August 15, 2011
Due to recent shocking events in my home country, I feel compelled to give my opinion and to get political. If you are interested in the United Kingdom, current affairs or sociology then read this.
The political left winger would predictably suggest that the riots happened because people are poor, without a future or job and that they have been let down by the country that should have supported them in times of personal and financial hardship. This has been written about here in The Moscow News and in the Guardian newspaper. The extreme right and political right wing would argue that many of the rioters were black, illegal immigrants that should have been shot. The moderate right wing would argue that many of the rioters were hooligans, yobs thieves and that the police force should be tougher, stronger and that sentences for stealing and public disorder should be strict and hard. They would argue that social disorder is happening across the United Kingdom because society is in moral meltdown. The police force is too small and underfunded and that there is little to no deterrent anymore to prevent crime and disorder from happening. They may also argue that benefits are too generous and that criminals and young offenders should be locked up for a long time. They would say that the young rioters should be sent to a young offenders institutions and that the United Kingdom should return to a form of military service. They would argue that military service will help install discipline and order into the young since they lack any discipline now. Some right wing believers would also push for a return of the death sentence for some crimes and the right and extreme right would ask for a stop to all further immigration into the United Kingdom.
The sociologists opinion
The sociologist would suggest rather than ague, that the reason the riots happened was not because some thug got shot and the people were rioting because of his death but he would say they were rioting because the people are angry and let down by the system and by the state. The people lack hope, they lack a future and many come from poor areas of the city. Many come from single patent homes. Many come from dysfunctional homes, broken homes where the the father or mother is an alcoholic, drug user, absent from the home or is a career criminal. The Untied Kingdom is in economic crisis caused by bad policy by the previous government and by the world financial crisis.
However some research by yet more sociologists, will most likely find that many of the 'rioters' or thieves if you prefer to call them that, were actually from middle class wealthy families. They got involved in the anarchy on the streets because they read about it on Face Book or heard about via their mobile Blackberry. They organised en-mass on the streets, with just one intention, to steal and have a laugh, and they will say 'it was something to do'. Many of the rioters were as young as thirteen, many were black and many were on court probation for other crimes. The riots were not just caused by poor blacks or by people from broken homes. The fact is that many that took part in the riots from poor areas of the United Kingdom, may lack a basic education and many probably have learning difficulties (dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder etc) and no academic qualifications. These people see mass people rebellion on the television in other countries and want to emulate it in the UK, not understanding the difference in cause or reason. Some suggest, that gangs are the new leaders that now rule large areas in cities across the UK. They have a strong hold and a strong influence on those of limited intelligence and on those with limited prospects. The United Kingdom lacks role models and the politicians steal. It is little surprise that all respect for authority has broken down.
Any attempt to be critical of the black community, is now seen as 'racist' in an over political and paranoid politically correct British society. Applying the 'racist' label to almost any critic is now seen as cool, trendy and fashionable, regardless if it is a valid or a fair judgement of opinion.
Some psychologists have recently suggested that people are 'opportunists', they say we are all opportunists. They give the example of a shipwreck. A ship carrying a cargo of wood or electrical goods hits rocks in bad weather and is stuck out to sea on the rocks. Containers of the ships cargo wash onto a beach, people see these containers and everyone runs to the beaches to steal these free gifts from the stranded ship. These people are usually law abiding, honest people who pay their parking tickets and who never commit any kind of crime. These people are opportunists and the attraction of free things is too strong to resist, their mind tells them it is morally wrong but as everyone else in on the beach stealing, they don't see it as wrong and so just follow the large crowd. The rioters were just like people taking goods from a shipwreck in times of economic strain.
The blame game
Politicians on the right and left in the United Kingdom will blame each other. The left will say that communities lack support and social services and welfare is underfunded. They will blame the right and liberal coalition of not being active and of being out of touch with the British people. The Police will say they are underfunded swamped down in bureaucracy and will blame the government. The right will say the Human Rights Act needs to be abolished or rewritten as there are few and weak laws to protect the public from criminal activity and that the law is too soft and to weak on criminals and on criminal disorder. This blame game will continue in the newspapers and in the government for many months and experts will argue why and how the riots could have happened and how they could been prevented. No one will say it was their fault that it happened. Like the world over, people blame each other rather than accept responsibility for their own failures.
The sane reality
The real reasons, in my own opinion is due to a mixture of the above and more. The reason these riots happened, is because of lack of personal opportunity in the times we live in, internet technology, a failing education system, unfunded and understaffed police, weak public laws, bad parenting by those who are the parents of the young rioters, absent fathers and moral meltdown, combined with a twenty four hour must have now society.
The collective society has disappeared to be replaced by the individual. Networking technology is also a dangerous tool in the hands of the anarchist or thug. People without any computer skills, can post a party, flash mob, murder, sports event or riot event to thousands of people using just the internet and a social network site. Before we had such easy and free technology, mass public announcements or meetings were hard and time consuming to arrange. They can now be done in moments using a keyboard and an internet network membership.
