I can understand them.


I can understand them.

I shouldn’t have to couch this in apologies about not condoning of course. But I will.

Because there is a difference. I wouldn’t do it. But I can understand it.

Because actually I think the most important thing is trying to understand it, and the reason this is happening is because people don’t or can’t try to understand people; they’re just ‘mindless’ ‘scum’ ‘youths’ ‘black’ ‘pigs’ ‘anarchists’ ‘protestors’ ‘chavs’ ‘lazy’ ‘stupid’ ‘fuzz’ or one of any number of words that means ‘them not us’.

Every day in many ways you are told about what you should have. What you should wear, the kind of phone, the brand of trainers, the size of TV. But not you. You don’t have the money. We’ll give you the aspiration. The one for the stuff, mind, not skills or education, we don’t want you thinking about it. And we don’t tell you that it’s an empty addiction, that it’s never enough. And every now and then we flash a golden ticket in front of your eyes, a game show, a talent contest, a lottery. Take a chance, they say, life is just a game of snakes and ladders and you may just hit the ladder that takes you all the way to the top.

Brands aren’t people. They’re massive. There are no real people behind that.

And there are whispers of people getting something for nothing

And then it’s a corner shop, not a chain, it’s someone’s livelihood. But after you’ve broken one window, why not another, what’s stopping you? And it feels so good, it makes you feel strong, you’re having an effect. Mostly people look down on you, you can see it in their eyes. Now they’re afraid of you. Scared. You’re on the news. On TV, it’s reality tv where you dictate the camera angles.

You don’t hear or feel the fear of the people in the houses, not out on the streets.

You just feel the pounding of the blood and ringing of the alarms in your ears and your body feels like it’s vibrating. You feel strong. You feel like you could do anything. So you do.

‘you’re just trashing your own community’, so what? No one else gives a fuck about it, why should you. (Ever heard of self harm?)

Looting is an act of aggression against the rules of capitalism. A rejection of the label ‘have not’.

You might not phrase it like that

“I’m hungry, I come and I ask for food, I say please. Every day. I come and I see you’ve got lots of it, more than you need. Days, years, decades I come by. Keep on saying please. Year’s we’ve been asking the government. One day I’m just going to take it.” (paraphrasing an interview from the streets of Hackney http://boo.fm/b433800)

People will get hurt. Houses and goods and livelihoods will be broken. People will be jailed, mothers will lose their sons and police officers’ families won’t sleep, wondering if they’ll take another brick or bottle to the face.

And a thousand more horrible things I couldn’t possibly really understand.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

A broken society is built on the failure of imagination of both government and people.

Stay safe.

Edit, this has got a bit of attention, glad it struck a nerve, even if it was just my half murmured thoughts about a small aspect of it (the looting). If you want to do something (and in general for a good ‘there is such thing as community’ feeling) check out the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. @Artistsmakers is trying to organise community led cleanups.

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55 Responses to “I can understand them.”

  1. George Rendall August 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Don’t agree this is the reason but at least you are right about thinking intelligently about the causes.

  2. Robert August 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank you

  3. Haydn Jenkins August 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    You’re right that something deeper lies beneath all this ‘rioting’. I think it’s disgraceful what is going on and I do not condone one bit of it. But it is important to remember that at some point the system failed them, even if they didn’t do much to help themselves.

    Interesting blog post.

  4. John Jameson August 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve written, and it’s written very well. But looting isn’t “an act of aggression against the rules of capitalism”, it’s an attempt to jump the fence from a ‘have not’ to a ‘have’. Like you said too many people see their only chances of getting out of their situation as winning a talent show or the lottery. I’m not blaming them, that’s a failure of government too. But you have to ask how many of the people rioting voted?

  5. Farouq Taj August 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    We should not make excuses for what is happening. They are not starving, they are not living under an oppressive regime that tortures them, they are criminals with no excuse for their behaviour.

    They have no desire to work hard, persevere in the face of hardship and meet the challenges of their generation. Each generation faces difficulties which they must overcome.

