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The Causes Of The England Riots - Yellow Magpie

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Published on August 13th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie


The Causes Of The England Riots


Welcome to part one of Yellow Magpie’s in-depth analysis of the England Rioting. This part will explore most of the causes of the antisocial behaviour and social unrest.

Part two will explore how to prevent such problems occurring again and the final part will look at a more radical solution that, if implemented, will forever change the landscape of human society.

The recent rioting in England has caused international attention to be focused on the United Kingdom. Many questions are being asked. How could this have happened? Why did it occur in England? What are the root causes of such dysfunction? And perhaps the most important question of all, how can this be prevented from ever occurring again?

The degree of complexity involved makes it very difficult to answer. The factors are manifold and there is no simple, easy to set up solution to any of them.

The rioting was triggered by the shooting of a drug-dealing taxi driver by police. It appears that the peaceful protest that followed was used as an excuse by hundreds, if not thousands, of people, to riot, loot, assault and kill citizens. Many commentaries have been splattered throughout the media citing reasons for why this occurred and offering suggestions as to how such incidents could be prevented in future.

This post will examine many of the issues that are responsible and will highlight why it seems that unless a radical new method of empowering the public and depowering politicians is implemented nothing will change and scenes like what occurred in August, 2011, will occur again and again in countries throughout the world.

Missing Authority

One of the most important aspects in a functional society is authority. All parts of society revolve around the need for leadership from the most critical unit, the family, right up to the education system, law and order and finally the system of governance. When there is a failure to follow any authority, anarchy and lawlessness becomes normalised.

On the individual level, the lack of authority figures in the lives of youth can have catastrophic consequences. This is particularly relevant to young men who need strong authorative figures to provide guidance when they are at a critical stage in their development.

Lack Of Respect And Responsibility

Claiming to be disenfranchised is one thing but all aspects of life rely on give and take. When there is nothing but taking, things begin to breakdown and spiral rapidly out of control. How many of the looters and rioters interviewed on television espoused a sickening sense of entitlement with absolutely no hint at even a semblance of responsibility.

Instead viewers were treated to a nauseous vitriol directed at other entities. ‘It was the state’s fault, it was the banks fault…’etc. Everyone was to blame but the actual rioters and looters themselves.

Clearly this irrational blame-others approach must bear the burden of what has gone wrong. Every individual has rights but they also have responsibilities as citizens to their country, responsibility to their community and responsibility to their families.

National Identity

Interestingly, it appears that a great many of England’s population do not see themselves as English, despite being born in the country. Rather they identify with the nationalities of their parents or grandparents.

On the surface this may seem like a valid reason for some of problems that the United Kingdom is now facing. However, when serious thought is applied to this suggestion, its credibility begins to waiver. There are plenty of people that are tremendously proud of their immigrant roots but many would never even consider plundering and thrashing their adopted country.

The danger with linking riots to national identity is that immigrants are used as scapegoats by racists. It is far easier to blame others for what happens rather than pointing the finger at ourselves and our society. There is little difference here between doing this and the rioters blaming others for their actions.

Socio-Economic Factors

Probably the most important factor in having a healthy country is the economy. Money-matters affect everyone, after all, money is what we use to attribute value to goods and services and has a big bearing on determining the value of individuals to society.

When unemployment is high, especially when it affects the young, alienation results and the likelihood of social unrest becomes greater. The outsourcing of jobs and services to exporting countries such as Germany, China, India, the Netherlands, and now the emerging export economies of Brazil and Argentina have devastating effects on importing nations.

The economies of import-orientated nations flounder and people, in huge numbers, lose their jobs. Mass unemployment means mass problems.  Human beings are highly intelligent and intelligence needs to be constantly stimulated and kept busy. The employed end up spending the majority of their hours at work and simply do not have idle time to become destructive.

Ultimately, the biggest player in contributing to the global economic downturn was deregulation, the legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s disastrous fiscal policies. Fractional investment banking was allowed to go on an insane gambling spree, unfettered by anyone looking over their shoulder and politicians effectively allowing them a one-way ticket to do what they want with public’s resources. With the cupboards bare, the British government have been severely limited in what monies they allocate.

