[Marxism] Spiked says that welfare state and police laxity to for riots

Paul Flewers trusscott.foundation at blueyonder.co.uk
Wed Aug 10 12:24:43 MDT 2011

Dear oh dear, my old lot has gone right off the radar with this one.
It won't be hard to get in the Daily Mail with that. Is that what
they're trying to do?

Below is a piece by Arthur Trusscott from the next issue of New
Interventions that more or less sums up my thoughts on the riots in

Paul F


First of all, we must ask: why should the fatal shooting by the police
of a young black man lead within little more than a day to the most
serious rioting that Britain has seen for over 25 years? The shooting
of someone by the police is still front-page news in Britain, it is
still considered as a serious incident. When, as in this case, the
question of race intrudes, then it often becomes a politically
volatile matter. But this was different: something far more deep, far
more fundamental occurred. It is clear that the shooting of Mark
Duggan was a trigger, a catalyst, that ignited an extremely explosive
mixture that had long been fermenting within Britain’s inner-city

The usual explanations do not suffice. One can treat those coming from
the right -- that it was pure criminality -- with contempt. They are
evading the real issues. Liberals and left-wingers promote the idea
that the Coalition government’s austerity measures, particularly the
public expenditure cuts that are closing youth clubs and especially
those bodies trying to deal positively with teenage gangs, are
fundamentally to blame, along with rising unemployment and the lack of
genuine opportunities for youngsters. This is indubitably true, but
the closure of this or that facility or the lack of work cannot
explain the truly visceral nature of this outburst.

Unlike some anarchists, who see the riots as a carnival of the
oppressed, socialists cannot be so sanguine. Riots express anger, but
are no solution to the underlying problems. Their primal, explosive
nature mean that innocent people are hurt and even killed, small shops
looted and put out of business, homes and local infrastructure damaged
or destroyed. Community relations can be worsened, as, for example in
North London, Turkish and Kurdish shop-owners systematically tooled up
to repel (mainly) black would-be looters, and trust will be hard to
rebuild. And, of course, the state will be using these disturbances to
devise new ways to survey and control the population at large.

The current stage of capitalism, in which social relations are
increasingly reduced to whether human activities are immediately
profitable, has resulted in social disaggregation. Old institutions,
from the organised labour movement to organised religion, which in
their various ways gave shape and coherence to society have declined
and decayed, with nothing coming in to replace them. People feel more
isolated these days, and current mores encourage a more selfish,
self-centred attitude amongst people. All this, combined with
long-term unemployment and social deprivation and the consequent
feeling of hopelessness, has resulted in a certain degree of
lumpenisation, especially amongst young people. Disaffected youth
often attempt to deal with their situation through the fake solidarity
of the local gang, which can bring them into criminal activities and
further alienation from mainstream society. These young people have a
deep hostility to the institutions of the state and to the political
establishment, but it often expresses itself in anti-social attitudes
and activities.

Fish rot from the head, and the Tories and their friends will not be
keen to point to a whole range of manifestations whose insidious
consequences have seeped deeply into the pores of society. Politicians
and big-businessmen demand austerity whilst jealously defending their
own incomes. The recent Murdoch scandal has shown how his empire
established corrupt relations with politicians and the police, and did
not hesitate in breaking the law when tapping thousands of people’s
telephones. Bankers continue to pay themselves huge bonuses even after
losing billions and having had to be bailed out by the state. Large
numbers of well-paid MPs happily claimed excessive expenses or fiddled
them outright. Successive British governments have thought nothing of
attacking and invading foreign countries that posed no threat, and
covering their reasons for so doing with lies and distortions.

What are people to assume from this? That one can lie, fiddle, bribe,
be hypocritical, break the law and attack others with impunity. If the
rich and powerful are doing all this, when they are bending and
breaking their own laws, then why should a young person, unemployed,
treated with contempt by the authorities, with no sense of belonging
to society, not feel that he has a right to lash out, to seize what he
feels could be his?

Those who have participated in or have encouraged such behaviour
should not be surprised when others, especially those who feel
excluded from society, act in a similar manner. And that is the
central problem of the riots that we have seen in Britain: they are
both a product and a reflection of the rottenness of British
capitalism. Riots will not even start to solve the deep-running
problems facing Britain’s inner-cities; all they can do is point to a
deep-running malaise. Socialists have an obligation to explain why
such events happen, and do what they can to direct popular discontent
in a more constructive and more effective direction.

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