I don’t have many words because i’m not a Toronto politico and nothing smart to say, but i always voted NDP and was rooting for Jack. I don’t want to even know what the Right wingers are up to now. Spraying bottles of champagne at Rob Ford’s Mothers Backyard? Drenching endangered animals with Albertan oil? Sacrificing Virgins to Xenu?
RIP Jack. Dipper or not, this is a terrible loss for Canada and anyone hoping to restore progressive thought to Parliament Hill.
I saw Jack a few weeks ago. He came into the store I work at to shop with his wife, and he was so frail that I didn’t recognize him at first. Worst fears realized. I am deeply saddened by this. A personal tragedy and a truly horrible event for the country. What irony.
Sad news. The only irony I see is that, tragically, his illness gave him the gravitas that helped him gain so much ground (and positive media time) in the last election.
“Why are so many problems today perceived as problems of intolerance, rather than as problems of inequality, exploitation, or injustice? Why is the proposed remedy tolerance, rather than emancipation, political struggle, or even armed struggle?”—
What I say may sound shocking. Most of us don’t see it because we don’t want to. Certainly no politician dare say it and the press would only print it to heap scorn upon the sayer.
But my guess is that every street rioter knows exactly what I mean. They are only doing what everyone else is doing, though in a different way — more blatantly and visibly in the streets.
Thatcherism unchained the feral instincts of capitalism (the “animal spirits” of the entrepreneur they coyly named it) and nothing has transpired to curb them since. Slash and burn is now openly the motto of the ruling classes pretty much everywhere.
This is the new normal in which we live. This is what the next grand commission of enquiry should address. Everyone, not just the rioters, should be held to account. Feral capitalism should be put on trial for crimes against humanity as well as for crimes against nature.
Sadly, this is what these mindless rioters cannot see or demand. Everything conspires to prevent us from seeing and demanding it also. This is why political power so hastily dons the robes of superior morality and unctuous reason so that no one might see it as so nakedly corrupt and stupidly irrational.
David Harvey, never not essential reading.
Indeed. He’s was on my mind while reading about the riots.
In its nauseous fatalism, Ghost Town expresses how I’ve felt watching the chaos on London streets over the past few days. The comments, in newspapers and online, which chime with me are the ones professing sadness, confusion and a willingness to wait for more information before jumping to conclusions, the latter being particularly welcome. Some commentators leapt to equal and opposite forms of idiocy. Conservative pundits spoke mechanically of “mindless” violence (it’s never mindless, it just means you don’t consider the mind behind it) while some on the left bent over backwards to justify looting as an anti-consumerist act, failing to discriminate between anti-police violence and nicking trainers from Foot Locker, understandable outrage and plain old criminality, and thus doing rightwing pundits’ job for them. (Because I align myself with the left, I’m always more disappointed by lazy thinking from that end on the spectrum. I can’t say the Daily Mail has ever disappointed me.)
What’s happening now isn’t a protest or, as Darcus Howe put it, an “insurrection” — it’s a nervous breakdown. The motor isn’t a political cause but a mood. Politics is in the background, in the pervasive frustration and anxiety of an alienated underclass: record levels of youth unemployment, widening inequality, social services (especially youth services) slashed to the bone, the Education Maintenance Allowance scrapped, a damaged relationship between the police and the community, and collapsing faith in a seemingly indifferent political class. But the immediate outcome makes the lives of residents – many of whom are every bit as deprived as the rioters – even worse than they were last week and opens the door to an authoritarian response. A riot is a weapon of last resort; a cry for help; a public form of self-harming. It pays for short-term catharsis with long-term pain.
11.11 The key points from the Prime Minister’s statement:
• Water cannon can be available within 24 hours • ‘Some parts of society are not just broken, but frankly sick’ • ‘Phoney concerns about human rights’ will not stop hunt for criminals • ‘We needed a fight back and a fight back is under way’ • ‘Complete lack of responsibility in parts of society’ • Blames lack of ‘proper upbringing and morals’
Dear England: Way to take responsibility for your government’s uncanny ability to accuse everyone but your own damn self for your failures and make almost anyone feel angry and marginalized. #thatcheresque n shit
“#3 The polarisation between the claim that ‘the riots are a response to unemployment and wasted lives’ and the insistence ‘the violence constitutes mere criminality’ makes little sense. There is clearly more to the riots than simple random hooliganism. But that does not mean that the riots, as many have claimed, are protests against disenfranchisement, social exclusion and wasted lives. In fact, it’s precisely because of disenfranchisement, social exclusion and wasted lives that these are not ‘protests’ in any meaningful sense, but a mixture of incoherent rage, gang thuggery and teenage mayhem. Disengaged not just from the political process (largely because politicians, especially those on the left, have disengaged from them), there is a generation (in fact more than a generation) with no focus for their anger and resentment, no sense that they can change society and no reason to feel responsible for the consequences of their actions. That is very different from suggesting that the riots were caused by, a response to, or a protest against, unemployment, austerity and the cuts.”—
Those are some worthwhile comments, for sure. But I do think that there is still an undeniable background that makes all that stuff cohere, albeit in/as apparent incoherence. The riot is probably more generally symptomatic of that background than being only simply, easily caused by it. Especially if we try to imagine all the possible individual motivations of all the individual rioters, which is impossible. But I think, still, that it does suggest something of an overall — or maybe underlying — malady (albeit with a complex, dynamic symptomatology). To call it a “protest”, however, does seem to suppose a more specific sense of intentionality than might be accurate. At least, again, in terms of trying to imagine and gauge the inside thoughts of all the rioters. And yet, I think it’s pretty well clear that without “disenfranchisement, social exclusion and wasted lives” there would be no riot. The riot may not be an organized protest, as such, but it surely is a response to and product of factors like “unemployment, austerity and the cuts”. This much is not so complicated: more good jobs with fair wages plus less racism and police violence will mean fewer or no riots.
