Sunday, August 07, 2011

So, for those of you who don't know, riots and looting are breaking out around London tonight.

Watch twitter for up-to-date news.

A couple of thoughts :

It's now blatant that this is NOT appearing on the BBC front page. Clearly the media have been told not to report it in case it encourages more people to join in.

Despite this, reports are raging through Twitter.

There may be some sense in which Twitter IS helping spread the meme. People keep posting new hashtags of places where riots may be happening. Other twitterers then dismiss these, but in at least one case, Dalston, people were initially saying there was no riot, but later the shopping centre was attacked.

The Guardian thinks it's being organised.

At the same time, my bet is that it's a "bazaar of violence", as in a number of independent actors only loosely co-ordinated :

- There are presumably some people who want to protest at the police shooting on Thursday, especially as there are doubts over the assumption that it was a criminal who started it by firing at the police.

- Undoubtedly there are people involved in the looting after last night's riots in Tottenham and who realised that they really could just grab a lot of stuff.

- There are kids who probably are pissed off with the government for cutting their EMA.

- Perhaps there are political anarchists.

- And maybe just bored kids looking for excitement.

The question is, has the mob tasted blood? Have dozens, perhaps hundred, of teenagers, brought up in a materialist culture, wanting more than they can afford, just realised that if they go out at night en mass they can just take it?

No doubt this is not an organised political protest with any kind of coherent demand. It's an unfocussed anger, often mixed with selfishness. Does that make it any less of a political phenomena or response to the catastrophic political times we're in?

In one sense, I'll say yes. It certainly is less political. Politics does need goal-directedness, not just raw anger. At the same time, it would be remarkable if this wasn't in some way responding to the continual promises of austerity, depression and future poverty coming from the government and media. For all that the rioters lack the term "indignati".

Of course, it's kind of depressing seeing the reactionary comments on twitter and other social media. People calling for the army to be sent in to deal with the "scum" etc.

Still, it's understandable people are scared. And undoubtedly many innocents have lost jobs, homes or livelihoods in these riots. I'm sorry for them.

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