UK riots: An existential slant.
The UK riots are, I think, an existential issue and are much greater than mindless thugs looting “for a laugh”. I don’t think people are looking into the riots enough: some people, militant in their belief that we should “fuck the man” are implicitly condoning some utterly abhorrent behaviour. Some, fed only by what the news says are too quick to condemn, and lack any degree of perspective.
Whatever it is that people are thinking and saying, they are too busy proving each other “wrong” to think about why this is happening and where it is going to go. This is a story of disaffected youth carelessly (but not thoughtlessly) taking control.
People sometimes act simply to be an agent; there may not be logic to their actions, their actions may not be well intentioned, but they are actions. When a teenager resorts to anorexia or self harm or when they run away, they are exercising this “control”. Anyone who has been to a protest in the past year (or, well, ever, really…) will have heard time and time again “Whose streets? Our streets!” chanted uproariously by hundreds, if not thousands of people at a time. Well, the people of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol- they have reclaimed their streets. They are in control. By god, they even made David Cameron cut his holiday short, and that, I’m sure, isn’t an easy thing to do.
Though these girls unquestionably sound like idiots they’ve hit the nail on the head. They CAN do what they want. The world we live in is a contract established by the few to rule the many. It creates order. But, when that contract doesn’t work for you, why not leave? Why partake when you have nothing to lose from creating your own social (dis)order? I’m not claiming that everyone rioting right now is an expert in Contract Theory, but the principle is simple. People up and down the country are seeing their livelihoods demolished; their benefits slashed, their homes repossessed, their jobs lost… There is despair. Autonomy is an important thing to many people, and if you take away their lives and routines you take away the meaning of their day to day life, they become disorientated and depressed… then they get angry. Mark Duggan’s death was the final shot of poison in the ConDem boiling pot. You have your explosion. London up in smoke and flames.
People are doing what they want, because they no longer wish to be controlled. They will no longer be the passive, they must be the active. They must become an agent at any cost. Though I do not condone the actions carried out by some people over the past few days, I think that we must wholeheartedly support this reclamation. We must become the agents of our own future. So, stop the fucking bickering and pull together to fight against the bigger picture. The people involved are already criminalised, soon enough they will be stopped and they will be punished. But what then, is that it? It shouldn’t be. You are not accepting destruction from “yobs” and “thugs”, so don’t accept it from a man in a suit. He too is a “thug.” Take control. They ARE your streets, your jobs, your homes, your cars, your children, your educations- not David Cameron’s or George Osbourne’s or Nick Clegg’s. They are every bit as destructive.
You don’t have to set a building ablaze to be an agent. Apathy is unacceptable.