“No injuries were reported in the blaze, but all inventory is feared lost. XL/Beggars, Warp, Rough Trade, Domino, 4AD, Sub Pop, Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Drag City, Thrill Jockey, FatCat, Kompakt, Mute, Ninja Tune, Vice, and Soul Jazz are among those affected.”
Bummer. I was going to post a fake cynical comment wondering, as if from the perspective of a marketing and PR person, what music the rioters were listening to. Oh, well.
“But the young rioters’ grievances with the police, he and his friends agreed, were much more deep-seated. “When you have police officers jumping out of vans, calling 18-year-olds bitches and niggers; I’m a youth worker, I see it all over. “That’s what’s happening. They are thinking, who the fuck are you? And so it starts,” he added. “You have a generation of kids now that don’t respect their parents or the police,” chipped in his friend. “When we were youngsters we were made to have respect for the olders. Now if an older was to slap a youth that kid is going to pick up a hammer. “I was one of these kids but it’s bloody hard for them. There’s nothing to do at all. University fees have gone up, education costs money. And there’s no jobs. This is them sending out a message.” The same depressing picture – a mixture of alienation, anger at the police, boredom and mischief – was reiterated by locals across the Pembury estate. “They just want to be heard,” said a young black woman. “This is the only way some people have to communicate.” Were cuts in services a factor? “Course they are. They cut our youth project by 75%. We used to work with gangs, run a workshop that brought police and young people together. Gone.”—
Sad. That kind of stuff makes me wonder what version of the world the Republicans (especially) in the USA are planning for, too. Not to mention our own little neo-con. Even if one is a vehement capitalist, how is that kind of stuff in any way helpful? What is the plan?
“They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong.”
She makes a lot of strong points here. I like this one especially:
Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves…
Let me tell you, that for a young person who feels hopeless and powerless and has lived a life consumed by fear and shame and humiliation, there are few things that feel as empowering and transformative as the moment you stand together with a large enough group to defy the police. Seeing fear in a cop’s eyes in the face of your collective power is a heady and incredible feeling when you’ve always been afraid of them. In that moment it doesn’t matter if it’s theoretically or tactically “useful,” or whatever, it might be the first moment in that person’s life that they feel like they have the power to affect the world around them, that there really is the possibility of a break with the social order that fails them. It’s intoxicating.
Speaking economic class-wise, cops are in a weird position. What a shit job, really. In any case, it’s amazing how the affective dimension of this kind of stuff can become so quickly complicated, as I think jenniferanne's heartfelt comments above demonstrate.
You may well say, “bollocks, they’re not taking on the ruling class, they’re just destroying their own nest, hurting working class people and small businesses”. I can hear this, just as I can hear the sanctimony in its enunciation. The truth is that riots almost always hurt…
Very good point. Anyone looking to find one single coherent anything in this riot (and probably most riots) is probably going to be disappointed, to say the least. Even despite the fact that the particular instigation for this one was racist police violence. For sure, this riot consists of both criminal opportunists and politicized regular folk. Considering the instigation, probably with significant overlap. And yet, as the MLK quote articulates, the riot is, of course, absolutely still profoundly political in its form. Any event like this that pushes past basic respect for the “normal” rules of society is indicative of the failure of society to reproduce itself. Windows are easy to break but they usually don’t get broken. And unlike our most recent hockey riot (sheesh), it’s easier to recognize this riot as acute social unrest more than just stupid crime. Isn’t that much obvious?
“The riot escalated into a pitched battle between lines of riot police officers, some on horses, and hundreds of mostly young black men, in small gangs of four or five, many with hooded sweatshirts pulled over their heads and bandannas over their faces. The young men arrived in clumps, on foot, by bicycle or on mopeds. Tottenham is an area of mostly poor minorities; a significant portion of the population is black. “How many black people have to die around here?” asked one of the youths, referring to Mr. Duggan. He gave his name as Pablo. “I hate the police,” he said.”
Speculative conspiracy thinking sure is tempting but not often a good idea. Maybe never. And yet, sheesh. Seems like a sad, pretty eerie coincidence, doesn’t it? Indeed, that whole deal, from start to finish, seems super odd. Anyway, no tinfoil required.
(On edit: I should say that they are saying that it is indeed the same group of Navy SEALs but ‘maybe’ not the specific people who killed Osama. Although that’s all top secret, besides, isn’t it?)
…The Queer Art of Failure sometimes embarks on a positivist project in which “failure” stands in for alternate paths to triumph, and…
Very interesting stuff. The whole “underdog” or “lovable loser” tropes, which are such overused themes, could be thrown in there of consideration, too, I think. Especially as they might play out ideologically under social/political/economic conditions that actually usually only reward the powerful and already-enabled.