    What we are witnessing is pure savagery. Hard working people have had their businesses burnt to the ground.

  6. Dan August 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Everything you say is spot on except for the fact that it isn’t just people trashing shops. It’s violence, assaults and fires. Someone’s going to get killed, will you still understand them then? I won’t!

  7. greg August 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    slight difference between reacting to social hardship and burning down flats whilst people are asleep in them. raging against an oppressor would be slightly different to mindless destruction. being neglected by a society doesn’t tend to necessitate attacking alied carpets. one would be tempted to argue that that wouldn’t make much sense.

  8. Haydn Jenkins August 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    I think the most worrying thing of all is that these rioters fail to grasp or fail to care that what they’re doing is destroying their own communities.

  9. Hannah Nicklin August 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Hi all, thanks for commenting, and of course I understand that pressures and feelings are running high, especially for those in/nearby the effected communities in London.

    John Jameson, I think that’s exactly what wanting to jump straight from have-not to have is; a rejection of the ‘jump through the hoops and only use the rare shortcuts we provide you with to keep you quiet’ of message of late capitalism. Happy to differ on that though.

    Farouq, I do not consider myself to be here making excuses. Just recognising that no one acts in exclusion. I mourn every loss, from whatever side it comes. But I don’t think it’s savagery as much as it is a symptom.

    Dan, I will understand that sometimes things get horrible and unforgivably out of hand. What I wanted to get across is the idea that people are more than just rioter, killer, arsonist, looter. They’re a whole bundle of mistakes and misunderstandings and moments where things could have been diffused. I hope against hope that there aren’t any deaths or serious injuries.

    Greg, Terry Pratchett (a wiser person than me) once said that the way to find the total intelligence of the Mob, is to take the IQ of its least intelligent member, and divide that by the number in the crowd. Stupid things happen when you’re caught up in that kind of thing. The mob is mindless, in the literal sense of the word, the people who make it up are made up of a myriad of things, including societal neglect. Necessitate, no, exacerbate, yes.

  10. Hannah Nicklin August 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Haydn, I doubt it is beyond their grasp, and I can’t presume to speak for their conception of whether or not they consider the buildings and cars of where they live their community. I might highlight my ‘self harm’ aside though. Find yourself valueless by others’ standards often enough and you might begin to agree.

  11. Arjan Stoffels August 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    I think you are right, but maybe you’re not taking it far enough.

    This might be the mirror of suicide-bombing. People (children??) who don’t care what’s happening next, just smash everything. They are not destroying their own communities, they are destroying your communities. Their community is now on the street, destroying yours, showing that your police is rather incompetent (to say the least) and your politics need a very serious review.

    Excuses for my English, I hope you still get my drift.

  12. Chrs August 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Thanks for a refreshing take on this hannah, I think I probably totally agree with you.

    I was lucky enough to be brought up in a middle class household and sent to good schools and have ended up at a good university. I can see my future, but the people on the streets can’t and for that reason, I can understand what they’re doing.

  13. frak August 8, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    A nice explanation for a huge mass of people who would have otherwise never been heard. I for one.

  14. Garf August 8, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    I’ve always had hope. I’ve believed i can have a better future. Even when things go wrong i still have believed. i can’t imagine having no hope, no future. i can’t imagine things getting so bad that I’ve had enough and have to do something. something selfish. Something with no regard or respect. something that makes me feel powerful. something that will teach them, all of them. it’s their fault. i owe them big time. I agree no excuses, crime is crime. but for our own future, we have to try to understand.

  15. Liam Barrington-Bush August 9, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    awesome, awesome. awesome. Thanks for writing this Hannah! So well said! (and thanks for linking to my Boo, also…)

  16. Andy Williamson August 9, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    You’re absolutely right about the need to understand, and how this doesn’t equate to condoning what’s happening.

