UK riots: updates and discussion

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Samotnaf
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Aug 16 2011 08:40

Piter:

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I'm not sure the first inspired that much the second, maybe by building a context of social unrest, but the banlieux riots were in the Paris region and the places the more active in France for the student movement (yes the movement against CPE was not only that) for the last years are Rennes and Toulouse maybe as much as Paris. in Paris some people took part in both but maybe you are exagerating a bit that point and its influence on the anti-CPE movement (I'm not sure of that in the case of the Paris region, my point of view is influenced by the fact that I took part in it as a student in Besançon at the time...).

Well I know a guy in the Montpellier area, with connections in other cities, who said that in Montpellier and at least one other place, the banlieux riots encouraged the initiatives that led to the anti-CPE movement. The anti-CPE movement began (in Rennes, I think) just 2 months after the November riots; the fact that the movement began in areas where there had been no riots doesn't mean that they didn't have an influence - the Israeli tent cities began in Tahrir Square, which began in Tunisia. Millbank was partly influenced by the pensions movement in France....

I totally agree with :

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a reason why militants and organisations often compare unfavourably riots with other movements is because they feel a lot more comfortable with the second, being able to express/lead/recruit, etc., in them and not that much in riots...

The ICC, for instance, was really at ease in the endless debates during the anti-CPE movement, debates that often (though certainly not always by any means) led to no practical decisions. Since the "militants" (in the French situ disparaging sense) of organisations define themselves above all as "having" a class consciousness (rather than consciousness as being something that advances and retreats), debates about ideas assume an illusory aura quite out of all proportion to how this class consciousness is practically expressed.

To criticise looting as bourgeois individualism on the basis (implicitly, if not explicitly) of a comparison with the neat and tidy proletarian ideal blueprint of an organised federation of assemblies expropriating and redistributing wealth according to the principles "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" is a bit like complaining that a strike is just a sectoral struggle that only helps those who are on strike but fucks things up for everyone else. And, let's face it, most of these snotty attitudes dressed in communist clothing come from those who are relatively comfortably off, attitudes which are purely moralistic.

Caiman del Barrio
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Aug 16 2011 09:06
Alf wrote:
We were impressed by Solfed's thoughtful statement and still feel that there is a basis for having a debate among revolutionaries

Of course you do, admin edit - no flaming

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Aug 16 2011 10:30

I dunno, you go on holiday for a week and all this carry on happens. Sheesh. roll eyes

Couple of links to stuff that I can't see has been referenced yet, but I thought pretty good:

Guardian: Gary Younge, These riots were political. They were looting, not shoplifting

WSM: London burns - causes & consequences of the riots - an anarchist perspective

On my way back from Aveyron I stopped off with an anarchist comrade in Paris and naturally we were discussing the riots and the mediatised discussions in their aftermath. His position was that the left in general, and anarchists in particular, have a tendency to avoid certain discourses because of their associations with those of the enemy. In this case, the discourse of the progressive moral breakdown of society. He argued that we could indeed say that there is a degradation of morals in capitalist society, related to the commodification and alienation that we all talk about in other contexts.

I admit it's not a terrain I am comfortable with, but there is something there in one case. That is, that the only aspect of "moral degradation" the right can point to, is the supposed "lack of respect for authority". Whereas the possibility of a progressive erosion of values of social solidarity, respect for the well-being of the collectivity, care for others, etc. in favour of a selfish, "stop at nothing" grasping materialist acquisitiveness, is not a direction they can go for fear of re-directing the critique back on to the effects of capitalism itself. Yet, to take a concrete example, the recklessness of setting fire to a building with residences on the higher floors - is this really a failure to respect authority, or more a failure to care for the safety of others? Clearly it is the latter, so the current discourse of the right on "moral breakdown" at the moment is a case of "bait and switch". Here there may well be arguments to be made.

Anyway, I offer that for consideration. Personally my instincts are always to avoid arguments on moral grounds, even though intellectually I can see the argument that surrendering that terrain to the right without any contestation could well be a strategic error. Also in this particular mediatised climate, my fear would be that any discourse that focuses solely on the anti-social aspects of the rioting would simply be resonating with the dominant messaging, rather than counter-acting it.

Sir Arthur Stre...
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Aug 16 2011 10:36

Clearly they do have a right to speak, but lets not make this discussion about ICC, again.

