Street crime and State crime

April 2024 Forums General discussion Street crime and State crime

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  • #81129
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    When the London riots/looting took place I detected a difference of opinion within the party. Those critical of the actions, accusing the perpetuators of being Lumpen-proletariat and other members also critical but lesser so and more sympathetic who saw the unrest as an understandable reaction to social conditions. I find this article about the rising street crime in Egypt to raise similar questions for us.

     http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124129515475812.html

    “…it comes as no surprise that many of those whom the rulers exploit and neglect are taking back what they think is theirs… with the current criminal economic changes taking place, the poor have the right to crime”

    and

    “As the ruling class has been forced to pass the mantle from one group of businessmen to another, the conditions for revolution against the rulers are maintained. If these realities do not change, eventually, street crime will become for many the only resort to try and achieve one’s right to decent living.”
     

    #88264
    jondwhite
    Participant

    BBC 2 tonight at 9pm is broadcasting The Riots In Their Own Words.

    #88265
    ALB
    Keymaster
    jondwhite wrote:
    BBC 2 tonight at 9pm is broadcasting The Riots In Their Own Words.

    They were going to but didn’t. I switched on at 9pm and found myself watching some patriotic trash glorifying war.  So I switched off. Apparently there was a Court order to stop it being showed:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/16/court-order-bbc-film-riots?newsfeed=trueBe interesting to know more about this.

    #88266
    ALB
    Keymaster

    It’s on Youtube (for the time being?):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQnM-tF4SI

    #88267
    Ed
    Participant

    I just watched it; are you sure that was the same program that was not allowed on air? The Guardian seems to describe it more as a drama based on the confidential interviews it collected straight after the riots. It even states that it uses actors. Whereas the documentary I just watched was real people coping with coming out of prison.I’d say in general I’m more than sympathetic while neither condoning nor condemning the actions. And certainly under no illusions that it was in anyway revolutionary by our definition of the term. However, I strongly hold the opinion that if they had recieved more support and the riots had been able to be sustained for say 16 days instead of 8 then the coalition government would have been brought down and it would have forced a general election. This raises the question of whether they should be viewed as riots at all but rather as an insurrection.The fact that any party members would resort to condemning the riots is a testament to how powerful the propaganda campaign was against those revolting. It was and still is completely taboo to do anything but have outright condemnation of the riots as seen in the documentary posted above. Before you can even say anything in defence of the people who rebelled against the state you first have to get the condemnation out the way first. As seen with the dancer, “I don’t regret rioting but I’m so so sorry about stealing from Argos”. This is in complete contradiction to the majority of people I spoke to at the time who were largely in support or sympathetic to the actions. A week later those same people had completely changed their opinions once the media had told them what to think. It was by far the largest act of brainwashing I’ve ever seen from a propaganda campaign. This only goes to show exactly how worried the state was by the revolt.I recently compared a comrade, slightly harshly, to David Cameron for the choice of words he chose to describe the riots. Describing them as mindless is not just parroting the language of the media but applying the analysis of petit bourgouis thought.. What I believe the comrade was actually saying was, I believe, was that they were acting unconsciously or without socialist consciousness. While I take no issue with the fact that there was obviously no socialist consciousness it seems blindingly obvious that pitched battles with the police and driving them from their communities is a politically conscious act., an act of class struggle. Which is why I find the writing off of such a situation as criminality or mindless thuggery or lumpen proles doing their thing so infuriating. It just comes across to me as lazy analysis.I’m glad Alan has related the riots in Egypt to the riots in England as I feel they are very similar. But the build up starts earlier with the student protests which started in November 2010. I was on/at most of those marches first as a passive protester locked in a kettle, assaulted by police and generally treated little better than an animal. As those protests continued you got more and more people who weren’t middle class uni students but were from council estates some turning up in their school uniforms. As the protests went on the tactics to avoid being kettled changed and the emergence of black blocs became much more prevelant. I joined the blac bloc followed them arround while I didn’t partake in any throwing graffiti or other naughty business as most didn’t it was an exhilarating rush of freedom to be able to out smart the police and throw them into comlete chaos reminiscent of a Benny Hill sketch. However, it didn’t all go our way for long and by the evening the police had regained the upper hand. What ran through my head and I’m sure ran through the head of many of the young council estate kids was “if they were on our turf, on our streets there would be no way they could beat us”.Now while all this is going on the Arab spring has gotten underway. There was a strong showing of solidarity, I remember a couple of anarchists walking around with the flag of the libyan monarchy, who got quite agitated when I questioned their choice. Now as the Arab movements grew and started to be praised by our own media including a comparitively positive reflection of the riots in Egypt and Libya at least as justified. What were people to think? I’m sure many saw the hypocrisy of the media condemning the largely peaceful protests in London while praising the much more violent actions in Egypt and Libya. But for most I think it was the sudden realization that the government isn’t going to listen to any form of protest and that they neither care about what they think or  their well being. Now that’s no surprise to us, but to the majority of people out there protesting for the first time it was a sharp and angry reaction to something they had previously held believed. The fact that none of this is applied to the reasoning behind the riots comes as little suprise to me as it would make for an uncomfortable truth for the establishment. Also on the evolution of protest movements I’d say that they seem to run in cycles. For instance the 60’s protest movements seemed to be relatively peacefully and the general flower power culture and rejection of violnce which was perfectly understandable for the first generation born into a post WW2 world. As these protest movements failed by the 70’s they’d started to become more violent which still didn’t work. I anticipate that the trend will repeat small disaffected groups upset at the failure of peaceful protest will see more violent means as the way to go. Except they’ll be disappointed as we all know that, that won’t work either. Except now they’ll be disappointed in a prison cell instead of an office cubicle. Anyway I digress.The other reasons for the riots are the obvious declining material conditions primarily unemployment, the same reason for the Arab spring as it was for the England insurrection. Added with the social alienation which had been building since, well, all my lifetime at least.So TL;DR version protest is a form of class struggle which is a learning process but ultimately follows the same patterns and repeats the same mistakes. Primarily that protest doesn’t change anything and all that is carried over from one generation to the next is the failures of the previous one. And to play us outhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8GvLKTsTuI

