The Good Delusion 143


Comments on my last post revealed many of the regular commenters here to be victims of what I might call “The Good Delusion” – a belief that anyone at odds with the political and economic establishment must be good, as the establishment is unjust and corrupt. But the sad truth is that vicious materialism and sociopathic behaviour is neither confined solely to the upper classes nor in all cases instigated by them.

I should for example be grateful for an explanation by some of the commenters on my last post as to why the following is an act of revolutionary vanguardism, constitutes a protest against government spending cuts or is a product of police stop and search powers:

The answer is that such claims are ludicrous. The idea that all thuggery is the fault of the bad example of the Bullingdon Club or of higher university tuition fees is an absolute nonsense. And I speak as somebody who is utterly opposed to any tuition fees paid by students, absolutely deplores the privilege that the Bullingdon Club represents, and is completely against stop and search.

The idea that no personal blame can be attached to the looters because of their background or of government policies, is one with which I have no sympathy. Strangely those who hold that the looters are blameless victims of oppression tend to be the same people who have no sympathy for the policemen who get injured, whatever their motives or circumstances that led them to join the police. Apparently all looters are innocent and all police are villains. What nonsense!

In direct answer to another critical commenter, you are quite wrong in stating that all my information came from the media. It did not. As far as I know, the store security guards badly beaten up in Newham have not been reported yet in the MSM, for example. How were the attacks on those people justified, who were just trying to earn a living? What about those leaping for their lives to escape fires, or who had their flats attacked with firebombs? What of the bus driver pulled from his bus and beaten up so the bus could be wrecked? The cabbie who had his arm broken trying to defend his takings?

There is a key fact here. The vast majority of those arrested have existing criminal records – many of them very long indeed. This is not a spontaneous uprising of a repressed class. This is a large number of existing criminals seeing an apparent opportunity to rob and mug with little chance of being caught as they temporarily overwhelmed the police. Anyone who believes these were frustrated would-be university students is so warped by ideology as to have descended into gibbering idiocy.

Frankly the idea that these were oppressed representatives of a suffering class is an insult to the very many decent people in low paid work and without work who struggle to get by and never burn down anyone’s home, mug anyone or loot electronic bling from shops.

Some commenters also have chosen to allude to my own middle class background. There are a very few people who frequent this site who have known me since childhood. I can guarantee you that I grew up in much greater material deprivation than almost any of the criminals out looting. It is a simple matter of fact that I owned no clothes which were not secondhand, other than underwear, until after I went to university. I never had a watch. But did that entitle me to go and loot a shop and burn out the people living above it?

I was brought up, with my siblings, by my mother and grandfather. He was a coalman from the genuine British working class tradition, a lifelong socialist, entirely-self taught. He used to read to me from Burns, Hazlitt and Tressell. When in doubt on any moral question, I always consider what old Henry would have done. If anywhere near, he would have been out there with his coal shovel defending people against the vicious looters trying to attack them, ruin their livelihoods and burn them out. Any of you who cannot see that that is the authentic tradition of the British people, are suffering a case of the good delusion which is beyond repair.


143 thoughts on “The Good Delusion

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  • Herbie

    There are many people on here who don’t grasp just how dangerous all this stuff is. It’s like you think the stability of your state will go on forever and all you have to do is pick off the baddies every so often.
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    If it were a simple matter of just locking up wrongdoers then that would be fine.
    .
    It isn’t that simple, however. That’s been explained many times.
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    If you want to live with chaos and instability, then so be it. Others have pointed out that this goes much deeper than you imagine.
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    I suspect however that you may come to understand your error in time. It’ll be too late then of course.

