Tania Amanor-Boadu / Larry Lo / Emma McDowell

Racist Discrimination, Poverty, and the Urge to Right Wrongs 
Reflections Provoked by the Present Social Explosion in Several Neglected, Run-down Suburbs of Britain

For several days in a row, the press and television has been showing us images of rioting youth, street scenes that let us recall Watts and  Newark, burning ghettos, exploding in anger. Yes, for several days we have seen the same street scenes: We saw the stores set aflame, the fire that consumed a Sony warehouse, a couple of houses that were burning in poor suburbs of Britain, and angry youngsters confronting the police. At first in parts of London, later on also in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester. The media and the politicians try to tell us again and again that these are thugs. They tell us it is wanton, gratuitious violence that we see. And the television chains repeat the same scenes that show looting kids, young people angrily battling the police, and  even crowds which face the firefighters that appear on the scene.

Most of these “thugs” are very young, many just 13 or 14, and with few exceptions the oldest seem to be 18 or 20. What is at the root of their rage?

The apparent spark that set the suburbs aflame was the shooting of a man in his late twenties. A father of three kids who’ll be waiting for him. They’ll miss him, just like their mother –  his partner,  who’ll have to get along without him now. It is not clear whether the man was native born or had an immediate immigrant background. He was what people here call a ‘colored’ man. Britain is race-conscious, in fact racist. And we have many reasons to believe that many officers in the police force are racists.

Our impression is that the cops were lying in wait for this man. Very likely a small criminal, engaged perhaps in thievery or in drug-peddling. It is difficult to dispute their right to do so. But why did they shoot him? 

There were insinuations, at first, that he had shot at the police as well, and perhaps was the first to shoot. Which would make what then happened self-defense instead of man-slaughter. But it is clear by now that this allegation is untenable. If there had been solid evidence, it would have been presented in the news and more details would have surfaced. In the community that this man belonged to, the suspicion is alive that he may have had a gun in his car, yes, but was taken by surprise and never had a chance to shoot. Probably, seeing that a trap had been set, he did not even intend to reach for his gun and shoot at the officers who killed him. Did they do it in cold blood? In the community of “underdogs,” of poor, excluded, discriminated people that this man was part of, many say that the armed cops never take on a real gangster. They are afraid. Why risk one’s precious life? The pay is not good enough. The chance that the other guy will shoot the cop is real. So it’s always the small guys who get killed. The guy in the kitchen who verbally threatens to kill his mother-in-law, but has threatened to do so before and still didn’t do it. If the neighbors hadn’t called the cops, both this guy and the woman he threatened to kill would still be alive. The typical overreaction, the failure to have a psychologist deal with the man –  they have seen that. And they remember the youngster who stole a motorbike; the cops pursuing him shot him in the back. That’s their experience with the cops. And now this family man. 

Yes, a family man. With a wife, kids. That makes it even worse. And that he practically got the death penalty without trial, because he was ‘colored.’ And perhaps a thief. Perhaps some kind of little crook.

The community that this man belonged to is to a large extent exposed to precarious conditions. Undoubtedly they know that a certain percentage among them, seeing no other way, earn their living in questionable if not criminal ways. Okay then, perhaps this was the case with the man killed by the cops. Perhaps these police officers had been tracking him for weeks, finding out what he was doing. Of course, people ask,  Why was he in that minicab when they shot him?  How could he afford a taxi?

Quite a few people who are excluded,  have mixed feelings – both about criminals and the police. It is almost normal when you are living in a run-down suburb, amid other people  most of whom are kind of poor. Some, obviously,  very poor. Outrageously poor, you might say. Poor and downtrodden. Poor and devoid of hope, in certain cases. Poor and embittered, perhaps even angry, in other cases. Poor and gloomy. Poor and energetic. Poor and smiling, and undisturbed. Poor, poor, poor and coping. Or unable to cope with their situation, and sinking, ever deeper, into despair.