    As well as being constantly exposed to ‘this is what you should have’, we also are getting unprecedented access to ‘what other people are taking’ – whether it’s MPs claiming as ‘expenses’ things that normal people would never dare; or a top policeman being given thousands of pounds worth of hospitality/health club, or people in positions of knowledge being corruptible by the press – police again, but also many others. Even this morning’s news is full of wildly exaggerated stories about civil servants using credit cards to supposedly ‘buy lingerie and karaoke machines’. It’s not hard to imagine someone with very little using any small thing like this to delude themselves into justifying something like looting – when apparently everyone else is doing it too.

    It’s really no different to the way that MPs persuaded themselves that these expenses must be OK really – everyone else is having them – despite the fact that they MUST have known somewhere seep down that it was clearly wrong.

  17. Hannah Nicklin August 9, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    I should also just emphasise, I really hope this ends soon. It is horrible.

  18. dd August 9, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Don’t agree with Farouq Taj! do you know any of these teens/ young adults?? Their back grounds, upbringing?? no desire to work, maybe thats because theres not much out there for them, most get turned down because of their image, not being educated enough, poor english….you think its easy as buying chips but it isn’t, where is the support schemes in helping youths out, directing them in the right path?? Getting them educated without student loans?

    Generations do face difficulties but i don’t see anyone pitching in to do anything about it! Hard working people who build their businesses in poor areas, making money of poor people because thats all the young youths see ‘their shinny glossy products brand new products, the must haves!’ Youth basically told they’re nothing without the best gear through the media. Youths in so called bad areas don’t see signs of encouragement anywhere from anyone, a few lucky ones do but this riot clearly shows that there is more to this.

    Sure crime is crime, deeper issues need to be sorted in order to solve problems before it creates potential crime.

    Lovely blog Hannah :-)

  19. FensRight August 9, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    How lovely.

    When your nan’s house is burning to the ground, will you still “understand?”.

    When a journalist is beaten half to death will you still “understand?”.

    When a young family are huddled terrified in a back room while people hurl bricks at their home, will you still “understand?”

    You don’t understand squat. You’re justifying, is all. It’s very pretty and nice and I’m sure you’ve lovely.

    But its an insult to all the disadvantaged people who didn’t decide violence, arsen and theft was the answer. And it is an insult to all the people who worked hard and saved to make their way.

    And, frankly, its your touchy-feely understanding that tries so hard to do the right thing while doing precisely the wrong thing which is part of the problem.

    Never mind, I’m sure your “understanding” will heal the world in short order. You can vote Labour, or Lib Dem, or Green and everything will be well. -cough-

  20. Hannah Nicklin August 9, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    FensRight, I reiterate – understand isn’t the same as saying it’s OK, or saying it’s even a little bit reasonable, and not a lot horrible. I hope all of this ends as soon as possible and with as little harm and destruction, too.

    Understand isn’t to say that I don’t have great respect for the people who don’t commit acts of violence, and for those who overcome everything that life throws at them to make good non-harmful decisions.

    I grew up a policeman’s daughter during the 80s and early 90s, and very well know the grim reality and fear that suffocates people impacted by these kinds of events. (That is my dad’s had plenty of bricks chucked at his head)

    Understand, though, IS to say that these people do not act in a vacuum. They are not rabid animals.

    My ‘understanding’ is not touchy-feely. OR girly. It is humane. And not black and white. It is an admission that the world is complicated.

  21. Khotso August 9, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    FensRight: u failed to understand :-(

    Watching this from my own country(south africa) haunts me: our youth are probably faced with harsher realities than those in London. I hear & smell it here too… something will brake soon if peopled are not listened to. No one here wishes such a nightmare on any honest hard working person but when governing systems have been failing you since your school days there comes a point where nothing should matter, cause you feel don’t…

    We need to LISTEN first:all sides!

    Thanx for the blog…

    Peace & Love London

  22. Andy August 9, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    I made the same point in a blog post of my own – trying to understand is not the same as condoning or justifying. The paternalistic and patronising post from Fensright is part of the problem. Good post, Hannah.

