Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak.
The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police’s treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.
One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this. When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people.
An oldie-but-goodie, found on the Internet: These two English professors run into each other and start shooting the breeze …
Here’s two quotes from the BBC online twitter feed;
2046: Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone says the government has failed to realise the level of discontent among young people who are facing a “bleak” future.
2047: He says senior police officers have been warning the government that there was a danger of violence like this for a while.
2139: Mike Fisher, leader of Croydon council, says “mindless thugs” are destroying businesses and people’s livelihoods, and it is an “outrage”.
This is freaking me.
Now Corbett wants to privatize them. You know, instead of taxing Marcellus Shale drillers!
I needed caffeine badly, so I stopped in a vegan coffee shop — soy milk only — and ordered a macchiato. Reading the menu board, I noticed the seitan sandwich and asked the barista if this item was inspired by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s recent description of the Obama-Boehner debt-deal disaster as “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich…”
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s coming back to All My Children on Sept. 21st.
Truly, our public discourse has been entirely about problems we don’t have, at the expense of dealing with the problems we do have.
This is the first uprising, anywhere in the world, against a successful neoliberal regime. Israel’s macro-economy is doing very well (I make no predictions about what it will do tomorrow): unemployment is low, the shekel is strong, foreign investors are interested, there is a lot of entrepreneurial energy, economic growth is substantial and steady. At the same time, the damage that neoliberal policies do to communal solidarity, to welfare provision, and to the maintenance of the public sector is visible everywhere in the country (except in the occupied territories), and it is increasingly difficult for many families, with two wage-earners, to achieve and sustain a decent life. So this is a rebellion whose motto might be: It’s the micro-economy, stupid! But its actual slogan is: The people demand social justice! There is no crisis here of state indebtedness, or of inflation, or of unemployment. The crisis has to do with inequality and injustice, and the people marching, who may well turn out to disagree about many things, seem to agree about that.
Why would a bunch of dirty hippies with computers be better at predicting things than the Very Serious People? It’s a puzzle!