Friday, August 12, 2011

The state, the state, the state is on fire...

We don’t need no water let the muthafucka burn. Burn muthafucka. Burn!!!

The country of my birth, England, appears to be a little ill at the moment. I went back to visit this week, which also coincided with an outbreak of rioting and looting in the major city centres.

Yes, I’m now so maleficent my mere presence drives a country into unrest. Joke.

There’s been a lot of talk about the sick state of modern society in all the papers, but I think the illness is not the one they’re talking about. There’s an ideological schism splitting the country, one which, no doubt, any middle-leaning American will recognise with a dejected sigh. Read a right-wing newspaper and they’ll talk about a collapse in moral values which can only be rectified by a good caning, bringing back National Service or simply hanging the buggers until they turn purple and their tongues hang out. Read a left-wing newspaper and you’ll get a lot of handwringing about broken homes, poverty, boredom and legitimate protest.

They’re both bloody idiots.

Poverty is a debased term nowadays. These kids aren’t starving and they have access to far more forms of entertainment than children of decades ago. Several spots of unrest were organised through Blackberries and online social networks according to some reports. Nicking stuff because you feel inferior to multi-millionaire football players in the top 0.0001% or whatever of earners in the country is a fairly venal and piss-poor imitation of the Arab Spring uprisings taking place elsewhere on the planet.

What the kids don’t have is a future. That’s a problem. It doesn’t matter how big a stick you threaten to hit them with. They don’t care. They don’t have anything to lose.

What I hate is the media trotting out the same simplistic right/left-wing ideological solutions which have little relevance to a messy and more complex world. The troublemakers of the past week are scum and need to be punished accordingly, but if they aren’t allowed decent aspirations (playing football for Man Utd or selling millions of records are not realistic aspirations unless you’re phenomenally gifted and lucky) more and more youths are going to go ‘feral’.

The challenge for our glorious leaders is to reengage with these forgotten sumps of society and find a productive use for them. Maybe our politicians could start by setting a better example instead of fiddling their expenses and gorging themselves on the corporate teat. What’s the saying—the fish rots from the head.


  1. I think you're falling into the trap so many others are of trying to ascribe one explanation to this.
    The fact is, much though the footage appears otherwise, it wasn't just young, disadvantaged kids taking part in this.
    Several of the looters were middle-class, or at least held stable jobs, and there were a lot of adults involved in the riots themselves.

    I don't pretend to know the stories of those who took part, but when I saw Twitter feeds from those rioting and interviews with people on the street, I saw (as well as deprived teens) people succumbing to opportunism combined with deindividuation.
    My personal view is that it's most likely these people were raised with no value of right or wrong, or respect for others.
    But I don't know. It just seems like the most likely theory.

    After all, one BBC reporter interviewed a man encouraging others to riot.
    When asked why he wanted to riot, the guy mumbled some racist shite about Poles taking all the jobs.
    The reporter simply asked him how he was going to get a job if he was destroying businesses.

    The whole thing has made me tired - not just from the stupidity and the evil of the riots, but from the rush of reasons people have put forward for the riots as gospel truth, to the politicians tripping over each other to condemn people for stealing televisions when they've only recently got over a scandal which saw many of them steal ENTIRE HOMES.

    The worst was when Harman and Gove went at it on Newsnight and the former tried to get political leverage out of it by hinting it was all the Government's fault because of the EMA.
    Govebot-3000 switched to 'furious indignation' mode and shouted at Harman as if trying to project enough phlegm down her mouth to drown out her babble.
    Their country was literally burning around them and STILL they bickered like children.

  2. ...actually ...maybe an idea for a 'End of the World' party-esque story there, eh?

  3. Yeah, I was trying to avoid leaning too far to the bleeding hearts side, but ended up swallowing a few big bull turds anyway. I was surprised at the backgrounds of a few of the people dragged up in the docks. They didn't even have the feeblest of excuses to be doing what they were doing.

    The politicians are in no position to get on the moral high horse. Neither are the newspapers. They'll do it anyway - self righteous wankers.

    Poor old blighty does appear to be a little poorly in the morality department at the moment. I'm not really sure how it will get fixed. Closing wealth inequality gaps won't do anything if the average person continues to be stupid enough to measure their worth against the unattainable benchmarks they see on TV.

    Usually this would be good material for some old-fashioned 'cosmic justice' morality tales, but I prefer to be a little more unpredictable. It's still satisfying to kill the little shits off in a gruesome manner every now and again ;)

  4. *I'm not really sure how it will get fixed. Closing wealth inequality gaps won't do anything if the average person continues to be stupid enough to measure their worth against the unattainable benchmarks they see on TV.*

    I think this is a slight misdiagnoses of the problem (I say this as someone who knows little about the broader cultural influences at work in the UK, so I'm extrapolating from the situation in the USA. Yeah, I know, typical American - assuming the rest of the world is just like us!)

    Anyway, I've never seen systematic anger or envy directed at rich, successful people when they are doctors, actors, musicians, athletes, or even CEO's of major businesses like Apple. When the wealth is perceived as earned or deserved, it doesn't bother people quite so much.

    What *does* make people angry, however, is the accumulation of massive wealth - not by talent, hard work, or even dumb luck - but by the underhanded rigging of the political system. Our politicians tell us, "Sorry, we just can't afford your social security or Medicare services anymore" only *after* they've gutted taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations and handed out huge contracts and subsidies to the most powerful lobbies.

  5. By the way, the above post is neither an excuse nor an explanation of the riots - it's just a response to your general comment on wealth inequality.

  6. Britain's always had a few envy problems, but that's part of the class system which has never really gone away. I think Americans see someone doing well and think, that'll be me in a few years time. Brits are a bit more sulky as they know it's mostly impossible unless you come from the right background. (I think it's also mostly impossible in the States as well, but that's another story)

    The bank bailout left the biggest wound. People were envious of the banker's pay cheques, but up until the crash they thought they must be good enough to earn them. The crash showed the high-earners up to being less than the superstars they made themselves out to be. Despite this the average joe still got stuck with the hurt while the 'failures' still raked in huge bonuses and salaries. Add in a couple of massive lapses of morality from both the politicians and the media and I think there's now a lot of badness festering underneath the surface. The current crop of politicians don't inspire me as they've all been carried into their roles by the same conveyor-belt of privilege.

    Enough of that anyway. I can't do anything about it so I might as well enjoy myself writing twisted horror-sex stories! :)