Who, among them, had ever what you might call a truly positive experience with the police? Or quite generally, with  “the authorities”? With government? The government that exists in Britain today is closing libraries and youth clubs. It is cutting down on spending for schools. It is looking the other way as so many youth, and an even higher percentage of ‘colored’ youth, hang around in the street, unable to find a job. 

In many of the poor suburbs that saw riots it’s a mixed population that you get. Mixed, in many respects. In terms of jobs or joblessness, for instance.  Thus,  in terms  of incomes. 

And then of course in terms of ‘ethnic’ or, as we would prefer to say, socio-cultural’ background. 

Some people in the riot-torn neighborhoods apparently are native ‘White’ Britons. Largely working class people. Though there are ‘white’ lower middle class folks, too. Particularly, the shop-owners. 

And then of course there are those who conventionally are referred to as ‘colored.’ As if the ‘white’people were truly white. As if Chinese people were yellow, and Native Americans truly red. And ‘Blacks’ black –  rather than light brown like café au lait, or dark like the coffee beans, or darker still, like dark mahoganny. Or still another beautiful brown.

Today, most of these so-called ‘colored’ people –  Arabs, West Indians, West and South and East Africans, people of Pakistani and Chinese and Indonesian, Indian and even Vietnamese and  Filipino origin –  are Britons, too.  Britons, however, who are not necessarily accepted as British by quite a few ‘white’ British people. Why?  Well, they or their parents or grandparents hail from overseas. Yes, they came to Britain from many countries; not just Pakistan, the West Indies, China, Africa… 

In addition to those who have attained British citizenship, there are the others – the more recent arrivals, still without citizen status. Some are considered legal immigrants and others are illegalized  by the authorities. 

If we disregard citizenship and legal or illegal status, there are first, second and third generation  immigrants who inhabit these poor neighborhoods, and they live side by side with those whose ancestors have lived in Britain for hundreds of years.

It is especially among quite a few of the first, second and third generation immigrants –  people who, in addition to being poor, are subject to racial discrimination –  that mixed feelings with regard to the police abound. This cannot really surprise us, in the case of a community of ‘colored’ people which is marginalized and excluded in many ways. 

Can we generalize, however? Are there no contrary feelings and attitudes? Probably, yes. But to what extent? And is it really possible to say that such a position or view which is more positive with regard to the police, is merely the position of a minority within a minority? Something rare, untypical, bizarre? 

One thing is clear. The immigrant community is a homogenous community because their experience of discrimination and exclusion makes it homogenous. And is is also a fragmented community, in a certain sense: After all, these people come from different places and have therefore belonged to different socio-cultures in the past (African, West Indian, Pakistani, Chinese etc.). 

In addition to this, there is a certain amount of social differentiation. After all, they include shop owners, hairdressers, restaurant owners, operators of launderettes etc. And then, of course, there is are those who are wage earners. Some with steady jobs, others casual laborers, temporary workers, etc. Then, there is a large number of  jobless people. Some may be languishing at home, aimlessly watching television. Others (although officially without a job) may be selling smuggled cigarettes. Or they are perhaps involved in something else, something that at any rate is not legal. 

Although interconnected in many ways with “the rest of British society”, it is a microscosm that is a world apart from “normal” British middle class existence. Or from that other, loftier universe – the world of the corporate “elite,” the  world of Murdoch and his people who apparently are prone to break the law and lie about it,  the world of the  out-of-touch, quite typically Oxford educated leaders of  Britain’s large political parties. 

