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marinelife's avatar

Because the purpose of the riots in the UK is not overthrow of the government.

Initially, the riots in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East were just riots too.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

What do you think the riots are about? Have you read some of the posts from social networking sites? Many of them seem anti-government and anti-corporate to me.
Don’t you think that the UK government realize that most of the revolutions started as riots? Why do you think they are going after social networking after only 4 days?
Since it is now very obvious that PM Cameron and Rupert Murdoch are friends, the revolution will not be televised.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think of both as a kind of revolution. Perhaps, it’s about the scale.

zenvelo's avatar

The riots in the UK have been from a small segment of society, and turned violent with little provocation from the authorities. The protests in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere have been from broad swaths of society, were not violent until the governments used extreme measures to shut down the protests. In Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iran, the violence has been perpetrated by the Government, not by the protesters.

The_Idler's avatar

HAHAHAHAHAHA The suggestion of the Government shutting off facebook for even an hour really shows how out of touch the Tories are!

They will be forever remembered, by this generation of youth, as the coalition that turned off facebook! See: Maggie Thatcher the milk snatcher

Seriously though, we need to have a comprehensive reassessment of the relationship between the Establishment and the poor. And the narrow-minded liberal and conservative attitudes are both both right and wrong.

Firstly, we need to use tougher policing methods to protect people’s homes and personal safety and livelihoods. Secondly, we need to make the social security system more effective at encouraging education and work-ethic. Thirdly, we need to enlighten the public consciousness and restructure society to destroy the power-bases of the institutions and systems which perpetuate inequality, encourage greed and marginalize non-participants.

So, what I mean is: first we stop the inconsiderate greed of the unworking-classes from immediately harming society, then we stop the inconsiderate greed of the ruling-classes from systematically harming society.

The greed and the strange anger/unconcern of the rioters is symptomatic of the socio-economic structures created by the ruling classes to server their own greed in the first place.

We can’t solve the problem without having 100% employment and 100% satisfaction within a materialistic consumerist capitalist context, or destroying that context completely.

I consider the existing system to be both inefficient, unsustainable and psychologically harmful, so I support it’s destruction. However, the looters are not motivated by that aim, they are motivated by desires internal to the greed-system, and so are furthering the most fundamental problems with the structure of our society, rather than combating them.

sinscriven's avatar

The arab spring was about bringing political change.

The biritish riots seem to be more about people taking advantage of a bad situation in order to be assholes. According to some of the papers some in the riots are shouting to “join in the fun” and many tweets going on are about “look at this cool shit I looted!” Could it have started as genuine protest? Maybe. But that’s not what it is now.

As an american, i can see why Chavs are so very disliked now.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@zenvelo The provocation came before the riots.

Qingu's avatar

I can’t find the quote from the Egyptian blogger right now, but it was something like this:

“Why are they comparing the London riots to Taqir square? We didn’t go around smashing storefronts and looting.”

atlantis's avatar

Often the revolutions in history have an ideological front or a vanguard of mode of thought which differs from their contemporaries.
So far, there is no manifest ideological orientation from the rioters in England. It seems like they are doing it because everybody is doing it. From an eleven year old to a grammar school girl to a teacher’s assistant.

It certainly has a potential for revolution but is not as such at the moment due to the random nature of the people involved in general and the sporadic outreach which spreads consecutively not simultaneously.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Because in the middle east they were protesting about unfair dictatorships while in London they were just nicking the biggest TV they could carry.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

The riots in the Middle East were primarily against a system that did not allow freedom of expression, political freedom, self-sovereignty and the right to choose their own government. These are dictatorships for the most part.

