Over the last three days many people from all walks of life have insisted there can be no justification for the widespread destruction, looting and pillaging which has been occurring all over the capital. And they are, to some extent, correct. Nobody should have to fear for their safety, or the safety of their loved ones, because of a human threat. Nobody should have to fret about whether their home, business or vehicle will end up torched overnight.
Neither is there a connection between the shooting of Mark Duggan and the violence which has blighted our streets since Saturday night. Of course, it all began with a protest against a death shrouded in confusion due to a lack of police transparency. But when the trouble continued on Sunday night in Enfield, it became crystal clear that the presence of many rioters was purely to misappropriate property.
But what factors underlie this greed? While no doubt the perpetrators will consider their participation simply a route to personal gain, something subconscious must lead to them feeling disenfranchised enough to feel the need to steal to improve their lives, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Adam Ramsey states on left-wing blog site Bright Green that when an arsonist burns a building, either to make a statement or simply for pleasure, they are displaying they do not believe they have a stake in the world they live in. It is, essentially, a construct by others, for others, which they feel disconnected from.
There is an element of truth to this, but it is not an exact statement; the metaphorical arsonist does not burn every building, just a select few. This signifies a desire for the arsonist to exist in the world, but to modify it to his taste.
Perhaps the perfect illustration of this is the man who was spotted waiting for the green man at a pedestrian crossing, with a stolen computer tucked under his arm. A bizarre spectacle, but one which is microcosmic of the issue. A desire to change his standing in the world through theft, accompanied by, in this situation, a ludicrous adherence to familiar social rules.
With chants of 'Whose streets? Our streets!' echoing around London, it is clear that the rioters at last feel a sense of empowerment and control because of their actions. The world is theirs; not a new world altogether, just the current world with their stamp on it.
The youth of the country can be forgiven for having this feeling of disconnection. Government cuts have slashed away at many aspects of society, including many elements of community work and sports which would significantly affect teenagers, leaving them rootless and vulnerable. The highly-publicised demonstrations against tuition fee hikes showed that Britain's youth would not sit down and take blow after blow.
This is not to say that the people who marched over the tuition fee issue are the same people who have been setting fire to furniture stores or looting bookmakers; merely that a sense of injustice is manifest among the next generation. Most looters will have had no plans to move into higher education, but the message that the country's young are being unfairly treated is subconsciously seeping even into those who would be widely considered politically apathetic.
Anybody attempting to highlight these issues leaves themselves open to attack, from citizens justifiably angry at the destruction which has gripped the country, because they appear apologists for the havoc-makers.
And indeed, in a clockwork world, the trouble would be stopped immediately, and then the problems, causes and roots dealt with afterwards. But we live in a time where people feel free to take action into their own hands, when they believe they are not being told the truth, or are being mistreated. This was, in the case of the Duggan death, the catalyst for the situation, if not the fuel. Therefore these issues need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Starting to tackle social inequality tomorrow will not bring an end to these riots; they have spun wildly out-of-control and perhaps only a greater police or military presence will bring the present lawlessness to a halt in the short-term. Prime Minister David Cameron has called an end to his holiday to hold an emergency Cobra meeting, in which the use of the army to end London's attrition will surely be discussed.
But this will not work on a longer timeline, and making positive changes is the only way to secure a less volatile, nihilistic future.
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