    #88268
    Ed
    Participant

    Oh yeah one more thing I think the best way I can describe my feelings for the riots is I have greater respect for the riots than I do for the student protests. The student protests/occupy were pleading for reforms and for the government to be nice “Nick Clegg shame on you for turning blue” and all that. whereas the riots were not demanding anything they were the working class acting on their own spontaneously with no demands and no expectations and saying we are bloody pissed off and there’s nothing you can do to stop us. That’s a much more empowering act than marching along a predesignated route or camping outside St Pauls.

    #88269
    Ozymandias
    Participant

    Hello Ed,                  It just shows you how worried the Capitalist class are by attempting to strangle the release of this documentary, especially in the run up to the latest pet project they are hoping to bamboozle us all with…the fuckin olympics. Ed I agree with you in regard to your sympathy with the rioters. Weren’t these kids only taking back what all of us have produced colectively anyway, even if their actions were subliminally enacted through desperation and blind rage? I wonder how many party members actually went to see Plan B’s excellent movie “ILL Manor’s”? Probably hardly any.                 I went to see it a few weeks ago and thought it was excellent. I also enjoyed (is that the right word?) the Plan B video you put up. Mate at the end of the day when conditions become so dire and the message of World Socialism/RBE really starts to get out there it is these young people who could be the greatest Socialists. They have the most to gain. I know it sounds ridiculous now to think of all the unemployed chavs, neds (what they are called up here in Glasgow), scallies, pikeys, junkies, alkies, prostitutes, dealers, muggers, house thieves, pick pockets, lager louts, football hooligans, orangemen, EDL supporters and every other lumpen prole all joining in…but they will. They will have no choice. Ok they might be the last section of the class to wake up but when they do we will know about it. At the end of 1984 Orwell wrote that the only hope left was with the proles.                  It might be a caricature but already the more advanced youth in the thinking section of the working class (i.e the so called middle class?) are leading the way down the dark alley of history armed only with a torch. They are at the heart of occupy and TZM etc (just take a look at the type of folk who are going to be at the Zeitgeist event this coming weekend) and I’m glad they are. All of this will lead to a crescendo…when the defeaning roar will envelop the earth I don’t know, but I see all the jigsaw pieces coming into place. Slowly the stage is being set…for global armaggedon or earthly paradise. I just hope the party will not see the TZM event on Sunday as another opportunity to get bogged down in chauvinism (as unfortunately happened at Summer School with the guy from occupy). If the party fucks this up with TZM then it will be their own fault. The WSM should be engaging with TZM at every opportunity. They can only learn and feed off each other. Cheers Ray                 

    #88270
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Ozymandias wrote:
     I just hope the party will not see the TZM event on Sunday as another opportunity to get bogged down in chauvinism (as unfortunately happened at Summer School with the guy from occupy). If the party fucks this up with TZM then it will be their own fault. The WSM should be engaging with TZM at every opportunity. They can only learn and feed off each other. 

     So tell us what happened at Summer School, Ray.

    #88271
    Hch
    Participant

    The best definition of rioting I’ve come across is that it’s simply ‘aggressive late night shopping’.

    #88272
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Ed wrote:
    I recently compared a comrade, slightly harshly, to David Cameron for the choice of words he chose to describe the riots. Describing them as mindless is not just parroting the language of the media but applying the analysis of petit bourgouis thought.. What I believe the comrade was actually saying was, I believe, was that they were acting unconsciously or without socialist consciousness. While I take no issue with the fact that there was obviously no socialist consciousness it seems blindingly obvious that pitched battles with the police and driving them from their communities is a politically conscious act., an act of class struggle. Which is why I find the writing off of such a situation as criminality or mindless thuggery or lumpen proles doing their thing so infuriating. It just comes across to me as lazy analysis.

