Hey Congress…are you paying attention? Coming soon to capitol near you.
By Richard Metzger
August 9, 2011
Darcus Howe, well-respected West Indian-born intellectual, New Statesman columnist, TV host and political activist, is interviewed on the BBC about last night’s rioting and he eloquently states what a lot of people in the country must be thinking right about now.
“I don’t call it rioting. I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it has happening in Liverpool, it is happening in Port of Spain, Trinidad.”
Instead of listening, the BBC newsreader keeps interrupting him with nonsense until, in the end, he just goes off on her in the most hilarious way. This clip needs to be passed around, please tweet and share.
If you can’t imagine a situation being bad enough to lead to rioting, you’re so fucking privileged it hurts.
"When parents neglect their children, we (rightly) call it criminal. When governments neglect their people, well, we might call it criminal if that government is a dark-skinned warlord who’s stealing food intended for his country’s starving citizens. But when a ‘civilized’ government neglects to provide choices, resources, options for meaningful work, opportunities for participation in conversations about national needs and identity, cultural inclusion, some basic sense of being valued, to its citizens, we call that ‘democracy,’ and call criminal any display of frustration, despondency, rage at that grotesque injustice."
So capitalism is looting the public sphere. Services that citizens have for a hundred or more years considered to be public goods and not to be exploited for the profit of a few – health care, care of the elderly, education, unemployment benefit, old-age pensions, fresh water, sewers, waste disposal, roads and footpaths, urban and rural planning, the postal service, the telephone service, the police, and so on – are subject to systematic and sustained pressure aimed at breaking the link between the citizen and the service. No longer should we think of these things as ‘ours’, except in the sense that we can say a bank is ours. These things are provided to us as goods and services by companies which exercise their right to make a profit out of them – out of us really, out of our pain, our parent’s old age, our children’s childhood, our money troubles, our environment. Citizens are to be redefined as consumers of services. The sole function of the state is to regulate the activities of companies so that monopolies do not develop.
The police function as the guarantor of profit. The police are ‘ours’ only in the way the taxman is ours. The police thus find themselves increasingly (for it was ever thus) with their backs to the corporate wall facing a disinherited citizenry for whom the state is a hostile force. This makes the police political for it is a mistake to think that the looting of the public sphere by corporations and individuals is not political. Of course, nobody on the corporation side wants to call it that. They want it to be understood as common sense. The state is ‘broken’, they say, or it has ‘failed’. Only profit-making companies can do the job efficiently and give good value for money to the consumer. What they really mean is ‘We’re going to take the money and run’. When you’re down and out, feeling low, check your credit rating."
"In the scramble to comprehend the riots, every single commentator has opened with a ritual condemnation of the violence, as if it were in any doubt that arson, muggings and lootings are ugly occurrences. That much should be obvious to anyone who is watching Croydon burn down on the BBC right now. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, called the disorder ‘mindless, mindless’. Nick Clegg denounced it as ‘needless, opportunistic theft and violence’. Speaking from his Tuscan holiday villa, Prime Minister David Cameron – who has finally decided to return home to take charge - declared simply that the social unrest searing through the poorest boroughs in the country was “utterly unacceptable.” The violence on the streets is being dismissed as ‘pure criminality,’ as the work of a ‘violent minority’, as ‘opportunism.’ This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it. Tonight, in one of the greatest cities in the world, society is ripping itself apart."
This is one of the best articles I have seen yet about the riots. And it comes from a man I’ve always admired as both a comedian, and actor - Russell Brand.
Here’s an excerpt - and here’s a link to the entire piece, which I encourage you all to read.
“I remember Cameron saying “hug a hoodie” but I haven’t seen him doing it. Why would he? Hoodies don’t vote, they’ve realised it’s pointless, that whoever gets elected will just be a different shade of the “we don’t give a toss about you” party.
Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.
Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.
These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.”
"You get your freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get it. Then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it."
Malcolm X (via rebel-grrrl)
"Things got out of hand and we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets."
David Cameron, 1986. (via sugaredvenom)
Cameron and BoJo were a part of the Bullingdon club, which is an exclusive social club whose members are usually drawn from the students of Oxford University. Trashing establishments was regularly a part of their group entertainment.
I’m not going to pretend that people are unwilling to admit symmetricality between the phenomenon of the Bullingdon club’s trashing and the London riots. Obviously they didn’t have the numbers to effect destruction on the same scale. But the general narrative is that it’s okay - if a little tiresome - when a dozen posh white blokes desecrate a restaurant. That’s just young rich bored people larking about. But if they were a dozen young black and poor men, well, that’s just what happens when you give opportunities to the underclasses - they bite the hand that feeds them! /sarcasm
So much racist bullshit coming out because of these riots.
‘Look at their faces, they shouldn’t even be in this country. Give them a banana and make them swim home’ - comment on a friend’s Facebook status by someone I don’t know.
Speechless. In Handsworth last night, there were Sikh and Muslim people standing in the streets trying to protect their community.