The Labour government under the self-promoting Tony Blair and continued by his nemesis Gordon Brown who basically served the UK to the EU on a platter (without the UK even having a say in it, he did not allow the citizens to vote on it) has given way to this mess…and Mr Cameron is not exactly stepping up to the plate and saying, “Enough is enough!” In the name of political correctness, a whole generation of super spoiled brats are running rampant in the streets. This isn’t about poverty as everyone in Great Britain has housing paid for and is given benefits if they cannot fend for themselves. This is about the collapse of morality and decency. I had grandparents who lived during the Great Depression. They made it through. The idea of going and smashing a window to help themselves to anything would have not only been a crime (the law here will let the looters go free, by the way) it would have just been beneath the dignity of most people. My grandparents would have gone without rather than go beg anyone (including the government) for handouts. I realize it isn’t that way and a lot of people need help. That’s fine, but then use whatever is given to you to find a way to live independently. A hand-up, not a continuous hand-out. Meanwhile, we (UK) are paying the European Union 40 million pounds a day to bail out Greece…and soon, no doubt, Italy. Why isn’t that money going to fund college educations for kids who need it? Or healthcare for the elderly who live in appalling conditions here? When will this madness stop?

Politics and a better life and self-governance is not what the riots in the UK are about. Most of the young people rioting don’t even vote. Most of the people rioting are angry, yes, but they are angry at the wrong people. They lashed out at small business owners, shopkeepers trying to make a better life and people in their own community. It was devastating to watch. As @Qingu mentioned above, this rioting is simply a “free for all” of (mostly) young people who are angry that they can’t have that car or a new Iphone for free and provided by the government. I cannot tell you how much fraud goes on in this country. It is appalling. And yet, walk through most council housing and you will see a TV in every room, the newest cell phones and the newest in trainers (footwear). All courtesy of the nanny state. Meanwhile, a single parent trying to raise a child who earns just a bit too much for any benefits, scrapes by and has to scrimp and save to buy her child something for Christmas. The rest of her/his salary goes in taxes to pay for the trainers, the Iphones and the TVs for the neighbor living on benefits. Who should be the ones that are really angry at this point? (Example: link or link or link)

I have to say this…and this is a great difference between the Americans and the British. In America when we see a successful person, we may feel a twinge of jealousy, but we also usually say, “Well, I can have that, too…if I just apply myself and go out and do something.” Americans have that sort of drive. Here, because the government provides almost everything to those who don’t have, it has bred a generation of hacked-off apathetic yobs who just expect to be given everything. So, when they see success, they say, “Who do they think they are? We want that…and we will just take it or trash it…how dare they think they are better than us?” I was shocked at the extreme anger and division here especially around money/status. And let me tell you, if you think the class system in England is dead, it is not…it is very much alive. Equality talks a good game, but it is not really true. I am thankful that I was born where I was. I love this country, but it is not a country that allows you to move beyond where you are….you are constantly reminded that you are an outsider… whereas in America, you can always move upward (or downward) depending solely on your talents and abilities. That’s why a lot of Brits like America. They know the playing field there is a lot more even.

The reason for the riots? The nanny state basically is saying, “Listen up, things are hard, we are going to have to cut back on wasteful spending, fraud and…oh yes…some of you are actually going to have to work to earn some money to live instead of simply living off benefits for generations.”

The greatest sadness I felt yesterday was when I saw a father hold up a photo of his son who was killed. A young, handsome Muslim man who had been a good student and was just out in the street attempting to quell what was going on in his neighborhood. He along with two others were mown down in their own neighborhood as yobs were going mad. This rioting was affecting all races/creeds/colours in multi-cultural neighborhoods in London. It was hitting the hard-working neighborhoods of people that had come here as immigrants and were busy working on living their dream.

Let’s get this straight, the riots in England are about people simply wanting more from the state for nothing. The riots in the Middle East were about people wanting freedom to choose their own destiny. The people rioting have always had the choice to choose their own destiny, but it was easier to just rely on the government’s deep pockets. Now, that the pockets are empty, they are just going to take from wherever they can. After all, aren’t they entitled to simply break windows, steal things? When you have been given everything, you learn to take without giving back. That’s human nature.