It is a working class reality that the bulk of the immigrant community experiences. It’s the reality of people belonging to the working class who have a job; and the reality of working class women and men who have lost their jobs; and the reality of  young people who never got a job. Some of them, for this very reason, have joined youth gangs. Is it in order to avoid boredom? Or in order to regain a sense of belonging? Is it because of the considerable level of poverty, and because gangs promise “income”? At any rate, many gang members have drifted into the shady, shabby world of drug consumption. And of crime, of course, that helps “finance” their addiction. And, perhaps, a  bit more than that…

But whether involved in crime or not, almost nobody in this community would call the cops in case of a q uarrel with a neighbor. Or to regain an object that was taken away by somebody. Or for another reason. It is not done. It would almost be considered perverse and unethical to do so. 
Basically, such distance, such skepticism that we find in this community with regard to the police is a logical result of a lot of negative experience with “the authorities.”  It is an attitude that always was typical of the working class which experienced cops on the other side of the barricades. From Peterloo to the great miners’ strike that was defeated by measures imposed by the Thatcher government. It is true that among segments of the British working class, the historical skepticism with regard to the police has waned, the more people began to consider themselves part of the middle class. But among immigrant workers and their offspring, the typical aversity and distrust has not receded, by and large. There never was a good reason why it should have waned.

As a matter of fact, quite a few poor people, and this includes poor ‘colored’ people, are capable of solidarity with those among their folk who get in trouble with the law. 

Let’s say, you encounter feelings of compassion, if not a certain tacit understanding. People reveal such sentiment for instance when they are told about someone who is trying to survive in a place like London as an illegal immigrant. Everybody knows London is a terribly expensive place. Everybody knows it is almost impossible not to break the law at least a little bit if you try to make ends meet as a non-registered, officially non-existent, “illegal” immigrant. 

And knowing this, having experienced this perhaps, in the distant or not so distant past,  feelings of sympathy are evoked by stories about an acquaintance who is an “illegal” immigrant. 

It is not rare that people refuse to denouce someone in a hard and unforgiving way when they learn that he is involved in petty crime. Of course, they prefer not to hear about it. But when they do, they shrug their shoulder and try to forget about it. 

In a way, they accept these things as a part of life. At least as long as they are not victims of theft themselves. And if the guy is not committing serious crimes, say, murder. Or peddling hard drugs or other serious things. Shoplifting certainly is not considered a serious crime, except by the shop owners in  these poor neighborhoods. Theft is considered to be bad if you take something that belongs to the poor fellow next door. Unless he is a businessman.  Quite a few of these people seem to see the gap between their own situation and that of businesspeople, even if the latter have no more than a small store. Do they sense the different way things in society are perceived by “entrepreneurs”? Very often, the shopowner’s attitude is unforgiving when it comes to theft, or other forms of illegal behavior. Which doesn’t preclude him from engaging in tax evasion.

By and large, at least, the shopowner’s view is not typical of what most poor people think in a poor neighborhood. He may be poor like them, but his views tend to be middle class. He craves to be respectable. He may vote for a chap like Cameron.

By most poor people in the area, however, things are seen from a different perspective than that of the law books, the middle class, and the police. Everyone knows that people have to survive somehow, economically. And usually they know  from experience how difficult this can be. 

The media, the police, and leaders of the three major parties in Britain have spoken disdainfully of the rioters. They refer to them as a rotten underclass, living in sickening conditions, and they try to tell us that there exist corners in Britain which have turned totally corrupt and morally deficient. Well, there are those who think that Downing Street No. 10 is a pretty suspicious place. There are those who think that Mr. Cameron is not particularly qualified to talk about morality. We could perhaps talk of their morality and ours, two different moral standards, embodying very different values. In the competition driven world of Cameron, Milliband, Clegg, a certain ability to manipulate public opinion is considered to be okay. And it’s okay to use trickery in order to outmanouevre a political competitors.  It’s okay for people like Blair and Brown and Cameron to meet frequently with Mr. Murdoch or his son, or his high-ranking personnel even though everybody knew about the perversity of Murdoch’s New of the World and Fox News and so on. And Cameron could have gotten wind of the criminal methods they relied on, had he wanted to. Including the fact that they bribed the police. 

