A riots reader
Quickly rounding up some of the more interesting reflections on (and in some cases, prescient predictions of) recent events. By all means send any you've spotted that I've missed and I'll add them.
"Meanwhile, the view is gaining ground that social democracy, with its safety nets, its costly education and health care for all, is unsustainable in the bleak times ahead. The reality is that it is the only solution."
"Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world."
"And the Tea Party's right in one way: it's a religious, almost fundamentalist principle. You look after people. You don't punish them for the sins of men earning eighteen hundred dollars an hour for moving jobs overseas."
"The promises both parties offered to those who 'worked hard and played by the rules' – of rising living standards, a secure retirement and a better life for their children – sound empty. Millions are living thwarted lives of quiet desperation, and cannot see a way to escape them."
"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."
"The British public don't simply resort to violent unrest in the face of challenging economic circumstances."
"This is Walthamstow, in East London, this is not Athens or any other Greek city."
"In America and Britain, the story of the last 30 years has been the reversal of this democratisation of the economy. Income and wealth inequality has returned to the levels of the 1920s, with a tiny fraction of the super-rich taking a vast proportion of the wealth of the economy and investing it in stocks, houses and other speculative assets."
(This one's not so much interesting as just an utter fucking disgrace. About as close as I've come to withholding my licence fee.)
"In the aftermath of the riots and the death of PC Blakelock, money was poured in to regenerate the area and the police made huge efforts to re-engage with the community"
"It's striking that the targets have not been town halls or, say, Tory HQ – stormed by students last November – but branches of Dixons, Boots and Carphone Warehouse. If they are making a political statement, it is that politics does not matter."
"It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession. Young, intelligent citizens of the ghetto seek an explanation for why they are at the receiving end of bleak Britain, condemned to a darkness where their humanity is not even valued enough to be helped. Savagery is a possibility within us all. Some of us have been lucky enough not to have to call upon it for survival"
"Between these poles is a more pragmatic reading: this is what happens when people don't have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it."
"When incidents like this happen the authorities are fond of saying that troublemakers have been bussed in from outside. But there's none of that here. Neither is there any sign of the anti-globalisation or anarchist crowds. This is unadulterated, indigenous anger and ennui. It's a provocation, a test of will and a hamfisted two-finger salute to the authorities."