The UK “Riot” Maze

My own mixed-feelings and thoughts around the UK riots have been just as compelling to me as the multitude of articles, conferences, panel discussions, arts pieces that have been born from them. I have concluded to think about the riots as a sort of “tilling the soil” for  planting seed of re-imagining, using this ‘opportunity’ to be creative in tackling deep seated social and economic issues head on. I had grown tired of hearing the stock responses, shouting down  or the pussy footing that goes on that tends to go  won when race and class become the focus of a conversation.

One thing that I have found annoying me a little is the Image of the guy in the grey tracksuit and  black scarf walking with a mini inferno crackling behind him. I’m not even going to add it to this post. It’s almost a perverse sort of fetishizing and branding…

Two articles caught my attention this week. The Guardian / London School of Economics / Joseph Rowntree Foundation – Reading The Riots Report and the  Neil ‘O Brien of The Telegraph – How the Guardian destroyed the left’s excuses for the riots

I’m still going through the Guardian/LSE report.  Here are the thoughts that Ieft in the comments page of The Telegraphs critique of the Guardian report.

“This is a less a case of misreading the riots but more of balancing representation. For the last three months there has been plenty to-ing and fro-ing between “it was pure criminality” and “its poverty and disaffection”. Both land on the same landing strip – the lack of a deeper analysis behind the psychology and the enormity of emotion (or emotionlessness) driving some of the actions that took place over those few days.

Franz Fanons The Wretched of the Earth and other theories behind the Psychology of Oppression raise issues around the ‘effect’ after the ’cause’ of sustained pressure, how the release from that pressure will manifest itself and sometimes not even against the original perpetrator of the oppression. The antipathy toward the police can begin at a very young age when children as young as 9, up into adulthood experience some kind of repeated negative interaction with the police. It is a sustained frustration  inherited from peers and family, and it seeps out if a particular vibrant energy of fervent youth is repressed. That’s just logical. Usually, they implode, turn on each other. Over those six days, they EXploded and played out the disaffection that is consistently simmering just under the surface.

WHY are these youths so ‘disaffected’ (which simply means not affected emotionally and  empathetically) by the things “normal” people would be affected by – criminal activity, violence etc.

It is widely believed it will happen again unless that human frustration is dealt with. And pretty much anyone would do the same thing under the same circumstances as this behavior is nurtured by them.

Also, if we want to start turning things on their heads we could say that those that are involved in robbery, burgulary and theft are just sustaining an  already existing “alternative economy” to satisfy the the psychological white noise of advertising, consumumerism and materialism while the access to the “legal” economy alienates them – ie no jobs, no access to apprenticeships, cutting EMA, raising University fees etc. A contraversial statement but its an alternative narrative to the entrenched mainstream stories drip fed to the public 24/7.

In terms of balancing representation, The Guardian/LSE publication of this report presents a scratching a little bit more of the surface than the deflecting and shouting down of the “rioters” voice that usually goes on or the fetishizing of the poor so people can appease a need to feel justified in left or right wing pontification on class.”


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