Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Great Bread and Circus Cut-Off

I've often wondered if and when every citizen in the country being financially squeezed, cut and taxed from every direction under the current government, except for the 1% superwealthy in secret charge of it all allowed to dodge taxes offshore and preserve and enhance their wealth in every which way (if Michael Moore is to be believed in 'Capitalism - A Love Story'), would lead to civil unrest.

However I hesitate to dignify the current riots as any kind of 'civil war' as they are so random as to cause little but bafflement amidst the general national alarm, not being directed at the obvious targets responsible for our nations' dire state such as the banks, the rip-off energy and petroleum companies and of course the government for treating the country like some giant train set they can play with, trying various things just 'to see what happens' and how far they can push us all before we retaliate, but evidently counting on terminal national apathy until now.

And as so many media pundits have pointed out, the rioters are largely formed of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised on the fringes of society, those who have seldom if ever held down jobs, have an average reading age of around 8, but in possession of computers and mobile phones and the ability to co-ordinate their mayhem via social networking sites. Many of these people are also dab hands at ultraviolent street war games on their X-boxes, so why not take it to the next level and give street fighting and cop killing a go for real?

Since pre-Victorian times, British society has recognised the need for the poor to be granted a certain quotient of bread and circuses if they are to placidly accept their lot, toe the line and be governed, if not granting them an actual 'Welfare State' until 1948 as national reward for WWII victory.

Now benefit cuts have started to bite as many begin realising they will not be able to continue to enjoy their 'bread and circus' quotient without turning to crime to finance it. Nor are they being offered the support, training or jobs they have been directed to obtain to replace their benefits, so what are they to do other than panic?

And let's face it, perfectly job-ready and job-functional individuals are being flung out of their jobs in ever increasing numbers, often without sufficient support and employment opportunities in their own right, possibly to end up joining the rioters, so what chance do the disenfranchised have?

It is a shame the lessons of history are so easily forgotten by governments, even if they live on as gene memories in the populace.

No doubt the army will be drafted in soon with their water cannon and other tactics.

Whatever happened to the dignity of the Jarrow hunger marchers of 1936?
The current rioters will not garner a fraction of the sympathy expressed by the nation towards the Jarrow marchers, even if it did take WWII a few years later to really change workers' lives for the better and see the introduction of a Welfare State intended to make sure no one ever need starve again.


Steve said...

We've bred an acquisitive society whose reach can only exceed its grasp and whose sensitivity has been numbed by Grand Theft Auto and the like. This is the end result. The end result when the politicians respond with new laws worries me even more.

broken biro said...

Well put, as ever.

The disenfranchised are in danger of alienating everyone with this sort of appalling behaviour, and any anger they feel (if any of this is about anger) is vented on the wrong people: This is from Stephen Fry on Twitter: "Greed and looting most hurt small shops and businesses who can least afford it.True of thugs who are bankers or thugs who aren't."

Steerforth said...

I suspect that like football hooliganism, a lot of the rioters are simply doing it because it's fun, rather than any deep-seated expression frustration at global capitalism. They know that the situation will probably only last for a few days, which is why they're frantically bargain hunting in the closing-down sale of the consumer society.

The only rioters I've heard interviewed are depressingly arrogant, stupid and amoral. The fact that they grew up in Blair's Britain is very sad for all of us who felt so full of hope in 1997.

moi said...

Just checking in to make sure you're okay. The news here about what's going on is appalling, and I'm someone in favor of challenging the government at every opportunity. But, like the difference between a true revolution and a putsch, there's a difference between protest and thuggery.

Take care, ya hear?

Marginalia said...

Nice to see a classical reference.

I have two comments. The first is slightly despairing. What happened to all the money spent on education, social welfare, inner city rebuilding over the last 30 years? Surely the lesson is you don't solve problems by throwing money at them.

Second, more positive. The above lesson is learnt. The Government can't buy off the under priviledged with handouts while at the same time overseeing a frightening widening between those with wealth and power and the poor and powerless.

I won't excuse the looters, but the example shown by the establishment (politicials, financiers and the press) provides a "legitimising" backdrop to the thuggery we have seen on our streets.

When all in authority appear to get away scot free, and are unwilling or unable to accept that they are part of the problem, it not surprising that others feel they can chance their arm.

We're not,in George Osborne obfuscating phrase, all in it together. Establishment's attempt to spread the blame and pain on us all has back fired.

Let's hope this has shaken to the roots that complacency.

Rol said...

I lost my job recently and strangely feel no need to go out and smash a few windows, set fire to a bus or nick a widescreen TV to make me feel better.

Wisewebwoman said...

A boiling rage certainly and nowhere to vent it. We are talking, I would assume, the ill-educated and the neglected - almost primitive in understanding and not adept at problem solving masses?
peaceful protests didn't work for them, I hate to see the innocent bystanders so desperately hurt.
I have no answers.
The oligarchs win.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I find myself agreeing with you all (if that's possible). Many thanks for your insightful comments.