  23. Beverley August 9, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    I would agree with you Hannah…..but where are all the poor women and children with all their expectations? Or is it just young men aged 10 to 25 that have all the problems? Random acts of violence do make people feel powerful, and that is what they are caught up in. Claiming poverty is the problem, well that’s an insult to poor people. I was born into a very poor family, as where all the people in our neighbourhood, we tried to help each other not destroy the few things we had. Even poor people have values.
    I now live in a very middle class suburb of Sydney. Even here kids with their iphones, labellised clothing and kick-ass skateboards/surf boards still feel the need to go around getting drunk and trashing the very town their families live in, most weekends shop sindows are broken and cars vandalised outside our homes. Sorry don’t buy the poor disenfanchised youth shit anymore, everyone, and I mean everyone’s expecatations are out of control. Just look at the good old USA and what they all wanted and thought they deserved, so in that way there is an essence of truth in blaming ‘Brands’. Nothing new in that though, just listen to the word of ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones, as Mick Jagger so eloquently put it, “He can’t be a man ‘cos he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me”

  24. Farouq Taj August 9, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    @dd I grew up in an urban environment which suffers from social and economic deprivation.

    Let’s be clear on this. These youths have been given the opportunity to receive an education. They have chosen to be disruptive in the classroom rather than gain knowledge. You give them access to computers in the classroom and they busy themselves prising the keys off the keyboard, damaging the screen etc. they choose to behave the way they do.

    In childhood when they ought to be at home doing their homework they choose to hang around outside off-licences smoking cannabis and vandalising private and public property. It’s all a game for them.

    In adulthood they make themselves practically unemployable. Yes we are facing economic hardship and there are no jobs but would they turn up to work on-time during times of prosperity?

    The problem starts in primary school. They soon learn that the consequences to ignoring and breaking rules is not a deterrent. The first time your arrested its a bit scary but then you realise the police can’t touch you. Neither can the teachers. So why bother obeying the law? It’s easier to live a wild lifestyle, smoke a spliff, take the dangerous dog for a walk round the block before opening a can of lager and sitting down to watch Sky.

    This is the shocking state of our nation today.

  25. Lisa August 9, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    You have just articulated perfectly exactly how I have been feeling about the riots. Well done for having the courage to say it. People only won’t like it because they don’t like to hear difficult truths. x

  26. some1 August 9, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Britain is welfare state dedicated to all things multicultural. The “youths” have cell phones, flatscreens, game consoles, cars and whatnot. This has nothing to do with money, nothing to do with “oppression.”

    Blacks and Muslims riot because they can and because they like doing it. They know their generous hosts are too scared to do anything about it. If the price of rioting was a rubber bullet to the head, these guys would be real quiet.

  27. Hannah Nicklin August 9, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    I’m on the move today so haven’t the time to respond to everybody, but just wanted to say to ‘some1′ that your post is completely unacceptable. Racist for one thing. There were plenty of white people out on the streets yesterday. And I’m not going to give that argument any more credence by responding further.

    As for ‘they’re not poor because they have x’
    1) capitalism is not about being poor, but . wanting more
    2) poverty is relative
    3) poverty is not only monetary. Poverty of ambition, of equality, of education or aspiration.

    Now please take your crass generalisations and offensive inverted commas elsewhere.

  28. motoringmitch August 9, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Great blog, one will bear in mind what sparked the riot off. Whilst I do not condone it I understand why, no human being likes to be murdered.
    The police have shot a totaly innocent man, so what if he was a known criminal ?. Where was his trial ? who investigates it ?. Sadly we all know the outcome before it happens, will the people (policy officers) who shot him go before a true court of law ? No they will not. It takes courage to fight against armed men with guns, tazers, armoured clothing, shields, tear gas, so on and so on. Police are supposed to protect the people and property, not be judge jury and slayers of men. Any willful act causing death or grievous bodily harm or loss of liberty to: Is terrorism. What about the De Menzies trial ? how many policy men were charged with murder ? NONE. Simply put, the mass are not going to terrorised by policy men who can shoot whoever they want with impunity from prosecution. Look at the miscariages of trials over the last decade. Government orchestrated.

