Monday, August 8, 2011

London Is Burning

Watching the live video from the London riots on Al Jazeera English, I was amazed at how many times a commentator said something to the effect that this was "difficult to understand". Anyone who feels that way, obviously has a job.

It's almost amusing to listen to the government Talking Heads like Nick Clegg declare indignantly that "there is no excuse", calling the rioters thugs, criminals, etc. While I'm not suggesting that the situations are equivalent, the similarity of the UK government's rhetoric to that being employed by the Syrian government is impossible to ignore.

Then again, they are not completely dissimilar. In both cases, there is an incumbent government which does not represent the people, but rather a rich elite. In both cases, that government employs force to repress the popular will.

So now, on the third day, the rioting has spread to Birmingham and Leeds. And the Cameron government is still frantically denying that this could possibly have any connection to the recent round of vicious cuts to public services, to the brutally high unemployment rate, to the whole ruthless package of "austerity measures".

While my sympathies are with the rioters, that doesn't mean I think what they're doing is at all clever. Burning down their own neighbourhood is dumb, and puts no pressure at all on those actually responsible for their misery. If they want to do some good, they need to march to the neighbourhoods where the rich people live, and burn down their houses.

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