Aftermath

I’m not going to be writing here today, and maybe not tomorrow either. If you want to know what’s occupying my mind, look at the news coming out of the UK today.

And bear in mind that just a week ago, a vast proportion of people in this country would have said that it would never happen here. Bear in mind that, for all our clinging to national identities – into which we entrench further in times of economic hardship – we are a linked planet now. No one exists in isolation. What’s happening here is a symptom of a global problem, the chasm between the haves and the have-nots that widens by the day.

Perhaps you think that it’s not your fault, that you’re not complicit in any way.

I put it to you that perhaps, just maybe, you’re wrong about that.

[ For the record, there’s been no rioting in my own home town, though I know a lot of folk elsewhere who’ve had a nasty time of it; if you’ve got sympathy and support to spare, it’s them you should send it to, not me. If you’ve friends in the UK, drop them a line to tell them you hope they’re OK. ]

14 thoughts on “Aftermath”

  1. I am complicit in global poverty, as everyone in the west is. I don’t see what that has to do with what’s happening in the UK, and neither do those outside the UK with a true need to revolt.

    “Egyptians and Tunisians took revenge for Khaled Said and Bouazizi by peacefully toppling their murdering regimes, not stealing DVD players.”

    “I am sorry but you do not loot to object the murder of a young man , you are using his murder”

    This is an uprising of those who have not brains, not those who have nothing. It is selfish and opportunistic; rationalizing it elevates it out of its gutter.

  2. @deadman: There’s a huge difference between attempting to understand something and trying to justify it. We can look for the root causes of this problem without condoning the way it has expressed itself; indeed, if we don’t, and simply try to cure the symptoms instead of the disease, it will get worse.

    @Robert: Thanks for the link, if only for the fact that reading it has reminded me that PyjamasMedia was and still is a cesspit of racist bullshit. There’s a huge irony in that guy talking about “leftist opportunism” as he gleefully makes his own political hay in exactly the same way he finds so repugnant in others. This isn’t about left and right any more; indeed, it’s the complete bankruptcy of that outdated binary way of looking at political matters that has brought us to this impasse. Yeah, the left lie; so do the right. If you’ve got links with people suggesting ways forward, instead of shaking their heads and blaming their ideological opposites, do feel free to chip in. But don’t link stuff like this from my comments threads, please.

  3. “This isn’t about left and right any more; indeed, it’s the complete bankruptcy of that outdated binary way of looking at political matters that has brought us to this impasse.” – I couldn’t agree more.

    The following is a quote and link to a blog written by Barry Ritholtz, who owns his own Wall Street company and has been rather prescient over the last decade with economic predictions.

    “The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm….This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing.”
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/you-vs-corporations/

    It’s interesting when even the people poised to benefit from the current problems see them.

    @deadman
    Paul is dead-on when he says there is a real problem underlying the mostly foolhardy actions and no one is working to solve it. In fact, the west is still rapidly making these problems worse.

  4. @Robert
    The Boston Tea Party wasn’t all that different from a lot of what is going on. The article at that link doesn’t have much deep thought in it, as with most idealogues the author cherry picks facts that match his beliefs and doesn’t follow the facts all the way to the truth. I’m not saying the commenters he/she is commenting on aren’t doing the same thing, but it doesn’t make his/her argument anymore valid.

  5. I don’t see those who are in poverty doing the looting and rioting in the UK. I see a wide variety of people who have all grown up in a culture that shirks responsibility, denigrates work and values selfishness. Many of those in poverty remain there because they have higher values.

    In other words, and I’m genuinely not being in any way ironic here: Blame Thatcher.

  6. Paul, well, I guess you have formulated your thoughts, then, mistaken as they are. As one who has many relatives in London, I too weep for Britain. Good luck.

  7. The LA Riots as exemplary? 6 days, 53 deaths; the UK riots (not just the London ones) 3 or 4 days, depending on how you want to count it, and (at current estimates using the best info available to me at present, if we count the poor bastards from Birmingham who wouldn’t have been helped by having a gun because they were run down by a car) 4 deaths. I think the gentleman blogger there and myself have a rather different conception of preferable outcomes.

