The Tottenham Dynamic 91

I am not going to post much yet on events in North London, because I do not understand them. I have a strong urge to sympathise with those rioting as an oppressed underclass, but am well aware that they come from an urban sub-culture which I despise in virtually every aspect, and has no connection to working class tradition or ethics. Nor does this seem genuinely to relate to an embattled ethnic community feeling it is defending itself, as in Broadwater Farm or Bristol. You have to look back to events like the Gordon Riots to find parallels that seem to make any sense. The arson and looting is not justified, full stop.

On the other hand, it is impossible not to note that some of the key looting targets – Aldi, Lidl, JJB sports – are themselves emblematic of our deep, dark social divide. They are places Boris Johnson and David Cameron and most of the aspirant middle classes would not be seen dead in. That the looters come from a deeply ignorant, viciously materialistic, educationless sub-culture that ought to be despised, does not mean that the individuals themselves could never have been different, given opportunities they did not have. It is not to sympathise with the actions of the vicious, to ask how we created them in such numbers.

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.

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.

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91 thoughts on “The Tottenham Dynamic

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  • lwtc247

    But of course, they should be sacking Parliament and the Metropolitan Police HQ. Maybe when their free M&M’s run out they will.
    I Hope !

  • lwtc247

    Clark. Agreed with the looting against the litte fella.
    Wouldn’t be surprised however if the criminal gangs we hear about (the ones linked to the corrupt police force) are been encouraged to go after the small holder. But that’s just pure speculation and probably doesn’t cover the city thugs Craig is referring too.

  • angrysoba

    Clark, Angrysoba, it seems that on the Far Right, Zionism is racism against Jews – give’m a country and send’m there. Didn’t some Nazis support that?

    Well, yes, like the BNP’s “repatriation” policies. Certainly during the expulsion period of Nazi persecution of the Jews they were quite happy to see Jews go to Palestine and during this period many European countries, still struggling after the Depression, didn’t want to take refugees that had been stripped of their property and most of their money.
    Angrysoba, given your attitude towards religion, how can you even acknowledge a group called “the Jews”? It seems tantamount to accepting a dogma.

    I don’t think so. I can accept there are other religious and ethnic groupings. I find it odd that you find it odd.

  • mary
    October 8: Never more necessary
    The importance of the Antiwar Assembly on 8 October has been highlighted by recent events in Afghanistan, where an utterly futile and unjustified war is killing more Afghans and invading troops than at any time since the invasion in 2011, and in Libya, where Britain is involved in a war for regime change, which the United Nations has ruled to be illegal. The need to raise the profile of the majority voice in this country that opposes the war policies of our government was never more urgent. The Assembly will also be making the link between the vast expenditure on these war policies and the savage cuts in public services we are told are necessary to pay off the national debt. Afghanistan and Libya are costing around £6bn a year, on top of the £26bn annual defence budget. Maintaining the Trident nuclear missile system costs another £2.2bn a year, and £100bn is planned for its renewal. It’s not hard to do the maths for how the national debt of around £70bn could be paid off without wiping out whole sections of our health, education and social services.
    Get your friends to pledge
    October 8 will mark 10 years of war in Afghanistan, 10 years of the “war on terror”, ten years of torture and attacks on civil liberties, not forgetting the nightmare in Iraq still under occupation. We need October 8 in Trafalgar Square to be on a scale that is too big for the government to ignore. Please encourage your friends, work or study colleagues, your neighbours — everyone you can – to sign the pledge to be there on 8 October.
    SIGN HERE: {}

  • angrysoba

    Brilliant for his sloppy research and his laughably partisan viewpoint. Brilliant therefore at peddling the wrong conspiracy theories. The way he went to town on the one about WMDs in Iraq was quite dazzling.

    I’m not sure what “wrong conspiracy theories” you are talking about although I would agree that he does deserve criticism for the WMD thing. Either on the eve or just after the beginning of the Iraq War he published an article saying there were various good reasons to overthrow Saddam Hussein although he personally didn’t think WMDs was the primary reason. However, he acknowledged that WMDs was the issue the Iraq War was fought on and said that should WMDs fail to turn up in Iraq he would never believe another thing the UK and US governments said again. I can’t find any reaction from him from when the search turned up almost nothing at all.

