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August 08, 2011


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'Take things back?' A riot is not a revolution. What are they taking back? Electrical goods? Yes, I suppose so. Hardly the kind of re-appropriation I'd like to see, though.

The Tories, the Tea Partiers, the bankers are all hostile to the state; the rioters are hostile in a different way. The former require social passivity to facilitate their violent expropriation; the latter require social instability to facilitate their violent expropriation. The former reject the legitimacy of not just the state but also the demos to place constraints upon their actions, as do the latter.

The looters are bankers who never went to school. Let's not pretend they're vanguardists, for goodness sake.

That said, we don't see many Tory MPs calling for bankers to be strung up even though they rob, loot and cause devastation on an infinitely vaster scale.

Not that I am trying to assert moral equivalence, that would be reprehensible. The bankers' crimes are far worse.

Fay Furness

A riot may not be a revolution but it has often been part of revolts, which have been historically significant. I see a riot as part of the picture of dissent and modern riots as simply often missing the proper framework of organization. I, too, feel sometimes dismay at "pointless and destructive" rioting. But I have to ask myself if that isn't just the influence of a moralizing media.

Jodi Dean

I agree the bankers' crimes as far worse.

I also share Fay's view that riots are "part of the picture of dissent." In a way, they are vanguards like dead canaries in coal mines are vanguards; they are harbingers of things to come, indications of a situation that is deadly, in London's case, a situation of extreme inequality and the dramatic diminution of economic and social opportunities.

Giacomo Conserva

I just posted this on my blog:
"London's burning- the great Clash song"

reminds me of two lines from Eliot's Four Quartets:
'the only hope, or else despair/
to be saved from fire by fire'
(He wrote this during WW2, of course)

Not a great choice, but a choice to be made.


Will violence create jobs, or merely the continuation of welfare?

Creating jobs, without unpopular government spending, requires knowing which individual actions will lead to that objective, and most people are uninformed on this point.

Account Deleted

“Poverty in itself does not make men into a rabble; a rabble is created only when there is joined to poverty a disposition of mind, an inner indignation against the rich, against society, against the government…A further consequence of this attitude is that through their dependence on chance men become frivolous and idle…In this way, there is born in the rabble the evil of lacking self-respect enough to secure subsistence by its own labor and yet at the same time of claiming to receive subsistence as its right.”
Philosophy of Right, Hegel (1820)

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