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Comment - on the riots


What caused the English riots?

Bill Linton of Enfield Green Party, writes:

Media interviews with rioters and their sympathisers have shown an indifference to other people and their property that appals everyone else. The media have been full of people blaming the riots on criminality. This won't do. Rioting and looting ARE criminal but mass criminality cannot come out of nowhere. There must be causes.

In the last 30 years we have seen a transformation from a society in which people largely looked out for each other and aimed for fairness, into one in which wealth and personal gratification are the only things that count.

We have also seen the rapid widening of the gap between rich and poor and the creation of an underclass which can never hope to enjoy the things which society sees as most desirable. Many come from broken homes on sink estates and attend schools that turn out illiterate, innumerate 16-year-olds with no hope of a job and nowhere to go. And all this is made worse by the recession and the cuts. That would be bad enough in itself, but they can see the rest of society enjoying wealth they can never hope to attain by legal means - and often attaining it by methods that are immoral even when legal. They also see the police reluctant to investigate the dodgy dealings of the wealthy but happy to stop-and-search the poor, particularly the non-white poor. They see the authorities protecting their own turf and feathering their own nests rather than tackling the real problems of a broken society. They see that the rich and powerful can flout the norms of society with impunity.

So while violence, robbery and arson can never be condoned, the alienation of the 'have-nots' is understandable. Less understandable is that many of the looters have not, in fact, been members of that underclass. That points to an even more worrying conclusion: that the disintegration of society has reached the point where even the 'haves' see gratifying their own selfish desires at the expense of others as justifiable.

And that is confirmed by the extraordinary moral blindness shown by MPs, bankers, journalists, policemen and others over recent years and revealed in recent months. This, too, has causes. Above all it comes from the worship of money as the only thing that counts. 'Trickledown' doesn't work with money, but it does with ideas, and it is this way of thinking, trickling from the rich to the poor, which has so comprehensively undermined society.


Pearsons, the day after the Enfield riot



Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