  • Jon

    Clark/Angrysoba – I’d tend to agree that grouping all believers of one religion into one blob isn’t very useful, if I understand Clark’s point correctly. “The Christians” (as a worldwide grouping) just doesn’t sound right – never-mind that the Christians of, say, the UK are of a markedly different character to those in the US. Ditto for all the major religions, I’d say – lumping any of them into a set can easily make for sweeping generalisations.

  • Clark

    But Angrysoba, Jewishness isn’t like most ethnic groupings, is it? Essentially, it is defined religiously, by either matrillineal descent or by religious conversion:
    If you support the separation of religion and state, that should give you some problems with the laws of Israel.

  • angrysoba

    But Angrysoba, Jewishness isn’t like most ethnic groupings, is it? Essentially, it is defined religiously, by either matrillineal descent or by religious conversion:

    No, I don’t think that is necessarily so. It’s obviously quite complicated as that Wikipedia page suggests.

  • MJ

    “I’m not sure what “wrong conspiracy theories” you are talking about”
    Not to worry, you got there in the end.

  • Clark

    Angrysoba, we are well off-topic, and I should attempt to continue this discussion by e-mail. But I feel so sick and angry and miserable that I don’t think I’ll be able to.

  • Amanda O'Dell

    “Would I be right in thinking that your school is in a large city and the pupils predominantly black?”

    My school is in London, although not ‘inner city’ – it does have a large population of black students, and they’re definitely the ones that are mostly on the receiving end of stop & search, but it’s not a school with gang problems or particular violence at all.

  • Anne O'Nimmus

    With regard to the police being caught on the hop, as it were, by these riots, there is strong suspicion that they were planned using Blackberrys. Apparently, something like a third of teens have them! Groups seemed by watchers to be led by one receiving and/or sending messages on them, before they’d regroup at their next target. These “Blackerry Riots” are an exploitation of the disenfranchised, and the youth, by out and out criminals. Yes, economic situation plays a part, as does structural discrimination against the economically challenged. That structural discrimination is present in poor housing, poor education (esp at the primary level – none of our kids should be entering secondary school barely literate, if that) and in financial discrimination – lack of access to resources or loans at a fair rate (think utilities and pre-pay prices, or pay-day loans at extortionate rates, as well as decent banking access).There are manay many other ways in which low income families experience financial discrimination.

  • ingo

    Amanda O’Dell, it is outrageous that this sort of sevetiers sus policing still exists and you are right to point to it, some of us call this inherent racialism.
    I do not condone the sheer ‘fun of it’ as this kind of slash burning and rioting leaves people without homes,livelyhoods, and futures.

    But this sort of policing is undermining every good work that is done elsewhere in the community. I just hope that this guy was not executed just as Azelle.
    Agree with Craig, I’ve been in Twyford Down, in Newbury and at many other non violent direct action necessities, anything non violent and the police gets brutal and kinky, watch whilst women are assaulted or they just turn around, seeing nothing.

    The met has no more credibility after the recent revellations of corruption and payments for information.

    I feel that the Met. should be split up in to four forces, this goliath has grown too far and is too remote from serving the public. Their split loyalties with celebrity culture and/or media/ fraternities of dubious reputation have gone too far now.

    What a prospect for next years Olympic splendour in easy to police and control East London. There’ be hordes of young people in civil, charged with policing, next to the 25.000 on daily routines.

    Could this be part of a big ransom game to come? Gis money or we’ll riot till the cows come home gov., look man , ma hav no jobs, no prospects, no future and all those reasons of the past.

    Wheels that sqeak get oiled, a main stay of british politics, appeasement for a reason.

  • Azra

    What is happening in a way reminds me of suicide bombers. In no way I am excusing either group, just an observation/explanation.
    There are justified grievances, and these are not addressed. There are feelings of impotence, injustice and rage and the result …..
    And please do not tell me, they could demonstrate peacefully, write to their MPs… remember two million people marching against the Iraq war??
    There are lessons to learn, sadly it is at the expense those who have lost their home, business, livelihood..