  • Scouse Billy

    “We are fed up, obviously.
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    “We get searched and pulled over for nothing, it’s our kind of way of rebelling.
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    “It’s not an excuse but that’s what we know, we’re broke, we wake up and this is our way to get a bit of money.
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    “Obviously other people, stuck-up people, don’t see it our way.”
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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14465188
    .
    Craig, you must be “stuck-up” – pleasing to note the rioters’ usage of the hyphen though, 😉

  • Clark

    Hey folks, I think Craig may be a little over excited. I know from my own experience that involvement with theatre gives a powerful adrenaline boost. Adrenaline then metabolizes into adrenochrome, which is a really weird buzz. Craig has been going through this cycle this every day for a while now.
    .
    He stated many of the same points as made by others here here on his earlier posts, quote:
    .
    That police kill people too readily and with too much impunity is undoubtedly true. But that is only the spark. The existence of the gunpowder is the real problem. The existence of a society in which the gulf between rich and poor grows ever wider, and there is never even the remotest prospect of socially productive labour for a great many, was always likely to have these results.
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    These riots are not an isolated phenomenon; but together with the excesses of the banks and the collapse of public services, are all part of a much wider malaise as the capitalist engine has stalled in a vast mesh of corruption and croneyism.

    .
    He now seems not to be recognising agreement with his own stated opinion. Give him a few days until after the Fringe, and I expect he’ll be back to normal.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Mary: I’m trying to understand why Jody McIntyre is a hero to anyone. He has encouraged the rioters to stand up to the “feds!” What?

  • Herbie

    The kids call our police and other authority figures “the feds”. Some people think it’s a reference to the merkin FBI, but it’s not. It’s short for “well-feds”, as in those who fatten themselves up at the taxpayers tit.
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    For example Police, politicians etc who have recently been exposed as totally corrupt.
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    The kids, as ever, were way ahead of everyone else on this.

  • Stephen Morgan

    I sympathise with the rioters, whether I should or not. It’s an emotional thing, between then and the police I wouldn’t take sides. It’s not good against evil, or even them against us. More like a football match between two teams you haven’t heard of.
    .
    In the end, though, the rioters will trot off home, some will go the prison, while the police will have even greater powers and will continue their disturbing tendency, even before the Speedy de Menezes murder, to shoot whoever they feel like with no chance at all of spending a day in prison. And with Ed Milliband and the rest lining up to give them extra power, more protection, to let them do “whatever they need to do”. Considering that, I’m not that interested in these little disturbances.

  • danj

    Mark, so the pillagers’ actions are a reasonable response to a bad situation whereas Craig’s opinion of their actions is a sign that he must have gone mad because he has been to see too much theatre. Could there be any other explanation, such as those actually suggested, as to why an apparently sane man, whose opinion you are prepared to listen to and respect on almost any other occasion, might think the things he did about the events in London?

  • Azra

    @Stephen Morgan would you have sympathised with rioters if they have burnt your house down and stolen your goods and trashed your business??

  • John Goss

    Certainly the riots in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Gloucester and other towns which have vandalised and looted without any causal effect but sheer greed and theft are, on the whole, mindless hoodlums. Those guilty in these copy-cat acts of criminality should not be spared. I thought, to begin with, the Tottenham riots were also without cause. But that was when, through the police-manipulated media, we were led to believe that Mark Duggan had shot at a policeman, and was killed as a result. Now it emerges, at least from one report posted last night, that the gun was found near the scene of the crime. The rioting started in Tottenham, where those who started it, were evidently waiting for the police to say something. Coppers at the scene knew exactly what had happened, and they would have been immediately de-briefed. Waiting for a forensic report on a weapon which might not even have been in the mini-cab in which Mark Duggan was shot, is nonsense. That lad’s family knew something of the truth. Even through their grief last night they called for an end to the riots, and last night Tottenham was quiet. I think their statement had a lot more to do with calmer streets than any increase in police numbers.
    When the truth comes out it may well be the case that if the police had admitted their culpability the riots could have been averted, and three young men in Birmingham, who tried to protect their property, would still be alive!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    ” The idea that no personal blame can be attached to the looters because of their background or of government policies, is one with which I have no sympathy.”

    Let’s be both fair and honest.

    One can make stark – black or white political statements – the one above – or – the converse.

    For my part, I fully agree with you that it was thieving scum who went in the little injured boy’s bag – they are what they are – scum to act in this way.

    There is a general context of “banksters” being repaid large sums of taxpayers’ money – and – a knock on effect of severe social cuts. As a general political observation this must inevitably feed into the socio-economic fabric. This observation is not the same as finding any excuse for plain and simple robbery, thieving and looting.

