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Understanding & UK

2011/08/11

We need to understand why the riots have happened.
We might dislike hate them and we might use violence, but in the end we *must* understand.

I think this quote below is a good starting point to get some understanding …

You miss one critical item here though; the Egyptians largely had the support of their military. What’s more, they TRUSTED their military. They were also united; rich, poor, old, young…they walked into the streets as a NATION, and they were protected from the worst of the police excesses by a strong military ensuring neither side went too far over the line.

I totally disagree with the thought that every single rioter in the UK was in it for nothing more than free stuff and to cause mayhem. I’ve taken my time to talk to many who participated. While I cannot condone the means, there was more to this than the right-wing party line of “criminality.”

This was an expression of rage. It was an outpouring of hopelessness. These aren’t middle-class youth out on a binge because daddy didn’t buy them an iPhone. These are the forgotten; people without a future, with no job prospects, no way to pay for education, and no idea how to save themselves from the spiral of poverty that – in most cases – they were born into.

They are people without much in the way of role models, raised in areas where “the man” and his multi-tentacled authorities not only rarely helped, but usually actively persecuted them for what – to them – seemed like no discernable reason. These are the people on the wrong end of the wealth gap; those sanding outside in the cold looking in on the family sitting down to a six-course turkey dinner.

Are they right in what they did? No. Does it mean that they did it “only for criminality?” No. In many cases it was nothing more than a sense of “finally, a chance to do something, a chance to stick it to those who have ground us down, a chance to vent my frustrations, my rage and my hopless despair all over these motherfuckers and make them pay.”

That spiralled out of control; combined with a rush, a thrill…and then got ugly.

And then little Timmy middle class got involved. Then little Timmy iPhone decided that “well, all these other people are getting stuff for free, why not me?” So you have two factors at work:

The first is the sheer greed of rampant consumerism practically bred into the youth of today combined with a sense of anonymity and a feeling that “now is my chance to raise my social status.” Social status of course being nearly exclusively tied to the possession and acquisition of material objects in today’s society. This is easy to focus on, because the barbaric acts perpetrated by people are easy to hate when you can frame it “people who already have a lot trying to get more, for free.”

The other is that element of suppressed class warfare that boiled over and started the whole thing in the first place. With these people in the streets making a mess of things – for reasons that had more to do with hoplessness than with greed – there was excellent cover for the greedy to flood the streets. The greedy felt they could hide anonymously amongst the dispossessed.

The cute part is that the bit about hopelessness, depair, and an entire underclass of people with absolutely nothing to lose…that’s the part that been ignored. The stupid greedy prats out for an iPhone and an HD telly – far from being anonymous – have become the focus of an entire nation.

So, are there difference between Egypt and London? Jesus H mother of a broken donky, yes. Do I think Egypt handled their rebellion better? Yes.

But Egypt was united. They were the very large many against a very powerful few. What can’t be forgotten about London was that this started as a very powerless few against an apathetic and dismissive many. I don’t see how that few could have made their voices heard any other way.

The quote that keeps coming back to me is this: “sure, the riots are wrong. But you wouldn’t even be talking to us if we hadn’t done it.”

So you can all hang me as a heathen witch for pointing out the elephant in the room here, but when you have a group of tens of thousands of people in your city who feel that alienated and hopeless, there’s something a hell of a lot more wrong with your society than the greedy bastards who wanted an iPhone. And it needs addressing just as much – if not more – as the greedy pricks pillaging the city need put into jail.

I do however accept that is not at all a popular view, nor one that’s going to get much airtime. Sadly, that disaffected underclass is not getting smaller, it’s growing quite rapidly in today’s economic climate. Perhaps one day, they will Egypt. Perhaps they’ll even learn from the Egyptians, and do it right.

Perhaps.

Source

Also: Trying to understanding should never be a sin.

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