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Challenge the hate-filled state

The low level of debate at the emergency recall of Parliament underlines the yawning gulf between rulers and ruled, and the establishment’s poisonous hatred for working class youth.

Prime Minister Cameron claimed the uprising on streets around the country was 'criminality, pure and simple' – an intellectually bereft characterisation in a country where the entire social, economic and political structure is shaking.

MPs bayed for water cannon and baton rounds and censorship of social networking sites. Ed Milliband called for police spending cuts to be reversed and joined blanket condemnation of the rioters.

The police have shown a more sophisticated understanding of events than politicians. And they were also quite afraid of furious gangs ready to fight them. As one young woman said, the aim was to show the police that people control the streets and 'can do what they like' there.

The prevailing mood on the left has been one of ironic comment. It is pointed out that flat-screen TVs were high on MPs' looting lists too. The hypocrisy of condemning criminality when politicians, police and newspapers have been hiding each other's lawbreaking is also highlighted. Others point to politicians weeping over high streets already devastated by out-of-town shopping centres, with one in seven shops empty across the country.

Governments and corporations are desperate to kick start growth by getting people back spending on precisely the goods people were helping themselves to. And yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne was telling MPs that Britain is a 'safe haven' for investors precisely because of the brutal programme of cuts that led to youth clubs in Tottenham being shut.

Alongside this post-modernist irony, it is said that this is a non-political movement without a goal, it has no future, and we must 'condemn the violence'. This takes the appearance of the riots and compares and contrasts it to other aspects, when in fact these are all moving and developing parts of the same violent whole which is the out-of-control capitalist crisis that has the planet in its grip.

These moving parts are not outside of the political realm but inside it. You could say that politically the riots were more realistic than the student fees protests, because the youth were not asking the government or the police to change course - which they won't - but simply fighting them.

This new part – angry working class youth – has emerged with dramatic force. It will not disappear, but interact with other parts and with the global whole, each changing and conditioning the next phase.

In the meantime, hundreds of youth will be criminalised. A 23-year-old man with no criminal record was jailed for six months for taking bottled water from Lidl. Rioters are being held in custody for charges where they would normally be bailed. Hundreds will go to jails and young offender institutions already bursting at the seams, with inhuman conditions. Others will be stuck with fines they will never be able to pay.

We must not abandon the youth to the tender mercies of a hate-filled state. The challenge is to break decisively from the illusion that the current system of rule can offer us any kind of decent future.

Community gatherings are already taking place in Lewisham, Clapham and Tottenham and other areas. There is a desire to mend the damage to town centres, small shops and people’s homes as well as address the deeper causes of the riots. This offers the opportunity to discuss practical ways to replace the bankrupt political establishment. The development of assemblies for the widest possible debate and action is the order of the day.

The formation of People's Assemblies to defend communities, jobs, services, education and housing, is the positive way forward. Representing all parts of the community, they can do a better job of protecting facilities and small businesses. Capitalism only wants young people working for a minimum wage or spending up credit and store cards. It has no regard for them as individuals. Within the People's Assemblies they can represent their views, enjoy respect, and have a decisive role in forming their own future.

Penny Cole
12 August 2011

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Your Say


Ann Arky says:

This was looting in a very small scale when you consider the looting that has been going on for generations by the corporate world. The have closed coal mines, steel works and shipyards, shifting their wealth to any corner of the planet that would pay them a higher yield and in doing so devastated whole communities and in some cases, towns, driving them into abject poverty and deprivation and at the same time removing any hope of a future. Now that's what I call looting big time, but not one of the corporate breed have ended up in court. Let's focus on the real harm done and get our priorities right.


Dave Terrey says:

This is a great blog. These riots are the political statement of oppressed communities and not criminality. Also reflected is government's fascist thoughts on the situation in their proposed actions in defence of the state. You only have to look around you and around the world to see where the real criminalities lie.


Andy Veal says:

The political statement of oppressed communities!!?? you need to get out more mate. you have no idea. These people don't give a toss about their communities, they rule by fear and intimidation and you want to turn them into working class heroes. The vast majority of working class people in this counrty want to see them treated as the criminals they are. The response from the left has been appalling. Four people are dead, one man being kicked to death for trying to protect his home, please don't dress this up as glorious uprising. We all have to take collective and individual responsibility.


Cissie Lodge says:
Hi Andy,

Of course attacking vulnerable people is wrong. And, yes, a few criminal elements have taken advantage of the protests and have engaged in violence. But this is being played up out of all proportion in order to divide and rule the most oppressed parts of society and hide the sinister role of the state. The brutal fact remains that the CO19 police squad shot and killed a man which sparked the riots in the first place. And the police lied about the circumstances under which they killed Mark Duggan.

The movement on Britain's streets has many sides to it – including ones which working class people and local communities must deal with firmly – through citizen’s defence squads in liaison with people’s assemblies and not through the existing police. The courts are not dealing out justice but revenge against mostly young people, some of whom may be guilty of petty theft but many only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

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