The comparison with France 2005 is interesting, especially what came after - The anti CPE movement. Perhaps we should be looking at that response and what went right/wrong. I know very little about what happened so perhaps other posters can enlighten.

The events of last week are not worth too much debate in my mind, what has happened happened and I am sure we can all agree that the riots were sparked by a combination of police murder and social inequality. If anyone on here is seriously suggesting that this was just 'criminality, pure and simple' then they should be ignored just as we ignore mainstream hysteria. However, whatever you think of looting it is surely not worth the deaths of 4 people and the burning of many homes.

It is vital to any libertarian communist to be able to prove that people can run their own lives and communities and that the lack of hierarchical power does not create a mob.

We've seen in the last few days, indeed months, that the apparatus provided by the state will not protect us. The trust between communities and the police must be at some kind of low, both through their brutal murders and their total inability to defend people from arson and theft. The judiciary are overturning normal procedure and jailing as many people as quickly as possible and the government will surely continue with it's aggressive attack on working people. Infact every indication coming from the government is that they will pursue a line of policy completely at odds with the real situation, i.e. the riots were caused by moral weakness and therefore we need better discipline, national service, bring in zero-tolerance policing etc etc. This approach will surely lead to worse conditions than before as they attempt to address problems through brute force.
Therefore what I think we should be doing is to strengthen communities so that local people are able to fight back, both against the government and the events we have just seen.
Remember folks! Solidarity is a weapon and it is something sadly lacking in our current society. Though actually the riotcleanup crew is solidarity, it's a good thing that happened and while I understand the sneers from the left its not what is needed right now.

Sir Arthur Stre...
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Aug 16 2011 10:40
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I admit it's not a terrain I am comfortable with, but there is something there in one case. That is, that the only aspect of "moral degradation" the right can point to, is the supposed "lack of respect for authority". Whereas the possibility of a progressive erosion of values of social solidarity, respect for the well-being of the collectivity, care for others, etc. in favour of a selfish, "stop at nothing" grasping materialist acquisitiveness, is not a direction they can go for fear of re-directing the critique back on to the effects of capitalism itself. Yet, to take a concrete example, the recklessness of setting fire to a building with residences on the higher floors - is this really a failure to respect authority, or more a failure to care for the safety of others? Clearly it is the latter, so the current discourse of the right on "moral breakdown" at the moment is a case of "bait and switch". Here there may well be arguments to be made.

Thats a very interesting point. If we are to build solidarity amongst communities then perhaps addressing this lack of 'social morals' is a good place to start.

I don't think morals should be used as extensively as the right does, but it is certainly something to highlight.

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Aug 16 2011 10:54

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1455763_suspected-arson-attack-at-home-of-man-accused-of-setting-fire-to-miss-selfridge-store-during-manchester-riots

Arson attack on the home of the man accused of burning the Miss Selfridge in Manchester.

The old 'innocent until proven guilty' lie has clearly gone out the window. Now it's 'innocent until your name appears in the paper'.

Mark.
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Aug 16 2011 11:03

.

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miles
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Aug 16 2011 11:05

I agree with ocelot and SAS - there are questions of morality, both proletarian and bourgeios that come out of this. I also agree that the basic issue of solidarity amongst the working class is one that hasn't really been addressed so far. I referred in my last post to the Branscombe Bay looting and I want to quote demogorgon303 from that thread, as his commment seems very pertinent to the points raised in these last few posts:

Quote:
How does picking over wreckage at a beach advance the class consciousness of a fighting working class? The scenes are reminscent of the working class's earliest history: one of vagabondage, brutalisation and moral degradation. We spent several hundred years fighting against the impositions of capitalism that turned the early industrial proletarian areas into sinkholes of crime and misery, with our ancestors fighting like rats in a sewer.

They rose themselves above this by developing the most basic elements of solidarity, by declaring "thieves beware", and organising in their own defence.

The whole reason the bourgeosie is giving this such coverage is because they know exactly that it is this kind of behaviour that undermines class solidarity. It's their opportunity to say "look at the masses in action", "woe to human nature", etc.

This doesn't mean revolutionaries have to simply say the opposite of the bourgeois moralists. Class conscious minorities should be pointing out that this is not the revolutionary activity of a "working class", rather that this degradation is a product of the moral erosion of humanity brought about by the pernicious effects of commodity production and alienation, the system that these moralists defend.

