Friday, 12 August 2011

Riot and Reason

No doubt over the ensuing weeks there will considerable debate over the reasons that seemingly opportunist riots broke out on the streets of the UK and why failures in policing allowed anarchy and fear to follow.

Some will look to blame the encrypted messaging such as that offered by Blackberry and the organisational power of Twitter. These mediums were, of course, pointed to the reason that the Arab Spring became such a formidable force of people power. Applauded by the UK then, but rather ironic when the tables are turned.

There has, alas, been loss of life as a result the riots, and in no way do I think that any of this should be trivialised. There has been damage to property and livelihoods, to individuals and communities. As always they are foremost and our thoughts are with them.

This article by Max Hastings speaks candidly. Much of it says what many people already think but find difficult to express to regular media channels. It is worth a read for a key opinion at least.

More interestingly, I am interested in public standards generally. Surely that is what separates civil society from outright despair and anarchy. Consider two opinions on standards. The first comes from the article and is also quoted on the BBC:

"Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential. Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live."

A second opinion by David Wilson, Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University and a former prison governor considers the culture of entitlement in the UK. See here.

"It's not just about the underclass - it's about politicians, it's about bankers, it's about footballers. It's not just about a particular class, it permeates all levels of society. When we see politicians claiming for flat-screen TVs and getting jailed for fiddling their expenses, it's clear that young people of all classes aren't being given appropriate leadership."


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