Friday, 12 August 2011

A Lesson in Right-Wing Sociology.

For the press the riots of recent days were a spontaneous, random and unfathomably violent explosion with no connection to any substantial events or issues in British society. It is true that the mass-looting of shops is hardly a form of political activism. But the moral panic around the riots has the potential to drown out the social context in which these riots irrupted. The riot in Tottenham was connected to the death of Mark Duggan because it was a peaceful protest against what had happened that degenerated into violence. The shooting caused the Tottenham protests, which in turn led to the current situation as the protest descended violent. You're not going to convince me that if Mark Duggan were alive and there was no issue of police brutality historically there would still be looting going on. The commentariat are ignorant of the legitimate grievances behind the riots and refuse to even address them except to deride them as "excuses" for criminality. The urgency for change in our society is clear, we can't prevent future riots without addressing the issues which have festered for years.

On Newsnight Gavin Esler asked Kelvin MacKenzie "Should we try to understand this?" and the former editor of The Sun responded "No, I don't think we should..." That response is the example of everything wrong with the right-wing commentary on the riots. With that MacKenzie proceeded to call for shooting the rioters, at first he's less clear on that and then stresses "rubber bullets"; then he calls for legal punishments to make them "weep" because they won't "weep" at home or at school. It's clear that MacKenzie pins the blame on a lack of discipline at home and at school, no doubt beatings and canings are in order in those places. Of course the rioters should be arrested and prosecuted, but if we turned schools and homes into prisons for children would that prevent future riots? I think not. There are often references in the press to the "excuses" peddled by the Left in the form of sociological claptrap about 'social exclusion' and 'deprivation'. But the Right has it's sociology on this. In the case of Melanie Phillips it's the "chickens coming home to roost" for the liberal intelligenstia who have undermined British society in the last 30 years.

The line which Kelvin MacKenzie took falls back on assumptions which focus on the development of social problems, it's all about a serious lack of discipline in the home and in schools. So if daddy hadn't beaten the ever-living-shit out of Kelvin MacKenzie he would've been in on the mass-plot to raid JD Sports across the country with the help of a Volkswagen GTI no doubt. It is a severe lack of domestic violence and child abuse in schools which has led to thousands of people looting and attacking police. If only daddy had beaten them then they might have grown up to be a journalist who can write lies for Rupert Murdoch and smear the dead after outbursts of football violence, just like Kelvin MacKenzie. This line of thought is just as absurd as when Peter Hitchens claims that these are not 'riots' because riots have an origin in deprivation and then notes that the participants, who have been arrested, are "losers". Apparently the "criminal masterminds" of this spontaneous looting spree have all gotten away, so it only appears that the looters are from "pockets of deprivation". None of these gutless twerps can admit that if you are from a more stable and secure background then you are probably less likely to go around torching buildings.

 We've heard a lot of things said about the riots, e.g. that it is being perpetrated by "feral animals" who need to be put down and that the mob are just "mindless" thugs who should be shot. For Pat Condell the root cause is "stupidity" and a lack of "imagination", a "feral view of the world" which is a product of a rampant entitlement culture. So when you're 'pampered scum' by the state you just have to go out and raid JD Sports even though you can afford to shop at Ted Baker with those 'generous hand-outs' from the state. The rioters are drug-addled "vermin" running amok because the police don't have access to water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. Condell went on to call for the repeal of benefits for life to anyone who participated in the riots as well as the demolition of their homes. At the same time there is the claim that these people are "opportunists" with no excuses and have been in waiting for a moment to go out on a spree of looting. Oh and these people express the violent tendencies of the Left, especially groups like UK Uncut.

Note 'order' has to be maintained no matter what people are going through in society, the grievances will never be resolved and the poor should just put up with it so the facade of 'order' can carry on. Beneath the 'order' that the police are defending there is disorder on a huge scale and occasionally it ruptures the appearance of peace. The riots are subjective violence in the same sense that terrorism is subjective, just like terrorism it is the product of a history of imperialism and political stagnancy in the Middle East. That is not a justification for terrorism, it is an explanation which is better than the right-wing line that it is simply the result of a barbaric culture which needs to be dealt with. In reaction to the attacks on the Twin Towers the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq which has exacerbated the threat of terrorism even more. The Coalition are about to slash public services to the bone and will no doubt increase the power of police, which will only lead to a situation where there is greater social deprivation and a higher chance of police violence to the urban poor.

The only excuse for violence to be found in the press is when it's police violence. If the cops shot a black man then there must be a good reason. It must've been self-defence, he shot at them and then they shot him - he got what was coming to him! There is always an excuse for these officers, even when the bullet fired at officers was found to be 'police issue' then Mark Duggan must've had the same ammunition as the police. When it turns out Mark Duggan never fired his gun then the line is he must've gone for his gun and they shot him. Thus, we should just unleash the water cannons, rubber bullets and even the military on the rioters. But then it gets uglier as the line turns to the ethnicity of the rioters. In the words of Nick Griffin "Feral black gangstas and Islamist fast-breeding sex pests are the problem." Why is it the people cleaning up after these people are all white? Consistently the Right are taking advantage of the riots to further pursue an agenda of social cleansing. The political class is flocking above to peddle easy answers which have failed and will continue to fail.

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