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.