Wednesday, August 10, 2011

UK riots, Irish lessons

In the UK and in Ireland hope for many young people has been taken away, yet at the same time the materialist celebrity culture is fed to them 24 hours a day through advertising by any means necessary.
As Shaun Bailey, a conservative said, these kids, in the last 15 years, know all about their rights but do not realize their responsibilities.
He also said on newsnight in the UK that although some may feel genuine grievances, the majority feel a sense of entitlement, that they can take what they want - I put that attitude down to our crass celebrity culture.

We no longer judge by color of skin or content of character, we do so by consumerism– you are what you have. The mixed ethnic nature of the looting youth gangs is a pretty good demonstration of this.

One can also understand the simmering anger, in actual fact a huge anger, but also a huge feeling of frustration - and it is justifiable. What is right and wrong! One law for the rich and one for everyone else.

No corrupt bankers or politicians have gone to jail, people who caused the cutbacks and who get away with it. No one seems accountable.
The hacking scandal in the UK has caused huge anger, the media behaving in such a callous manner.
Celebs who openly use drugs are not hassled in the same way as kids on the street.
We see bankers bailed out, corrupt politicians and a compliant, saccharine media who concentrate on the unimportant and there is little we can do to change that.

In Ireland we see cuts to public health, policing, the things now required but reduced, and the very rich or influential, banks, clerics and politicos, being unrepentant and untouchable.
Senator Calley in Ireland for example shows no shame, former Green politicians show no regret for supporting FF, Labour now support FG. Bankers still lead lives of privilege, they own their houses.

With this comes a parallel society that has little hope. City centre youths have few opportunities economically, never own a house, have menial un-improving employment - if they are lucky.
But the one areas they can access money is via drugs and criminality.
This is a parallel economy, run by criminals who deal with competition in an increasingly violent way - as we see in Ireland.
The Netherlands has many of the same problems at the margins as the UK with some young males from ethnic or economically hopeless groups, in many cases less integrated, but their access to the drugs business has been reduced through decriminalization and control.
Many youths are drawn to gangs not by the need for protection but by the supposed glamour of a lifestyle that is celebrated in many areas of modern culture.

Recently the death of Amy Winehouse was given equal status and weight in the red top media as the Norwegian mass murder, and will continue to do so. Growing acceptance of this trivial culture has helped create these riots.

At the same time dispossession, hopelessness- you will never own a house, you will live as the state wishes - and shops crammed full of goods is brought together, who can be surprised that, with a little co-ordination via social networking sites, a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham should have turned into rioting and looting.
We see a reaction of a distant economic and political system as well as dumbed down celeb culture.

A system that stresses materialist wealth, which constantly exposes us to increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous advertising, yet which oversees the breakdown of communities and the impoverishment of millions in order to increase the wealth of a minority.

We do not need to argue that these people are explicitly politicised, or fighting for some sort of social justice.
They attack shops and business outlets, not police stations or political structures - this is about greed and envy, not politics. The shops are specific, fashion outlets - the marks of modern culture.
Many of these people appear to have been acting selfishly, competitively, and without thought for the consequences of their actions. 
But these reactions have been conditioned, when consumerism and celebrity are the primary driving forces for peer endorsement, then envy and hatred, resentment and a sense of entitlement are the instinctive reactions of a dumbed down and greedy bunch of thuggish opportunists who lash out at their own communities and areas.
But it is also apparent that there is a simmering rage, and a demand for attention expressed through mindless destruction aimed at what they have been told they need. Whatever ones perceived or real resentments and grievances are, turning on ones own communities and economy solves nothing.

A major issue I believe is the erosion of civil rights, abuse of stop and search laws written by Tony Blair to 'combat terrorism' in 2005 have been used many thousand times by the police, not to catch mindless murderers but target male youths from the poorer areas, particularly those from the Caribbean community - the humiliation, harassment and obvious misuse of these powers leads to resentment and anger.

In Northern Ireland internment fueled the same emotions as did the army check points.
One thing of note was how often one heard that baton rounds and water cannon have never been used in 'mainland UK' because of their effectiveness, yet it seems using them with reckless abandon in Northern Ireland was OK.

I have written before about the importance of civil rights, and this is never more important than when including the dis-enfranchised into society, as with Dr King in the 60's in the US, or Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, or John Hume in Northern Ireland, or the German Jews in the 30's, or the Palestinian people today.

For that reason I believe the embedded film is one of the most important made.

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