In the world governed by feelings of solidarity and mutual help, a different sense of justice exists. People know instinctively that the “big guys” rob and steal and pillage. They pillaged the former colonies in the past. They continue to pillage that part of the world today. They pay miserly, unfair wages.  They enact laws that pretend to define social policy while stealing the bread out of the mouth of the hungry. As far as solidarity is concerned, the poorest part of the working class, that is to say, the underpaid which include many immigrants and the unemployed which include many young people and especially young immigrants, are not necessarily deficient if we are to compare them with the better paid, among the regularly employed. On the contrary, there are those who suspect that feelings of solidarity tend to decrease the more people feel they have made it, and begin to embrace middle-class values.

If, however, we look at the bulk of the native-born working class in Britain and also in other countries of Europe, the core of what the media consider to be a ‘silent majority,’  it is strange to see them as a main target group of Cameron’s moralizing invectives against the protesting people whose outburst we have witnessed. Does he assume, and do the media assume that these workers are loyal defenders of law and order? It is not a widely known fact among the members of the upper and middle class that the moral attitudes of most working people differ from theirs. Working people have an acute sense of justice, and they see social justice as sorely deficient in modern society. It is what gave rise to the mythology surrounding the figure of Ned Kelly, in Australia. Or, at an even earlier time, Robin Hood in Britain. Working people instinctively reject big gangsterism. But they feel that it is okay if people correct wrongs on their own, in their small, modest way. In other words, working class moral standards quite generally do deviate from middle-class “normality.” And this even though quite a few workers, due to their skills or incomes, do consider themselves part of the middle class. 

Let’s look at a few examples that will make this quite comprehensible. It is a well-known fact among members of the profession that a considerable number of truck drivers routinely divert diesel from the tank of the company-owned truck they drive, putting the pinched fuel into the tank of their private car. Among bricklayers it is considered normal that people take home considerable quantities of bricks and cement from construction sites without guilt feelings. Car companies and other firms feel compelled to check bags of workers leaving the plant because they fear that tools will be taken away. (In the past, this was not so much a problem in Britain because, in contrast to the situation on the continent, British skilled workers brought their own tool-box.) Shop girls account for a lot of goods that ‘disappear’ in stores.  There is no real sense of guilt involved in such acts. It is rather likely that most people feel justified when they act as they do, taking away this and that from their employer. There is a sense of being denied a fair wage; so in fact they think they are privately righting wrongs that the law does not correct.

For anybody who is aware of this, it must seem quite strange that a considerable number of British workers apparently succumb to the influence of the law and order discourse propagated by the media. Is this the impact of the famous British legalism? Probably not. And yet, it is not unlikely that many workers have indeed joined the middle class and the political “elite” in crying shame when they saw televised images of the riots and read about the rampage attributed to “thugs.” Obviously, a humane feeling of pity comes into play when we see an old man crying because his barbershop has been devastated. And people are shocked and will say, “This goes too far” when people are killed in the course of a riot. A friend once mentioned how his aunt, a chocolate factory worker in her fifties, commented on a bank robbery that had just occurred. She said, “If they haven’t killed anybody, I don’t mind it if they escape safely. Let’s hope they’ll be happy, with all that money.” It’s a typical working class attitude. If you kill somebody, especially a poor little guy like you and me, you cross a red line. If not, if it’s just the violation of property rights, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. But then, the attitude of that working woman is not shared by every worker. Some will feel jealousy; they’ll envy those among their class who take something illegally. And rather than copying their action, they will cry foul. Others, politically more aware, will critique individualist ways of “righting wrongs,” claiming that is does not lead to more justice in an unjust society. Still others, authoritarian types, will denounce any breach of the dominant rules of the game.  Clearly, racism also comes into play in a few cases. Some working people see arson and murder committed by “others,” by “foreigners.”  And clearly, many are refusing to understand the situation of the immigrant community, a community whose young people – not all of them, but quite a few, in places like Tottenham – were among the rioters. But those who are all to ready to denounce the indignant rioters because most are young and unemployed and because many share an immigrant background, seem to forget that our present society is no immaculate place where the righteous and the wrongdoers can be told apart without much difficulty. Their penchant for law and order is ideological; it is possible only because the laxity with regard to company property that is widespread among members of the working class  is somehow denied or “forgotten.” The stern “moral” position assumed vis-à-vis “the others” reflects the success of the elite’s strategy to pit the “immigrant” worker against the “white” British worker, and vice versa. Some “authochtonous” workers sees in in every “foreign” worker a competitor ready to work for less pay; they see in the unemployed kid of the “foreign”  worker somebody who consumes part of the shrinking funds still set aside to finance the reduced and imperilled “social safety net.” So there exists a competition, fanned by employers. And there exists jealousy, fanned by right-wing populist politicians like Cameron and by the media that echo xenophobic populist discourse. In many cases, the divide-and-rule tactics of the dominant social class seem to work. To what extent? That’s something people will disagree on. Some suppose that the working class has been thoroughly fragmented whereas others would say that beneath the appearances of ideological division within the class, there is the underlying basic experience of an intensified “class struggle from above” that will have a unifying effect, in the long run.

