Correcting the contextualisers

All property is theft

The response of some to the riots which swept the UK last month was to say “Yes, we know this is criminality, but you can’t ignore the cuts/poverty” While stopping short of excusing the violence which left five dead and caused millions of pounds of damage there was an attempt by these people to ‘contextualise’ it.

Contextualising is often little more than pinning the tail of your pet political cause to the donkey of whatever is in the headlines that week. So it was with the riots. As Kristian Neimetz blogged for the Institute of Economic Affairs the riots had nothing to do with material poverty. Neimetz points out that:

“The standard rate of Income Support for a non-working single mother with one teenager is currently £562.60 per month. On top of that comes Child Benefit, currently at £87.97 per month, and Child Tax Credit at £168.90, assuming only the most basic rate. The rate of Housing Benefit depends on where she lives; it is £1000 per month in inner southeast London, £1213.33 in inner east London and £1256.67 in central London (which includes Camden and most of Hackney). Council Tax is also covered. This is at current rates, meaning after the ‘savage cuts’, and ignores other benefits which are a bit trickier to qualify for.”

You can actually live a pretty sweet life on benefits. Beveridge’s safety net has become a hammock.

This isn’t to say we don’t have poverty in Britain, we do, but only because poverty has been redefined to mean having less than half the money of the Duke of Devonshire. The rioters outside my east London flat didn’t look too poverty stricken, wearing Franklin & Marshall gear and filming their mayhem on iPhones. The truth is that in a real sense there is very little material poverty in the UK today.

The contextualisers also said that cuts to youth services played a role in the riots, as though these kids would stop burning buildings down if only they had a ping pong table. It also never seemed to have occurred to the contextualisers that earlier generations of children refrained from rioting when all they had to distract them was a Hula Hoop.

Neimetz dealt with this cuts argument in his blog but, again, we saw the common, utter confusion among the contextualisers about what it is the government is actually doing. It is not cutting the debt but the deficit, which is the rate at which the debt is growing. At the end of this Parliament government spending is forecast to be nearly £100 billion higher than when the coalition took office. So much for cuts!

That’s not to say that there was no context for these riots – there was. Base criminality. According to statistics released this week three quarters of those appearing in court for their part in the riots have previous convictions. They weren’t reacting to poverty or cuts; they were just out doing what they normally do.

This article originally appeared at Global Politics

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Big government has destroyed a healthy society and created an underclass

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To describe the rioting that took place in the UK recently as “anti-social” sounds so anodyne as to be redundant. Neighbourhoods were terrorized. Buildings were burned. And people were killed. But it still conveys an essential point.

One of the most noted aspects of the riots was the fact that the rioters were destroying their own communities. Whatever this may say about the intelligence of looters who target Tottenham over Knightsbridge, the riots were certainly an attack on society in the areas they live in. Why would they do this?

First, we have to consider what we mean by society. For too long the leftist definition has been widely accepted which sees “society” merely as a substitute term for “state”. In that view, society and social action simply amounts to whatever the government is doing and all it requires of the individual is to hand over his or her taxes when demanded.

In actual fact “society” is both broader and more difficult to pin down than that. One way of defining it is simply to see it in terms of people interacting. And this makes greater demands of the individual than does the leftist conception. It demands active involvement.

All sorts of areas where people interact comprise society while having nothing to do with state action: families, charities, sports clubs, religious organisations and workplaces, among many others.

It can be manifested in something as unremarkable as an ordinary yet friendly relationship with a local shop owner. All of this human action is social interaction — society in other words.

Yet up and down the UK large sections of the population have been absent from these circles of positive social action for years. With broken families and no jobs they are what we have come to term the “Underclass”.

To a very great degree, this underclass is the creation of the state. Welfare handouts have rendered fathers and families redundant in many cases. They have made it possible to live a quite comfortable life without ever earning a penny.

The debilitating, de-socialising effect of this is readily seen. To give an example, one of the mitigating circumstances most commonly put forward for the rioters was the lack of any state-provided recreational activity for teenagers.

It seems to have occurred to depressingly few people that by acting with others voluntarily they could have worked to provide something themselves as was the norm in the days before the vast expansion of the welfare state. The social approach as opposed to the state approach simply never occurred to them.

Welfare and state provision has de-socialised these people by enabling their withdrawal from large sections of the arena of voluntary human interactions. They dwell instead in the entitlement induced passivity of welfare dependency. They attack society where they live because they are not a part of it. They are, in other words, anti-social.

