I know we’ve all forgotten about the riots now : it’s been decided that the ‘young people’ who did it were all morally bankrupt due to being brought up by single mothers (where would politicians be without their handy stereotypes, eh?), and the ensuing anxiety used to further erode our already battered cliff of freedom.
I was in Cornwall when this happened : the owner of the house where we were staying thoughtfully woke me up at 3am to tell me that Tottenham was rioting, and that the best thing to be done was to just bomb the place and start again with a New White Nation.
Luckily for me, and my flat (Stoke Newington borders, darling!) this didn’t turn out to be necessary, because it wasn’t ‘The Blacks’ rioting this time, but a motley crowd of randomers disenfranchised from capitalism by their inability to buy anything.
Fair enough, I say : isn’t this the basic trade of capitalism? Instead of working the land to survive, you exchange your labour for money : then exchange the money for the means of survival. So far so good, except that because capitalism evolved to legitimise greed, it requires not only survival but infinite growth. Capitalism convinces us to spend beyond survival by removing our innate sense of wellbeing with advertising, which tells us we can get it back by buying stuff. The magic is that it’s a lie! Once advertising has diminished you in your own eyes because of your lack of stuff, you can try and grow again through shopping, but the only thing that grows is the mountain of crap in your house.
In the case of the Looters from the Ghetto, capitalism has unfairly withheld the ability to buy back wellbeing from these people, by restricting access to education, transport, social mobility, and exporting the jobs that people without advantages used to do. That’s why the looting was so enjoyable : all those people were just enjoying the shopping buzz, but on a slightly larger scale. Watch this space for the comedown!