  29. Max calixte August 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Life can be so much better for écru human being… They Know about it and the monetary system does not work at all…. With all techonolgies today we can create abundance. It can be used to improve everyone’s lifestyle and abundance all over the world, if we use our technologies wisely and maintain the environment. Thevenusproject.com.  This is NOT happening right now when all money goes to wars and for fraud the people

  30. ccbbee August 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I often contemplate why riots don’t happen in the US. My simplified breakdown.

    The immigrants are being taken advantage of but keep quiet over fear of deportation. The African Americans end up in jail at the speed of light, unless they’re rich rappers. White Americans chose to believe that they’re above all this, and are still middle class (ha): buy an iphone, all is solved. The poorest white Americans, struggling with their Walmart paycheck, still believe in the good ole U.S. of A., at all costs. Especially their own.

  31. David August 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I believe it’s absolutely vital to understand some of the reasons this has come about, and it is idiotic to just call it ‘criminality’ and ignore any underlying causes. Of course it is criminality, but of course that’s not all. And it wasn’t spontaneous.

    There have been riots in a number of EU countries recently, and a number of Middle-Eastern countries too. Could they possibly all be unconnected? Could it really be mere coincidence?

    The kids looting Curry’s and Comet and random jewellers probably aren’t thinking very much about Mark Duggan. But would any of this have happened without his shooting to trigger it?

    After the Brixton riots in the 1980s, Lord Scarman said that if there aren’t some fundamental changes in society (this was the Thatcher ‘no-such-thing-as society,’ as distinct from the Cameron ‘BIG-society’), it would happen again, and worse.

    Blair taught us that we can protest in our millions. They couldn’t care less.

    After that, how would you expect the youth to express their disapproval and disaffection? In verse?

    You have to laugh at the placeholder Met Chief, though, blaming the parents. That’s bound to fix it, surely.

  32. Jean-Francois Raymond August 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Thank you Hannah for this great post! We are ALL products of industrial age capitalism. The cornerstones of our “Institutions” are failing miserably – although it is wrong to destroy, pillage & engage violent acts…people need to open their minds & leave their beliefs & social conditioning aside for 2 minutes & understand what drives the “human instinct” for survival & recognition. It’s not about race, religion or creed. It’s about a System that is OBSOLETE in this new era. If you naysayers above can’t put this into perspective – you will soon enough! Great job Hannah! Bravo from Québec, Canada.

  33. Andy_D August 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Looting & rioting is one thing. This however is an act too far:



  34. Bob August 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I hope you get up close and personal with the mindlessness you understand so well. I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be as tragic as the young woman raped in the refugee camp in Calais who also understood what the wannabe illegal immigrants were about camped there waiting for their ticket to the promised land.

  35. Martin Izat August 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    I live in Hackney,have done for 20 years,I was here as a squatter & saw the polltax riots kick off,this was at a time when we all felt disenfranchised,we rioted to try to change our lot,we did not organise shopping/looting sprees with our mates.I saw both these things up close & personal,this is opportunist looting,not anything more or less,& to try to justify this is bullshit.
    I set up a community unicycle club that operates for free in Hackney,as I realised that you need to give the kids something to do rather than simply complain about the yobbish behaviour that we saw,this however is beyond the pale,we have clean water, & generally are not starving in this country.This is a country governed by consensus & we need to get these yobs to understand this.& to punish them for this abominable behaviour.
    We will all have a chance to look at the many photos & video of these events & identify the culprits & then we can bang them up & put where they belong.
    bleeding hearted liberalism is all well & good,but when you witness an old woman 70 plus mugged by kids,what’re you going to do give the mugger a cuddle,personally I will defend the old woman & if that means I get arrested & charged with GBH or worse so be it.