For the immigrant community, the situation is pretty clear. By and large, most of them cannot afford a double standard. Solidarity, within the community, is essential for them. Having to choose, many emotionally side with a man who may have been a gang member and even a small crook, a man who belonged to their community, who was probably hard pressed and subjected to extremely difficult circumstances. They are on his side at least in that moment when they learn that he has been shot by the police. Yes, having to choose, they’d rather side with him than siding with the forces of order, the police. 

It is clear, however, that property owners, business people, both within the immigrant community and within mainstream society, hold different views about riots because riots endanger property. Regardless of ethnic or socio-cultural background, middle class existence gives rise to a different ‘world view,’  a different ethics. And this is true even if you can speak only of the miserly semblance of such middle class existence, in the case of self-employed (autochtonous or immigrant) people who hardly eke out a living, operating a small shop in a poor, ethnically mixed neighborhood…

Today, a refusal to comprehend the specific situation of Britain’s poor first, second, and third generation immigrants characterizes most middle class Britons. It has become an entrenched attitude because ‘respect for property’ was always a middle-class attitude and because the mass media, with their images and their typical discourse, have infected the minds of people. Certainly the middle class, and even a part of the working class. In theory, and that is to say, superficially, law and order matters today for what is probably a majority in Britain. To this extent, the dominant media and the politicians, with their law and order rhetorics, are probably fairly successful. They denounce the riots, the explosion that has been triggered unthinkingly if not in cold blood by the police. And it is by no means only a faction of the population –  say, the  more xenophobic Britons, or those who clearly embrace authoritarian values and who tend to behave accordingly –  who will nod approval.

This is in stark contrast with the overwhelming feeling tacitly shared in the ‘immigrant community’ that the explosion in the run-down neighborhoods was understandable and, in the last analysis, provoked.

On the other hand, we must once again remember that distrust of the police is not intrinsically an ethnic attitude, found only among poor immigrants. If this impression exists today, it is a historic result of a more recent development. In a way, distrust of the police was common “proletarian” attitude for a long time. It was very typical among working people in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. It is an attitude that faded into the background and that, in part, vanished when workers began to feel “middle class.”  If today this attitude survives most prominently in a cornered, excluded community, among  “colored” working class people, employed and unemployed,  it survives here because of the mixture of two factors, “race” and “class” – the typical economic marginalization,  extreme exploitation and at the same time excessive exposure to unemployment of this segment of the working population, which is experiencing exclusion and stark poverty in combination with scarcely camouflaged racism and continued extreme discrimination. But the fact that we find this attitude here does not mean that it doesn’t exist at all in the “white” British working class. Say, among those who consciously see themselves as part of the Left. Or among jobless young people who are not at all part of an immigrant community. 