Whatever solution is proposed to fix the problem it is obvious that it cannot receive the necessary financial backing to make it successful as public money is being wasted on the wrong resources.

Unaccountable Police Force

The prelude to the rioting was the highly controversial killing of taxi driver and alleged drug dealer, Mark Duggan. Initially, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) issued a statement that Duggan had shot at police. It has now come to light that this was not the case and the only shots fired were by the police. This is just one of a long list of highly questionable incidents involving the British Police Force.

Some of the most outrageous and unjust incidents include the killing of a five year old boy, in 1989, the killing of an unarmed and naked, James Ashley, in a drugs raid in 1998 and the horrendous assassination-style shooting of Charles De Mendez in 2005.

So far, not a single individual amongst the police force has ever been brought to justice for these offences. When there is no accountability from the organisation tasked with ensuring that law and order is maintained, how can a just and fair society thrive?

Of course the vast majority of the police force are highly competent and highly dedicated officers. With a force in excess of 164,000-strong it is inevitable that some members will be less than suitable to be police officers. These members should be removed from duty and face the full rigour of the law if they commit offences.

These problems are not exclusive to England and the UK. Be it the Gendarmerie of France, the police of the United States, the Gardai of Ireland or the Carabinieri of Italy, all countries experience similar scenarios. It seems that special laws apply to the police that are very different to what everyone else is subjected to.

Recently in Ireland, a member of the Gardai was let off after his six-month prison sentence (12 months were originally suspended) for committing an assault that caused serious injuries to a civilian was suspended. In a ludicrous ruling, the judge stated that he would not be sending the defendant to prison as he feared for the Garda’s safety.

Throughout the world similar scenarios are occurring as members of police forces commit crimes, often with impunity. Until there is justice for everyone, regardless of position, then there can never be a fair society.

The United Kingdom Is Not The Only Country

It is very important to state that the United Kingdom is not the only developed nation that is affected by rioting and social unrest. You only have to look to the UK’s near neighbour, France, to see that this is not the case.

In 2005, Paris had similar troubles to what has plagued the United Kingdom. Cars were set alight as people took to the streets rioting. Riot police were out in force using a mixture of water cannon, tear gas and baton charges

But by far the worst case of civil unrest occurred in 1961 when a peaceful protest by Algerians turned violent as police assaulted and killed many of those taking part. In all, it is estimated that 200 people were murdered by police in what is now known as the Paris Massacre.

Dreadful Role Models

We now live in an era obsessed by fame for the sake of fame and accumulating what appears to be easy money. The Big Brother or X-Factor generation, depending on your poison of choice, seems to place more value on hedonism than on making a contribution to society and the community.

Rappers and football players appear high on the list of people that the youth aspire towards, especially in urban environments. It barely needs to be reiterated that these two classes of role models are far from ideal. Both groups of people suffer from self-obsession and a grossly overinflated opinion of their own value.

If these are the people that today’s youth have chosen to be inspired by and emulate, it is critical that we champion people with more desirable characteristics in future.

A Drinking Culture

It is unclear now what role alcohol has played in these riots but you can rest assured that many of those involved had drink on board as they were committing these crimes. Alcohol is one the most dangerous drugs, if not the most dangerous given its wide-spread availability.

Drinking lowers inhibitions and reduces impulse control, both of  which are needed by individuals to stop themselves engaging in antisocial behaviour. Dealing with a drinking culture has to be part of curbing these problems in future.

The Failure Of The Education System

The education system should also shoulder some of the responsibility. No longer is there a linear route to having a successful career. Under the old model students could go to school, be awarded a place in college or university, obtain a degree and be given a well-paid job by their respective employers.

This model is no longer true and it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to get a well-paid job, regardless of qualifications.

