Tuesday, August 9, 2011

There's a Riot Goin' On

As I'm sure you've heard, riots have broken out in several neighborhoods in London. In response (to the idiotic elite/media responses) Richard Seymour at Lenin's Tomb has posted a "sarcastic itinerary" of "reactionary birdsong" that's worth reading. In addition, I recommend the analysis of Laurie Penny (of Penny Red, which I've somehow missed up until now):
Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.
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.
There's clearly a class antagonism aspect to these events--and given the widespread attempt to implement austerity measures within the metropoles of capital (through, for example, bullshit manufactured debt crises) as the latest of tactics in three or more decades of neoliberal governance, this riot might only be the harbinger of unrest to come.

No comments: