Thursday, 11 August 2011

London riots - surprising? not really.

Like most people Ive been following the coverage of the riots in London, with mixed feelings of shock and a sad sense of inevitability . Originally from London myself, and knowing some of the affected areas well, it sadly doesnt really come as much surprise. It's clear to most people that we live in a society that promotes above all consumerism, it's what our society thrives on and were all taught to want, and want with abandon.

We all know that corruption in the government, police force and media is rampant, and we're expected to accept that they will mostly get away with it. The divide in our society between those that have and those that most definately don't widens with the wealth and privelege destined for an ever increasing smaller minority. It's difficult to see how the have-nots in our society can be expected to behave in a law abiding way when our leaders, banks, and media show us its perfectly acceptable to behave in another. It's not that surprising then to see people taking when the opportunity arises. Reading the coverage of the recent riots, it seems that alot of the looters, are just taking advantage of a situation- if you passed an open, defenceless shop loaded with goods would you be able to resist taking something away with you-especially if theres no comeback? Honestly?

The economic situation that's been going on now since 2008 has squeezed everyone to the point where there's literally no room to manoevre, here in Spain it's no different. We all know that the initial incident of the shooting of Mark Duggan isnt the reason why theres mass rioting all over the Uk and the underlying causes are the same here and in most of Europe. However here the people decided to confront the system in a different way. They occupied the town squares all over Spain, demanding an end to the corruption, and solutions to the economic inequality that leaves many living below the poverty line. They set up discussion groups to talk about the way theyd like the society to be, how the government should tackle the economy, social problems etc etc and these proposals have been formed into a political manifesto. As in the Uk they also used social networking sites to organise themselves around the country. They camped in the Squares for months, peacefully protesting and gaining support from the general public. In England the unemployment rate is 8% but here it's over 20% and higher in certain areas, with the young badly affected. There's a real sense of desperation and helplessness, and very little and in many cases no government assistence, but there's no looting, violence or disorder,as yet.

When the trouble dies down, England will be saddled with a huge clean-up, countless millions of damages, both to private and public property and worse a sense of distrust between neighbours, and a badly damaged reputation abroad. Fear will probably end up being the prevailing emotion of most ordinary citizens. We rely on a sense of order and mutual respect inorder to live in large cities or anywhere for that matter, and its clear that the police cant control large numbers of incidents all over the country- where does that leave the ordinary person? England will have to rethink its view of itself, and changes will have to be made. Unfortunately, the violence and destruction doesnt draw sympathy to the symptoms that caused the outbreak, and hopefully they wont be overlooked in the aftermath as a result. Comparing the situation with what went on over here, peaceful protest might be slower to take effect but you only have to look at what Ghandi achieved to see that its more productive in the long run.

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