Συνοψίζοντας την οπτική μου για τα πρόσφατα γεγονότα στο Λονδίνο και άλλες βρετανικές πόλεις, αναδημοσιεύω ένα κείμενο που ανέβασα στο επαγγελματικό μου blog.
To most people, the recent outburst of rioting and looting in England came as a total surprise. Both in Britain and the rest of the industrialized world, consumers of television news reports and talk shows seem shocked and disgusted, while politicians and journalists appear convinced that the violence of urban youngsters is a ‘crime and punishment’ issue that can be corrected with strict law enforcement and responsible parenting. At the same time, many leftists and liberals immediately rejected the notion of revolutionary actions being anywhere involved, since there is no evidence of a political agenda behind smashing shopping windows in order to steal a pair of sneakers.
The mainstream point of view on the events is that it’s just a bunch of juvenile trouble makers creating havoc for the sake of it; as if the riots were not sparked by the alleged murder of a local citizen by the police. As if the underprivileged urban youngsters were not marginalized by both state and society already. As if the Tory government’s spending cuts on youth clubs, education and welfare had nothing to do with all this.
Regardless of condemning or condoning them, all extensive riots are, have been and always will be political. Even when there is neither clear nor conscious ideological motivation behind them. Even when they are downright wrong and appalling. Even when they seem totally pointless and self-destructive.
Riots are neither theoretical schemes nor rhetorical exercises. Riots are neither heroic nor glorious. Riots are collective forms of raw violence. They are brutal manifestations of a category rather than a group of people (let alone a company of individuals). Riots always respond – sometimes spontaneously and opportunistically – to a number of pressing social and economic issues. They are fed by inequality, racism and despair. Their presence indicates a wider social and economic instability; a political failure on a national or international level. Finally, riots are often sparked by incidents of state injustice, like in the case of the 2008 Athens riots, which followed the cold blooded murder of a 15 year old boy by a police officer.
It is not very wise to treat the UK riots as mere cases of criminality that need to be suppressed and shoved under the carpet. And it is absolutely inexcusable to ignore their historical message.