August 9th, 2011

Not The Riots We Were Expecting

Riots were predicted for this summer, but not these kind of riots. We were supposed to be having demonstrations about cuts, student fees, job losses, Tory misrule, all that sort of thing- respectable, middle-class grievances. What we've got is a sudden upflaring of disaffection in the inner cities- sparked by something the police did.

We'd forgotten the inner cities. We were too busy feeling sorry for the well-to-do. The pain of the well-to-do is dangerous to politicians. The well-to-do vote- and are capable of switching their political alleigance. Besides, the poor are used to suffering; a little extra hardship won't hurt them.

It would be absurd to argue- as some have done- that the police are being attacked in Tottenham because of disgust at their complicity with the Murdoch press- but that's not to say there isn't a connection. The fawning respect shown to Murdoch and the edgy disrespect shown to the Duggan family are aspects of the same corrupt corporate culture. The rottenness pervades the system. One law for the rich, another for the poor.

Yes it's very horrible what's happening on the streets of our inner cities."Don't they realise they're only hurting themselves?" Perhaps they do. Self-harm is a weapon of the dispossessed- sometimes the only weapon. How else are the very poor going to get our attention? No newspaper speaks for them, no politician represents them. 

Riot and revolution are powerful drugs. They get you high. They stop the pain.