The great 19th century Liberal statesman Richard Cobdensaid that “Peace will come to earth when the people have more to do with each other and governments less”. The recent riots in Britain show that to be the case among individuals within nations as well as between them.

London rioters are the pampered children of the welfare state

A bit more of this please

For the last two nights, like many other Londoners, I have stayed up late watching clashes outside my window between Police and rioters. After seeing the burned out flats of Tottenham I wanted to make sure I could go to sleep safely.

What I saw, a Police car being trashed and a baton charge on Sunday and fighting again last night, was rather subdued by the standards of elsewhere in the capital. Following on from the arson in Tottenham, buildings were burned in Hackney, Croydon and Ealing.

There was always the danger that people on the left would seek to use this unrest as a vehicle for their own pet causes. Ken Livingstone proved again just what an irrelevant lump of 80’s nostalgia he is by blaming, not the current government, but that of Margaret Thatcher. Others have consulted their A level Sociology textbooks and pinned the blame on the rioting youths’ “disenfranchisement” or “deprivation”.

None of this third rate Marxist rubbish holds up if you leave the lecture hall and come face to face with the rioters. It is almost impossible to think of a way these people are disenfranchised. Each and every one of them has the franchise. When they reach 18 they will have the right to vote. They may choose not to use it, but that’s up to them.

Neither did the rioters I saw look particularly deprived. The closest thing they have to a uniform are Franklin & Marshall jumpers which retail for about £60 each. Most of them were filming their rampages on iPhones which can retail at over £400.

The poverty these kids have is moral, not financial. Many of them come from broken families which derive most of their support from the state. Neither they, nor their parents, have ever had to face consequences or take responsibility in their lives. If a girl gets pregnant the state pays. If they’d rather pose about like a gangster than get a job, the state pays. And if they commit a crime state punishment is often a joke. So, they behave as they please.

It is true that they have no hope or aspiration but this is not a question of “exclusion”. They are forced by law to attend state schools.

White, black or whatever else, it is because many of them come from a culture which places no value on education. They would rather emulate some dim witted “music” star than knuckle down to school work. This accounts for much of their poor educational performance which adversely affects their prospects later in life.

And why should they value education and hard work? People who are used to having money thrown at them by the state have seen that you can be rewarded for doing nothing.

Happily, the sociological nonsense has been less widespread than it could have been and than it once would have been.

Tottenham MP David Lammy’s reaction was solid and unspectacular but after the disgusting response of the late, unlamented former Tottenham MP Bernie Grant after the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock (“What the police got was a bloody good hiding” he crowed after the policeman had had his head hacked off by a mob during 1985’s riots in Broadwater Farm) we have come some distance.

Even Diane Abbot broke the habit of a lifetime this morning by saying something sensible and backing curfews.

Curfews should be an obvious start. Beyond that, the police should be more proactive, seeking to hit and disperse the rioters — take the fight to them. They should be looking at a range of tools from water cannons to tear gas to rubber bullets. And this is a perfectly liberal response, if you know what true liberalism is about.

The first governments arose out of the need for mutual defence. Over time, particularly in the last century, governments have taken on more and more roles. The state now tells you how often to exercise and spies on your bin bags.

But whether you agree with the state’s new functions or not, it cannot be denied that one of its core functions, before anything else, remains the protection of the people from domestic and foreign enemies. If the state cannot do that then it is well and truly failing.

Even a small state can do this. All but the most fervent of anarcho-capitalist should agree that this protection is the one core duty of the state above all others. There is no reason why a strong government must also be a big government.

One of the defining characteristics of the modern state is its monopoly on violence. It is now time to assert that monopoly. The government needs to act, it needs to act hard, and it needs to act now.

This article originally appeared at The Commentator

Riotballs

A woman in Croydon has to jump from a burning building. Its society’s fault apparently

In fairness figures on the political left have been resiting the temptation to try and make out that the riots in London, which claimed their first life today, are anything more than rancid criminality. However, the loonier lefties, who in their desperate search for allies have yet to encounter anyone giving off a moral stench so gut turning they weren’t able to stand it, have seen in these feral scum noble, oppressed harbingers of the proletarian rising. Here’s some examples from a couple of the nuts I came across in my undergrad days…

Sean Rillo Raczka has been tweeting prolifically…

“People have lost their homes. It’s tragic. The government is putting many many more on the streets though. People won’t accept this #riots” – Today

“I can see increased stop and search, violent policing and the deployment of water cannons coming from all this, not the justice that we need”

– Today

“Inevitably this chaos will lead to further victimisation of poor young people, and even worse militarised & political policing.” – Today

“Govt systematically disenfranchises young people, giving them no hope or education. There is endemic racism. I wonder why there are riots?” – Sunday

A friend has posted on his wall…

“COMRADES… REAL RΞ√φƱϮỊΘƝÅRỊΞS… WE NEED TO GET ON THE STREETS TOMORROW. YOUNG PEOPLE… FORGET THE LOOTING, IT’S A TRAP!!! TARGET GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS, POLICE STATIONS, BANKS, BETTING OFFICES… IT’S TIME TO MAKE A STAND… THIS IS IT.