     I’m intrigued to know how one should best describe the actions of those who destroyed the small shops of fellow-workers, many of whose businesses have still not recovered from the after-shock of the riots and of the setting fire to the homes of fellow-workers, some of whom almost lost their lives.

    #88273
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Hch, i thought you had given us all up as a lost cause and left. Welcome back to the discussion list

    #88274
    Hch
    Participant

    Hello Alan
    no, I regularly look at the site and the views of SPGB. I also still think the SPGB’s abstract views of socialism and refusal to engage with other socialist groupings, such as TUSC, is misguided but I think we’ve been there before. I myself have been involved in defending the NHS, arguing it would be against our class interests to lose it and discussing with those drawn into that struggle that a ‘better world is possible’ only through socialism. Some agree, many don’t..  It’s a shame the SPGB will not engage but insists on staying on the outside.

    #88275
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Hch,As you say we have been there before. But just to belabour one point. We have nothing at all against you engaging in a defence of the NHS and the benefits it bestows. As been said before,  the SPGB views it role solely to make more socialists and of course to get elected. We have no objection to workers, nor our own members, getting involved in fights for partial demands but we don’t believe the party should do that and risk a situation of people supporting the party for the wrong reasons. As we have also said,  the party’s task is not to lead the workers in struggle or to instruct its members on what to do in trade unions or community groups, because we believe that socialists and class-conscious workers are quite capable of making decisions for themselves as you clearly do independently of your own particular party affiliation. I am also sure you do not always necessarily accept or follow the party-line in every situation in your every day personal activity. The party is not always right!As an aside i was reading some socialist history and came across this site.http://www.marxisthistory.org/subject/usa/eam/index.htmlIt has an interesting observation. The Socialist Party of Michigan adopted a platform bereft of reforms, standing solely upon the maximum demand calling for the abolition of the wage system and the establishment of an industrial republic. The program proved no impediment to growth, as the group’s membership continued to swell. More evidence that “impossiblist” ideas can be accepted by the working class, even in the bitter class warfare of early 20th century America. 

    #88276
    stevead1966
    Participant

    Letter in Socialist Standard May 2012 Dear EditorsIn the March Greasy Pole – Baby David Speaks – Ivan wrote a witty and perceptive account about the August Riots and Tottenham’s MP David Lammy.Lammy is a typical reformist Labour professional politician. It is bewildering that Lammy links the riotous behaviour to legal restraints on parents smacking children. It is quite obvious the antisocial behaviour by young people is caused by poverty and alienation endemic in the capitalist system (1 million 16 to 24 year olds unemployed also 50 percent of young black men are unemployed) and also harassment by the guardians of the state and private property, the police. I would like to add that as a Socialist I do not condemn the young people who ‘looted’ goods like Apple I-Phones and expensive trainers from shops last August. These are the branded goods/commodities that are fetishised in the capitalist consumer society and young people were only desiring the same commodities that the affluent can afford. Young people are surrounded daily by images of get rich quick, cutting corners, quasi- legal means of making money like in the banking sector and their “looting” is chicken feed compared to the financial looting/terrorism of the financial capitalist class.Steve Clayton. London SW8. March 2012

    #88277
    Ed
    Participant
    gnome wrote:
    I’m intrigued to know how one should best describe the actions of those who destroyed the small shops of fellow-workers, many of whose businesses have still not recovered from the after-shock of the riots and of the setting fire to the homes of fellow-workers, some of whom almost lost their lives.

    One of the interesting reports I read said that in some areas some businesses had been left untouched while others around them had been smashed up. When asked why these shops had been left the people said “oh that’s so n’ so’s shop he’s alright. He gives us credit to buy essentials when we’re short of money”. When asked why the other businesses were attacked they said that those business were owned by people from out of town. People who weren’t part of the community and didn’t give a fuck about them or their area. This had nothing to do with race but was purely about how the owner operated within the community, whether they were there purely to exploit or did they contribute in a positive way. This was an area of London pretty sure South but I can’t remember which one.Should the small business owners get over their petty lust for greater private property and stop blaming fellow workers and start questioning why the state protects the bourgeouis proper but not them? If they are fellow workers surely that’s the right thing for them to be doing.As for “setting fire to the homes of fellow workers” people weren’t going around torching residential areas. They weren’t going to houses and setting them alight they were attacking shops. Now it’s incredibly stupid to not think there’s a flat above the shop but the point is the intent. It was nobodys intent to burn down someones domicile otherwise they would have been burning actual houses instead of shops. So the victims again should be blaming capitalism not their fellow workers.

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