Tuesday, August 09, 2011
A loss of respect
As predicted, the torrent of EVM continues unabated. It is "criminality, plain and simple", "pure gratuitous violence, theft, looting", and most often "mindless".
There has been widespread disorder, including incidents in Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham, Bethnal Green, mass looting in Clapham and a huge fire in Croydon. Disorder in Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Leeds has also been reported.
Tom Goodwin, the temporary, acting chief constable for the Met-Plods speaks and acts like a stage plod, talking gravely of "significant disorder", displaying not the slightest indication that he understands what is happening.
Of course, it is absolutely true that we are experiencing the "rule of the mob", as the Failygraph laments, but there is much, much more to it. The best comment I heard all evening was from Sadiq Kahn, a Labour something, responding to questioning on the BBC. He agreed that there was now "a lack of respect for authority".
That is probably as close as you are going to get to an accurate diagnosis – the breakdown of that slender thread of respect for the government, its representatives and the forces of law and order. We are seeing the results.
Of this, I have written many thousands of words, not least pointing out that the rot started with the middle classes, which are traditionally the bedrock of community support. But, with so many of us openly contemptuous of the "establishment", that attitude communicates downwards and reflects in what we see now. The middle class has vacated the field, and left the streets to the mob.
At last, though, the fool Boris comes dashing home, with The Boy following him to set up a COBRA committee. But they are too late. Much of the damage has been done. Furthermore, as long as they see the events of the last few days in simplistic terms of "law n'order", nothing they can do will have any lasting effect.
In fact, there is very little they can do. Decades of pissing on us from high has created a situation that cannot be mended in minutes. And since none of the commentators I have heard seem to show any understanding of the forces they have unleashed, they cannot begin to make amends.
Interestingly, as late as 31 July, I was lamenting that the system was broken. Society is now is more brutal and unfair. "And we all know what happens when the safety valve doesn't work", I wrote. Well, we do ... we are experiencing just that. And as long as the establishment fails to diagnose the problem correctly, nothing at all is going to change.
They will put a lid on the violence, eventually. But in the longer term, they will make it worse.