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Civil Unrest

August 10, 2011

Just a small interlude to my otherwise upbeat, optimistic, occasionally ironic posting habits with some incoherant, angry drivel. Normal service will resume shortly.

Never in my life have I been so shocked and absolutely lost for words: In the last few days some very terrible things have happened in Britain. They were so bad that I sat gaping, open-mouthed at what I read and saw on the news and internet and even the Prime Minister, the Big Cheese David Cameron felt the need to return to the homeland from his Italian holiday to bring order to the chaos. Without some Harry Potter-esque magic or a big fuck-off stick, I very much doubt that’s going to happen.

Everyone’s got a view on this and I’m no different. We all ask ourselves “Why?” and wonder how we didn’t see this coming. That’s because ‘we’ (or at least many of the people I know, myself included) are, or at least have been until now, living in a lovely padded, nice-smelling bubble. Ok, so I live in Berlin, which is possibly a decent enough excuse but in many cases my life runs pretty much parallel to that of members of the British white middle class.

We have a choice as to whether we see or hear the crap the world dishes out when we drink our morning capuccino with the TV or radio on in the background. We’re pretty much free to go where we like and do what we like because we have money and a job with prospects, a roof over our heads. The only poor people we know are the scruffy guy selling the Big Issue outside of Pret a Manger where we go to get our lunchtime salad and sometimes if we’re feeling generous, we buy a Big Issue from him. Mostly we don’t.

It’s only since the recession that people like me have realised that we’re not invinsible and there aren’t endless prospects for us. That felt like shit. Imagine feeling like that every day of your life though? I can only surmise that this is what it’s like to be a person we so lovingly call Chavs, Scallies, Charvers, Townies or Neds (depending from where you hail), who appear to be mostly involved in the riots across Britain. Your parents probably have failed you because they were failed by their own parents, society has failed you because you don’t conform to its norms and most importantly, education has failed you. Basically, you’re fucked in every way. No education, no job prospects, no respect from the rest of society and no self respect.

IMHO education is the key here. Oh yeah, that and the recession, which has served to make everyone poorer and then the government’s cost-cutting exercises have only exacerbated the situation.

How could we have failed our youth so horribly, Britain? In the short term, enforce a curfew! In the long term, invest in an education system that empowers young people to respect themselves and others. Oh and a few more jobs wouldn’t be bad either…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2011 20:41

    Recessions and the associated lack of jobs seem to be basically unavoidable and in the nature of the ebb and flow of an economic cycle.

    You can have the government deliberately spend more money than it’s getting in during them, and then balance that out by spending less money than it’s getting in during boom years, to reduce the pain — and though you’d never know it from the tone of political debate, that spending-extra-during-recessions is exactly what’s going on at the moment.

    Beyond that job creation compared to where we are now I think depends a bit on people being prepared to pay more than the absolute minimum for their purchases, since stuff we buy from overseas so often undercuts what it costs to make things in the UK. And collectively we all want it cheap instead so we can have More Stuff for the same money… and are feeling the squeeze as food and oil prices go up due to global changes. Getting people used to a world like that and getting them to face paying more for stuff because it helps underpin a wider society will take a lot of changing how we collectively behave.

    ( I’m also concerned that the ‘spend our way out of trouble’ solution is running into problems with how much worldly resources there are to tap into. As oil gets more scarce we can’t just rely on growth solving our problems, but after 50 years of cheap oil people have come to expect that energy is cheap and living standards will just go up and up. Gods there is too much in all this for blog comments! )

    • Lorna permalink
      August 22, 2011 20:17

      Ach, bloody economics!! 😦

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