Muslims defending the community, outside East London Mosque
It was sparked by police violence, but it has gone beyond that cause now with looting etc. Really to me the cause is underlying social inequalities, especially in these deprived areas of London, which has manifested itself in these ways. It doesn’t help the situation, no, but when you cage people, dont expect logical thought, expect them to lash out. Its all really fucking unfortunate that its happened to the local communities and not been directed towards the causers of these issues, but an underlying resentment of the police remains.
Everyone in London; please be safe
A few words.
It’s easy to dismiss the rioters as “scum with nothing better to do” but there are much deeper problems here. As a young, male, ethnic minority in the inner city myself, chances are, I probably know some of these people. I can relate to the feelings of helplessness. I’ve been fortunate enough to be successful as a musician myself and been able to create my own positive future, but these kids rioting don’t see themselves having a future at all. They have been failed by society as a whole, they’ve been failed by the government cutting arts funding and closing youth centres, unemployment is rife to the point where even the ones desperately trying to seek work simply can’t find it, and the boiling point to all this (Mark Duggan events) is a situation that is VERY REAL. I myself have been stopped and searched many times by police for no given reason. They raided my apartment at 6.30 in the morning once while my wife and I were asleep claiming they’d had reports of a disturbance. I’ve been questioned for gang activity that I had no part of, because of how I look and where I come from. It’s simple racial profiling, and whilst that is NOT an excuse for the behaviours of rioters, the sad fact is that it happens.
We live in pretty desperate times as a whole, and the inner city youth are at the bottom of the barrel. So whilst this behaviour IS disgusting, try and have some compassion and relate to fellow human beings who literally feel hopeless and don’t see a way out. When you think about, the right emotion to feel in some of the cases is just sadness and pity - kids robbing a flat screen TV when they see an opportunity to… because they know they’ll never be able to afford it. Is a kid robbing some trainers that different to a corrupt politician fiddling the expenses accounts, or corrupt policemen and journalists taking bribes (as we’ve seen in the phone-hacking scandals?). So what kind of example are those people setting?
Remember, most of these kids looting ARE just opportunists. It’s only the really violent ones smashing the windows, the rest just go in after them and take what they can. I have faith in humanity and I don’t think that most of these kids are bad people. I really don’t. They are the lost ones, neglected and marginalized, in many cases without the basic education to understand that there are better ways to go about life.
You don’t have to condone their actions to have some compassion and to ask yourself, is there anything I can do to help? Even if there isn’t - ranting and dismissing them as animals isn’t going to help. The latter is precisely why many of them act the way they do. I’m not saying you can’t be angry at what they’ve done…but I think we all owe each other a few minutes thought at exactly why things like this happen.
Just my own personal thoughts and opinions. You don’t have to agree, but hopefully you can respect them and my right to have them.
It seems events in Birmingham might be calming, so hopefully I won’t have to continue this blog much longer, if at all. We’ll see how the events unfold. Remember to stay safe, folks. I need to take a break and have a drink and when I come back, hopefully there won’t be a need to report further. I can’t say that’ll definitely be the case, but let’s all hope so.
While I have a lot of feelings about what’s going on in England and while I have very strong feelings about looting and destruction of property owned and operated by the common person, I am under NO obligation to share them with anyone, especially since I have made said feelings known many times before.
I will say this again, for the benefit of short-tempered Anons. I do not support action that does not directly challenge the institution which gains from oppression and instead leaves damage in the hearts, lives, homes of people who quite possibly may be facing similar struggles and oppressions as the ones performing the actions. HOWEVER, I am not from or in England and I have admitted that I have not been keeping up as well as I could have been with what is happening and I am not about to pass moral judgement from over here in America on an entire group of people who may have no other way to express their discontent, anger, and utter immobility as well as the fear, anger, and discontent of the people caught up in the riots. Plus half the posts I see about the ‘atrocities’ committed by protesters are followed up by clarification posts that immediately refute the claims. I am skeptical of most forms of media and what they choose to show me and until I can catch up on some more reliable sources of information, I’m keeping my blog silent.
This does not mean that I do not CARE or that I am a BAD ANARCHIST, but rather that I have nothing new or important to say and my mother always told me, If you don’t have anything revolutionary to say, best to keep silent and not say anything at all.
Again, to my followers and friends in England, I will continue to wish for your safety
Do the riots surprise you?
We in Britain live in a country where the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest.
We live in a country where brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures are being put in place by our government- cuts and measures that hit the poorest, most vulnerable sections of society hardest.
We live in a country where there have been 333 deaths in police custody since 1998- and not a single conviction of any police officer has been had for any of them.
We live in a country where social mobility is worse than any other developed country.
Look at the context of the country we live in, at the way our entitled treat the dispossessed, the culture of institutionalised and government-supported classism, racism, heterosexism, cissexism, sexism and ableism.
If you’re surprised that in the last year we’ve erupted- the student protests, the university occupations, the strikes, the marches, the unrest on the streets- then you haven’t been paying attention.
Pay attention, beyond the burning cars and the sensationalist headlines of the riots, to the rot that surrounds them and lays dry kindling for each spark to set aflame.