In the community where the deadly encounter with the police happened, almost everyone agrees that it was bound to produce a reaction –  just like the videotaped beating of Rodney King, the Afro-American citizen brutalized by members of the LAPD, the Los Angeles police force, was bound to produce a reaction at the time, in California. 

Why was that young man shot dead, people ask themselves. Was it necessary? They see it as part of the reality they experience, a reality tainted by racism, police brutality, discrimination.

Quite a few people in the community of poor “colored” immigrants vaguely think that the man killed in their London suburb, a father of four kids, had to make ends meet. They know that he was compelled to do so in a context of considerable joblessness, recession, austerity policies. If he had turned to illegal activities, did he have an alternative? Difficult to say. Maybe not. And maybe he was just fed up with living on a few morsels thrown to him and his family, as if they were pigs. 

In the the minds of many of those who form this community that the dead man belonged to, the dire economic situation is almost inevitably added to the general picture of discrimination suffered by “colored people.” It is a discrimination almost automatically directed against “colored people” in the first place, they feel. In many contexts, such discrimination is real. But especially in the context of the job market. 

Does it exonerate the dead man if, in fact, it should turn out that he had become a crook? Not quite. But to shoot him simply goes too far.

The young who revolted – most of them belonging to the same community as the killed man –  comprehend such facts as much as their elders, or better. The older people of the immigrant community are part of a  generation that is more resigned to the unacceptable. Theirs is a generation that, confronted with racist discrimination, has still been able, by and large, to secure menial jobs. And for this very reason,  it is also a generation that is less affected by unemployment than the young people of their community.

We all know that today all of the British working class suffers, due to austerity policies and due to the other effects of the economic crisis. The rate of unemployment is rising. The young suffer more than middle-aged working people. And among the young, the kids from poor families of immigrants mentally classified as “colored” by employers are even more affected than the “white” kids. 

Isn’t this the fundamental reason why the young rioters identified so strongly with the murdered man? If indeed he was a guy who broke into warehouses, if he was a guy who peddled marijuana, if he belonged to a group of people who stole cars, that’s suddenly secondary for them. That’s just things he may have taken. He was a loser like them. A man pushed to the margin. Excluded.  Then, the cops took his life. Things don’t count so much, if compared with a life that is taken. But then, as an act of revenge, they started to loot. To take things, to destroy things helps to quell the thirst for revenge. It is their way of letting of steam. No, they didn’t want to take a life for a life: that it happened nonetheless means that something veered out of control.

They think that it was the police, the State, the society that fetishizes order although it contributes to disorder, to chaos, that was guilty in the first place. The life of that man from Tottenham was taken though he could have been arrested. He was one of them, one of the poor ”colored” people in a poor part of town.

If the young who rioted see it like this,  their parents probably see it in a very similar way. They just don’t have the guts to revolt. In the eyes of many people either exposed to or closely aware of all the racist discrimination and the excessive economic hardship that exists in the immigrant community, the situation that these people find themselves in makes it very understandable that such an explosion occurred. But of course, many young and not so young people without an immigrant background participated as well. The wealthy, accustomed to  reaping profits, denounce their “greed.” The ideologues who dominate the debate in the media, and this includes almost all the politicians, speak of depravity. It is so easy to preach that we should value “being” rather than “having” if you have everything. In a society which fetishizes commodities, an 18 year old youth is denounced as greedy and immoral because he wanted and took what he saw as something beautiful. Just one thing is what he took: a sweater he could never have afforded. It was a longing for beauty, a very natural longing, an urge not to remain clad in rags. This young man had never held a job. Do you want to blame him, rather than the economy that had no work for him? He only learned to read and write when he was already 15. Do you want to blame him, rather than a society that neglected him? The “righteous” denounce him as immoral, as a greedy thief and worse yet, a looter who profited from the unrest, the rioting, the confrontation between angry protesters and the police. It is so easy to see the hurt, neglected child in him who, perhaps for the first time in his life, touched something that was beautifully done. But not for him, no, for those who can afford it. When the police arrested him and took a photo of him, he looked ashamed. Why? Who should be ashamed? He, who was robbed of so many opportunities?

