Shallow assessments of the causes of the riots is the best that can be expected from politicians
After the countrywide riots that stunned but probably did not surprise and the immediate outright condemnation across the political spectrum, the British political class is at a well-rehearsed stage of any crisis when solutions are proposed.
Today’s answers are all too predictable also. Those on the centre-left contend deprivation lies as the root cause while for those on the centre-right it’s the lack of discipline. As a consequence the former will throw more money at the problem while the latter more police, newly termed zero tolerance.
But we’ve been here before. Britain has been pumping money into so-called troubled areas of deprivation for decades. At the same time there is a prison shortage which suggests the policing can’t have been that lax to start with.
It is the height of stupidity to continue to offer the same “solutions” to problems which they previously failed to address.
There is a reason for this intransience. The centre-right tried ‘hugging the hoodies’ for a bit while it was under a decade of centre-left policing that helped fill the prisons. Now both have returned to their respective comfort-zone extremes.
Superficial assessments of the problem are abound – from the outright racist from David Starkey that “whites have become black” to lawless inner city gangs, absent father households to the absolutely absurd, the removal of the student grant, the EMA, due to public spending cut backs.
The reality of the riots exposed the under-belly of society that looted, burnt, assaulted and even murdered because they would get away with it on the day. There is a criminal class in all societies. However, this was not a small fringe. All weren’t gang members; without fathers; from deprived areas; of low income or uneducated. The shallow assessment from the so-called historian Starkey that whites have adopted looting from black culture exposes his lack of historical acumen, despite his title, given Britain’s past spearheading of international piracy and centuries of colonisation and exploitation and shows the man to be no more than a bigoted nationalist.
A slightly deeper assessment would evaluate why so many gangs; why so many households with absent fathers; why so many chose to loot; why so many looters were so young.
These patterns aren’t isolated to the riots however. Crime in absolute terms is so high it is measured in thousands per 10,000 of the population while politicians argue over year on year changes to conceal disorder on a massive scale. There’s been a trend of criminals getting younger and youngsters committing more violent crimes. Most city town centres on most weekends are abound with criminality now termed anti-social behaviour to give it more legitimacy – just look at the evidence from A&E wards.
The question is why is there such a high propensity for social ills which cuts across racial, income and social class structures such that these cannot be the causes.
Indeed even the break-down in family doesn’t get to the root of it as most relationships are temporary in origin, thanks to individualism. There isn’t a family to start with and when there is, half end in divorce, mainly due to extra-marital relations. Meanwhile, materialism, which pervades from the haves to the have-nots, ensures an individual’s identity is defined by his possessions.
An honest appraisal would isolate the underlying values of individualism and materialism as the root causes upon which secular western societies are founded. However, politicians more interested in winning the next election than thinking about the welfare of society will play party politics while society burns – literally and metaphorically.