This isn’t about freedom, folks…this is about mob rule by a group that cannot even be bothered to find work. And when you hear the same yobs scream, “We have no jobs…!” Well, there seems to be a lot of jobs for the Polish workers and the other Eastern European workers who come here and are willing to work hard. It’s just easier to stay home, collect a check and buy a new designer hoodie, right? And then go over and smash the window of a Curry’s and make off with a digital radio. Good, clean, honest work , right? Right.

Revolution? No not here. This is a glimpse into devolution of a once proud and genteel nation. Because of its implementation of wide-reaching social programs that were left to simply mutate without any boundaries, it is now imploding.

The system doesn’t need a revolution——Great Britain is (supposedly) free. What it does need are people willing to change the system. But that would mean (gulp) work either politically or personally. And frankly, why work the cow, when you can loot it for free?

RareDenver's avatar

What started with a family wanting answers to the shooting of a family member was quickly hijacked and turned into what can only be described as “The Consumerist Riots”. It could be argued that our laissez-faire liberalism (of the right economically, and the left culturally) has helped create a situation where our worth is determined by our possessions and when coupled with the culture of dependency on the welfare state leads people to feel more and more worthless. Add into the mix politicians that have, for years, claimed expenses for luxury items and homes that don’t exist is it any wonder that people’s morals become screwed ?

CaptainHarley's avatar

A crazy man named Jerry Rubin wrote a book named “Revolution For the Hell of It.” That’s the basis for many so-called revolutions in modern times. Those rioting in the UK seem to be mostly unemployed or underemployed young people who harbor resentment because all the promises made to them by parents, teachers and politicians have turned out to be hollow. I serously doubt there is revolution on their minds, mostly just resentment and frustration.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@Captain Harley and @RareDenver…...Well said.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus Wait, which riots are you talking about? There are too many going on in England right now. I thought this was another question about the Duggan shooting protests.

bea2345's avatar

If I remember aright, Britain, and London especially, has a long tradition of civil disorder. I will believe in the “revolution” when Oliver Cromwell comes on the scene. and how long did that last? Gwynne Dyer‘s latest article is quite interesting.

Qingu's avatar

I’ve been thinking about how much this reminds me of 9/11.

Not in its scale of atrocity or the evil-ness of the perpetrators (I don’t think mob vandals and looters are nearly as bad as terrorists who deliberately kill civilians). Rather in how the conversation and the response to the event is unfolding—and the dangers of responding the wrong way.

After 9/11, everyone agreed that al-Qaeda were monsters. But monsters don’t exist in a vacuum, and people came up with various narratives to try to understand where these particular monsters came from.

Lots of people (particularly on the left) sought to understand how America’s foreign policy may have created the conditions for al-Qaeda’s attack. This wasn’t an attempt to excuse al-Qaeda, let alone justify their actions. But it was a useful question: if America’s foreign policy in the middle east was not so violent, would al-Qaeda’s ideology be nearly as popular?

On the right, meanwhile, more people focused on the threat of Islam, often conflating al-Qaeda with Islam itself. Some commentators saw 9/11 as a salvo in the war between civilizations and called for nuking Mecca in response.

In the end, America’s response to 9/11 veered more to the right. We doubled down on our violent foreign policy. Instead of treating al-Qaeda like a criminal cancer within a broader Muslim society, much of our rhetoric became obsessed with “Islamism.” I think this was the wrong response.

I’m seeing parallels to this in Britain. On one hand, liberals are seeking to understand the social conditions that led to the riots, blaming austerity measures for example. On the other hand, conservatives balk at blaming anything other than the rioters themselves, or their supposed ideological underpinnings (which they identify as “bad parenting” or “lack of morals.”) And it’s certainly looking like the response to these riots will be a doubling down of the police state and probably staying the course with austerity measures.

