The recent riots have struck fear into the very heart of middle England. The socio-economic system they support is in economic and financial melt-down and as they further tear up the post 2nd world war Beveridge social contract, the lower orders are once again getting more than just individually restless. The August 2011 riots have proved, as the earlier uprisings in the Middle East, that the peaceful streets and calm which most of us desire, rests upon the consent of all citizens, not simply upon the numbers of police or the level of the lethal equipment they wield. In the UK it took only a few hundred determined and violent youth to cause absolute mayhem. To end this wild and ill-advised youth rampage required the marshalling and deployment of 16,000 police in London and the complete lock-down of whole urban areas. Many of the 16,000 were removed from their own normal duties, leaving other regions or cities insufficiently staffed to deal with their own problems. These facts alone demonstrate how fragile is the public order in societies in which the social contract is such that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and middle sectors, carry on as if nothing significant is wrong. The reaction of middle England to the riots, however, proves that this sector is incapable of understanding any other point of view than that stemming from its own immediate self-interests. Middle England managed to eliminate from short-term memory the repeated indignity of ‘stop-and-search‘, overlooked previous ‘deaths-in-custody‘, quickly blanked out past and recent ‘police-corruption’, and chose to ignore the earlier suspicious shooting of a black youth. During the week, middle England also failed to call for a much needed re-distribution of wealth. Neither did its representatives suggest the creation of jobs in the areas of greatest deprivation. No one from middle England called for the reinstatement of youth clubs and youth projects or the re-introduction of free university education. Instead middle England, left, right and centre bayed for the blood of a small group of rebellious, misguided lumpen proletariat it has itself helped to create.
Lets be clear: sink estates, derelict terraces, large-scale unemployment, poor quality over-shop housing, disaffected youth, drugs and gang-culture, did not just appear in the middle of the night by courtesy of some ‘yob‘ fairies. Nor did these young people create the economic, social and environmental conditions in which many of them now exist. They, and in many cases their parents, are the human victims of a political and economic system, managed by middle England for the last 50 years. It is a system overseen by a middle England which for profit, chose to export capital and jobs to foreign, low-wage economies and leave unemployment behind. These unemployed populations are now the alienated victims of a middle England, which backed Thatcher in the almost complete destruction of the working class trade union resistance to the present state of affairs. The youth and their parents are the victims of a social housing policy, designed by middle England, which has built high-density, sub-standard housing and simply dumped them there. The unemployed youth themselves are victims of pre-meditated unemployment and an education system, run by middle England, which packs up to 30 or more pupils per class into leaky primary and crumbling secondary school buildings with hard pressed teachers overburdened with testing. At the hands of middle England you would think that all these impositions were punishment enough, but they have yet more in store.
Yet it is an undeniable fact that not all the rioters killed or hurt people or set alight to property – only a few. Nevertheless, all participants have been typecast and treated as if they were all of a kind. Furthermore, not all the opportunist looters, were from the poorest section of society, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from middle England’s outbursts. It is also a fact that the riots did not start by looting but by protest which only hours later became violent. It was only later still that others joined in and initiated a process leading over several days to looting, arson and killing. Yet all this week (7 – 14 August 2011) middle England has stridently demanded ‘robust sentencing’ for all participants and one who simply grabbed a bottle of water in passing got this. This week, we have been repeatedly told by middle England that the rioters should have been quickly ‘kettled‘ and then rapidly ‘locked up’. Middle Englanders have further, suggested the future imposition of curfews and tagging. The latest call from a part of middle England has been to make homeless those convicted of rioting, where this is possible. So blinded by self interest is middle England that its representatives seem intent on making matters worse. They are in fact suggesting that all those who have been disadvantaged should be further disadvantaged and thus become even more marginalised and rebellious. They have suggested that those who are most susceptible to becoming criminals should be locked up with professional criminals which of course will complete their education in criminality and further any drug dependence some may already have. These measures will effectively be reverse ‘investments in people’’ which will almost guarantee a payout in the form of future indiscriminate unrest and violence. Unrest which middle England will escape behind its gated walls and other surveillance rich fences. Eventually these even further disadvantaged, disgruntled and drug-dependent people will be discharged into working class communities for them to deal with. Interestingly, so incensed was middle England this week that, with an eye perhaps to the future organised and disciplined protests to come, some of its representatives have also called for the ending of the Human Rights Act. Those among the ordinary citizens who have been sucked in and carried along on the wave of middle England horror and hysteria will get an unpleasant surprise when, on the back of these disturbances, all that is now being put into place will be turned upon them.
The only bright spot in this whole recent development is the embryonic response of ordinary people to come together to protect their communities. Working class, multi-ethnic defence squads will probably be an essential requirement in any future periods of turmoil. For we have seen that the police, can sit-back and watch, (for whatever reason) or pile in indiscriminately according to the instructions of their commanders, or their own prejudiced moods. This means that working people will not always be able to rely on such prejudiced and unpredictable assistance. The policy of middle England, left, right and centre, is to carry out the needs and dictates of the system which provides them with their wealth and security. It is a system which is dominated by the financial needs and desires of the rich and powerful. Enough wealth from this obscene elite trickles down to satisfy them at the moment and they will thus carry out the economic and social policies demanded by these so-called ‘market’ forces. Riots, uprisings and further disturbances are inevitable in the present state of the world as the rich and powerful, organised in the IMF, European Central Bank and other financial institutions, seek to manage the economic and financial crisis in their own interests. And this financial manipulation will in turn require them to delegate the management of the social and political crisis which the imposition of their dictates will provoke. The management of this crisis – and future ones – will involve the political class and its agents, creating divisions among the oppressed and attempting to recruit sections of the working class to their own particular survival agenda. In this matter they have already begun. By using crocodile tears over the terrible deaths and property loss, things they have never before even given a fig about, they seek to perpetuate the illusion that, as with the banking crisis, we are all in this together. No matter what the temporary appearances suggest – we are definitely not! And this fact, when they move against one or other of the organised protests to come, will become obvious – if it is not blatantly so already.