As I write this, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Londoners are watching the sun slowly go down and wondering if tonight their neighbourhood will erupt in flames. People who live in the poorer areas where there are large council estates and large numbers of unemployed youths will inevitably feel particularly at risk.
Today, whilst reporting the outbreaks of violence last night, the media have started to ask why? A lot of people seem highly bewilderment by it all.
Yesterday and this morning there were calls from senior police officers, supported by politicians for ‘parents to keep their children off the streets’.
This afternoon there was a steady stream of people ‘from the street’ lining up to complain that due to cuts there is nothing for kids to do. Apparently youth clubs and activities have been cut back and this is the consequence.
In my opinion both of these reactions, whilst completely inadequate, are great indicators to the cause of this problem.
In this country a huge divide has opened up between the expanded middle class and the underclass. The underclass are the large number of people (3 million+) who are unemployed plus those who live and work in the wider black economy – i.e. those who either do legal work but pay no tax or live from illegal earnings – drugs, prostitution etc . etc.
This group has grown hugely over the last 50 years and now consists of many generations who do not share the same moral or social codes that others live by. This divide now creates a gulf in understanding between people who share the same country but who have completely different sets of motives and values.
To call for ‘parents to keep their children off the streets’ (if that is actually what happened) illustrates quite staggering naivety. Largely, the kids and young adults who were on the streets last night and before come from the sort of families and the sort of places where there is no family structure that governs behaviour. If your mother or father has been on the dole for 10 years, or lives on illegal earnings or is on drugs are they likely to have the authority to guide their offspring? Of course not.
People who have grown up these social structures don’t have a moral code or a firm set of values that guide them to attempt to distinguish right from wrong. The live in a society where the state provides them with money and housing and anything else they can get is a bonus, constrained only by the law’s most severe consequences – and sometimes not even by them. Morality just does not come into it. They don’t have pride – they just demand ‘respect as a social transaction between them and their peers.
The fact that people are lining up to blame cuts in youth services (youth clubs and activities etc) illustrates how pathetically dependant this section of society is on the state. What these commentators say is sadly correct. The inevitable effect of withdrawing youth services is that recipients will turn to crime.
The sad conclusion is that this violence and criminality is an inevitable long-term consequence of the welfare state..
But this is not Rioting.
This is not a coherent protest against anything. It is just opportunism combined with a bit of clever organisation. Simply by using some basic ‘social networking’ tools (Blackberry messenger) groups have managed to co-ordinate activity and overwhelm the police.
Over the next few days, the police and security services should be able to pin-point the organisers and close them down. Without co-ordination the ‘riots’ will eventually cease, or to be more accurate the actions of this segment of society will be suppressed. The headlines will change and the issues will be forgotten. At least until next time.
But let’s hope that the politicians really put some thought into this. These extraordinary events illustrate the depth of the problem - the sickness in our society.
And before politicians and others leap to condemn people for their actions or adopt superior morale positions they should remember that their own group was recently mired in it’s own widespread thieving and corruption.
This is a call to action – to solve the social problems that a bloated state has caused. The same bloated state that has caused our entire financial system to teeter on the edge of the abyss.
Radical solutions are needed.