Rioting and looting was not the only violent activity being carried out by Englishmen on Sunday night. Some hours before Cameron appeared on our TV screens vowing to take revenge on the risen British youth, his bomber pilots carried out a raid which slaughtered 33 Libyan children, along with 32 women and 20 men in Zlitan, a village near Tripoli. He, along with the rulers of France and the USA, are desperately trying to stave off economic collapse in the same way they always have – through the slaughter of third world people and the theft of their resources.
That is the context in which these riots need to be seen. Our mode of living in the West is predicated on violence and looting. For those who do not understand this, you need to look into how Western military forces have turned Afghanistan into a giant heroin poppy plantation with one of the lowest life expectancies on the planet, how they have turned Iraq into a living hell to steal its oil, how they are setting up Syria for an invasion as a prelude to the ‘final solution’ of the Palestinian ‘problem’ and how they are already stealing Libyan oil wealth which Gaddafi had ploughed into African development but will now go straight into the coffers of Western arms companies. This is before we even mention the debt-extortion under which third world countries pay 13 times as much in loan interest to the West (on loans they have already paid back many times over) as they receive in aid.
Our young people have grown up witnessing all of this. They are well aware that the West enriches itself by violent plunder. They are also aware that more than half of their so-called ‘representatives’ in parliament have been systematically stealing TVs, electronic goods, clothes and anything else they think they can get away with, by means of large-scale fraud. They know that the police murder people with impunity, and their communities are subject to harassment and humiliation by police on a mass scale. They know that the bankers who have destroyed the livelihoods of millions, are still paying themselves bonuses extorted from the public purse.
They also know that none of these people are ever likely to be bought to justice through legal mechanisms. Most of the MPs guilty of fraud either still have their jobs, or have moved on to lucrative directorships with the companies for whom they did favours whilst in office. The police investigate themselves and find themselves not guilty. The army investigate themselves and find themselves not guilty. Tony Blair investigates himself and finds himself not guilty. The rich and powerful are demonstrating to our young people daily that the way to succeed is through robbery, theft and violence. This is the world into which they were born. This is the morality which surrounds them. This is the air they breathe.
Compared to their role models, the vast majority of the rioters have behaved impeccably. Attacks on small businesses, houses and civilians have been the exception, not the rule; the main activity has been the looting of big chain stores and the besieging of police stations. In so doing, the youth have succeeded in achieving what everyone else has failed to achieve – holding the police and corporations to account. The message to the police has been clear – you cannot murder, beat and humiliate us with impunity. Several police stations have been burned to the ground and all London police have had their summer leave cancelled. When incidents like Mark Duggan’s murder arise, it is never a case of one ‘bad apple’; the process of cover-up is a systematic one which requires large-scale collusion. Some officers may now think twice before getting entangled in such matters in the future.
As for the big corporations, the efficiency of their exploitation and enslavement of third world people has created such poverty across the globe that people are increasingly unable to afford to buy what they produce. This is the major systemic cause of the economic crisis. They may not know it, but the corporations our children are attacking are indeed the primary cause of their own poverty. More than this, these companies employ advertising techniques that ruthlessly target our children with a cruel message that their social status depends on the acquisition of their goods; they should not then feign surprise when poor children also try to acquire them.
With their “mindless looting,” the dispossessed youth are, in fact, carrying out a primitive form of wealth redistribution. What they are doing in a disorganised and spontaneous way is precisely what we should be doing in a systematic and disciplined way. We need to build organisations that are serious about creating ‘socialism from below’ – taking control of the factories, chain stores and land, and using them in a way that provides for the massive social needs for which capitalism is completely unable to provide. This is the real Big Society – the one Cameron and his ilk are utterly scared of.
I am not blaming Cameron, or the politicians, or the media. These are our enemies. They are being true to their class. They are exploiting us and lying to us efficiently and effectively. They are doing their jobs perfectly. I am blaming those of us who do care, who do want equality and an end to classism, racism and imperialism. We need to step up and provide leadership and organisation, and until we do that our criticisms of the youth are hollow and deceitful. If we leave it to children to bring accountability to policing and to redistribute wealth, without any leadership or guidance, we shouldn’t be surprised if they do a messy job.