London's Burning
by Ellen Grace Jones

Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!!, Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds we will send them back with OUR riot! >:O Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother... SALUT! if you see a fed... SHOOT!

What began on Saturday [August 6, 2011] in North London area Tottenham as a reactionary vengeance response to the killing of local young man, Mark Duggan, by police, soon snowballed into a domino effect of copycat rioting, looting, and pillaging across the capital. The 'success' of the first proved a catalyst for the disaffected and dysfunctional to wreak havoc on London's streets. Stage-managed via Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger, rioting spread like wildfire to Hackney, Ealing, Clapham and now further across the UK in Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol.

Electrical stores were ram-raided for flatscreen TV's, JD Sports for sneakers, cashpoint dispenser machines pulled mercilessly from the wall, police baited, local corner shops looted for booze and fags whilst premises, residences and vehicles were set alight. For four days our streets have been witness to escalating unrest.

I'm a resident of Stoke Newington (ominously sandwiched right between Tottenham and Hackney) and despite the rioting most likely to break out here being a gang of yummy mummy's ram-raiding Whole Foods with Bugaboo strollers, the anxiety for the last few days has been palpable with shops shut up early and the streets eerily quiet. Hackney last night was a ghost town — all stores were boarded or shuttered, save for a few fried chicken houses. Fortunately all of London remained relatively riot-free, perhaps deterred by the 16,000 extra police deployed from around the UK. Severe rioting erupted out in Manchester, however — ironically where many of the extra police had been drafted in from.

The intimidation and damage inflicted upon our city and its inhabitants has been hellish and the subsequent anger provoked understandable. Yet all our mainstream media and Right Wing press has been serving up is manipulated, fear-based propaganda with a continued demonization of the rioting youths and their method of communique: there were early calls to block BBM and Twitter, forgetting it is the same social media which is now helping communities co-ordinate clear-up jobs. This morning a stern BBC news broadcaster instructed us only to leave our homes if it was necessary, to change commuting journeys and avoid riot areas at all costs. I strolled though Hackney at lunch and it was business as usual.

Yesterday the most repeated clip on BBC news was an enraged lady referring to desperately marginalized youths as 'feral rats'. Earlier our Prime Minister condemned the 'sick' individuals saying he 'despised' them. To perpetuate this derisory rhetoric is dangerously counterproductive to understanding just why our society has bred a generation of conscience-free disaffected criminal kids who feel this terrorizing of their neighbourhoods is acceptable or purposeful.

What I see on our streets is symptomatic of what's happening the world over; an ever-increasing rage towards socio-economic injustices imposed on us. It feels curiously inevitable as this tense, tumultuous collective unease has been percolating for some time. What is lamentable is that this is the only way these kids can articulate themselves. "When you've got bankers taking their bonuses and MP's taking money off people like me for their moats, and their chateaus and their castles, this is the result" an astute Hackney resident told BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday. It's Us vs Them. The Haves vs the Have Nots. The Bureaucrats vs the Marginalized.

The brutal riots may be the antithesis of the stoic, peaceful protesting seen in Egypt and the Middle East (there is no cohesive political message, only wanton lust for destruction and greed) yet it's an expression of extreme discontent the only way they know how. These are a young, underprivileged, under-acknowledged underclass — destined to remain on benefits or in poverty. Charged with fearless anger, they have nothing to lose and nothing to fear.

Given their poor education and distinct lack of values this is their last resort at being heard. It's not eloquent, it's not even constructive or focused (conversely, it harms their very own communities) but it's desperate, furious and reactionary.

The young rioters see a corrupt government which doesn't listen, which lies and breaks promises. One which does not speak for them. A government which denies them a future, slashing funding and enforcing austerity measures left-right-and-centre in a bid to serve their criminal banking paymasters. A heavy-handed police force imposing searches for no reason. When all you see is futility yet are paradoxically bombarded by consumerism and aspiration (coupled with our have-it-all-now-for-no-effort X Factor culture) all that manifests is a toxic combination of entitlement and frustration.

In other words these belligerent shopping-sprees have been about taking what they believe is owed to them. While the violence is inexcusable and unjustifiable, it's critical we understand why this is happening, yet our leaders are turning a blind-eye.

As they one-by-one reluctantly dragged themselves from their £10k a week villas yesterday to deal with the hellish-aftermath, the mood amongst the crowds was telling of the resounding discord and distrust of politicians; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was cussed and told to "go home" on a walkabout in Birmingham. Mayor Boris Johnson's encouragement to ignore the socio-political analysis behind the riots and accept them as just "wanton criminality" was met with boos and calls for his resignation. It's utter disconnect like this that makes one see how this unspoken-for underclass see violence as their only mouthpiece. Our politicians' failure to lay blame on current national circumstances serves only to put the very reasoning behind the riots in context: they are either ignorant of society's ills or just don't care.

"I'm not shocked at all by this, I was certain something very, very serious was going to take place in this country," said West Indian writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe to BBC News before his mic was hastily muted. "Our political leaders have NO idea, the police have NO idea, but if you look at young blacks and whites with a discerning eye and careful hearing they have been telling us yet we would not listen about what is happening in this country to them. The police have been stopping and searching young blacks for no reason at all. My grandson has lost count of the number of times police have searched him. I don't call this rioting; I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It's happening in Syria, it's happening in Clapham, it's happening in Liverpool and it's happening in Trinidad."

Moments later, broadcaster Fiona Armstong attempted to slander him by accusing him of having taken part in rioting in the past. Howe fought back.