Yes, of course we know looting is no answer in the end. Riots by people driving by rage and frustration and anger do not help to bring about fundamental improvements. And yet we know the riots were in a way an inevitable answer to a death that was not inevitable, and to a social situation in the suburbs that is not inevitable. Those who are not meek, those who are able to stand up and say no to what is unacceptable, were perhaps instinctively, spontaneously seeking a way out of their deplorable circumstances. 

In another way, that was already what the killed man may have tried to do. Perhaps he was trying to find his individual escape route, for himself and his family –  people stuck in poverty, in a hopeless place. The  situation experienced by an excluded, marginalized person makes it pretty understandable if he turns to petty crime, to theft and things like that. People don’t want to get entangled in crime. But in a run-down housing estate, full of  unemployed people, folks are not unrealistic. They know that for some, no other escape route, no other mode of survival remains open. If all the good roads are closed, people know that in order to survive, some will choose the crooked road. And anyway, don’t the “respectable” people do it, too? The merchant at the corner who sells smuggled cigarettes? The people in their Westend mansions who become experts in legal and illegal tax evasion?  And what about the financial analyst, in the City, for instance, and the banker, the broker, the real estate agent – all those who contributed to the financial crisis? 

The people in the immigrant community, including the young, are not unaware of this. And to see policemen bribed, and top personnel of Scotland Yard compelled to resign from office, and the prime minister implicated in the Murdoch scandal, thanks to his close and frequent direct and indirect contacts with this morally extremely questionable person, can only have contributed to their impression that that the small fry are dealt with severely, even outside the law, while the big scoundrels get away with almost everything.

To those who grieve because lives have been lost, they can say, “We grief, as well, for a murdered man, and we are sorry for what happened to your loved ones, as a consequence of that angry revolt which that man’s death caused.”

To the rest, they might say, “Isn’t it strange how you evoke law and order when a few shops have been looted and a few houses burned, because of our sudden, blind anger. Whereas you, in cold blood, continue to pillage the world, setting entire countries aflame, causing the death of hundreds of thousands – in Vietnam, the Falklands, Iraq, Yugoslavia, again Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya?”

For the prime minister and for those high ranking people who have been  entrusted with law enforcement, none of these considerations matter very much. They continue to insist that what happened is not acceptable. The perpetrators are “thugs.” They will be tried and the prime minister is expressing his expectation that severe sentences will be handed out. He sees no reason why thirteen-year-olds should not be treated as if they were adults. They were part of the revolting youth who protested against the death of a man who died under questionable circumstances, a man belonging to their community, a community kept at the margins, excluded, discriminated, harrassed, a target of racism, again and again. 

No, there is no excuse for their revolt, for that sudden outbreak of anger, frustration, rage. The man, Mr. Cameron, has just returned from his vacation in Tuscany, which he interrupted, because of the riots. Hesitatingly, angrily, perhaps. But his manners do not allow this man born with a silver spoon in his mouth to show this anger openly. He appears on television and he tells all of us that draconic measures are required. Maybe, the army will be asked to shoot at rioters next time. And the Labor Party, the workers’ party led by the elitist Milliband joins the chorus of those asking for “More police, tougher action by the police, stern sentences for the culprits.” This is Britain, after all, a class society where even the  accent of someone like Cameron or Milliband  tells us on which side of the big divide that separates the poor and the wealthy, the working classes and all the others, such a guy was born. It has not changed, for more than 200 years. And it is not so long ago when thin, wretched 8-year-old boys and girls in this country were hanging from the gallows, sentenced to death by stern upper class judges for crimes such as “thievery.”

