Thursday, 25 August 2011

My Fellow American

Elizabeth Potter at recently sent me an email asking me to share a message of religious tolerance on my blog, and I'm happy to do so.  As anyone who reads my blog will be well aware, I'm no fan of organized authoritarian religions in general, but I feel that hate-mongering of any kind separates all of us rather than bringing us together - it limits insight, wisdom, compassion and open-mindedness, things that I work hard to cultivate and express on this blog.  Our world is filled with wonderful people of all religious descriptions, and also filled with not-so-wonderful people of all religious descriptions.  To spout hatred because  someone is a Muslim or Christian or Jew seems utterly lacking in wisdom to me, and is the worst kind of rhetoric, preying on peoples fears of religious difference or otherness.  With this in mind I invite you to watch the following video and to visit

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London Riots - Pretext for a Soft War?

 I’ve been a Londoner all my life.  I love this city, it’s my home.  But on Monday the 8th August I was in Croydon for a dinner my cousin was holding, after two nights of rioting and looting that began on Saturday. On Monday night there was widespread rioting and arson taking in place in Croydon, and there was no police or fire brigade or ambulance presence for over an hour and a half. Also, they had hordes of riot police armed in Camden, where very little was happening, but in Clapham and Croydon where events really kicked off the place was deserted. At that point I got the sense of hidden hands stoking the fires. Just my impression, mind you, but I was near a scene of arson and rioting that was being reported very differently on the news.

 Plus, the Metropolitan Police and the government have scores of officers and soldiers who are TRAINED to step in at a moment's notice in the event of civil unrest. Why are the responses to these events so utterly lame, coming from a highly trained taskforce? Manpower does not fly with me as a viable excuse, especially after what I saw on the 8th of August with my own eyes.

There must have been many good cops sitting in their cars, stuck in holding patterns, whilst getting real intel from friends and relatives on their smart phones, wondering, "Why the fuck are we being given such ridiculous, slow-moving orders?"

This situation is really, really sad. I don't want an even more militarized police presence in my city. A cynical kind of person might be forgiven for thinking that the Powers That Be are waiting for something really awful and spectacular to culminate - so it can be capitalized upon.

 Regardless of how this situation is capitalized on by Cobra and the Met, an increased or scaled-back police presence, you can be sure of one thing - the Powers That Be will be capitalizing on this situation with as much glee and anticipation as the rioters themselves. Now, in my opinion 'failed tactics' is not a viable reason for the utterly ineffectual response to these events. The British military and government are some of the most brilliant 'engagement tacticians' around. They allowed this madness to occur.

 I grew up next door to one of the worst estates in Brixton, and watching that place become increasingly ghettoized, forsaken and hated was disturbing to watch, especially since I had family and friends living there. 'Decimating social programs' is absolutely correct. And the contempt that the police had for the area and its denizens was heart-breaking, especially since the majority of folks who lived there were good people. But a handful of psychotic gangsters, disenfranchised and alienated kids were enough to turn it into a no-go area. The police never tried to remedy that problem, and often seemed to encourage it through a lack of appropriate responses. Exactly as we're seeing here.

 We live in an age where we've forgotten that we are dependent upon and interdependent with our communities. Kill your community and you're killing yourself.

The fact is, there's a whole host of motivations and drivers for what occurred, and is still occurring in various parts of the country, but that doesn't mitigate culpability on behalf of these hoodies and chavs who are roaming around looking for a little adrenaline-jacked drama. I know that world very well, I grew up in it. It's extremely opportunistic and unfortunately quite cold-blooded. I'm just glad we haven't seen more person-on-person violence.

It IS opportunistic and violent and frightening, but civil unrest and chaos like this does not exist separate from socio-economic factors. Sorry, but righteous indignation devoid of all complexity is as moronic as these rioters. "Evil scum" were not born that way. Hopeful children don't jump on bandwagons or engage in mindless free-for-all's. Hopeful, curious and passionate kids don't loot JD Sports, Curry's or Dixons. It's alienated, disenfranchised kids who end up becoming animalistic and feral. And it's multinational corporations who feed kids a swagger-based, consumerist hip-hop fantasy lifestyle that young semi-illiterate kids cannot possibly hope to attain (as much as they are programmed to aspire to it). Research the LA Riots and you'll see the same tactics. "If you want to destroy your own communities, we the government will be happy to oblige you - we'll stand back and watch you trash Brixton, Peckham, Hackney, Clapham. All the more reason to further militarize the police force and have you begging us to protect you from the hoodie-horror."

Rioting and looting always results in losses of various freedoms. I can't think of a single exception.  Smashing up small businesses and ripping off cameras, iPads and Flat-screen TVs is NOT inspiring, or revolutionary. It's idiotic and very helpful to the power-brokers.

These riots are going to spark a lot of simmering resentments and misunderstandings with regards to racial issues and class issues. I'm seeing a lot of emotive rhetoric with regards to race and class being passed around by newscasters and interviewees. Nobody's looking up at the Ivory Towers anymore for the source of the exploitation, everyone's looking at the hoodies, chavs and young black men in disgust and indignation. Congratulations, stereotypes have just been well and truly reinforced.

History is full of provocateur incidents, and even if that turns out to be not the case with regards to the London riots it was definitely an event that was allowed to occur and grow considerably.  These rioting and looting children are of no higher moral standards than the nefarious elites who ghettoize them.  That's what happens when the colonized accept the minds of the colonizers.  It seems to me that to truly win a war you've got to be better than the enemy you're fighting. Otherwise the timescale for said war becomes indefinite. And that's what colonizers usually want.

Are we being prepped for a martial law situation in time for the 2012 London Olympics?  I hope not, but using riots and civil unrest as a pretext for militarization and consolidation of power is an old, old story.  In my opinion the power-brokers of Britain are simply viewing these events as opportunities to be culled, a similar mindset to most of the rioters and looters.  The difference being that the glee of the politicians about these events will have stratagems and future political goals attached to it.  While the hoodies and chavs loot our stores and make away with disposable consumer products, the politicians and power-brokers will undoubtedly use this opportunity to loot our basic rights and freedoms as British citizens. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011