State of Hate

Is anyone really surprised by the UK riots? The only thing that’s come close to shocking me over the past few days are the reactions of people who seem to think humanity has suddenly taken on some dark new direction.

In the words of my new found hero – the woman whose daring speech to rioters went viral this week – get real. Human violence and destruction, mindless or otherwise, have been around for millennia. At any given point, the events witnessed in London this past week are happening in cities across the world. It happened here when I was a kid. Civilisation has a thin veneer, and it doesn’t take much to smash it.

But, like the bookies’ windows and sportswear store shop fronts, everything will soon be back to normal. When the repairs are done, we can all get back to shopping and gambling. The question is, what happens to the hatred and complete lack of respect which precipitated these attacks?

Because, make no mistake, hate is at the heart of this. I have no illusions that the vast majority of those involved in looting and violence are apolitical in their motives. To restate, again, that these riots are mindless is entirely banal, and I’m sick of hearing politicians do so. What’s not being discussed by our corrupt elite is how it, and the rest of the state, helped to create the context into which these young people’s thuggery has so spectacularly erupted.

As the wonderful Darcus Howe says, this is not so much a riot, as an insurrection. I’m not completely convinced on that point, but I do think the powers that be, and the police in particular, have a lot to answer for. (NB: It should go without saying that trying to explain the reasons behind the rioting is not the same thing as excusing it.)

So, hate. I’m from a working class background, brought up on a council estate and educated at a dire state comprehensive. I like to think I’ve quietly shuffled up into the middle class (forgive me!) and my family and social circle reflect both these sections of society. I have no idea how representative my personal observations are, but I do know that a significant proportion of my peer group regard this country’s police force as absolute scum.

I’d like to make clear that’s not my own view. The force is a huge organisation and, of course, it contains honourable women and men. I even have good friends who are police officers! Past lovers, too. When my best friend is cursing the feds, I’m prone to respond with things like: “Yeah, but if anyone took your baby you’d be on the phone to them straight away wouldn’t you?”

Nevertheless, that still doesn’t change the fact that, in my experience, an unsettling amount of people despise the very institution we should trust and respect most. In some areas, among working class people – especially young adults and teenagers – it goes without saying that the police are the enemy. The pigs, the feds, the scum. Legalised bullying. And it’s not just a criminal underclass that thinks this way. Many of my university educated friends, professionals and city workers also hold such views. But what do you expect?

My social circle doesn’t respect the police. At best, we’re scared of them and, as has been demonstrated by the London riots, when that fear is removed, there is nothing else. The riots haven’t been so much a cry for help as a “Fuck you” to an establishment which only the biggest fool could seriously be expected to trust or admire.

You earn respect. I want to know why, you, the police have not secured ours. Society pays for you to serve and protect us, and yet you have positioned yourself as the enemy. I demand that you demand our respect. I demand that you stop colluding with corruption, protecting rich and powerful criminals, pulling the less able out of wheelchairs, killing innocent people and then refusing to accept responsibility. Beating men down as they walk home, kettling peaceful protesters, students. And what about those “pre arrests”, where you locked people away to ensure the Royal Wedding went off seamlessly – even though they hadn’t actually done anything? You didn’t want the world to know that some of us are unhappy with the establishment. Kind of backfired now, huh?

We need a real police force, one which is known to be decent, honest and fair. There has been more civil unrest in this country over the past six months than most people my age can remember, and I doubt this is the last of it. If the ruling class wants to avoid a revolution, it had better begin one – starting with an overhaul of the police, and an end to decades of corruption and state-endorsed violence. As my hero says, get it real.

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21 thoughts on “State of Hate

  1. Unfortunately the government has it pretty good right now. The phrase ‘criminality’ has been bandied about to such an extreme degree that those who do anything but repeat that phrase ad infinitum are seen as criminals themselves. Looking at the context of the situation are we? Just another apologist for looting and violence.

    These kids have organized themselves with ease so small groups can steal from, and destroy a system which they have no respect for. Why can’t the politically aware adults amongst us organize ourselves this efficiently, and begin this ‘insurrection’ for real?

    The only answer lies in this question: Is their drive to steal and destroy greater than our drive to reform the world?

    • Judging by the fact that no one mobilised against MPs during the expenses scandal – despite virtually EVERYONE being outraged by it – the collective drive to effect change is depressingly low.

  2. Chris says:

    ….and who will you rely upon when you need help???? THE POLICE! Who despite your twisted opinion, will be there to help the best they can with the resources they have available to them! So, get off your high horse ( borrowed from one of your middle class friends no doubt ) and go out into your community and see what you can do. Instead of writing this inane crap that but a few will view and even fewer will agree with! Anyone carrying a gun on our streets deserves to be shot by the police. The fact that this was started off by removing one more gun totting thug from the streets makes me sick! They did’nt riot over the expenses issue, but over some waste of oxygen!