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Think of the Watts Riots, 1965 and most riots since; remember the riots in various cities in England during the early 1980s? Everything that can be said about riots has all been said before, many times, esp. by politicians and other public figures. We’ll have carbon copy statements on ‘Question Time’ and ‘Any Questions’: Go back to 1981 or whenever. Let’s try to find out more about the dynamics of this one. Once a riot gets going, it tends to acquire its own momentum, to some extent regardless of the triggers, underlying factors, etc. Looting during riots is nothing new, in fact, it often seems to be central. But obviously, it’s not rocket science to note that during times of economic downturn, job losses, etc. riots tend to be more ferquent and larger, and not confined to specific groups or locations. Summer in the city. One wonders about whether there might be agents provocateur (I can never remember the correct plural!) – probably, historically, they seem to have been around in most situations, you know, like those undercover cops who were revealed/revealed themselves recently, they’re a sort of fixture – but let’s see what comes out on the wires, or rather, through the wire-lessness of cyberspace.

  • Ruth

    I was wondering about agent provocateurs but they’d only be used if the government could benefit. I think it’s quite clear they could. They’ve fixed student demonstrations with draconian sentences. Students have something to lose but the unemployed with no sight of getting a job don’t. Therefore the government needs to put in place new laws to restrict protest before the real cuts come. These riots provide the excuse just as 7/7 provided the grounds for the restrictions on civil liberties.

  • Jaded.

    I would suggest that a policy of ‘let them riot’, rather than actually needing agents provocateur, is being used if anything sinister is going on. I don’t think these rioters need much encouragement. The last thing I heard on Channel 4 news was about a crowd gathering in Birmingham and it did make me wonder if something bigger is being allowed to happen.

  • Canspeccy

    ‘“At least it was only property crime”. They burned down people’s homes.’
    Does that mean it’s fine to burn down shops, offices, cinemas, schools, churches, the parliament buildings?
    What if all you people who apparently don’t have to earn a living as a shopkeeper, or in the employ of any part of the private sector find your livelihood is terminated by a bunch of moronic, criminal arsonists on a spree? Would that be OK, too?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “What if all you people who apparently don’t have to earn a living as a shopkeeper, or in the employ of any part of the private sector…” Can Speccy.
    Now that most certainly would not refer to the enterprising South Asian shopkeepers and other businesspersons of every city in Britain, now, would it? They are the backbone of the private sector in this country.
    The incoming Head of the CBI in Scotland is a woman and an Asian Scot, a double-first for Nosheena Mubarik. Mubarak ho!
    Britain is a nation of (Asian) shopkeepers! All power to the Cornershop! Gie’s a Brimful of Asha! And Noor Jehan! Rock on, Leicester!

  • Canspeccy

    “Now that most certainly would not refer to the enterprising South Asian shopkeepers and other businesspersons of every city in Britain, now, would it?
    What’s that supposed to mean?
    That it’s fine to burn down shops, offices, or whatever provided that the proprietors are not Asian?
    Your Anglophobic racism, SS, is ever more blatant.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    No, Alfred, it means that your views are exposed yet again as utterly hypocritical. You say you value private sector business, and so I point out that South Asian British people are almost archetypal entrpreneurs in that very sector at all levels. the head of the CBI in Scotland is now an Asian Scottish woman who, when one speaks with her, sounds as Scottish as Robert Burns, and who runs an excellent cutting-edge high tech business. So, I ask, is this the “genocide” of which you wax lyrical? Your ideas with one another like a row of broken dentures.

  • Paul Johnston

    All I am saying is hoplessness is not limited to just one ethnic group.
    Yes some get it worse than others but the polarisation between rich and poor involves class as well as race.
    Don’t know where you live but don’t you have have areas near you where you just know getting on in life is so much harder than others?

  • Oliver Hobson

    @Canspeccy…”What if all you people who apparently don’t have to earn a living as a shopkeeper, or in the employ of any part of the private sector find your livelihood is terminated by a bunch of moronic, criminal arsonists on a spree? Would that be OK, too?”

    Bankers and governments could be described in exactly the same way.

    When ‘decent’ people get frustrated they write letters to the editor and engage somehow in a socially acceptable manner in the hopes that meaningful changes might result…while the differently heeled moronic,criminal arsonists the ‘decent’ people deal with continue their sprees.

    It’s easy for the genteel to be horrified by it all as it’s all well documented in pictures and involves an underclass so used to being despised and spat on it renders them indifferent to your fits of moral outrage.

    It’s also pretty useful for ‘authorities’ when ‘decent’ and ‘gentle’ folk are frightened every now and again. It provides an opportunity to step in, reassure and justify their own existence again.

