The Tories are on the rampage. Their response to the worst riots in
living memory is more state repression. The blame for the riots,
according to David Cameron, lies with the “criminal disease” sweeping
our neighbourhoods.Cameron also attacked the “moral collapse,” the breakdown of “family
values,” poor standards in schools, and a welfare system that rewards
the idle.The Tories’ answer, as always, is tougher rules on benefits claims, the
introduction of National Service, more discipline in schools, ending the
human rights culture, and the introduction of “family tests.”
The Tories are on the rampage. Their response to the worst riots in living memory is more state repression. The blame for the riots, according to David Cameron, lies with the “criminal disease” sweeping our neighbourhoods.
Cameron also attacked the “moral collapse,” the breakdown of “family values,” poor standards in schools, and a welfare system that rewards the idle.
The Tories’ answer, as always, is tougher rules on benefits claims, the introduction of National Service, more discipline in schools, ending the human rights culture, and the introduction of “family tests.”
None of these measures are, of course, for the rich, greedy, selfish bankers who in their wild pursuit of profit brought the economy to its knees and were rewarded with billions of public money. None of these is for the millionaire spivs and speculators whose reckless gambling vandalized the livelihoods of millions of ordinary people.
None are for those politicians who were embroiled in stealing money for bogus expenses. And none are for the press barons who ordered the hacking of a dead girl’s phone or bribed the police in order to build their media empires.
Instead, these parasites are all rewarded for their crimes. Despite the hacking scandal, the top bosses have got away with murder. They still have politicians, government ministers, police chiefs and prime ministers in their pockets. Despite everything, Murdoch’s News Corporation, News International’s parent company, was delighted to report a rise in annual profits to $2.74 billion.
In the Con-Dem Coalition Cabinet, there are 23 millionaires. They are a big business government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. They are presiding over the biggest attack on workers’ living standards since the 1920s. Real wages are being cut and student debt is set to rocket to £60,000.
In the meantime, banking profits are also up as tens of thousands of jobs are slashed, 30,000 by HSBC, 15,000 by Lloyds, 3,000 by Barclays and 2,000 at the Royal Bank of Scotland. “If you have to cut costs [to boost profits] you have to cut jobs”, said one European bank chief executive, as if people’s lives were not affected.
While youth are criminalized and given custodial sentences, the real criminals go scot-free. As the ancient Greek philosopher once said, “the law is like a spider’s web. The small get caught and the great simply tear it up.”
We all know about the morals of the upper class – get rich quick. These are the morals of the market place. After all, greed is the motive force of capitalism. This culture of egotism, greed and indifference to the suffering of others has flourished, especially since the time of Thatcher. This is the real face of capitalism, of the bankers and big business – ruthless, grasping and cruel. These values spread poison into society, where the weak are blamed for being poor, the unemployed for not having a job and the homeless for not having a home.
The poor are mocked daily by the sickening affluence of the few, where a night out in the West End can cost more than an unemployed person gets to live on in a month. The role models of society are the profit-seeking entrepreneurs, the get-rich-quick mob, who are prepared to trample on anyone to “get on.” They are the personification of greed and selfishness. They are the very people who attack “scroungers” on social security and are in favour of privatizing the health service, education and everything else.
Under capitalism, anything can be bought, including morality. Capitalist society is senile and sick in its old age.
Rich and poor
It is not the rich who riot, but the poorest sections of society. We are lectured from on high about individual “responsibility,” as if we are all in the same boat. But, as the French writer Anatole France once explained, it is like the “majestic egalitarianism of the law, which forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
There are few sights more repulsive than the sight of well-to-do Tory ladies and gentlemen lecturing the lower classes on the need for morality, responsibility, and family values. Those same individuals, whose selfish greed is revealed everyday in their grotesque salaries, lecture ordinary workers on the need for sacrifice.
We can agree that this is a sick society, but not in the way Cameron means. Capitalism is a sick society that keeps the majority on the poverty line while the rich get richer. While the poor end up in prison, the rich parasites end up in the House of Lords.
The Tories are desperate not to link the riots with social conditions and above all the cuts. But the cuts will means fewer jobs and growing unemployment. Today, one in five of all youth are on the dole, and this figure is much higher in the inner cities and among black youth. For them, there is no future. The austerity cuts also mean the closure of youth facilities and clubs, which were meagre to begin with and add to the feeling of alienation. In addition, they are subject to daily harassment by the police. “Where are we supposed to go meet? We just get pushed wherever we go,” says Darren from Croydon.
“The police don’t like black kids,” adds Jermaine from Hackney, East London. “But they have a problem with all urban youth. All youth. White, black, whatever.”
Rachael, a young girl from Camden, London, disapproved of the riots. “It’s not going to help. They’re going to hassle us more.”
Yet she added: “But lots of people at my school don’t have ambition. No self-esteem … They just don’t care. They’ve got nothing to lose, so they just do stupid stuff – like nicking trainers. Mugs, utter mugs. But what have they got to look forward to?”
This sums up the plight of large numbers of young people today. Capitalism can’t give them a job or a future. They face police harassment as local youth facilities are closed down. As the cuts deepen, the situation will get worse not better. But on the basis of capitalism, the Tory Coalition has no alternative given the massive deficit.
While rioting offers no way forward and only tends to affect poorer working class neighbourhoods, it reflects a deep-seated frustration and anger in society. Riots happen due to a feeling of despair and hopelessness. This, in turn, is a reflection of the sickness of society, an inability to answer the basic needs of people, especially the youth.
The Labour leaders, instead of echoing the Tories’ hypocrisy, should be standing shoulder to shoulder with working people, the unemployed and the youth. Belatedly, Ed Miliband has started to attack the right people, those responsible for the crisis we are in:
“What happened in the banking system, what happened with MP’s expenses, what happened with phone-hacking isn’t the same as looting… (But) if we are going to have a culture of responsibility in our country, it’s got to start with the most powerful.” (Sunday Times 14/8/11) Miliband has also refered to the bankers, expense fiddlers and phone-hackers as “greedy, selfish and immoral.” True enough, but there is a reason for this behavour. Miliband should now draw the real lessons. Rather than offering to patch-up capitalism, or strengthen the police, he should be offering a real alternative to this rotten system of society that breeds such morality. Rather than prostrate themselves before the market, Labour should be fighting for a new socialist society, based on an end to exploitation and the profit motive.
This autumn, the industrial struggle will again come to the fore as millions of public sector workers take action in defence of their jobs, pensions and services. Other sections of society – including students and the youth – will also go on the offensive against this government.On the basis of capitalism new explosions are inevitable. No amount of state repression will prevent this. Our task is to channel the energy of the youth and workers in a positive direction: the transformation of society on socialist lines. Only then can we end the nightmare of unemployment, poverty and the blind alley of capitalism.