    … yet the nation has some of the highest levels of violent crime and burglary in the West, and there is no shortage of gun crime in major cities such as London and Manchester.

    Sure, we have gun crime, though I’d like to see that stats for “some of the highest levels in the West”; I’m willing to lay very good money on them being substantially lower than the per capita equivalent in, say, the US, where gun control is – despite the NRA’s claims to the contrary – non-existent by comparison.

    Furthermore, with the exception of one gang-on-gang shooting I’ve seen reported from the riots so far, the rioters are notable for the lack of gun deployment, and numerous incidents show that consolidated resistance from property owners without guns was often sufficient to deter the looting and damage. Had “the gangs” been as armed to the teeth as everyone seems to think they are, would they not have been undeterred by big Turkish guys with pool cues? Had “the gangs” been armed to the teeth and the shopkeepers too, would we not have had a far higher death toll? Would the deaths not have fanned the flames of the trouble, sustaining the unrest?

    Please note that I’m not necessarily arguing in favour of gun control; as an anarchist, I’m inclined to believe that people should be able to take arms against their oppressors. But in this situation, I do not think there’s any “experimentally validated” evidence that it would have made the situation any better; quite to the contrary, in fact.

    If you have evidence to show that loose gun laws in the US save lives and prevent violent incidents by comparison to countries where gun control is stronger, I’d be interested to see them; all the stats I’ve seen thus far suggest the contrary, but I’m open to evidence the other way. But your friend writing at the Telegraph there should think further than the immediate effects of what he wishes for; if gun controls were loosened, it wouldn’t just be the shopkeepers who’d find it easier to protect themselves… and if you want to look at the results of a class war with guns, look no further than the inner cities of your own nation. Of course, as most of the deaths there tend to be poor people killing other poor people (frequently brown poor people), you may not care a great deal; this, I suspect, is the fundamental difference in our outlook here.

    And as to formulating my “misguided” thoughts, well, I guess we all have our preferred flavours and colours of Kool-aid, don’t we? 🙂

  8. Paul, I disagree with your view, but in regard to your gun control comments, I do admire both the quality of your argument and your writing. And I don’t expect to persuade you to my point of view. But just for your reference, you should be aware that gun laws in the US are not in any way uniform, despite our crystal-clear 2nd Amendment. In fact, gun licensing laws vary enormously among the 50 different states and also among their countless counties and municipalities, ranging from extremely restrictive (cities where regulations make it virtually impossible for a law-abiding citizen to own or carry a gun legally, and where even police officers cannot possess guns legally if not on duty!) to places that are much more “loose”, to use your terminology. At present, there can be no question whatsoever that those locations with the most restrictive gun laws correlate (yes, not necessarily the same as causation!) very strongly to large urban population centers, which also correlate very strongly to areas of high violent crime per capita, strong majorities of Democrats holding leadership/political offices, large minority populations, higher than average unemployment, very poorly-performing schools (but at the same time, much higher than the nationwide-average per-pupil government expenditures on education), all of which make objective determinations of detailed cause and effect between gun laws and gun crime difficult (since, as noted, there are so many other accompanying and directly-relevant variables). Again, there is no shortage of studies showing very strong correlations between the existence of gun-control and the presence of higher-than-average violent crimes (i.e., they go together). Those arguing against gun-control, like me, assert that gun-control itself actually encourages violent crime, since it both disarms law-abiding citizens and reassures criminals that their potential victims will be unarmed. Those arguing in favor of gun-control could/would assert that the high correlation is simply an indication that in places where crime is high, it is only natural that policies of gun-control have been put into place, i.e., that gun-crime causes gun-control, rather than the other way around. …Best regards.

  9. Oh, and one last comment. Please, please, quit asserting that I and/or any other libertarian/conservatives somehow don’t care about “brown” people as much as people with lighter-toned skin. That’s just dead wrong and downright insulting. Opposition to socialism, authoritarianism, gun control, etc, is NOT racism. Really.

  10. Robert – Agreed, it was out of line to try to pin racism on you for your comments there, and I apologise. Though if you can’t see why the PajamasMedia piece you linked gives off an unmistakable stench of it, I’m not sure we’re on entirely the same page as to what racism actually is.

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