This is not a minor issue. The conduct of the proletariat demonstrates its contradictory position in society: on the one hand, it represents the most concentrated loss of humanity as its early nature demonstrated. On the other, its anger and fury at its fate drives it to reconquer its humanity, expressed in solidarity and class struggle.

Mark.
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Aug 16 2011 11:19
ocelot wrote:
On my way back from Aveyron I stopped off with an anarchist comrade in Paris and naturally we were discussing the riots and the mediatised discussions in their aftermath. His position was that the left in general, and anarchists in particular, have a tendency to avoid certain discourses because of their associations with those of the enemy. In this case, the discourse of the progressive moral breakdown of society.

I suppose the article linked to by bootsy has a go at this kind of discourse:

bootsy wrote:
This article was written by an ex-member of the IWCA who now lives in New Zealand.
Lurch
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Aug 16 2011 13:47

Cantdocartwheels wrote (on the ALARM thread)

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“I think its a good statement, i'm in both alarm and solfed, and as solfed found out you're never going to write the perfect statement that appeals to everyone so while we should always engage critically i think nitpicking is a bit silly, anyone who has sense knows politics isn;t based on perfectly worded statements.”

Perhaps with the exception of the shopkeepers bit, I can’t see a substantive difference between the SolFed, ALARM, ICT or ICC statements. They all go in the same direction. Unless you want to nitpick... Perhaps a case of not what’s being said but who’s saying it.

Spikeymike said:

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“Mass looting is objectively against commodity society.”

It is? That’s the nub of the discussion we’re not having.

Spikeymike said:

Quote:
“but pro-revolutionaries cannot stand in condemnation of fellow workers in struggle (even if we are critical) and especially given the current vengefull onslaught from the whole capitalist establishment.

Agreed. But who’s condemning ‘fellow workers’ in struggle’? A criticism of the aims and methods of a struggle isn’t a condemnation. It’s what the class as a whole, and “pro-revolutionaries” in particular are supposed to do.

Cantodocartwheels wrote:

Quote:
Anyways a week later, 3000 arrests later and you still want to go around condemning people...”

Well I’ve looked at this particular statement yet again and I don’t find any condemnation of “people”. I see a very vibrant condemnation of bourgeois society, and a practical critique about riots in general, and of recent events in particular, as methods which can bring the working class together and make an effective attack on capital. But “condemning” people (ie the ‘rioters’ or ‘looters’). Nah.

SolFed wrote:

Quote:
“But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted...”

So I should accuse you of “wanting to go around condemning people?” I don’t and I won’t. But it’s a bit rich, when some folks are discussing the possibility (or maybe, the reality?) of different youth “gangs” putting aside their differences to face the feds that so called “revolutionaries” who are saying essentially the same thing (without ‘nitpicking’, of course) can’t even approach a semblance of solidarity; can’t – in your case - for one fucking instant, in the face of the biggest bourgeois backlash in a generation, put aside their tribal colours.

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ocelot
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Aug 16 2011 14:53
Mark. wrote:
[...]
I suppose the article linked to by bootsy has a go at this kind of discourse:
bootsy wrote:
This article was written by an ex-member of the IWCA who now lives in New Zealand.

Hmm. Well quite apart from my personal alienation from the "Socialist Worker meets Daily Mail" political themes of the IWCA & the Reds, that article also begins with the following gem.

Quote:
The economic policies of the governments during the same period have seen a total embracing of the doctrines of neo-liberalism. Despite its relatively small role in GDP, the finance and banking sector has been held up as the key to Britain’s future success. Of course, it is only the people in these sectors who gain from this.

Which is economically illiterate. For ref, see the latest Blue Book 2010 Part 2, Ch 2 "The industrial analyses at a glance from Table 2.1"

Quote:
An analysis of the 11 broad industrial sectors shows that in 2008 the financial intermediation and other business services sector provided the largest contribution to gross value added at current basic prices, at £420 billion out of a total of £1,295.7 billion (32.4 per cent). The distribution and hotels sector contributed 14.2 per cent; the education, health and social work sector accounted for 13.1 per cent; and the manufacturing sector 11.6 per cent.

I don't have to hand the employment % figures, but a fairly hefty chunk of the workforce is also engaged in this (hugely over-inflated) sector - and by that I mean ordinary workers, not the small minority of financial predators with their snouts in the multi-million bonuses trough.

