It’s A Riot

Writing in the New English Review, Dalrymple criticizes the report from the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, which attributed the August 2011 riots in Britain to “a lack of opportunities for young people, poor parenting, a failure of the justice system to rehabilitate offenders, materialism and suspicion of the police”, in the words of the Guardian. It is not true, he argues, that the rioters had “nothing to lose” by rioting. On the contrary, they have much to lose and know they will not lose it.
He does agree, however, that materialism played a role:
…a combination of consumerism and utter economic dependence on the state is, like the lot of the policeman, not a happy one. The dependence is (admittedly at some remove) a corollary of the theory of entitlement, and a belief in one’s own entitlement is a belief as destructive of the human personality as it is possible to envisage. It precludes gratitude for what one has, encourages resentment over what one does not have, and discourages personal effort except to obtain things at other people’s expense. At the same time consumerism, by offering the mirage of personal fulfilment through the possession of trifles, lends an urgency to possession that it might not otherwise have, thus adding to or catalysing to the resentments of entitlement. I might add that in a world in which income is in essence pocket money (everything else having been taken care of, albeit at a level less than that desired) consumer choice becomes the only choice that is ever exercised, and thus the model for the whole of human life.
The rioters, then, were (and still are, of course) victims, not of injustice or poverty, but of bad ideas and a rotten culture that, alas, have become truly their own.

2 thoughts on “It’s A Riot

  1. Jaxon

    Hope this is on topic enough, just that I was reading some of the Endgame thread on the forum.
    For what it’s worth, and god only knows what’s going to unfold, I suspect at some point the vast majority of naive liberals will have a virginia Woolf type reckoning (TD’s essay The Rage of V W).
    By which time it should be quite easy (I think the EU will be brushed off at this stage) to implement a massive regime of electronic tags.
    I’m quite sure police records will have huge database of people who should already be off the streets.

    Electronic tags are probably not very good, but the capacity for imprisonment on the scale I have in mind is nowhere near in place. Maybe old army barracks will be converted and prison camps something like in the USA will eventually go up. All the prisoners in conventional prisons that are deemed easy to handle will be transfered to less secure prisons.
    But who’s going to staff them? I think the ponzi like nature of much of society will collapse, freeing up lots of ‘volunteers’.

    In the meantime, just think if the majority of last years rioters had tags (maybe they did) I’d have thought police could be much better able to anticipate riots; I could well imagine some of these coming in hany http://tinyurl.com/7uh7cwj

    Basic infringments of E tag curfews etc will be treated with zero tolerance – which would be a very high proportion of those tagged but maybe the building of ‘prisons’ could keep pace with that.

    I’m probably a naive idealist or something, but I think given time the ‘prisons’ could have stages whereby the better you behave the better conditions get, there would probably be ‘bootcamp’ like element.

    I like Roger Scruton’s ideas of love of home and beauty etc… Monty Don, too I think has done some ground work here.

    But I imagine there will be many ‘downshifters’ who are not criminals and priority of vocational opportunities etc should surely go to them.

    There would be considerable unintended consequences, hopefully more good than bad esp if other countries follow suit, (I don’t think there will be any choice frankly). i.e demand for drugs in places like Afghanistan and south America should plummet and the poison of online (presuming the internet doesn’t crashout, I think it will be incredibly tenacious) pornography should likewise follow suit (yes I’ve read Thucydides, and it hardly inspires confidence). Our food and our energy dependence should decrease significantly – many equatorial places will be desperate for water anyway so hopefully there could be a new potential for international relations – if too many nukes haven’t been set off.

    alas it’s all speculation but hopefully there’s some cause for optimism.

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