    If ‘decent’, ‘clever’ and ‘educated’ people were at all effective at changing things in a meaningful way…then perhaps we wouldn’t be in the gigantic, stinking mess we’re all in?

    I bet the people who had their homes burned down were ‘decent’ people too who likely paid their insurance…which they might now discover to be void for ‘acts of god’ or ‘rioting, insurrection and civil unrest’. They’ll get over it…and continue to pay while those who ‘have’, continue to steal more…and those who ‘have not’, try to steal more but far less effectively…as they’re not very good at it in the big scheme of things.

    How does one ‘burn down’ a mentality like neo-liberalism then? Any suggestions Canspeccy?

  • Matt

    The bankers have looted our economy and people like Fred goodwin walk away with huge payoffs and bonuses. To pay for it Cameron has imposed unprecedented austerity measures on the general population, cutting council services, destroying the job market and pushing further education out of the reach of the masses. Why can they not see that lack of opportunity leads to frustration and frustration boils over into this kind of action. There are greedy opportunists out there trying to grab what they can but you could say the same of the bankers who do so with the protection of the likes of Cameron. Our social system has become more and more polarised over the last 20 years, wealthy children fed through the public school system into elite universities and then into power structure careers while the disenfranchised are coraled in economic ghettos.

  • colin buchanan

    What a splendid example of hooligan, delinquent violence David Cameron is giving with the destruction of Libya from the air: destroying infrastructure, private property, shops, schools, hospitals, markets, residential housing; killing civilians, men , women , children and, now, camels. Bombing the beaches even where Tripoli residents go to get away from it all, the bombing, that is.
    I didn’t expect my characterisation of Britain as a land of lost, violent souls to be confirmed so dramatically:

    Still, we must’nt get lost in philosophical or ideological generalities but, rather, keep a very close eye on these events. These kids are above all, manipulable: is this manipulation just for criminal ends or is there a deeper agenda. Your comparison with the Gordon riots, Craig, suggests you are thinking along these lines.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Colin,

    Hooligan deliquent violence and the connection to Libya:-

    Cameron said this:-

    “These are sickening scenes, scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing, scenes of people attacking police officers and even attacking fire crews as they’re trying to put out fires. This is criminality, pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated”.

    I paraphrase with regard to the criminal bombing over Libya:-

    “These are sickening scenes, scenes of people bombiing, destroyiing, setting out to thieve oil for BP, engaging in a plot for robbing, scenes of people attacking the government, and even attacking civilian targets, as they are trying to put out fires and live normal lives. This is criminality, pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated”.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All – as stated – it is hypocrisy -some lives are more important than others – some criminality is more excusable than others…

    “Mathaba: African Union Should Send Armed Forces to Bomb England to Protect Civilians
    Posted: 2011/08/09

    British Queen has been in power since almost 100 years and should immediately step down otherwise she must face the consequences or leave to a location that the world community will determine

    Because the British police are killing and arresting peaceful protesters who want another regime in power in England, those civilians must be protected by bombing all those other civilians who like the Queen or agree with the parliamentary dictatorship in Westminster.

    This logic is 100% correct and valid, given that Britain with NATO is using the exact same logic in Libya.

    The protesters in England must seize weapons from the police and central London military barracks, and march on the Houses of Parliament and No. 10 Downing Street and lay siege, arrest all the politicians, hold them prisoner, parade them in front of foreign media, and then torture and execute all the white skinned ones.

    This logic is 100% correct and valid, given that Britain with NATO is supporting the same logic in the East of Libya against Blacks.

    The world community must react immediately to the violence the British police, military and state security forces of the London dictatorship regime are using on the peaceful British protesters.

    The fires we see raging across England have all been set alight by supporters of the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, and so she has lost all legitimacy by firing on the people and bombing them with the British Air Force — we know this to be a fact because we read it on Twitter and it was reported just now on Mathaba.

    This logic is 100% correct and valid, given that the British have used the same logic with respect to Muammar Qadhafi and the terrorist rebels in Libya.

    If the Queen does not immediately step down or leave England to some location within Eastern Siberia that could be arranged for her if the African Union Peace and Security Council agrees to it, then foreign intervention will be absolutely necessary in order to protect the peaceful rebels in England against the dictatorship regime of Westminster and its brutal dictator Queen Elizabeth II which family has already been in power for hundreds of years.