    I would not excuse the individual thuggery. Neither would I ignore the broader soci-economic context, without setting out to exonerate individual bad behaviour.

    We need not put an excuse of a political band-aid on every “social cut” ( pun intended) we find.

  • John Goss

    Craig, Courtenay. I saw that robbery of a young injured youth under the pretext of helping him. These people are beneath my contempt. My consolation is because of the irrefutable film evidence, with good clear footage, the culprit will be charged and brought to justice. The penalty cannot be too harsh as far as I’m concerned, and as far as the vast majority of right-minded people are concerned.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    It takes “cash to care” – so:-

    Choice 1 – pay the cash to the “bankksters”; or

    Choice 2 – invest the money in socio- economic reconstrution; or

    Choice 3 – post riots – justify to the populace that there is now a fivefold increase in budgetary expeditures on – the police – domestic security measures – the military – overseas defence – wars.

    Take your pick.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    John and Craig – taking coins out of the pocket of a dyiing man would be the next level down.

    Strikes a cord with me – albeit I have done a lot of criminal defence work over many years. The video brings memories to mind of the bully from the upper school who would use his size to intimidate and abuse the lower school kids.

    All said and done – we are probabaly saying quite similar things from different angles/ perspectives.

  • Stephen Morgan

    http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html

    Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

    “Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

    “Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”

    Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

    — unquote —

    Mr Murray has never grown up as these men have grown up. I’m sure back in his day men were men and police were cheerful and the way to success was hard work and honesty. No longer. He didn’t grow up with it hammered into his head that wealth is virtue, that we live in a meritocracy where he doesn’t have any. The origin of the word meritocracy is in the book “The Rise of the Meritocracy”, a rather accurate prediction of the future by Michael Young who wrote the 1945 Labour manifesto. Back when there was a Labour party to represent the poor, when there was something to join, someone to vote for to make things better. Something which is now out of reach. There’s really no point in doing anything, as none of it will get you anywhere. Going to university isn’t even worth considering, as it’s about as likely that you’ll become the Sultan of Brunei. There’s a gay Tory called Paris. He did a TV programme where he went on safari amongst the poor, back in the 80s, then went back a few years ago to find that the people in the same place now are much worse off, unable even to afford football tickets, and subsist on antidepressants. The modern opiate of the masses is massive quantities of drugs, whether prescription or otherwise. If you have been dispossessed and disowned, dumped into some sink estate with no way out, what duties are still incumbent upon the individual? Why should the rules of society still be obeyed, beyond the fact that the state has a monopoly on physical force? As far as I’m concerned violence is justified, even if not explicitly motivated by politics. The only shame on those using it is that they haven’t targeted it well enough.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    You tend to find with this kind of behaviour – the ones who do it are repeat offenders -or – some are just copycat younsters following a bad example. The former deserve to be dealt with in a different way than the latter. It is not just a question of social expenditures – but effective social policies.

    Wehn a person defends cases involving accusation of rape, murder, violent crime ( myself as counsel) – you don’t just become hardened and indifferent. Eveh a defence lawyer can be impacted by perceiving a dynamic that sees co-relations between social class – crime – type of family background – individual character – moral values ( or lack thereof). Mix it all together – and watch the streets as the fires burn – and who are doing the crimes.

    Sad days on the streets of London. Just got an email from my actress friend in London – says she is staying in doors as much as possible.

  • YugoStiglitz

    At least we can be sure that Jody McIntyre will no longer enjoy any mainstream exposure! He’s done!

  • Indian Jones

    “he would have been out there with his coal shovel […]”

    Yes, well, let’s hope the good socialist would have been out there with something else long before.

    Denouncing riot-sympathizers with a credulous affinity to robbers is no substitute for what good socialists would do. The law is not just. Why is the law not just? That deserves attention more than mock charges leveled at sympathizers.

    You don’t suppose that putting the riot-criminals in jail is going to solve the injustice, do you?