While more visibly violent and tangibly fear-inspiring, the acts that pockets of London's youths have committed over the last four days are no worse than the insidious raping and plundering of our global economies by the criminal banking elite. In fact, the timing of the rioting drama has oh-so-conveniently diverted the world's attention away from the stock market crashes, the Murdoch scandal, the stealth-like way economies are being imploded by design. Interestingly, given that our feckless police service were slow to respond (even looking on, impotently allowing rioters to loot private businesses), there is now talk today of rubber bullets, water cannons and even — God forbid — Martial Law. Let's make one thing clear, our government will not let a good crisis like this go to waste.

This article originally appeared on the website of Reality Sandwich on August 10, 2011 (republished on Serendipity on August 14). There were numerous comments posted, to some of which Ellen Jones replied as follows:

@Dariozee I understand your anger and concern, but to say these 'losers do not have an agenda' is woefully missing the point. These disenfranchised kids do have an agenda alright, it's just tragic they are so ill-educated and lack the articulacy to understand what it is, let alone express it in a logical, political, way, which is why we got this mess.

As I expressed in my article, whilst there is NO justification for their actions, it is crucial we look for the explanation. Dismissing it as 'mindless criminality' as per Ca-moron, Johnson et al. is simply not enough and is totally abandoning the problem. It only serves to inflame the polarity and tension of Them vs Us. I completely agree that our benefit culture has bred an underclass of complacency and fecklessness yet these abandoned kids have more than likely grown up their whole lives feeling they are good for nothing whilst seeing our industry and services outsourced overseas and the pitiful remaining jobs filled by hardworking immigrants. It's little wonder they see the futility of a life on benefits as the only option and thus become hostile, despondent, frustrated and angry. This even extends to students being enslaved into debt then facing minimal career prospects upon graduation. Upward mobility in this country is an illusion these days.

They may well think their acts were 'cool' as you say but then we need to analyze just what the hell is up with our society that we're producing a young underclass which believes rioting and displacing their very own communities is the answer. Our indifference to this prevalent inequality (meeting it only with scorn) is dangerous and irresponsible.

A cursory glance at the dialect in their BBM call-to-arms message illustrates their solace and identity is found within corrosive, aspirational, aggressive elements of rap culture. When culture is doing their parenting and shaping their values it's time to worry.This rioting is about one thing: feeling powerful for one night only — giving them the sense that for one night together they can achieve something — as destructive and reprehensible as what they 'achieved' was. You and I are lucky enough to have had decent, moral values instilled in us and received a good education — we must remember there are those that haven't and much less besides.

@Cobalt_Sigil Sadly the rot has long set in and I agree with you that throwing a few youth centers into the mix ain't gonna solve anything. Whilst doing a volte-face on the austerity cuts would offer some short-term respite it won't solve the problem. It's tricky to pinpoint what would make a difference given that the displacement of wealth, power and control is beyond unbalanced. Observing the whole picture, I believe the root lies in Western society's acquiescence in a flawed, crooked monetary and political system designed only for maximum profit at the expense of humanity. Fortunately, people are awakening, our consciousness expanding, which perhaps (hopefully) will trigger a critical mass resulting in intolerance to remaining complicit in this farce we call a democratic society.

@Psychegram I enjoyed your impassioned reply from a spiritual angle, thank you — it's crucial we put this in context with what is presently happening to the world in a spiritual, energetic and environmental sense as well. The London riots are a minute expression of the greater global malaise and world shifts/changes. You're correct, things need to implode totally before the whole 'system' can be re-written and it's clear from present socio-political-economic-environmental unrest we are well into the throes of a dying epoch. In the UK barely a day goes by without some of the dark elite's capitalist / corrupt machinations being revealed, scandals exposed, or evil brought to justice, everything appears to be accelerating as we approach the end of the spiral. The control system knows it's fucked and is desperately throwing all it has at us in a last-ditch attempt to lock-down maintain its stranglehold on humanity. Let's hope light prevails :)

@Scrubycritter Yes indeed agent provocateurs have long been planted by the powers that be to enforce their sinister agenda and erode away our social liberties in the name of 'our protection'. They want us rioting on the streets as a pretext to administer their draconian laws and police state. As more details emerge about the rioting it appears this very well could be the case — yesterday the IPCC confirmed the bullet the police claimed was initially fired by Mark Duggan into a police radio was in fact police issue — so there you have it: they're fraudulently trying to justify his unlawful killing. Though there's no concrete evidence yet, I am certain there are foul tricks at play here with masked undercover-cops and paid plants instigating the unrest. It is now mainstream news they were ordered to stand down (like, WTF??) and observe the looting — conveniently until the press had got all their fear-inducing shots of course.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Grace Jones

Ellen Jones is a London-based arts and culture writer, the Editorial Director of the digital design agency Black Ghost Media and the founder and editor of the provocative fashion news site The Real Runway.

The Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator Peter Oborne writes as follows in an article entitled
The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.

It is not just the feral youth of Tottenham who have forgotten they have duties as well as rights. So have the feral rich of Chelsea and Kensington. ...

The Prime Minister [David Cameron] showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday's Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: "We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility — in every town, in every street and in every estate." He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well. ...

The so-called feral youth seem oblivious to decency and morality. But so are the venal rich and powerful — too many of our bankers, footballers, wealthy businessmen and politicians.

Of course, most of them are smart and wealthy enough to make sure that they obey the law. That cannot be said of the sad young men and women, without hope or aspiration, who have caused such mayhem and chaos over the past few days. But the rioters have this defence: they are just following the example set by senior and respected figures in society. Letís bear in mind that many of the youths in our inner cities have never been trained in decent values. All they have ever known is barbarism. Our politicians and bankers, in sharp contrast, tend to have been to good schools and universities and to have been given every opportunity in life.

Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain. If we are ever to confront the problems which have been exposed in the past week, it is essential to bear in mind that they do not only exist in inner-city housing estates.

The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.

The looters in the London riots are just amateurs compared to the banksters.

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