Open Thinkering


The real story behind the #londonriots?

Can’t see the video? Click here

I’ve been taken aback by the irrational and heavy-handed response of people I (used to) respect in relation to the recent outbreak of rioting across English cities. Over at Doug’s FAQ I wrote a couple of posts to follow-up what I’d mentioned on Twitter and Google+. The first, What do you mean by structural inequality? is my attempt to quickly outline the fact things should not be taken at face value. In the second, So you don’t condemn the rioters? I try to show how people are a product of their environment and call for a more just society.

In a lengthy thread on Google+ I exchanged points of view with various people. Thankfully, Paul Lewis weighed-in with the above video which, I thought, contained such eloquence that I’ve uploaded it to the Internet Archive in case anything happens to the YouTube version (it was available under a Creative Commons license)

Further reading:

There’s no way (currently) to integrate comments from Google+ with the comments below. Here’s the thread featuring some excellent insights stemming from my initial link to this post.

11 thoughts on “The real story behind the #londonriots?

  1. Excellent video, but I feel this would be vastly more credible if the riots weren’t used by so many of the young people he’s defending as an excuse to loot.

  2. I’m not sure why an unjustifiable viewpoint is meant to be any more credible if someone narrates it on youtube. That narrator is not young but claims to be speaking for “the youth”. There’s plenty of interviews around with young rioters and none of them mention this bloke’s hobby-horses.

  3. “The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
    These two events are very different but I think this equally quote equally applies. I don’t agree that harming a shopkeeper whist you loot his store is a good way to speak up – but it shows that politics is not just broken, it is sick. More openness, more participation. 

  4. I lived in Macquarie Fields (in Australia) during their riots in 2005 ( and I know what you mean Doug.  People don’t get that angry over nothing.  People aren’t drivent to loot for fun over nothing.  It takes a certain kind of frustration to move people to riot, but it’s the boredom, the sheers hopelessness of everyday living that makes that riot fun.

    When vast swathes of people and their predicaments are serially ignored at the societal level, this is the kind of thing that happens.  I’m not saying people are ‘right’ to be violent or destructive or that I am ‘happy’ to see people stealing from others.  But yeah…the crap  you hear huh?  To people who condemn the rioters – there is a more complex and volatile situation underlying this event than you are giving it credit for, ya ken?

    1. I shouted at the TV for the first time today when hearing David Cameron talk about the possibility of rioters being kicked out if their council houses.
      The propensity of politicians to not understand the people they’re supposed to serve baffles and dismays me hugely. :-(

  5. There is a real danger that older, more intelligent people will try to add an intelligent argument to what was clearly a massive thieving spree. I would understand these arguments far more had these children targeted government buildings, banks etc. but the didn’t. They just saw it as an opportunity to line their pockets by thieving cool stuff from their neighbors.

    That said, I do believe that just because the people involved has no cause that that doesn’t mean that their isn’t a root cause. But it certainly doesn’t justify the means.

    1. So you have to pull off Ocean’s Eleven these days in order to protest? Wow, didn’t realise the bar was that high for poorly-educated, marginalised, materialistic-because-of-wider-society youths. ;-)

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