London riots

Let’s breed a generation and convince them that success is a new pair of trainers and a 50″ plasma tv, bring them up from age 2 to covet material goods and if you can achieve it without having to work hard so much the better, pop stardom, soccer stars, lottery winners this is what we train them to admire. Then we give them little or no chance of achieving that material success by legal means and suddenly one day they see it’s all there for the taking. The glass window is all that’s between them and what we have trained them to aspire to and if they are all out together then they so far outnumber the police there is no chance of getting caught. Well of course they should have more self control like you or I but I think we also need to admit that the avarice and conspicuous consumption which is the base of capitalism and “economic growth” is a contributory factor. My thoughts are with all the folk that are affected. Here is a bit of footage of what is going on across London right now.

This is not the sort of thing I normally blog about but I have many international readers who may be interested in a more local take and I also believe that it does connect with the things I normally write about, fulfilling work, or lack of it and particularly the way as a society we relate to stuff. We have an obsession with having lots of expensive stuff, having it cheap and easy without any effort, the admen have done a good job, but whatever you do you must keep spending. Just as folk were encouraged to in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932
“Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches. “

Economic growth (that means buying and throwing away more stuff) is the single measure by which we as a society judge our success. Not how friendly our neighbourhoods are, not how well looked after our old people are, not how hopeful our children our for the future, not how healthy the Earth that sustains us is, the belief seems to be that without economic growth (buying and throwing away more stuff than we did last year) the whole of our society crumbles down and that only if we have money can we achieve those other things that might be nice. Well the problem is we live in a finite world with finite rescources and rapidly growing population so the consumption can not go on expanding indefinitely.

 Back to the riots then which I believe are a by product of two things, one is the fueling of desire for goods we don’t need and the other is a lack of meaningful work. 7 days before the first riots in Tottenham this video was posted on the Guardian website looking ta disaffected youth and the closing of youth clubs “there is nothing to do…there are going to be riots”

I can understand folk who say there is no excuse for blatant pointless robbery, there is no excuse but there are reasons. What are these folk to do? Youth unemployment is at an all time high, I know many young folk with  good degrees and even MAs who can not get a first job, talented, committed dedicated folk from privileged backgrounds, When I stay in deprived areas in London I can barely imagine the hopelessness, the boredom, the pointlessness of life. As Abraham Lincoln said “There but for the will of God go I”

11 Responses to London riots

  1. mauri August 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    It`s a shame that "success" and economical growth are measured that way.

  2. jarrod August 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm #


  3. B August 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Hear, hear! Rampant capitalism does not work, has never worked and will never work!

  4. Sean Hellman August 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Well said Robin. It is so sad that in a civilized democracy we create, through social and political policy, such hate, despair and anger that people riot in this way. Treat people like shit and one day they will throw shit back at you.

  5. Tico Vogt August 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm #


  6. Brad August 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Indeed, there but for the grace and will of God go us.Now what?

  7. Greg August 12, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Robin you are right on the point here…there is a huge disconnect, both here in the USA and in Britain, between what we feel entitled to and what it takes to get it…what we have and how we got it. Thank you Thatcher and Reagan…and now…the cleanup and a search for a better way.

  8. jacob August 12, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Essential reading here:!/notes/joe-be … 2770132588

  9. Tico Vogt August 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    This article is a worthy read:

  10. mike October 25, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    I have a good friend that always said’ “People spending money they dont have on things they dont need to impress people they dont like”. I think it is a sin that we no longer teach children the value of the accomplishment of making things with their hands.

    • Robin Wood October 25, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      That’s a commonly used quote which I like, would be interesting to know who used it first.