Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The London Riots: When Anger Burns
You may have noticed that London is burning. The flames of anger are spreading .
The violence, which began in Tottenham, north London, on Saturday spread south and east to Brixton, Streatham, Walthamstow, Edmonton, Enfield, Oxford Circus and Islington on Sunday.
By last night further outbreaks of disorder involving hundreds of hooded yobs had been reported in Hackney, Clapton, East Ham, Lewisham, Harlesden, Elephant and Castle and Woolwich.
The establishment and the old are panicking, and calling for the army. And almost everybody is missing the big picture.
Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.
Or why it is happening now.
It is no coincidence that the worst violence London has seen in many decades takes place against the backdrop of a global economy poised for freefall. The causes of recession set out by J K Galbraith in his book, The Great Crash 1929, were as follows: bad income distribution, a business sector engaged in “corporate larceny”, a weak banking structure and an import/export imbalance. All those factors are again in play.
Although the epicentre of the immediate economic crisis is the eurozone, successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity now exacerbated by financial turmoil.
Yup. The bankers are stealing billions, the poor are stealing running shoes. The yobs may be throwing the firebombs, but the anger is real. And it's spreading all over the world.
Or there will be justice. Or there will be trouble.
The young were born to riot.
Or so Johnny told me...