  36. Alastores August 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    It’s quite depressing how so many people focus on the violence. I don’t mean the Daily Mail crowd or the media, I mean intelligent people.

    Yes, it’s deplorable that these people are looting, burning, and attacking others. But that’s a mob for you. People in mobs act that way.

    What this means is that you have to address what caused the mob – rather than focusing on the symptom, you need to find the disease. In this country, the disease is very simple to diagnose, and very hard to fix.

    We have a society that is utterly disdainful of care.
    We have a society that is exclusionary – if it can make you out to be different, it will do. Oh, you aren’t allowed to say someone is black, but if you can say they are a ‘scrounger’….
    We have a society that continually seeks scapegoats. Whether scrougers or video games, or anything other than addressing the issue.
    We have a society drenched in attempts to define people by their things.
    We have a society run by those who are simply in it for themselves.
    We have a society in which normal, peaceful methods have been shown not to work.
    We have a society in which there aren’t opportunities – they’ve gone, fallen before the throne of money.
    We have a society in which the youth can – correctly!- see that there’s no point trying, because most of them will fail through no fault of their own.

    But no, we can’t consider that. We have to deplore the violence, because otherwise, all of our friends might think we are bad!

  37. Haydn Jenkins August 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Brilliant comment Alastores I think you managed to convey what I was trying to say in another blog post http://bit.ly/mOLZuA . It’s easy for people to brush this all aside as ‘pure criminality’. But by doing this they dodge the more worrying deeper problems in our society that have been uncovered by this crisis.

  38. Andy August 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    People don’t seem to even understand the need to understand. How the hell do we stop this lunacy happening again if we don’t understand why it happened?

    I condemn the violence, but I know we need to understand why – that is not the same as justification. Getting pretty sick of saying that…

  39. JT August 10, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    I think it is so interesting that parenting has hardly been mentioned in these posts at all. David, in your reference to the Met Chief blaming parents, you can’t be so naive as to think that parenting doesn’t have a serious place in this discussion? Society, government, community, schools – these institutions are all being held responsible for the upbringing, the discipline and the values of children. People should shoulder responsibility for the behaviour of the children they bring into the world and stop trying to get other people to raise their children for them. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child – it takes parents.

    Another point I want to make is that the society we live in is not as black as so many of you have painted it. We have food in their bellies, we have mobile phones and televisions and internet, we are not dying of malnutrition or dehydration or malaria and anyone injured in these riots will be taken to the nearest A&E where they will receive free hospital care. Alastores, your post strikes me as a lot of bleak and sweeping rhetorical generalizations -” We have a society in which the youth can – correctly!- see that there’s no point trying, because most of them will fail through no fault of their own” – are you SERIOUS? now there’s a call to abdicate all personal responsibility. Try and keep some perspective.

  40. Alastores August 10, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Actually, yes, I am serious. And I’m basing that off the fact that I work with them. I work with disabled and disadvantaged kids, trying to deal with a variety of problems. (Last school term, in one day I’d be asked to deal with an autist, two violent kids, and a child who -genuinely – had ADHD).

    These kids trust me and have no reason to lie to me, because they trust me – mainly, I suspect, because they know I’ve fought for them. So when I ask intelligent kids why they are messing around in class, and the responses are (paraphrased):
    “Because I can’t get a job anyway”
    “Because there’s just no point, what am I going to do with this?”
    “Because no-one I see has a job,I won’t get one”.
    “Because life is shit, so I may as well have fun now”
    “Because I’ll be dead before this means anything.”

    Society is not food. It’s not hospials. Sociieties without food and medical treatement have been a hell of a lot better than ours has. Food and medical treatment adds to quality of life, but not quality of society.

    Abdicating all personal responsibility? No – They have made themselves fail. There ARE chances. But they are very, very rare, and they can’t see them. For the majority, they are correct. No matter how hard they try, they cannot suceed. So why bother? Their parents don’t have options. Their siblings don’t have options. Their peers don’t have options, and even their TEACHERS don’t have options, given how off-the-cuff they are being fired (and yes, kids pick up on that). In their opinion- why would they?