I know it's a side issue, but I wish left(ish) commentators would check their basic economic facts first before coming out with capitalist conspiracy factoids.

edit: the figures for % employment are in Table 2.5 of the Blue Book (link above) and the figures are (in thousands, latest 2009): SIC J-K "Financial intermediation;
real estate, renting & business activities" 6,598 of Total 30,997, being ~ 21% of the employed workforce. In summary, a third of GDP and a fifth of the workforce is employed in the FIRE sector.

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Aug 16 2011 15:37

http://rt.com/programs/keiser-report/keiser-herbert-british-justice/

wojtek
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Aug 16 2011 16:56

The Guardian's Paul Lewis gives his first-hand account:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/12/uk-riots-paul-lewis-five-day-journey?CMP=twt_gu

An interesting passage regarding people's willingness to consider the safety of others.

Quote:
'So why did the English riots of 2011 stop? Police chiefs will argue their strategy, which took three days to formulate, of flooding the streets with riot officers, proved a significant deterrence. The fact police numbers were bolstered by people determined to protect their own streets must also have had an impact, as did the rain.

But there was also a social pressure at work, and it came from the very same "culture" that David Cameron has blamed for the riots.

I spoke to parents who said they had persuaded their children to stay indoors, and young people who had held back their friends from taking part.

Even in the midst of the seeming immorality of rioting without a cause, there were signs of a moral compass, with young men trying to rein back others they felt were going too far.'

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Aug 16 2011 17:33

I wonder what role the protection rackets Turkish shopkeepers pay gangs for played in the 'vigilante' 'community' defence of local shops in, eg, Green Lanes, nrth London? http://gangsinlondon.blogspot.com/2011/03/londons-mafia-history-of-turkish.html

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Aug 16 2011 19:43

Two men in Chester have been jailed for FOUR YEARS for 'inciting violence through facebook'. Both posted invitations to riot on facebook. Neither group resulted in an actual riot or even any disorder at all. The second man removed the post the next morning and said it was a joke. Yet he still got four years.

Makes me fucking sick. Surely they know it'll all end in more riots? Surely they can't be that short-sighted?

mons
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Aug 16 2011 20:07

Arbeiten: I know this reply is 5 days late but I just read it,

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I just wasn't sure by your first post whether it was you saying you believe looters are also muggers, or whether you think other people think looters are also muggers.

Also, I think it is worth pursuing this further. What is a mugger? do these people actually recognize the people who mugged them as also looters (then, fair enough), or is it just some shite condescending prejudice based on what inner city working class youth look like. If it is the latter kind, then I don't have much sympathy. It's that same attitude that has been a contributing factor to this in the first place. police sees a kid, 'oh he/she looks like a mugger', lets stop search him/her.

I meant I know (cos we grew up together, were friends and still occasionally see each other) a couple of the people involved, and they do mug people and worse on a day-to-day basis. But yeah, I definitely get your general point.

All the sentencing is really grim.

Baronarchist
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Aug 16 2011 20:23
Auto wrote:
http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1455763_suspected-arson-attack-at-home-of-man-accused-of-setting-fire-to-miss-selfridge-store-during-manchester-riots

Arson attack on the home of the man accused of burning the Miss Selfridge in Manchester.

The old 'innocent until proven guilty' lie has clearly gone out the window. Now it's 'innocent until your name appears in the paper'.

Or it proves that if the ruling classes and media single out a human as the enemy, it'll be restricted to an article in a local paper if their home comes under attack.

If a large corporate chain store (which hoovers the profits from a community anyway) get it's sweatshop-made goods taken, it's a fucking travesty of unfathomable proportions.

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Aug 16 2011 21:29

Sorry for the derail, but...

ocelot wrote:
I know it's a side issue, but I wish left(ish) commentators would check their basic economic facts.... economically illiterate....

The article referred to the relative size of the Finance & Banking sector. This is classified within the Blue Book as Financial Intermediation (i.e. banks, hedge funds etc..).

If you look at section 2.3 on Page 104 of the document you linked to, you will see that the Gross Value Added of the Financial Intermediation sector in 2008 was £116.8bn which amounts to 9.0% of the total. This is slightly more than say the £93.7bn (7.2%) that was added by the Health & Social work sector, but a great deal less than the £420bn (32%) which relates to a much wider category than just banking & financial intermediation

Your numbers for employment also includes other categories that do not belong specifically to the financial intermediation, however the Blue Book doesn't break these down any further so the actual number employed in Financial Intermediation can't be identified from this information. However other estimates put the number at just over a million this and this for example . So instead of Financial Intermediation making up a third of GDP and a fifth of the workforce as you suggested, it's actually 9% of GDP and 3.5% of the workforce.

