[Marxism] Anatomy of a riot

Paddy Apling e.c.apling at btinternet.com
Wed Aug 10 13:25:35 MDT 2011

>From Compass:

When society feels like it is falling apart it is our job to find ways of
binding people back together, to express solidarity over selfishness and
hope over fear.

Therefore our first reaction to the frightening extent of looting and
disorder that has swept our cities must be to reaffirm our common humanity.
Those on the streets, in their houses, the police, the politicians, all of
us should recognise that we share the same essential hopes of security,
freedom, love and creativity. But we are separated by largely one thing, the
accident of birth. As social mobility dwindles and the inequality gap
widens, the brute luck of who our parents are dominates our lives. Some come
to the debate from Eton via Tuscany, others have never left the streets that
now burn. We go our separate ways but this common humanity inevitably keeps
breaking through.

So, second we should recognise how much these events show we have in common.
What some have unhelpfully labeled a 'feral underclass' is simply the mirror
image of a now feral elite - the further a few rise beyond society the
further many have to fall below it. But both feel compelled to cheat to get
what they want. The bankers bend the rules, take reckless risks with other
people's money and asset strip companies and therefore communities;
politicians lie and fiddle their expenses for moats; the media eves-drop on
the lives of the stricken and the police are on the take.  And the ones in
hoods who have no opportunity take it when they see it and have nothing to
lose and so little to fear. No not all who are poor are looting but when
every police cell in London is full something deep and more profound is
happening.  So who has the moral high ground?  The rich and powerful who
cheat for the trappings of super success; or the poor, powerless and
humiliated who want so little but see the behaviour of those 'at the top'.
We don't have to condone the lawlessness (and we shouldn't) to understand it
- so that it's less likely to happen again.

The similarities don't end there. The zombie rioters mirror us too, the
zombie shoppers who spend every weekend walking through the front doors of
the shops rather than through a smashed window after dark. We all want
'what's in store for us'. How could it be otherwise when today 'being
normal' is defined by our ability to keep up as consumers? We all see the
same 3000 selling images everyday, relentlessly imposing a single vision of
success and we want it. We just differ on how.


Complete statement at


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