Thursday, 18 August 2011

Riotous Assembly

You can't have two weeks off without the bloody slum going up in flames, and living approximately 0.22 miles from one of the 'hotspots' there are, naturally, a few choice thoughts floating in my semi-liquid stuff regarding the whole affair.

In many quarters, during the recent heady riotous events which unfolded over the first two weeks of august 2011, the frothing masses - like a badger with a wasps nest stuck up its arse - demanded those on the bottom (discounting the middle elements who spotted a potential earner, or at the very least early christmas presents) who participated and fulsomely joined in with the looting, crowed that participants should be: severely punished, disproportionately sentenced, suffer the loss all of their safety nets, and if it turns out they are council tenants, ensure they’re evicted and left to rot in their own juices - a glance at any dystopic film will more than fill-in any relevant missing background information here, whilst showing where it is we’re heading to - so teaching those who would dare challenge our way of life, or even stick two fingers to authority, that authority and society will work themselves into a royal tizz and simply not tolerate it - that is, until the next revolution takes place.  In this day and age, can i be done for uttering the word, revolution?

It was surprising seeing people tweeting and hearing folks talking to hosts on radio & tv shows saying how “cowed they felt” and how “scared and frightened they were in their homes” - when their homes existed at least a mile away from any flashpoint!  

As mornings and evenings sped by it became clear that rioters were, to a brick or bin-hurler, really more interested in the interior of clothing or electrical stores; failing that, the re-modding of police car exteriors, than generally ransacking peoples homes (except for one freelance fbi’er who was unlucky to have an opportunistic break in, but who had sensibly installed tracking software on to his laptop), meant the relative initial mood of the population simply veered towards a collective groan and the shaking of heads, muttering “tsk, the youngsters”.  

Unfortunately as events unfurled, it became clear that one profound sad consequence of the looting, and torching of many premises, was the effect on fellow citizens who were residing in those now open-air pigeon nests. Understanding turned to rage, as rumours and reports of citizens been killed simply trying to protect their premises, or homes, galvanised airwaves and screens, solidifying the eventual government knee-jerk backlash.

Admittedly my prolapsed attitude would probably have flown out the window, had i too been forced to flee through one; but, if your only information of the goings on which occurred in the uks capital was transmitted through the box, the web, or the morning papers, you could be forgiven for mistaking the whole of london was, if not in flames, that a significant proportion was primarily so.

As the clashes, torching, looting, and faltering of the blue-line continued, the initial reasons for the riots (the killing of mark duggan), was swamped then lost amongst the first bit of meaty news the press were able to fully zoom in on, since the student demonstrations.  But it transpired he had not fired at the policeman, nor was he was holding a gun - although why he had a loaded gun in the first place?  The policeman who was shot, was shot from a bullet fired by one of his colleagues.  

This appears to have been seized on, not by the family and friends of mark duggan who quickly came out to condemn the mini "london’s burning”, but other elements intent on seizing the opportunity of a situation, and for whatever reason, the lack of effective policing to spot the moment.

Peaceful protest was followed by the now iconic scenes etched on many people minds, after all news channels kept on showing the same bits of footage: over and over and over and over again, twined as it was by a palpable pall of presenter outrage and fear.  At that time (before the deaths of fellow citizens and the growing acknowledgement that people were losing their homes) i popped some popcorn on to watch events unfold, and listen and read the nonsense spouted.  

Taking into account the less than stellar, and sometime hypocritical, actions of mp’s, police chiefs, quangos, bankers, energy utility, where hardly a month fails to go by without some company announcing how many billions they’ve made in profit, but they sadly have to trim costs, throwing thousands on the heap, and as we all age we’re constantly told we’ll have to retire later and with less, whilst the young in many areas are unable to reach the first rung, let alone climb up.  On the other hand, we have entertainers, footballers, ceo’s, who earn more money in a year than many of those growing up and unemployed will see in four of their lifetimes.  Of course there are those who will rise through the top whether by striving, through luck, or raw channelled  talent, but they have always been the few in every generation - otherwise we’d all be floating around on our individual sea-going tower blocks trying to hail someone for love or money!

The current system has time after time been shown to be nothing more than a sow’s purse in a busted pen, with the vast majority failing to feel their lot substantively improved, indeed a growing number are constantly hearing, “if you think this is bad, you ain’t seen anything yet!”  Whilst the top dot indeed, have really never had it so good.

This does go some distance to prove that our creaking beam of a society really is held together with nothing more than consensual duct tape, proving as it does that the many are generally happy to stay within the elastic confines of compromise, enabling the city to exist as it does.

Oh yes, riots.

If we remove from the equation those who had good jobs, olympic representatives, lawyers, students, graduates etc, we find that there is still a substantial section of society who feel that they have no hope, who are constantly told how much more harder than their parents and grandparents generations their own lives are going to be, and all because people who would probably never talk to them if they were in the same lift as them, went on a binge of magic proportions without any care should things not quite work out how they planned.

How that fits in with the riots should be self-evident.  In one corner the hoover (wonder if any of those were nicked, or did they go for dysons?) of capitalism locates the cheapest manufacturing for the highest return, whilst the bar to entry for employees is always rising.  So we hear of companies closing down in one expensive country and opening up in a cheaper one.  Cheaper due to lower taxes?  Reduced labour costs?  Ease of importing, or the ease of oiling the wheels bypassing all that tape?

Blimey i'm tired. If you really want a good ripping read and decent take on the matter, spring over to naomi klein’s piece in the guardian.
I, luckily, still have a pillow calling.

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