Why I think the riots are a product of neoliberalism.
WARNING: the following rant is full of capitals and exclamation marks, don’t read if squeamish.
Now, I’m no economist or politician; what I write here isn’t factual, it isn’t even really informed. At least, not by anything other than my own moral compass and experience, but that still doesn’t stop me throwing my conjecture into the world.
The rhetoric of the right and the left is highly simplistic- the right are too busy blaming single parents and “Broken Britain” (whatever the fuck that is), and the left too fixed on playing party politics (let’s be truthful, it isn’t just a matter of cuts, despite the fact that I quite like using anything as weaponry against the Tories).
But there’s one issue in particular that I find striking, and it’s the issue of “opportunity”. Both the left and the right are using “opportunism” to back their own argument, but I think they’re both wrong. David Cameron likes to call it “criminality, pure and simple”, nothing more than reckless “opportunism”- the likes of Ed Milliband looking to underlying causes, to a lack of opportunity. I say- HELLO. They had an opportunity, and they took it. “Oh hi! I’m an unguarded shop full of things that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get your hands on!” – Of course people are going to take advantage. It is not right that they do so- but who really has the right to blame them?
When we live in a society where you are valued not by your morals or education, but the number of zeros on your annual wage slip, can we act like the looters are sub-normal ferals for buying into the capitalist model? “BUY NOW PAY NEXT YEAR!” Heck, why pay at all? Money is too readily available in cruel mediums. Loan sharks, BUYYOURGOLDNOWRIGHTNOW!!!WOOO!, webuyanycar.com… Thatcher’s trigger-happy credit card invention was the start of modern moral decline, nothing to do with declining religion or immigration whatever else The Daily Mail fancy blaming. You’re perfectly entitled to get yourself into huge amounts of debt and live way beyond your means as long as it’s all on a piece of plastic. Let’s face it, everyone’s entitled to a flat-screen TV, it’s just right in a society like ours!!! Isn’t it?
I come from a working class family, an incredibly deprived working class family, and I share (though not to the same degree) the hardships of those most affected by the relative poverty of this country. Despite this, my household still has 2 laptops, a 42inch plasma LOOK AT ME T.V, we still have nice clothes, in fact, we even have a lamp that cost a couple of hundred pounds or something equally ridiculous. But why? We do not live beyond our means entirely, but I’m sure that the money spent on a phat T.V would be more appreciated in a trust fund or a mortgage, but no. If we didn’t have the ridiculous lamp and big-ass T.V, we, like anyone else who doesn’t have those things is rendered worthless. Scratter, Scruff, Scrubber… whatever. Pushed further and further into the recesses of social ostracisation, becoming more and more “other”ly. A strong us-them complex can easily become prevalent.
So when we live in such a flippant, materialistic world how can we possibly say that those trying to enter it are animalistic? Why is it that we are wealth-sympathisers? MPs fiddling expenses was “scandalous”, but it wasn’t sub-human. Bankers ruining our economy and being paid millions to do so are “wankers”, but that’s about it. Who’s shouting about that any more? Just a few poor people who (God forbid!) have managed to get an education. And what about George Osbourne’s friends who have millions in off-shore tax havens? It’s okay, we should let them get away with it because “they can move” and then we’d ALLLLL be buggered then, wouldn’t we? Wealth creates wealth and keeps it within its own circle, but when the criminals are well-spoken Etonians we don’t seem to mind. It’s just when the dirty, filthy poor try get their hands on some we’re truly apalled. Perhaps people don’t care about the Bullingdon Club’s “mistakes” because they’re not “anarchists” and they can simply pay for it. Surely, though, the money isn’t the issue? People seem to be too busy moralising to care about what this costs in pounds stirling. No, no, it’s much more important to think about what it costs our dignity, our beautiful society!
Still, I’m convinced that the people busy moralising and saying how pathetic it is that people have to steal unnecessary goods are people chirping away in their tailored suits and blackberries. The looters aren’t stealing unnecessary goods; sadly, they are stealing human worth.
Now, as I have said, this is purely my conjecture, but I have a genuine (and I don’t think stupid) belief that if you rid people of such “mindless” materialism, that the “mindless opportunism” would soon follow.