    • I’m sorry you didn’t understand the thrust of my argument. I do rely upon the police, as do we all, and I make this point in the blog. I’m the person who says similar things to my friends when they are criticising the police as a whole.

      It is precisely because we need the police, that we need to be able to trust, admire and respect them. Anything less is not good enough. Surely we agree on this point?

    • Lum says:

      Chris, did you even bother to read this before coming out with this load of bollocks. I’ll even paste you the important part so you dont have to bother your arse to actually read what was written – “(NB: It should go without saying that trying to explain the reasons behind the rioting is not the same thing as excusing it.)” Get off your fucking high horse (borrowed from one of your ignorant fuckpig friends no doubt) and give people the courtesy of listening to (or reading) a point of view before spouting shite.
      Apologies @parisscarlettlees for ranting on your page, I just cant stand ignorance

  3. Simeon says:

    Wise words full of thought but perhaps you may be missing one of the key elements. The political motives. The Tory government are instigating cuts brought about by a Labour government that gave the banks the power to go looting legally. Not just in this country I hasten to add. The knock on effect is that the Police do not want those cuts and while curently embarrased by recent events (phone-tapping-gate being one of them) still have the political and physical facilities, technology and will to instigate civil unrest, thus forcing Parliament to u-turn on cuts. What perhaps did not manifest was an escalation to the point where by the army was called out which Parliament threatened to use to not only maintain the peace but also to outflank the Police force’s agenda. To conclude there is a power struggle in the upper echelons of our society which is continuous…

    • I wasn’t aware of the events you describe, but I do appreciate there are also tensions between the police and parliament too. I wanted to keep this blog tight so I decided to focus solely on the police’s role, but I completely agree with you that the govenment are equally, if not more, to blame for the ill-feeling in the country at the moment.

  4. TheBigWakeUp says:

    Unfortunatly your slightly delusional… “Society pays for you to serve and protect us” is completely wrong.

    1). The police force was NEVER set up to protect the people. It was set up to protect the rich from the people. It is just another misconception fed in to society.
    2). The police have no duty to protect any person. Again another misconception fed to society.
    4). The police used to be “peace officers” upholding and preserving the peace. They are now police officers who enforce policy. As the very world police entymologically comes from policy.
    5). The police FORCE (force being the operative word) is not even a police authority. It was privatised and now operates as a police corporation, run for profit. Much like the law courts, government departments and the like..

    And the very word “society” that everyone seems to throw around to cover the body of people that inhabit this island is another fallacy. As the term society does not exist legally. So it can be used arbitrarily to subvert the people by refering to them as a society.. It is just legal machinations designed to enslave the inhabitants of the island known as England.

    By the way did you know you are not a PERSON. As a person is a legal fiction created via your birth certificate when your parents pledged you to the debt of the United Kingdom.. Legal Machinations know no bounds!.. From serfs & villeins to legal slaves – Capitus Diminutio Maxima

  5. PMC says:

    The reason the drive to create a positive change is so low is because the political class ignores the masses outright. The largest demonstrations against anything ever in the UK (anti-Iraq War, Feb 15th 2003 and anti-Iraq War/anti-G.W.Bush 2004(?)) were ignored at best and ridiculed at worst by the parliament of the time despite it representing the largest mass mobilisation of society at any time in the history of the UK; despite every single opinion poll showing a majority against the war… despite all that, the government had decided for us and our opinions were ignored. That’s not representative democracy, it’s government by diktat.

    The story continues to be the same today; parliament lives in a bubble of unreality peopled by corrupt and venal politicians while the police command support their bosses because they went to school with them, to uni with them, and to the same parties. The police themselves are suffering from low morale, an inability to properly deal with the dregs of society due to a combination of government apathy, class-based distaste for the underclass, and a hatred born of daily contact with people whose idea of a good time is happy slapping, drug-taking or alcoholic stupor. I mean, seriously, no matter your idealism, you’ll begin to form a different opinion of people after the umpteen millionth callout to a house with drunk, drugged up youth, violent parents and abuse from the people that called you there.

    Make no mistake; the Police are there to Protect and Serve… but it’s not US they protect and serve. They exist to protect the state and serve the state; the citizens of the state are the THREAT. Equally, the Police can only function if people are scared of them; there are 7 million people in Greater London and, as we have seen, the sum total of actual front-line officers the Met can put on the streets at any one time without help from outside forces is 6,000. That’s, what, one officer for every 1,167 people! They can ONLY function through fear: when that fear goes, civil society as we know it disappears.

  6. Gaina says:

    I was directed to this blog via a Twitter friend. An interesting read, thank you. If you don’t mine I’d like to ‘re-blog’ it. WP gives the original author full credit by default :).

