Thursday, August 11, 2011

London Riots - causes?

At the Daily Mail Max Hastings has an interesting column on the London riots.  Hastings says the rioters remind him of the polar bear who attacked the Norwegian tourist, except that the bear was shot.  And he quotes a police chief who earlier had described the “feral children” on his watch.

“The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.”
No surprise there.  But Hastings doesn’t blame this state of affairs on a lack of spending on education, or income inequality, or any of the other causes often trotted out during my life time.

Today, those at the bottom of society behave no better than their forebears, but the welfare state has relieved them from hunger and real want.  When social surveys speak of ‘deprivation’ and ‘poverty’, this is entirely relative….

Of course it is true that few have jobs, learn anything useful at school, live in decent homes, eat meals at regular hours or feel loyalty to anything beyond their local gang.

This is not, however, because they are victims of mistreatment or neglect. It is because it is fantastically hard to help such people, young or old, without imposing a measure of compulsion which modern society finds unacceptable. These kids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything different or better.”

Hastings goes on to describe the effects of this failure to apply a measure of compulsion in the schools and anywhere else and in a criminal justice system which is of the same mind:  "The problem,’ said Bill Pitt, the former head of Manchester’s Nuisance Strategy Unit, ‘is that the law appears to be there to protect the rights of the perpetrator, and does not support the victim.’

Police regularly arrest householders who are deemed to have taken ‘disproportionate’ action to protect themselves and their property from burglars or intruders. The message goes out that criminals have little to fear from ‘the feds’.”

We have in short, become so “civilized” that we’ve lost civilization.

Read the whole thing

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