People need to realize that understanding the social conditions that lead to the emergence of monsters—like al-Qaeda or like the rioters, some of whom may not have even been monsters beforehand—is not the same as excusing or justifying the behavior of monsters.

CaptainHarley's avatar

AMAZING! I actually AGREE with something @Qingu says! [ faints ]

RareDenver's avatar

@Qingu I read an interesting piece here that you may also find to be a good read

Qingu's avatar

@RareDenver, I definitely agree with that. In particular about the billionaire who frets about social stability but refuses to pay higher taxes.

There is something psychopathic about the attitudes of wealthy people and the way business is done in general—“maximizing profits” is the fundamental goal of industry—that closely parallels the mentality of looters. In a way, they’re playing the exact same game. One reason (probably among many) people loot is because they can easily get away with it. It’s taking advantage of a sudden legal/political vacuum to maximize your own personal profit. Wealthy people and corporations do the exact same thing; the goal of lobbying is arguably to create legal and political vacuums that corporations can then “loot” without repurcussions.

This isn’t to say that the profit motive of capitalism should be abolished. I don’t have anything to replace that system with. I just find the sanctimonious attitude of wealthy capitalists pretty grating in times like this; the idea that wealthy people somehow “deserve” their billions of dollars in a moral sense; deserve to make several orders of magnitude more money than ordinary workers simply because they are lucky or cunning enough to exploit a niche or a windfall (or to create a vacuum for corporate looting like regulatory captures). If you want your society to provide police detection to ensure stability against hooded mobs of looters and rioters, you can’t also whine when that same society tries to regulate your business in the interest of the public.

I also really liked Jezebel’s write-up, which argues that rioting is fundamentally about an expression of power.

CaptainHarley's avatar


It’s not without reason the public referred to the kingpins of business back in the days before anti-trust laws as “Robber Barons.”

[ Damn! This is getting scary! ]

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@Qingu….I basically answered the question above. If I painted a pix that the “wealthy” somehow are above the law…it was not my intention. It wasn’t the focus of my answer. So, let me just clarify a few points.

The hedonism of the upper classes (while Rome is burning, mind you) continues unabated. The free-wheeling spending of the banksters and bureaucrats continues full force. You are correct, “looting” at this moment in society is not simply going on in the High Street of the cities in GB. It is happening in boardrooms and banks, too by men (mostly) in suits and ties. The difference is that government/the law turns a blind eye to that. Profits are up, up, up at most major corps. I find that equally disturbing and an indictment (once again) of the prevailing societal moral condition.

I am for a free market economy and for capitalism. I don’t think that socialism has ever worked at all in the practical sense (in the end there is still a hierarchy in place-with the illusion that there isn’t- and the guys at the top become corrupt and line their pockets while allowing the “plebeians” to think it is an egalitarian system). It’s not capitalism that is the problem…it’s the unabated greed that is fostered when soulless capitalists (and there are a lot of them) are allowed to run free without any accountability at all.

bea2345's avatar

“When your neighbour’s shirt-tail is on fire, pour water on your own” – is good advice at this time. These riots did not come out of nothing. They are a consequence of years of waste while the majority were losing expectations and hope – let me not get on my soapbox. But it does mean that it behooves me to take account of myself and my community, and to note whether, in my small way, I might be part of the problems ailing us.

Qingu's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus, I think capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others… just like I think democracy is the worst political system instead of all the others.

The_Idler's avatar

I think…
pure democracy is an inefficient state of equality, whereas capitalism is an efficient state of inequality.

I think that the paradox introduced, by trying to strike compromise between those two ideals, is fundamental to the structural and practical problems we experience in our societies…

What do we imagine pure Capitalist Democracy is supposed to be like?
How can both ‘the money’ and ‘the people’ be in charge equally?

WestRiverrat's avatar

It is just the matter of perspective, if you are for the cause in question it is a revolution, otherwise it is just a riot.

And as the victors usually get to write the history, they will portray it as a revolution if the cause wins and a riot if it loses.

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