    Oh, but they should be happy because if they aren’t allowed a job they get the chance to go to the benefits office, where they are called ‘scum’ (And yes, I was unemployed for a year, and yes, my advisor did indeed call me scum, before I pointed out I was autistic), alongside the chance to see themselves refered to constantly as scroungers and lazy.

    Food doesn’t create self-respect. Without self-respect, why bother trying? It’s not laziness to give up. It’s Wrong, but it’s not lazy.

  41. Raspir August 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Only in Britain can people with £100 trainers organise a riot on £300 phones claim to be in poverty. My advice to these people is to grow up. There’s always shit needs shovelling, but people don’t want to do those jobs. Ultimately it’s their own self-proscribed superiority that puts them out of work because they don’t want a job they feel is beneath them.

    If they want respect then destroying people’s homes, businesses and striking terror into the hearts of people young and old is doing exactly the reverse and merely alienating them, giving people more cause to label them and disassociate.

    The reason they’re rioting is because they’re too fucking stupid to address their problems with tempered reason. It’s not really about poverty or about alienation, its about crude, atavistic entertainment from sad, simple mentalities.

    But that doesn’t completely absolve the other sectors. Youth needs investment. The government can’t invest because it has no money and the private sectors wont invest because there’s no profit in Youth Clubs, etc. But at the same time you all shop in Tesco whose tax avoidance has cost us Libraries and the NHS. Perhaps if these multinational companies did pay their taxes to our own country then we could afford more services for the youth.

    If these youths are worried about joblessness and poor economy, then all rioting does is serve to give business owners and corporations reasons not to set up shop or invest in business in those areas. Ultimately all they’re doing is damaging the economy further and creating more unemployment.

    Moreover they only serve to make themselves unemployable because it’s much harder to get a job with a criminal record with or without a recession than it is to simply grow up, shut the fuck up and get on with it.

    If these people wanted descent careers there ARE jobs that only require dumbfuck qualifications. The RAF, the Army, even being a Bin Man. But they don’t want these jobs. So why should we give them any quarter?

    They destroy the city and then ask for respect and handouts when it’s our taxes, the taxes of people who actually have jobs, that will pay for the rebuilding. Fuck ’em. Time to bring back the foreign legion and show these fuckheads what hardship and respect really is.

  42. Raspir August 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    And if they think life is so fucking hard in Britain, they should try living in Most of the World for a week. The world headline should have been ‘Mob Rule’ yesterday, it should have been ‘600,000 kids on the brink of starvation around the world, so grow up, go home, have a pot noodle’.

    But I think everyone has forgotten the most important thing of all
    throughout this: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  43. motoringmitch August 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    “It was needless, opportunistic theft and violence, nothing more, nothing less. It is completely unacceptable,” said Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, after visiting Tottenham on Monday.
    But Mr. Clegg are you describing the riots or the current economic & political system in western powers. Are you talking about clashes with police in London, or your illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are we discussing the looting of stores by hooligans, or the bail-outs given to big banks while Londoners starve?
    Mr.Clegg, your government has chosen theft and violence, both in its international relationships, and its relationship with its citizenry. These are the youths from whom you have stolen their future. Saddled them with debts. They cannot find employment, they will never be able to afford a home, their marriages will likely fail due to economic hardships, destroying the families they try to create. Yet Mr. Clegg wants to give more “tax-options” to super rich and corporations, more bail-outs for his buddies who run the banks and of course to borrow more money (that the poor will have to repay) to finance their posh lifestyles.Mr. Clegg tells us that the wealthy have achieved this by hard work….but a close inspection of their hands does not reveal any scars or calluses. Sorry Mr. Clegg, your fat little bovine fingers are covered in blood of innocents.Ye shall reap what ye have sown.

  44. Hannah Nicklin August 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Some interesting points, some ignorant ones, but they’re starting to cycle. This will probably be my last reply. So if you want to issue any other veiled rape threats or shout at me about how it’s not possible to live in poverty in the UK, then you will have to do so to stony silence.

