Sunday, August 21, 2011

Except for viewers in Scotland

"The big cause is the group of alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour. And here's where I simply don't agree with much of the commentary. In my experience they are an absolutely specific problem that requires a deeply specific solution."
After successfully prosecuting an overwhelmingly popular war in the Middle East against an enemy - or maybe several enemies - that threatened the peace and stability of too many places to name and which, since its or their vanquishing, has been unable to extend its or their octopus-like tentacles of terror, thus making the world a much safer place than it was back in the days of Fine Fare and Goblin Teasmades, Tony Blair has now turned his attention to the enemy lurking within the fabric of British society as bed-bugs lurk within the high thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets of successful men. Guarded and coded though his words may be, Tony Blair - a man who never will use one adjective when two are available, a man who always has a binary pair to hand and in the bush, a man who is tough on language and tough on the causes of language - speaks of a deeply specific solution to an absolutely specific problem: the Chavs.

Except for viewers in Scotland, of course; Scotland has its own problem: Neds. Perhaps this is the deeply specific solution: set the Chavs and the Neds at odds with each other. Have another war, this time between the Burberry-wearing Chavs and the Bucky-drinking Neds.

But the Neds did not riot, perhaps because they were too full of deep-fried Mars Bars to move, perhaps because already they had stolen all the home theatre they needed; or perhaps there was something on the telly. How do we explain this phenomenon of inactivity?

Do the Marxist theorists have anything to say? Well, a lot, an awful lot as always; but then again, nothing. Particularly noteworthy in this respect is the contribution of Socialism and/or Barbarism, an open letter addressed to anyone who did not much like people stealing stuff (a broad readership, I am sure you will agree), an open letter which not only presumed to know what its intended readers think but also was of such insufferable length that it had to be delivered in two parts: one and two; then came the coda. No, me neither. Perhaps the author has something to say about Scottish Exceptionalism, but I cannot be bothered wading through all that wank to find it.

Nina Power, on the other hand, had this to say. Oh well, at least she didn't waste too much of her time or ours. China MiƩville, on the other other hand, posted somebody's really bad poem and has said nothing since. Presumably, his Theory is so powerful that it predicted the riots and History so inevitable that he need say nothing more on the topic. Or perhaps he is busy trying to sell Socialist Worker to the proletariat (question: does the Socialist Workers Party have any working class members, or any socialists for that matter?).

Meanwhile, closer to home, one D H Curtis of Glenfield had this to say in the New Zealand Herald of 16th August:
I am surprised that people are so surprised about the riots in Britain. Friends there bemoan the drastic and detrimental effect of the hordes of refugees who have been allowed to pass into the country.

Most are a burden on the welfare system. The economy is straining to contain and provide for these, mostly Muslim, refugees.
Oh dear. Why does the Herald print this sort of thing? But then, Curtis has much in common with all the above. They all know. They can all see the causes, the conditions, the meaning and purpose of the riots. Yet none dare mention that it was not a British phenomenon but an English one, and mostly one of the South. Look, here is a map. In the light of this, can we blame loft conversions, as does Mr Hatherley? Could gentrification and regeneration be the cause of unrest? I hope so, for two reasons: 1) it could put an end to some really bad architecture; 2) it might put an end to patronising the proles, to assuming that the only solutions are those that benefit middle-class incomers and reflect middle-class values.

On another hand, a more drastic solution is available:


Amanda said...

I also wonder why no riots in Glasgow. It costs millions and millions of pounds a year to police the Old Firm games so its not like the Scots are strangers to riot and mayhem. I noticed Glasgow was the one place they had the army on notice and there's worse social deprivation in Glasgow than in London. Some random person on the internet speculated it might have something to do with the John Keenan effect. If there were signs of neds rioting in Glasgow the rest of the populace wouldn't hesitate to put the boot in to put a stop to it- maybe there is something in that.

Amanda said...

Correction- I meant John Smeaton

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, chavs and scallies are the subject of much erotic interest from middle-class gay men in Brit gay mags. Wish I could work out why.

Craig Y

Rich L said...

I could be facetious and ask: if there was a riot in Glasgow, would anyone notice the difference?

Paul, I'm sure you've already seen this:

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