YOU ARE… MALCOM X, JOHN LENNON, CHE GUEVARA, MICHAEL JACKSON, NANNY MAROON, TUPAC, ANGELA DAVIS, JESUS, LAURYN HILL! ♥”

Ordinarily you’d take this for a joke…

Elly Badcock, previously mentioned here, has been a fountain of revolutionary fervour in Facebook

“just got back from tottenham. scary stuff. the anger pouring out from a marginalised community against a corrupt police force is something to be reckoned with” – Sunday

“The bullet lodged in Tottenham PC’s radio is apparently police-issue. Looks like that set-up fell through, then. Fucking murdering bastards.” – Sunday

“This from Jo Gough who was around Hackney and Whitechapel last night: “my experience of wandering around: people are targetting corporate shops- overpriced goods and exploit their workers, and banks- made this crisis. A mixture of all ages and people, no violence against eachother. We have to understand people can’t carrying on living with no money and no future prospects apart from the govnt saying we will become poorer. The system is way more violent than anything happening on the streets” – Today

In the real world here are Raczka’s and Badcock’s downtrodded heroes striking a blow for freedom and justice…

This is what happens when you indulge scumbags


Take that, bus!

Tottenham, just a couple of miles from me, is in flames again. The people of N17 are following in the famous footsteps of the Broadwater Farm rioters of 1985 and smashing up the area they live in to “protest” about the shooting of Mark Duggan by the Police at nearby Tottenham Hale tube station on Thursday.

But its always a little difficult to take these riots seriously as some expression of outrage on the part of the oppressed. Like the equally dumb Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, a great many of the outraged and oppressed are registering their anger with an apparently racist/capitalist/patriarchal Police force by grabbing some flat screen TV’s and Blu Ray players.

The fact is that some people, like those rioting by Bruce Grove train station, are just scum who like a row. When the student protests turned violent a few months ago I was asked by an angry student “Do you think people do this for fun?” Yes, actually, I do. The blokes I see scrapping at football matches don’t, despite the valiant efforts of underemployed sociology lecturers to convince you otherwise, do it for some grand political or social reason. They do it because some blokes find having a scrap exciting. And the scum rioting in Tottenham couldn’t give a monkeys about Mark Duggan, they just want a row. And some free electrical goods.

These scum don’t need much encouragement but it has never helped that there have always been left wingers willing to see in this mindless destruction the stirrings of a revolutionary proletariat. There will be, in the days to come, people telling you that all this is a reaction to ‘social exclusion’ or poverty. And this matters because these people have an influence on policy out of all proportion to the value of what they have to contribute. Seeing the wrong problem they have for years peddled the wrong solutions. Less active Policing and a bit more taxpayers cash will, apparently, solve the problem.

And these lefties, along with the various self appointed ‘community leaders’, will come to blame the fact the area is a dump which ‘socially excludes’ its residents on some failure of the market economy or a government which doesn’t care about them.

Tottenham won’t be a dump for either of these reasons. It will be a dump and remain a dump because of the rioting scumbags of Tottenham. The people who, in the name of ‘Justice’, and IPCC actually started an investigation before Mark Duggan’s body was cold, have smashed their own shops and amenities and burned their own neighbours out are the ones who will be to blame for the fact they have no shops or amenities. The same thing happened in areas like Watts and Detroit after the riots there in the 1960’s. The residents smashed the place up and then complained that they lived in a ruin.

Lets not dignify the destructive morons of Tottenham with some concocted socio-economic rationalisation. This just encourages people who need little encouragement and by distorting policy makes the situation worse. But let them endure their punishment. When they look at the dump they live in remind them, when they cast the blame on capitalism or politics, that its a dump because they smashed it up. To wallow in their results of their own stupidity should be their reward. The tragedy is that victims of the scum are not ‘the Pigs’, ‘the Man’, ‘the Feds’ or whatever imported American term they choose to use. The victims will be their innocent neighbours.