onsdag 10 augusti 2011

What do the riots prove?

The riots in UK cities will be endlessly discussed and dissected over the coming months. Copycat-wise, like an epidemic, they seem to be running their course across the country. They will die out, either of their own accord or when cold, wet weather sets in. The parliamentary debate will be mostly a event of posturing, mudlinging and mutual blame, in which the participants, having regards to the circumstances, behaving little better than rioters themselves. That is part of the trouble. When those at the top behave badly and help themselves to whatever goodies they can grab hold of, they can hardly complain when the underclass follows suit.

An aquaintance of mine in the Metropolitan Police told me several years ago that things were coming to the boil. There seem to be several essential ingredients needed to get something like this going. These include
  • A poor urban environment
  • Bad schooling
  • Alienated youth
  • Poor economic opportunities
  • Broken or disintersted family circumstances
  • Poor political leadership
  • Bad diet
  • The benefits/welfare "culture"
That is a complex brew. A generation has gone feral. The first of the rioters appear to have been mostly of Afro-Caribbean origin, but it is only a matter of time before white youths in the same age group join in. This has been evident for the past decade. It is not even a particularly British phenomenon. It has happened in France, and last summer there was rioting in Swedish cities.

The declining influence of religion is part of the picture. The black youths who were involved in the first of the troubles would be descendants of immigrants who came in the 1950s to satisfy the shortage of labour for low-paid service jobs, which have largely gone. The culture in the Caribbean immigrants' countries of origin was strongly and strictly Christian Pentecostal, and the immigrants brought it with them. Whilst this remains, things are evidently not what they were or we should not be seeing this kind of behaviour on this scale amongst that group of immigrants. Interestingly, shopkeeping Muslim immigrants from Turkey have organised self-defence groups against the violence.

The Journey East #2

The state of the Catholic Church A few years ago I visited Riga, the capital of Latvia. At 9.30 in the evening, a crowd of young people cam...