  • John Goss

    Stephen Morgan. I was with you right down to the last two sentences. I am old Labour, with nobody in parliament to fight for my real rights. I am from a working-class background. I try to understand the social deprivation of sink-estates, the frustration of having no job and no prospects, and not being listened to by anyone. I am frustrated. But I still cannot advocate violence. Violence only breeds more violence.

  • Herbie

    Ugo
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    Have the feds beaten him up again?
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    If you really want to know how bizarre this country is just watch this disgraceful piece of propaganda from our state broadcaster. They are a major reason why we’re in the mess we are today. And believe it or not we have to pay for this garbage, under threat of imprisonment. That’s how sick this country is.
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfGvyrjEbK4&NR=1
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    The whole thing is rotten and corrupt from top to bottom, useless liars gorging themselves at the taxpayers expense, and there’s little dispute about that simple fact from ANY section of British society.

  • mary

    I think Cameron’s protestations and attacks might come back to haunt him and that he will find he has a tiger by the tail. Johnson too with his rhetoric. We are at a very dangerous moment when gangs of vigilantes, some from the EDL, are going out for confrontations. I have been watching the Channel 4 news and it is obvious that the raised level of policing cannot be sustained in the long term physically or financially. Are we at a similar stage to pre-war Germany when the rise of fascism was taking place? Read They Thought They Were Free – Milton Mayer.
    .
    Problems need addressing. Away with the posturing. Also Cameron has made no reference to the collapsing economy and what changes he proposes to make.
    .
    The Medialens message board which is normally admiring of what Craig writes, are not impressed with this latest post.
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1312991975.html

  • A Sad Jester

    Does Craig really read these posts?

    I used to think lots of long difficult analytical words could sort things out and that the better the language used the more sense it made. How wrong was?

    I came to this blog in the hope of finding wisdom and to some extent I have, however among its many long winded reply comments, I hear the viciousness of man, in the form of insults and one up man ship.

    Just because Craig likes cricket that foul seed of Satan, a game devised in the depths of Hell itself or goes to the theatre at the inverted snobby Edinburgh fringe, does not mean he is an upper class twit with no empathy for other people.

    The petty cry of our class,our religion,our way is right or how could you possibly know, is the vile thing here.
    Are we not all equal in cyberspace?
    I used to think that we had advanced as a species.

    As for the riots, is it a lack of good clear leadership? If that really exists.
    “The officer (A warrior) matter-of-factly assumes the boys are up to, as he puts it, “fun and games.” When he learns what has happened on the island, the officer is reproachful: how could this group of boys, he asks—and English boys at that—have lost all reverence for the rules of civilization in so short a time.” (Golding)

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.

    OMG I am becoming a long winded rambling old fool.

    I will watch and despair or despair and watch, either way I lose.(Fowles)

  • Clark

    John Goss and others, please look at the video again, carefully. I’m really not sure that the black man did anything wrong. The white man in the cap definitely stole from the lad’s backpack. See my post further up.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    From top to bottom –

    The video clip at one end – and – this at the other: –
    http://rt.com/news/london-police-officers-cut/

    There is a straight ‘opporutnity cost’ argument here. Either more guns or more butter – the butter being domestic social expenditure – the guns being literal guns by way of funding foreign wars. More money there – less money here – and vice versa.

    Take your pick.

  • Clark

    DanJ, you made lots of errors in your comment.
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    (1) You were replying to me, not “Mark”.
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    (2) I didn’t suggest that Craig had “gone mad”, and I object to the generally increasing trend of regarding emotional states as “madness”. Adrenaline is a powerful hormone which makes us ready to fight or run. If theatre doesn’t affect us emotionally, why bother with it?
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    (3) You refer to “Craig’s opinion”, meaning this post. I also referred to Craig’s opinion, from an earlier post of his.
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    (4) No, I don’t regard the rioters actions as a “reasonable response”; I regard it as an unreasonable response, but a response none the less. But really, where do “reasonable” responses get anyone? If they worked, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
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    (5) I have previously commented that I regard the use of force as necessary. I still hold that opinion.
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    Danj, do you want vengeance? When society at all levels is corrupt, do you expect good behaviour only from the poorest parts of our inner cities?

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