The violent events held the United Kingdom continues to take front page news around the world. Faced with real urban guerrilla groups, the authorities are striving to keep things under control. Thousands of extra police officers flooded into London Wednesday in a bid to end Britain’s worst rioting in a generation. An eerie calm prevailed in the capital, but unrest spread across England on a fourth night of violence driven by diverse and brazen crowds of young people, said AP. Back from vacation in Italy, Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to increase police and declared that “will not allow a culture of fear to take over the streets”. “We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order onto our streets” Cameron said in a somber televised statement. “Nothing is off the table.” Before attempting a summary the causes and possible developments of events, take a quick look on the development of chronological events.
The violence had its genesis in the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four children who was gunned down in Tottenham on Thursday under disputed circumstances. Britain’s riots began Saturday when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in London’s Tottenham neighborhood turned violent. That clash has morphed Sunday into a general lawlessness in London and several other cities (Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham) that police have struggled to halt. Already traditional, social networks were, of course, part of the coordination of actions. Summary of the five days of violence: heritage buildings on fire, destroyed dozens of cars, shops and robbed people on the street, four dead and over 768 people have been arrested in London and 167 charged — including an 11-year-old boy — and the capital’s prison cells were overflowing. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said it had teams of lawyers working 24 hours a day to help police decide whether to charge suspects, allowing them to quickly clear police station cells. A total of 111 officers and 14 members of the public have been hurt so far in the rioting, including a man in his 60s who was attacked as he attempted to put out a fire started by members of a mob.
It is difficult to find suitable terms for the phenomenon as accurate as radiography. Those who break windows, steal everything they can from shops, threw stones at police and burn cars are generally young people between 7 and 27, and from families of immigrants. Matei Visniec considers it is inappropriate to speak about revolt. He opts for the term “social fire”, with periodic outbursts because it has reached a critical point of social problems. The word “revolt” is not quite right because the groups do not present any coherent claims, although they have much to complain about the society in which they live. It might be called “riots”. Anglo-Saxon press talks about “racial riots”. In fact, we have here a typical racial motivation: the police shot a black guy in suspicious circumstances. The Voice, Britain’s leading black newspaper, has claimed that both Duggan and his best friend, 23-year-old rapper Kelvin Easton, known as Smegz, “had links to the Star Gang”, one of several criminal groups in north London whose turf wars have caused at least three deaths over the past few years. In reply, close family members blaming the media for “twisting the truth” and telling “all these lies” about Duggan. “He was a good man. He was a family man, was a good Dad who idolised his kids” one relative told The Guardian. The press has given back to the allegations. History of racial persecution is really generating chills. That’s why most of us react defensively in the face of such accusations. And most likely not to be accused of racism authorities reacted inefficient, leading to the spread of violence.
In such cases could be possible as the discrimination to be itself generating racial discrimination? What motivations behind the invasion of violence?
Here are some possible explanations: Social – an uncertain status. Many violent young come from families of immigrants but are born in the Kingdom. Which does not, however, gave them equal opportunities. Mostly their misfortune comes even from their parents’ inability to integrate into British society. But also comes from the failure of multiculturalism promoted as an emblem of democracy. They belong to anyone. And they can not love a country that in their view just to ensure their survival. Lack of sense of belonging to society itself brings serious problems of social integration. It’s good to remember that the need for social belonging is manifest in many cases by integrating the various gangs in urban areas. Also they have the lack of prospects, unemployment and the cuts jobs. It is true that Tottenham is among London’s poorest boroughs, with 10,000 people claiming jobseeker’s allowance and 54 applicants chasing every registered job vacancy. Is interesting to observe that the extremist English Defense League said: “Maybe individual police officers are too fearful of being later blamed if they injure someone but the reality is the human rights of these violent criminal looters have been placed way above the right of decent people to walk the streets, to sleep soundly in their beds and to expect the police will protect their businesses and livelihoods”.
Temporal and local context – We are in the summer period when much of the urban population still afford to vacation. We have such a moment “sensitive” of those who consider themselves prisoners of their condition of “marginal” or “disadvantaged.” After the riots in France, the Paris authorities thought more programs for young people in summer. Also important to notice: the disorder has caused heartache for Londoners whose businesses and homes were torched or ransacked, and a crisis for police and politicians already staggering from a sputtering economy and a scandal over illegal phone hacking by a tabloid newspaper that has dragged in senior politicians and police.
Psychological – Professor John Pitts, Director of the Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime (University of Bedfordshire, UK) and expert in criminology, said robberies helps those who feel powerless to feel suddenly strong. Also, many young people participating in these actions because they are simply on holiday and the nights are longer. It’s fun for them. He points out that there is a team spirit. The more they are, the more they feel they have control. “You can not start a rebellion on their own. At one point, a large group facing the police feel they have control” said John Pitts. Psychologists say that a person loses the moral identity in a large group, and empathy and guilt, which makes us not as a criminal act, disappear. “When you belong to a relatively anonymous group, you do what you want,” says James Thompson, a psychologist. It also speaks of a psychological mechanism by which young people take an immediate moral code: “rich people have so many things that I do not have. It is fair to take them”. Experts point out that there is evidence to suggest that gang leaders tend to have psychopathic tendencies. Young revolutionary mentality can be compared with the ultras of football teams are often the protagonists of street violence.
Favorable global context: Arab Spring triggered youth energies of Maghreb, the economic crisis of Europe has driven the streets on the Greek and Spanish. Recently, Israel has been unprecedented social challenge that most products have become too expensive. “It is no coincidence that the worst violence London has seen in many decades takes place against the backdrop of a global economy poised for freefall. The causes of recession set out by J K Galbraith in his book, The Great Crash 1929, were as follows: bad income distribution, a business sector engaged in “corporate larceny”, a weak banking structure and an import/export imbalance. All those factors are again in play” said the journalists from The Telegraph. If we add to the list seriousness of the situation in Syria and Yemen, can see that social tensions globally are very high such that the shutter button can be anything from a measure of a government austerity plan to a clip from Anonymous posted on social networks.
Is difficult to predict how things will evolve. Because although we communicate globally, we do business globally, eat and dress the same brand products, not yet know how to think globally. It’s a contagious energy that sweeps over crowds, causing them to act in ways they would never act alone. The world’s economic state and the widening financial gap seem to be the fuel to the fire. Events and people are linked, they influence each other, are interconnected globally much more than we are accustomed to routinely admit.
Are such manifestations a viable solution? Of course, not! But there is a warning that the things are not on the right track. Human society is becoming, despite technological advances, a primitive “global village“. Human society has a plurality of diseases manifested by symptomatic crises: social, political, economic, spiritual and of value items. And, as in any chronic illness, painkillers – populist type no longer effect. More, recently, painkillers are not longer available. Sometimes surgery is necessary. Unfortunately, the society is not a patient can be operated under anesthesia. Who has the courage to take in his hand the scalpel and not fear of being accused of “mal praxis”?
Gabriela Ionita is editor to Cadran Politic, analyst in the field of International affairs (mainly connected with the Russian Federation and Community of Independent States). Also maintains a frequently updated blog Power&Politics World. She graduated from the National School of Political and Administrative Sciences – Bucharest, specialization in Communication and Public Relations. Ms. Ionita lives in Bucharest City.