    From numerous conversations from people of all walks of life and ages I have come to realise that the unwillingness to dissent is largely based on selfish and a worrying level of over-obedience in people of a certain age.

    Peaceful actions are of course always the most desirable and productive course, but action there must be. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

  7. […] Is anyone really surprised by the UK riots? The only thing that’s come close to shocking me over the past few days are the reactions of people who seem to think humanity has suddenly taken on some dark new direction. In the words of my new found hero – the woman whose daring speech to rioters went viral this week – get real. Human violence and destruction, mindless or otherwise, have been around for millennia. At any given point, the events witne … Read More […]

  8. Susannah Clark says:

    Paris: “The riots haven’t been so much a cry for help as a “Fuck you” to an establishment which only the biggest fool could seriously be expected to trust or admire.”

    Stellar.

    Thanks for an intelligent analysis.

    Susannah

  9. Richard says:

    I’m British but live abroad and have seen how police forces around the world operate. Are ours really so bad? They are not perfect and some policemen are/go bad. Always was the case. Like some politicians went mad and bad in the expenses thing. Like we have bosses who are gits and friends who are stupid and lovers and spouses who are unfaithful – but does that make them worth the hatred and bile that is just taken for granted nowadays on blogsites and among the fashionable youth (as you say, working class or not)? Sure you don’t say these things “justify” the riots but do they even explain them in any way – do we just have to expect London to go up in flames every now and then and just say “what do you expect – a policeman hit someone and they died two years ago”? Sure we should try and improve our politics and police and everything else but does everybody just give up and go rampaging around with fury (riotously expressed or otherwise) just because we haven’t reached utopia?
    Compared to some – most – other countries, and compared to most of recorded history, we mostly live prosperous, secure lives, even on council estates (particularly in London where until the recession employment had never been higher). Presumably this has something to do with the relative – I stress the term – strength of our politics and police. Do we really want to trash them and burn them on the off chance that something better might just if we are lucky come along instead? Many other countries – including ones where I have lived – have tried that and it ended very nastily indeed.

    • Hi Richard, thanks for your perspective. I have to say, I’m really not a fan of comparing things to worse in order to assess their value, it seems to me to be a very flawed logic. We may well have a better health system than in many parts of the world, but that doesn’t, for example, mean we shouldn’t express our disapproval or indeed anger when the NHS gives us legitimate cause to feel that way.

      Nowhere do I suggest that we “trash them and burn them off” – you seem to have missed the central argument I make. In essence, I believe that trust is earned. As Christine Burns commented on Facebook, in summary of this blog’s message: “Figures of authority like the Police and politicians have to EARN respect, but their behaviours encourage the very opposite.”

      We need a police force – a good, honest, true police force which we can all trust in and which doesn’t breed ill-feeling. I’m not asking anyone to view the police as the enemy; I am simply pointing out the fact that a great deal of my social circle already do. I believe this is in important factor when trying to understand the context in which these riots occurred.

    • Euan McArthur says:

      Rationality is not a universal norm, and especially not in a society divided by class, politics, ethnicity, sexuality etc. as ours is. According to your rationality, the system we have (capitalism, the state of policing, parliamentary democracy), in analogy with our social structures, is basically correct with a few “corrupt” elements, when it is quite possible to argue for a logic that says these are symptomatic of the very system or mainly inessential to a system which is nonetheless fucked (I would argue somewhere between the latter two). As Paris pointed out, historical comparisons are not desirable and insufficiently critical, if we defended each epoch by the virtue that it was better than the previous one then we need not have moved past humanity’s year one, which was greatly improved in comparison with year zero. The reality of politics is that one gains leverage through power, such as the ownership of property or control of capital, the ability to strike or engage in civil disobedience or sabotage, or control information media. The vote is a fairly weak means of exercising leverage, as there are a million other influences on political figures and parties (mainly those of capital) between elections and when incumbent) and the police are a part of the executive like the government. Rioting is an expression of the most disenfranchised and concomitantly the most oppressed by the police at the end of their tether, and may even have gained them some leverage in spite of the moralizing front our politicians display

  10. Gillian says:

    Perhaps instead of bemoaning the lack of respect and distrust in the police, try joining the local IAG (Independent advisory group) and be a “critical” friend to the police. If they don’t know what’s broken then they can’t fix it. By all means take a long spoon to sup with but do let them know what’s wrong.

  11. Joey says:

    Nice to read the rational discussion here! Do you think the rioters were angry only at the police, or at the “system” in general, that keeps them “down” (poor, uneducated and jobless, while others prosper)?

    I fear respect is lacking not only towards the police, but also towards the government and towards other citizens in general. (Perhaps because this society does not encourage us to work with our neighbours and community, but rather to pursue our own needs through a job and consumption.)

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