    The Windsors, the British “Royal Family” have lost their legitimacy and must face the International Criminal Court for the theft of trillions of pounds sterling from the people of England. This writer himself has been a victim, when I was a young man I chained my bicycle to a fence in London in order to prevent it from being stolen by the many thieves of England, and returned to find a terrorist police man standing next to it ready to arrest me for chaining my bike to “royal property.”

    The big thief Queen of England has stolen most of the land and property not only in England but in every country member state of the so-called “Commonwealth” which is the opposite of what is claims — it is not a Jamahiriya or Commonwealth, unless all the common wealth belongs to the Queen and her loyalist agents who have simply stolen it from the people. Therefore ALL financial assets of the British must immediately be seized around the world.

    Those assets must be used 99.9% to compensate all those nations that have suffered from the imperialism of the British Crown, and the remaining 0.01% should be given to the peaceful rebels which have set fire to various cities across England in order to pour the fire on the fires started by the Loyalists.

    This logic and call is 100% valid given that the most wise experts of the world, the Great White British, have used the same logic in Libya and so we know that this must be true and appropriate.

    Further, the heroic British people and in particular the Black Africans in England who are taking revenge for the plunder of Africa and the bombing of Libya by the Royal Family of England will be entitled to torture, cut out the hearts of any loyalists, burn them, and rape the women and children, without any sanction from human rights organisations because that is clearly within the norms of a rebellion according to what we have learned this year in Libya.

    The Cameron needs to be jailed because he is merely a puppet for the Queen and has been threatening the demonstrators and taking away their rights to demonstrate peacefully for democracy, freedom and human rights in Britain, and for lying to the world calling it the “UK” when it is not a United Kingdom, but a Disunited Queendom (“DQ”) in actual fact, as is known to the entire world and cannot be denied.

    The DQ is not a Jamahiriya, nor is it a United Kingdom, so it has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the world, with its Anglo-Saxons incapable of exercising democracy, so the handful of African rebels who seize Westminster by force of arms must form a Transitional National Council and be recognized by the World Community, meaning all 192 countries of the world minus the 30 countries that are the “international (white) community”, therefore 162 countries in total.

    The so called “royal family” needs to me made to understand that it is time to give up their empire and hand it over to a national transitional council, containing members of the British rebels, and face justice. Nothing less will be acceptable to the World Community and there can be no negotiations with the loyalists of the Queen nor the British dictatorship regime which in reality the Queen and her family rules. She must step down immediately.

    Mathaba citizen journalists from around the world, including Mathaba Intelligence officers and Mathaba soldiers, must enter Britain illegally into all the zones that are ringed by fire, because those parts of the country we recognize as free, and we do not need visas from the dictatorship regime, and we can send false reports and guide the African missiles to their targets.

    It’s time these oppressors are forced to leave the country, after hundreds of years of stealing from and killing their own people and all the wealth of England and the vaults must be confiscated and given to Africans and Asians and Aboriginal Australians in compensation for generations of murder, pillage, rape, abuse and slavery.

    African Air Forces must impose a total no-fly zone where no white air craft from Europe or England are allowed to fly, no air craft at all may fly in the no-fly zone which must cover the entire Disunited Queendom, except of course for the African Air Forces which must be allowed to bomb all the civilian infrastructure of England because it was built by the stolen money from Africa, and of course all air fields and government offices must be bombed and destroyed so that no command and control centers are left for the Queen.

    Furthermore, missiles must target Buckingham Palace, and all the many properties and homes of the British Royal family and kill them and their children because at all costs we have to kill the Queen of England because she is the most dangerous person in the world as she has been committing terrible atrocities against more than half of the planet, including with her many corporations such as General Electric, as she has refused to step down or leave England.

    The City of London must be totally destroyed because it is the wealth center of the British Royal Family and a dictatorship, that does not even submit itself to the rule of law of England and is not even subject to the false parliamentary democracy of England which is in reality a brutal kleptocracy of Queen Elizabeth.

    Muammar Qaddafi has ordered the British people to rise up and form revolutionary committees to seize power and form popular conferences and people’s committees so that the masses can finally come to power and live in peaceful democracy for the first time in British history.

    All the above is 100% valid and logical as it has been thus endorsed by no less than NATO, Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama in Africa.”

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