There is little doubt, that many of the rioters were black and many were from very poor areas of cities like London, many were also white and young, many were also known anarchists whose main aim was and is to cause mayhem and trouble. Over the last decade or so, communities and community spirit and bad policy making by different governments, have removed the collective spirit in the population. We now live in a selfish must have society and in a society where in some countries like the United Kingdom humanity, honesty and kindness are fast disappearing. Our hearts arteries are being chocked by the fat of selfishness. Fuck you is the new mantra and the new god.
The fact is that the British police force is too small and too tied up in bureaucracy. The Human Rights Act has to be removed or rewritten as the consequence of crime and laws are there to protect the criminal rather that those of the victim in the United Kingdom. Many people are opportunists but many of us have a sense of moral duty and a conscience. I am sure that many people who saw a shipwreck, an unlocked shop door or a lost wallet, would not steal but would report it and do the right and honest thing. Not because they are wealthy, religious or on a moral high ground but because their parents and education taught them right from wrong. I am sure even people from a poor family would do the right and honest thing, we are what our past makes us. The reason some do wrong is because they are broken and need fixing. Their past has damaged them. We would not all steal cargo from a shipwreck or rob from a shop.We have a choice and can follow honesty and decent behaviour or choose the other path but we can, with help, repair our past. We all control our destiny but need help via laws and by good government policy in order to be good citizens in a civilized society.
In countries like Russia, China or Iran, mass demonstration is stamped on hard and with brutal force. Governments have zero tolerance to crime and mass anarchy or democratic demonstration. We don't need the kind of system that Iran or China has in the United Kingdom but we do need tougher laws and penalty and in my opinion, a form of paid national service for the young. This national service would last just six months and would be compulsory for all eighteen year old people and would apply to males and females regardless of colour, sexuality or social background. They could choose to do it in the wide community such as at a hospital, in a school, public park, forest management, nature conservation, in industry or in the army. They would sleep in army barracks and follow a strict daily routine to teach them disciple where their parents or schooling failed them. They would be paid for it. The young should be given greater opportunity and involvement in their communities. More money must be put into policing, school education and into communities. We need to feel proud of our country. This pride can only be returned by our politicians. We need to care about each other.
National service of some kind won't totally solve the social breakdown problems for the under 18's but would be a start. There has always been those that have and those that don't have. We need a large stick and a soft feather. A large stick with tough new laws and a feather with social help, infrastructure for the needy, jobs and above all, hope and respect for other people and for private property. This is not utopia but a possible reality if the will and effort is there by the population and by the government.
Governments, cannot leave society to find its own way to happiness and to social harmony. Intervention and help is urgently needed now, the free market idea has failed. Social network sites should be monitored and controlled without taking away freedom of speech and freedom of choice, a difficult thing to do and I do not know how it would be controlled? These days most people won't do the right thing or follow rules unless there is a financial or penal custodial penalty. Laws are the only way to control the masses. Perhaps the world will go a full circle and revert back to rule of law that we once had the past?
The United Kingdom is far to liberal and far too soft and laws have to change now. Without change, anarchy and crime will get worse and the extremists and far right will gain power and the country will sink further into the dark abyss. The United Kingdom is a sinking ship without lifeboats, lets save it now and make changes.
I would happily do national service and would send my own children to do it. We don't need a costly report written by experts on the causes of the riots in England, we don't need to debate it for hours, days, months or years. Most of the solutions are common sense, you may agree with none or some of the above, that is your choice. Anyone that has an interest in society, will sit at the dinner table or in the pub and come up with solutions. This seems to be an impossible task for our elected politicians to make changes and to act. They lack balls, courage and conviction to make our country a better place. The vote is all they seem to care about. Every thing I have said and suggested here is not rocket science or genius, just basic common sense. I may complain about Moscow but I am think I am very lucky not to live in a major city in the United Kingdom.
The insane reality
A report costing lots of money may or may not be produced and will take six to twelve months to be written. It will never be published. Laws will not change and the Human Rights Act will remain. The police will be reduced and continue to be underfunded and yet more black kids will continue to form gangs and kids of all colours will knife and kill each other. Riots and mobs will continue to meet via online network site announcements. Network sites will remain unchecked and uncontrolled as it will be called 'democracy' and 'freedom of speech'. Promises of change will be trumpeted by the prime minister and his ideas will be blasted by the left in live TV House of Commons debates in point scoring games. The worst case scenario could be that all is forgotten and life goes on as usual.
We stand more chance of saving the UK and the world if a TV super hero like Barnacal boy or Mermaid Man were to come out of the the TV and save us all. I hope I am wrong on the insane reality.
I will now return to blogging about Moscow, Russians, Russia, SAHD's and travel. Sorry for my cheeky political diversion but it had to be said. I exercise my democratic right by the pen and keyboard not by the knife, boot, flame or gun.
Note: Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man are fictional super heroes from a funny kids cartoon called SpongeBob.
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Labels: London riots