So the rioting has spread from London to major cities across England, affecting Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Salford and Manchester. The photos and videos kept flooding in of cars being burnt out, buildings trashed and shops looted. Who knew that the apocalypse would feature JD Sports so heavily?
Looters in Salford, for some bizarre reason, were seen raiding a Lidl. Bewildering.
In the midst of all the madness, it seems important to try and put the recent events into perspective. A lot of people appear to be dismissing the goings-on as just random acts of greed and thuggish behaviour. However, it is important for us to try and grasp the current climate where this has all happened.
People appear to be looking for an easy answer. It is ridiculous to try and find just one cause for the mayhem. The media, after whipping everyone up into a state of mania in true ‘Brass Eye’ style, seems useless at understanding that there are numerous causes at work.
These ‘riots’ are forms of extreme vandalism. These are not protests with a political agenda, as some have suggested. These are acts of ‘recreational looting’ that people are committing in their own streets and cities.
Vandalism is committed by individuals who feel no sense of responsibility towards their own environment. This reflects a feeling of alienation and a belief that their environment has very little to offer them. ‘Mindless violence’ cannot be dismissed as just the loutish behaviour of thugs wanting a free pair of terrible Reebok trainers, as it occurs within a context and that context has economic and social factors.
These factors could include, amongst others: poverty, high unemployment, crime, deprivation, education, a generation unable to own property, discrimination, further spending cuts, a growing rich/poor gap and a closed job market.
There are psychological factors also: once one person starts smashing up a car in a public setting, the normal behavioural restraints fly out of the window.
This article is offering no justification for any of the events fromthe last few days; individuals have caused a huge amount of damage to homes and livelihoods. People have died. However, it is of paramount importance that we properly address the factors that have led to this moment, or else it is likely to happen again.