the high rated comment ripostes are fantastic.
Looting ‘fuelled by social exclusion’ / The Guardian by Alexandra Topping — A generation bred on a diet of excessive consumerism and bombarded by advertising had been unleashed, he added. “Where we used to be defined by what we did, now we are defined by what we buy. These big stores are in the business of tempting [the consumer] and then suddenly these people find they can just walk into the shop and have it all.” Great insights from criminologists and sociologists.
Farewell youth clubs, hello street life – and gang warfare / The Guardian by Alexandra Topping — "With budget cuts leading to the loss of facilities that kept many inner-city youths occupied, experts predict a rise in crime" Eerily prescient article that mentions Tottenham and Hackney specifically (where the riots first sparked). The accompanying videopiece ends ominously with a young man on the street repeating the line “There are going to be riots” with a look of resignation. Posted 29 July.