If you're going to accuse others of being economically illiterate and being ignorant of the facts you should perhaps make sure your own facts (and attention to detail) are in order before doing so (which does require going beyond the somewhat misleading summaries and category classifications shown in the beginning of the blue book chapters)

Any political points to make about, or substantive engagement with, the article itself - or is this all there is?

Baronarchist
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Aug 16 2011 22:05
Auto wrote:
Two men in Chester have been jailed for FOUR YEARS for 'inciting violence through facebook'. Both posted invitations to riot on facebook. Neither group resulted in an actual riot or even any disorder at all. The second man removed the post the next morning and said it was a joke. Yet he still got four years.

Makes me fucking sick. Surely they know it'll all end in more riots? Surely they can't be that short-sighted?

Jesus, there is dark times ahead. At least the Mail will be happy.

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Aug 16 2011 22:12
Arbeiten wrote:
I'm reading it pretty carefully (a little bit more annoyed that you have suggested I didn't the first time), and I would still argue that that distinction is not made firm enough (if at all). Even so, given the structure of a 'gang' (of which I don't claim to be an expert), is everyone in the gang from the small runners at the bottom to the guys at the top etc, etc all equally bagged in scummary? Do we know how much organized gang activity influenced these riots? Or are we making the horrible mistake of presuming this happened in the city - there are gangs in the city = therefore it was perpetrated by gangs. This is a difficult issue and i don't think we should be involved in blind piñata blame stick waving. There were certainly gang elements involved, but as wojtek's post shows, the inter-gang violence was side lined for the larger picture*. That seems to me like the largest problem with gang violence, is that they kill and maim one and other. If that is sidelined then I don't see this is a particularly blaring gang issue?

I had hoped that people on this board would ease off on the scum language (apart from when talking about Tories of course, who are all equally filthy c**ts from top to bottom).

*and we can moan about what we thought about the larger picture all we want. I personally think that is a bit of a blind alley because, whatever this was, it was massively disparate and contradictory.

Firstly, you did misread my post. You said "I find it ten times more irritating, actually infuriating, when people call these people 'scumbags'.", referring to the rioters in general, in response to a comment I made referring specifically to the rioting "gangland scumbags". If you don't think that the term "gangland scumbags" is specific enough as a reference to gangs, well....

The rest of the post is unrelated to anything I've ever said here.

ernie
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Aug 16 2011 23:50

Proletarian

Thanks for linking up the video: it was fascinating to watch the discussion unfold. Interesting that the police broke it up at one point, but then it carried on. Several people made the point about some kids not knowing how to articulate their anger and rage and just exploding. An interesting point was made that hip hop expresses this immediate rage. Comrades who have not watched should because it give you a lot to think about. The last few minutes are particularly interesting because there is a sort of agreed conclusion that the riots were a reflection of a much wider inter-generational anger about deteriorating conditions.

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Aug 17 2011 00:31

Rap responds to the riots: 'They have to take us seriously'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/aug/12/rap-riots-professor-green-lethal-bizzle-wiley

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Aug 17 2011 02:39

As you liked that one earnie here's another, though this one's more of a rant. A good rant though.

These riots have sparked quite a lot of further discussion, something which has been building I think.

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Aug 17 2011 07:58
Lurch wrote:

Perhaps with the exception of the shopkeepers bit, I can’t see a substantive difference between the SolFed, ALARM, ICT or ICC statements. They all go in the same direction.

i was referring to baboons comments in the thread which irritated me and reminded me of being surrounded by sp'ers barely defending anything while people came over and told us thieves shoud be hanged, anyways i'm more interested in what people are doing than what tehy're saying, so meh

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Aug 17 2011 07:58
proletarian. wrote:
As you liked that one earnie here's another, though this one's more of a rant. A good rant though.

These riots have sparked quite a lot of further discussion, something which has been building I think.

That man is a legend.

I think that the government is tailoring their responses to the percieved 'public mood'. But from some of the videos and comments I've seen appearing online, things aren't as clear cut as they think...

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Aug 17 2011 10:24
oisleep wrote:
Sorry for the derail, but...
ocelot wrote:
I know it's a side issue, but I wish left(ish) commentators would check their basic economic facts.... economically illiterate....

The article referred to the relative size of the Finance & Banking sector. This is classified within the Blue Book as Financial Intermediation (i.e. banks, hedge funds etc..).