    @Andy_D assume that’s the video of the injured guy being mugged (don’t want to see it again). It’s all too far there’s not one bit of it I would condone. Doesn’t change the fact that I understand how it might get to that point. For anyone.

    @bob fuck you and the veiled rape threat you sailed in on.

    @Martin it is not ‘justifying’, it is trying to understand – that is work out what caused people to feel as though these were valid actions. Quite an important start for making sure it doesn’t happen again, I’d say. Instead of fighting violence with more of it.

    @Alastores, I agree

    @andy with you too

    @JT thing is, that we are all products of the society in which we were brought up and continue to live; parents included. But yes, there does need to be more support given to parents and young children. Like, say, not cutting book schemes, libraries, surestart, extra benefits for single parents with no contributing ex, perhaps.

    @Raspir these are the same ignorant points about poverty. I’ll say for a final time:

    1) capitalism is not about being poor, but wanting more
    2) poverty is relative.
3) poverty is not only monetary. Poverty of ambition, of equality, of education or aspiration play a massive role.

    And to continue with your points, there is no one reason why any of this happened, why any one person took part. I’m not saying I either condone, or think it makes sense. Nor do I think many people went out thinking ‘cor this capitalism sure does piss me off, let’s go smash up some shops’, or ‘damn I hate that I don’t have a job, let’s go and take someone else’s livelihood’. But there’s an undeniable socio-political context. I don’t know why this is such a difficult word for people to grasp, but all I am saying is that I can find it in me to understand the wrongheaded actions and myriad causal factors behind these riots.

    But they are not stupid. The mob is mindless, sure. But the people are not stupid. They’re angry, or empty, or jealous, or frightened, or elated, or powerless, or disenfranchised, or desperate, or any mix of those things and more.

    And there aren’t jobs. There simply aren’t. Far fewer vacancies than people, in the wrong areas, and often requiring expertise that is completely beyond the reach of people coming out of failed schooling systems. Though this is not to assume, of course, that many of them were necessarily unemployed.

    They are not asking for respect. They are not asking for handouts. Because ‘they’ are thousands of people it’s ignorant to suggest are united in asking anything. But we should respect them. As human beings. And we should try and fix this root and branch.

    I agree two wrongs don’t make a right. Which is why we should begin by understanding their wrongs, and ours, so we can start making right.

    Dear everyone else,

    Feel free to comment yourselves in oblivion, but I can’t believe one person’s opinion really deserves THIS MANY COMMENTS.

  45. rkramer August 13, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Interesting opinion and interesting collection of comments.

    In spite of your future stony silence, i need to add only 1 word to this part of your last comment:
    “…The mob is mindless, sure. But the people are not stupid. They’re angry, or empty, or jealous, or frightened, or elated, or powerless, or disenfranchised, or desperate, or any mix of those things and more…”

    [People are] greedy

  46. Dave S August 18, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    @rkramer: What would cause someone to be “greedy”?

    My guess: scarcity.

    Why be greedy when you can always go back for more because there is enough for everyone to have a share?

    It’s artifical scarcity (this pyramid scheme called “capitalism” we find ourselves living in), and deliberately engineered consumer desire (because that’s profitable) which has lead to “greed”. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

    Therefore, the “greed” you point at is merely a reaction to the circumstances people find themselves in.

    People are people, and given certain circumstances, everybody will act “greedy” – you, me, politicians, police, journalists, rioters, judges, doctors, beggars and millionaires alike.

    Greed is not something you are – it is something you do in the face of scarcity.

    Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of artificial scarcity, I’d like to mention something which there can be no scarcity of: love. Since love comes for free from inside us, we can create it by the truckload and share it around until everyone is sated. There is nothing stopping us but fear, yet creating a society based on love will be the most expedient way to sort out all these other artificially created scarcities which lead to things like greed and rioting. So, what are we waiting for?


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