Breakdown: London looters and the death of communityPosted: August 8, 2011
Unequal societies are either violently repressed or violently anarchic, before they descend into factional wars. It is nowhere near enough for the ‘authorities’ to claim that the arson and looting breaking out across London this week are merely criminality. Of course it’s criminal, but why is it so widespread? I can scarcely believe the TV pictures of burning buildings, today from Hackney in the north to Croydon in the south. The arsonists seem mainly teenagers, children even. They are breaking up society, reflecting a real breakdown that has been papered over with welfare and consumer goods. Cut the welfare, as the government is doing in its quest to reduce our national indebtedness (bankruptcy), and the paper tears.
Who buys property in London? The foreign super-rich. Well they did: the sight of flames replicating bomb attacks may make London less desirable as a ‘safe haven’ from the world’s many, many danger zones. Dangerous societies are unjust, ungovernable, ruled by the power of arms. Have we realised just how unjust and undemocratic we are becoming in our safe haven UK? The extent to which the illusion of democracy has replaced real democracy? People have a vote, but that vote means scarcely anything, and political parties make promises that they break so easily if they attain power. Look at the Liberal Democrats and their abandonment of their promise to oppose higher tuition fees for students. Once they were in government with the Conservatives, they accepted a three-fold increase as ‘necessary’. Who would trust a politician now? It’s all been about expediency. Is it any wonder, then, that children’s concepts of right and wrong are blurred when the whole ethos of our economic life — which has come to mean life, full stop — is to make as much money as possible? Company chiefs award themselves vast salaries, vast pensions, extravagant lifestyles, as rewards for ‘efficiency’ which usually means cutting other people’s jobs. When their global enterprises become insolvent, they call on governments to aid them, and governments raise the cash from you and me, the ordinary taxpayers. International capitalists like Rupert Murdoch have prime ministers virtually performing circus tricks to gain their approval, and Murdoch’s media appear to have important police officers in their cash-stuffed pockets. This is not the example to set our children, who have been landed with the repayments for our casually accrued mega-debts.
It is time to reduce the extremes of wealth and poverty. If chancellor George Osborne goes ahead and removes the top rate of income tax, as is rumoured, it will reinforce my perception that this is becoming an obscenely unequal state, without a strong sense of community and without values other than grab-what-you-can.
The anarchy in London is a warning. We are all going to become poorer, as the resources on our scarred Earth become scarce. At present we do not have the shared sense of purpose that we will need if we are to make the transition without terrible violence.