Why tough talk won’t stop London burning: look to Johnny Rotten

10 Aug

Predictably, British PM David Cameron is talking tough, threatening anarchic marauders with the full force of the law, promising terrified residents that the government will defeat the masked and hooded teenage hoodlums with the toughest possible action. He will jail them. He will put them in juvenile detention. He will teach them not to burn and loot, by God he will.

Meanwhile, the bizarrely opinionated Brendan O’Neill of Spiked, recently in Australia where he earned a reputation for thoroughly irritating an astonishing cross section of people, has decided that the entire responsibility for the chaos can be laid at the door of the bloody welfare state. The offending yobs have suckled at the state’s tit for their entire lives, and so have their parents, and as a consequence none of them have the slightest idea about standing on their own two feet and behaving decently like their working class grandparents did. By God, the English aren’t what they used to be.

A brief aside: I was brought up by working class grandparents for a few years, and the difference was they really were working class because there was work for them to do. My granddad was never unemployed: the coal mines or the gasworks gave us food on our table and a Saturday drink at the club. Very different times, Brendan.

Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian alleges that the rioters have the “opportunistic desire to steal and get away with it.” Which, come to think of it, also describes the motives of many of those financial types who got away with ruining untold investors and still managed to reward themselves. Or the British MPs who stole taxpayers money to build moats around their castles, and swimming pools, and pay for illicit sex and exotic holidays and extra houses near Hampstead Heath.

Or even the police and politicians who fell on their knees before the Murdoch empire and turned a blind eye to vile illegalities that empire was busily engaged in perpetrating. These same police and politicians are now claiming the high moral ground in their shocked outrage against the raging youth, and in their self-righteous determination to get these delinquents who’ve had the nerve to behave really, really badly. But where are the leaders with any moral compass? Who’s setting a moral example? The rot starts at the top.

That the rioters have trashed their own neighbourhoods has been the source of much bewilderment. It’s not rocket science. These kids don’t consider themselves as part of any community. They don’t perceive themselves as having a stake in any neighbourhood. Alienation at this level comes with enormous and inarticulate rage. They don’t belong. They can’t belong. They’ll never belong. How did a society let this happen?

This isn’t a social movement designed to challenge the status quo and bring about change. This is pure destruction, and self-destruction. These kids don’t care, and they especially don’t care about themselves. Incarcerate them for a few years and they’ll likely come out worse. If David Cameron or anyone else is kidding themselves that tough talk is going to even touch these youths, they’re dreamin.’ The time for tough talk is long gone. When you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose, and like Bob, I’m not talking about material possessions.

The nihilistic lyrics of Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols pretty much sum up the mindset:

When there’s no future, how can there be sin?
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in the human machine
We’re the future, we’re the future…God Save the Queen

2 Responses to “Why tough talk won’t stop London burning: look to Johnny Rotten”

  1. Matthew August 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Sorry, the mention of Lydon had me Youtubing some of his material from the last 30 or so years.

    When Mr Lydon isn’t touring yet again with another reunion of the Pistols, he’s doing this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hzQsvxtLTM

    I prefer this version of Lydon (trashing Countdown Magazine and Cindy Lauper circa 1984, “It’s a bag”); http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk0ouiIvPDk


    • Jennifer Wilson August 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      Butter?? He’s flogging butter??

      And I love the self promotion on Countdown – not to mention the so slim so cool Molly
      Taa, Matthew, that was a good laugh on a rainy Sunday!


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