Aug. 12, 2011


Check: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/democracy_uprising_in_the_usa_noam


Could Riots Happen Here?
Violent unrest has swept Europe and the Middle East. 
Is America next?

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The situation in Strathclyde, Glasgow (The Guardian)

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Salford and Hackney riots:
'We don't want trouble. We want a job' - audio (backup)

Generation ohne Zukunft:
Europas Jugend in der Krise
A generation without a future: the young generation in Europe and
the economic crisis (in German)

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Gegen die staatliche Unterdrückung der britischen Jugend www.wsws.org.de
Against the suppression of young Britons by the State (in German)

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"Da hilft nur eine ganz
andere Politik!" -  Interview 
mit Raymond Geuss
The only remedy is a radically different political course (in German)

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Nach den Krawallen in Großbritannien:
Premier Cameron erwägt Armeeeinsatz
After the riots in Britain: Cameron
considers deploying the army
(in German)

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Hintergrund: Britische Jugendgangs
British youth gangs

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The New York Times

Stanley B. Greenberg“Why Voters Tune Out Democrats”, in: The New  York Times, July 30, 2011 

Occupy Wall Street 




Democracy Now

We Are Change

Chomskyon decentralized solidarity movements

Noam Chomskyon Occupy Wall Street protests 

Z Communications  AND Z mag

M.Albert/Wilpert, "The State 
of the U.S. Left", in: Z Communications (backup copy)

Michael Albert,
Occupy Wall Street Entreaty &
Spanish Anarchists Interview 
(Z Communications, Sept.2011)
[backup copy]

Left Forum

Local to global.org

Nathan Schneider, "From Occupy 
Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere"
(The Nation, Oct. 31, 2011)


John E. Jacobsen, "Wall Street Already Finding Loopholes in Financial Reform Legislation" 

backup copy

Louise Story, "A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives"

backup copy

Readers' comments on
Obama's tax cut for the rich

backup copy 

Matthew Cardinale,"New and 
Old US Groups Forge Broad Alliances"

backup copy

Libcom.org, Theses on the global crisis 

backup copy


Democracy real YA!

Manifesto of Democracia real YA!

backup  copy

Inés Benítez, "Spain:
'Indignant' Protests Heat Up Election Campaign" (IPS news net, Oct.4,2011)

backup copy

Tito Drago,"'Indignant' 
Demonstrators Marching to 
Brussels to Protest Effects 
of Crisis" (IPS news net, July 30, 2011) 

backup copy

Tito Drago, "Spain: Streets Paved 
with Evicted Families" (IPS, Oct.7, 2011)

backup copy


Students in Chile are protesting against the privatization of higher education that took place
under Pinochet, and against the underfinanced public education system
(xinhua net, Oct.20, 2011)

backup copy


To VIMAon the general strike (Oct.19-20,2011)

backup copy

ELEFTHEROTYPIA on the general strike 

Athens (Greece) indymedia

backup copy


Mavroulis Argyros on the general strike 
(in: Real.gr, Oct.20, 2011)

backup copy


Al Ahram Weekly

Galal Nassar, "The Arab Spring and the crisis of the elite" 

backup copy

Al MasryAlyoum.com

Mohamed Azouz, Egypt govt mulls 
raising workers' incentives in bid to thwart labor strikes 

Ahmad Fouad Najem, "Forbidden"

backup copy



backup copy

Giessener Ztg. on the Stuttgart demonstration 
Sept. .30,2010

NY Times
on Stuttgart

backup copy


Support Julian Assange

Forum Social Mundial

Retos anticapitalistas

backup copy

Alternative web.es

Esther Vivas

backup copy

backup copy (doc.file)

Z Communications  AND Z mag

documenta 11:
demokratie als permanenter,
unabgeschlossener  prozess



                                                                                                 go back to URBAN DEMOCRACY issue  # 7