Tuesday, August 09, 2011


London is rioting for a third night. Riots which initially began as a reaction and condemnation of a police shooting have become something more widespread. So, what to make of it?

First, Hobbes was right. This is what government is supposed to prevent. When large numbers of people think they will be better off in some sense by using violence, then society has failed. When people think they have nothing to lose by throwing bricks and Molotovs, that their lives will be improved by burning things down, then society has failed.

Second, those calling for a clampdown are fools. Yes, I expect "law and order" to be restored, those who have committed crimes to be prosecuted. But unless the underlying social failure is addressed, this will just happen again. And if the British upper classes think the solution is just a bigger boot to keep the excluded masses under control, then like the rulers of Tsarist Russia and ancien regime France, they deserve everything they get.

I do not want to see anything like this here, ever. And the way to prevent it is to give people a contract we want to keep, a society we want to belong to, one where we are all better off by not using violence. We've been pretty successful as a society at doing that, even when National has been in power and doing its best to unravel our society for the benefit of the rich. But we can't be complacent; its something we need to always work at. Otherwise, we're creating problems for ourselves further down the line.