Perspectives on the riots

I have been on holiday in tranquil Somerset for the past week. I have been following events on TV and via the Independent newspaper. I could offer my own opinions, but instead I offer two letters to the Independent that I think hit the proverbial nail on the head:

Your leading article of 9 August suggests that “it is spurious to draw a connection between [deprivation and the social marginalisation of inner-city youth] and specific outbreaks of violence of the sort we have seen in recent days”.

Really? Is it so spurious to suggest that an economic and political system that stresses materialist wealth, which constantly exposes us to increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous advertising, yet which oversees the breakdown of communities and the impoverishment of millions in order to increase the wealth of a minority of individuals and businesses, might be responsible for creating the sorts of individuals who have taken to the streets?

We do not need to argue that these people were explicitly politicised, or fighting for some sort of social justice on the contrary, we can draw the opposite conclusions. Many of these people appear to have been acting selfishly, competitively, and without thought for the consequences of their actions. If only they had a middle-man in a developing country to do their looting, they would make fine capitalists.

When riots like this take place, it is spurious to suggest the social context is not to blame. I do not condone much of what I have seen, but it is perfectly understandable, when we reflect upon the sort of society more respectable thieves in suits have created for us.

Matthew Wilson, Lancaster

Thatcher’s children

The Tories take office and, as night follows day, hundreds of thousands of jobs are sacrificed, welfare services are slashed and rioting returns to the streets of our major cities. People who feel they have a stake in society do not riot and loot.

It is a sad reflection on 99 per cent of the media that it has failed to connect the events of the past few days to news of another round of obscene bankers’ bonuses, projected tax cuts for the wealthiest and another round of “quantitative easing”: that is the squandering public money to placate the financial markets.

If you want evidence of “mindless” looting and vandalism look no further than the Government’s fiscal and social policies.

Dr Mick Wilkinson, Lecturer in Race & Social Justice, University of Hull


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