If you look at section 2.3 on Page 104 of the document you linked to, you will see that the Gross Value Added of the Financial Intermediation sector in 2008 was £116.8bn which amounts to 9.0% of the total. This is slightly more than say the £93.7bn (7.2%) that was added by the Health & Social work sector, but a great deal less than the £420bn (32%) which relates to a much wider category than just banking & financial intermediation

Your numbers for employment also includes other categories that do not belong specifically to the financial intermediation, however the Blue Book doesn't break these down any further so the actual number employed in Financial Intermediation can't be identified from this information. However other estimates put the number at just over a million this and this for example . So instead of Financial Intermediation making up a third of GDP and a fifth of the workforce as you suggested, it's actually 9% of GDP and 3.5% of the workforce.

If you're going to accuse others of being economically illiterate and being ignorant of the facts you should perhaps make sure your own facts (and attention to detail) are in order before doing so (which does require going beyond the somewhat misleading summaries and category classifications shown in the beginning of the blue book chapters)

Heh. Out-geeked. We could argue about the stats (and you're right, this is a total de-rail, but then I started it, so mea culpa) - i.e. about the % of the insurance, real estate and business services (i.e. legal firms, consultants, etc) are actually dependent on the finance sector (and walking through the CBDs of London, Leeds or Edinbuirgh and looking what's in those buildings gives an unscientific but not necessarily invalid impression) - but that could get very tedious very quickly. But even on your minimalist figures, the idea that 10% of GDP corresponds to "a relatively small proportion of GDP" is questionable. My basic point stands, your statement of departure, in terms of the current makeup of the UK economy, is ideological and flies in the face of the facts.

oisleep wrote:
Any political points to make about, or substantive engagement with, the article itself - or is this all there is?

I dunno, there's so many things. I don't want to do a line-by-line, but there's a couple of other sentences at the outset, that leap out.

Quote:
Riots almost only occur in societies that are in crisis.

That's highly debateable (unless you fall back on circularity, i.e. that mass public disorder is itself an element of social crisis). Riots are a long British tradition. In fact I knew a comrade back in the 1980s who was so outraged by the statement of a London top copper (after the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots, as it happens) that "this violent rioting and disorder is foreign to our traditions" (translation: it's these black animals that are the cause of the problem) that he intended to write a pamphlet on "The Great British Riot". Sadly never completed. But from a historical perspective, to say that riots only occur in societies in crisis means that for most of its history Britain has been a society permanently in crisis, which kinda evacuates the concept of crisis. Ditto for the implied contention in the article that this is a sign of the decay brought about by Thatcherism and the neo-liberal revolution. The riotous mob with looting and all its other "carnival of the oppressed" characteristics, have been with us for a lot longer than neo-liberalism.

from that IWCA quote

Quote:
once a lumpen mentality is allowed to take root over a generation or more, a pattern is set seemingly for other socio/ political relationships too. In place of civic pride, community spirit, or basic empathy and solidarity (none of which have any place in their world) there is instead an over-developed sense of individual entitlement combined with a perverse pride in subverting a core socialist tenet: ‘you only take out exactly what you’ve put in’. It follows that outside of what affects them directly as individuals or maybe immediate family there is a malign indifference. After all what is society to them, or they to society? All told, the corrupting consequences of the no-work ethic appear to be numerous and hardwired.

Obviously ‘you only take out exactly what you’ve put in’ is only a "core tenant of socialism" if you're a Proudhonist or a Lassallean. Both Marx and Kropotkin would have rejected that outright. It certainly is not going to accepted by any libertarian communist. Beyond that, overall the statement is a key example of the kind of leftist Daily Mail tendency I mentioned. That is, a nostalgia for an identitarian notion of "proper British working class culture and values" that never really existed. The very project of the moral reconstruction of the class-as-positive-identity with "proper" values (presumably a work ethic to negate that nasty "no-work ethic") is imo reactionary and shades towards the Melanie Phillips view of society.

But these are details. To balance things out a bit, there are of course many things I agree with in the article, e.g.

Quote:
Whilst, as I have argued, there are political, economic and social reasons behind why riots happen, riots themselves explode out of nowhere, triggered by a particular incident. Riots are by their very nature contradictory and incoherent. They are both political in one sense and apolitical in another. The anger that they encapsulate is against all authority but at the same time, because of their nature they are not able to articulate anything better. That is why they are so unpredictable. Riots produce a negative rage, which is capable of destroying everything in their path.

