The recent riots have shattered the image that Britain is OK. Because it’s clearly fucking not OK.
The good news is Brits like complaining about things, and tutting – and these riots have given them far better reasons to complain than ‘inclement weather’ or ‘underperforming football team’.
The downside (other than the damage and fear and so forth) is the potential for these riots to wreak sustained and lasting damage on people, families, public services, and society. A potential that the government is wasting no time acting upon.
Rioters (and their families) are being kicked out of their homes, and/or pushed off benefits. Some wannabe participants are being jailed for four years for making stupid facebook comments. The anger and fervour has switched sides – from rioters to the riotees – and being transmuted into profound and lasting changes.
Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine talks about “using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks … to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy.” And sure enough that’s what’s happening. Plans to cut funding to social programmes or give greater powers to the police can now continue as either: necessary to prevent another outbreak, or punishment for the rioting that has already occurred.
Not that I disagree on punishments being meted out for unjustifiable lawless thievery (on whatever social level it occurs) – because I think people sticking taxpayers with massive bills because they themselves wanted to indulge their misplaced sense of entitlement is just plain wrong.
But greater alienation of those already most willing to disregard social norms seems like a pretty short-sighted and narrow-minded plan. Especially as many of those people are already disconnected from support networks and socialization channels. And while you’re at it, stripping funding to groups and institutions that those people rely on is unlikely to help in the long term.
Now I don’t support yobs or yobbishness, nor do I think ‘benefit recipient’ should be a viable life plan, and yet, I can’t help but feel that, riots or no riots, the re-engineering of society is being done entirely the wrong way.