So the heavy emphasis on academia has now become less and less relevant, yet schools continuously persist in keeping this as part of their core curriculum. What use has understanding irrational numbers and finding out how to differentiate algebraic equations to the average person, who has no interest in the complexities of maths. None whatsoever.

Maths does play a invaluable role in many careers such as in economics, science, information technology and engineering but there are many more jobs that require only basic maths skills, certainly not abstract and specialised mathematics. We must ask this question. Is it worth wasting student’s time attempting to teach them subjects that they have no interest in?

The Fatherless Multi-Generation

Britain has got one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. It is not uncommon for girls as young as 12 and 13 to become pregnant. Many of these children will have to bring up their own children without any help from those who got them pregnant in the first place. Kids are now growing up fatherless.

In fact the problem is much worse than that as there are now multi-generations of single parents who are bringing up their children. Although many single parents and same-sex couples have well-balanced, exemplary children, statistically-speaking the odds increase that individuals without fathers are more likely to engage in deviant activities and exhibit behavioural problems.

The Failure Of Politics

People have become disillusioned with politics. Although the youth are often castigated for not participating in the voting process as much as the older groups do, perhaps ultimately they are correct.

Many politicians are self-serving, egotists who really only care about being in power. All that seems to be required to be a politician is a supreme amount of self-confidence, often without any justification. How many politicians are qualified to steer a country? How many are well-versed in economics? How many have the necessary qualifications to lead their respective portfolios? How many are competent?

These failures are systemic right throughout every tier of politics. If the public could sit in on the meeting of local councils they would be shocked and appalled by the general level of the quality of candidate that serves their local constituencies. On any one council only a small handful of elected representatives are good at their job in a meaningful way, the rest are superfluous.

The Start Of A Global Trend?

As the world enters a global recession, the like of which has never occurred before, the same problems that have appeared in the United Kingdom will start to emerge in other countries. Unemployment will soar and civil unrest will become normalised. When this occurs the danger of chaos erupting also increases.

Other countries should be paying close attention as we enter a period of severe economic instability. The world economy is in transition and this process could last several years, if not a decade. This is a long time for problems to fester and get out of hand.

Soon Yellow Magpie will look at the solutions to all of the problems raised here and why there will likely be no change unless a radical revolution occurs. You can read Part Two of  Yellow Magpie’s England Riots: The Solutions To Civil Unrest and Part Three,The Causes Of The England Riots, here.

About the Author

5 Responses to The Causes Of The England Riots

  1. Brendan H says:

    Excellent article.
    Do you think the decline of religious faith would also be a contributing factor? Religions outline clear morals and virtues that appear to be lacking in certain sectors of society today.

  2. Yellow Magpie says:

    Thanks for your comment, Brendan.

    Probably not. There are plenty of non-religious people who are very respectful towards their community, neighbours etc.

    Spirituality can be completely independent of religion also. It is not as if the morality of the Catholic Church has been a shining beacon of rectitude and propriety here in Ireland.

    I’m sure that you are familiar with Nietzsche’s theme of master/slave dichotomy being the origin for morality. That is an explanation that is completely independent of religion.

    People do point to the Two World Wars and cite that in the absence of religion, people turned to ultra-nationalism and the cult of the leader.

    However, you could argue, perhaps more solidly, that what really occurred was an abdication of personal responsibility. The constructs of religion, ultra-nationalism and people-worship may be externally different but what they do for the individual is the same thing. They allow people to experience something that they believe is bigger and more important than them. To take comfort in something outside themselves that others can relate with.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with any of that as long as it doesn’t affect others and then it becomes simply a personal value judgement.

    Getting back to the motivations behind the two wars (ultra-nationalism and the cult of personality), it was just a case of irrational blame. Far easier to let other people ‘solve’ their problems while simultaneously demonising outside groups for both the situation we find ourselves in and our own inadequacies.

    Hope that helps!

  3. liz condron says:

    The issues are well explored and are logical. Looking forward to the next parts. Well done.

  4. Pingback: England Riots: The Solutions To Civil Unrest

  5. Yellow Magpie says:

    Thanks for your comment, Liz.

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