We have to be very careful about praising riots just because they are seen as fighting against the state. They happen at a juncture where society is sharply divided between classes but they can also foreshadow a future where things just get worse. Riots express the anger of individuals; revolutions express the anger of the whole working class.

But on the economics side, the foundations remind me very much of the problems with orthodox Marxists analyses such as that given by Magdfoff and Foster in "The Great Financial Crisis". The economy of the nation state still appears as an island and neoliberalism less an evolution of the capitalist world-system than a set of malicious social policies applied on a national level by a capitalist coterie of evil-doers. Of course this model of neoliberalism is convenient for the nostalgics of Keynesian social-democracy ("end the dominance of the unproductive financial speculator-parasites!", "bring back manufacturing jobs, unions and proper working class pride in labour!", etc, etc, ad nauseam...) because if a thing can be done by national government policy alone, then it can equally be undone by electing a anti-neoliberal government to bring back social-democracy. This parochial focus on the (western) nation state as the exclusive locus of struggle is increasingly unsustainable in a globalised world.

On the political/social side, I find the reiteration of the IWCA focus on "drug dealers and gangsterism" as the source of social ills (even if those ills are couched in the terms of the decomposition of the class) resonates too much with the current Tory discourse on blaming social alienation of the excluded, alienated and dispossessed on "the evil disease of gang culture". It's also too reminiscent of the various groups of "dissident" republicans in Ireland, seeking to find a social function via an "anti-drugs" campaign of beating up dope dealers and burning down "legal high" shops. Class war it ain't. Also, like a lot of AFA vets, I always found it somewhat ironic given the historical links between the Reds and a certain Manchester clan (who in fact have been in the news in relation to these riots - google "uk riots" + name, for e.g.). But anyway...

Mark.
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Aug 17 2011 11:45

It's maybe worth mentioning that urban75 has a long thread on the original IWCA article.

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Arbeiten
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Aug 17 2011 14:00

Gerostock I think you are completely ignorant of what you mean by 'gangland scumbags', why don't you go and do some research before spouting your bourgeois garbage. Oh no, the working class get together in alternative economies and alternative value systems and create structures out side of the mainstream boo hoo. As I said, 'gangs' are complex phenomena and 'gangland scum' seems to be shorthand for 'My name is Trees 'R' May and I don't know what I'm talking about'. Your reply was quite frankly a bit of an embarrassment.....

I think right now we should look at the way the state is responding to this. There has been night raids, people are getting evicted from their homes and doing years in prison for creating facebook groups. Cameron the other day spoke about the 'chilling' effects of 'human rights culture' and is talking about repealing some human rights legislation. This seems to me to be my big gripe with the riots. It isn't so much what they 'mean', what they 'represent' or what they ontologically are, I'm more concerned with the states response. They are using the fear and the populism created around these riots to push through some nasty policy initiatives.

Also, I went to a meeting in Tottenham the other day and they were talking about setting together some support group around all the people who have been arrested, when more information is available I will let you know.

Sir Arthur Stre...
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Aug 17 2011 15:01

A lot of the convictions being handed down have more to do with setting an example, rather than individual cases. This is a disturbing departure from standard judicial principles where normally each case is treated as an individual event.
Especially with the 2 men sentenced for creating riot events on facebook where the punishment has been decided based on what could have happened taking into account the other events taking place elsewhere.
Suspects have been treated in a very different manner than they normally would be, basically being rushed through court as quickly as possible meaning that defendants cannot prepare a defence and in many cases they do not know what they are being tried for until they take the stand.

While I understand the obvious bias of a bourgeois court, I would at least expect to be given a decent shot at defending myself in a UK court. Over the last few days, this has not been the case for many defendants

A precedent has been set where high profile cases can be treated differently than low profile ones. In other words the next protest which turns 'violent' should expect to be met with the same kind of sham trials. Also expect protests relating to the Olympics to be treated like this, because the events are high profile and it would be 'embarrassing' to Londons image.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 17 2011 15:18

Someone just got a 12 month ban on social media and narrowly avoided prison for merely expressing support for the rioters on a facebook status. His friends called him an idiot and he deleted it, but the police still arrested him. Like i've no illusions in bourgeois justice, but fuck it turns into Iran at the drop of a hat. Imagine what it would be like in the face of actual deep social unrest?