London? Yes, London!

Looking at the rampage and looting in London, I can’t help but think of the Ljubljana student riots last year. Compared to what is going on in the British capital, rioting in Ljubljana was a walk in the park, but remembering how appalled pengovsky was after chairs, stones and bottles were being throw above his head into the parliament building and riot police, I can relate to the many Londoners’ outrage at the senseless violence that engulfed the city.


Now, it should be clear that – as far as pengovsky gets it – there was a legitimate reason for protests which then spiralled out of control into thuggery and violence. The police shooting of a suspect in Tottenham, regardless of whether it was justified or not, is never peanuts. And if the community feels that police handling of the situation was to an extent racist, this is not something to be brushed aside.

Secondly, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to put the rioting next to the recession which is apparently following the worst possible scenario. I submit to you that something along the lines of what we’ve seen in the past few days would be virtually impossible prior to, say, 2008. People, who did not benefit from the economic upswing of the past decades have zero incentive to care about anything save their immediate benefit when times get dire. Add to that the dose of revenge and a bleak future ahead and you can see how we come to a situation where the very fabric of the society disintegrates on 24/7 news. (hat tip to @multikultivator for the last two links)

However, having said that, I should point out that while the initial protests might have had legitimate grounds, anything beyond that point deserves nothing but some well directed police brutality. Minorities and/or socially excluded groups, that’s one thing. A lot needs to be done in that department all over Europe, London included. But teenagers and twenty-year-olds going out to have fun without any regard for property, dignity and fellow man (video via @AdriaanN) deserve nothing but a twice over with a baton and a long session in the courtroom.

But that’s where it should stop. I realise a lot of people are hurting and are enraged. But I must say I got the heebie-jeebies when I heard on the BBC that some people were thinking of bringing in the army. Please, don’t. You don’t want tanks on your streets, no matter how mad you are. As Bruce Willis put it in The Siege: “The Army is a broad sword, not a scalpel“.

I come from the part of the world where there was – not so long ago – plenty of army on the streets of its own accord. Indeed, even after Slovenia won the independence it took a while for the armed forces to retreat from the civilian life fully. The army, no matter how well meaning, doesn’t play by civilian rules. And it’s much easier to bring it to the streets than to take it off of them.

This thing will get sorted out. Maybe Dave and Boris will even be out of a job over it. But it should be solved using civilian means.


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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

10 thoughts on “London? Yes, London!”

  1. You’re really not making any sense here. Students in Ljubljana protested against socialist government – no shop was looted, no window was broken (except on the parliament) and no ordinary people were hurt. Stones were thrown only in the direction of the parliament.

    It is like saying that terrorism is the same as military intervention. Violence is not the way but if directed towards government, military, and police – it has to be more legitimate then if directed toward the innocent. Otherwise there is no incentive to spare the innocent.

  2. Em, you got it backwards. The pretext for student riots in Ljubljana was the law on menial work which – if anything – was not socialist enough (for the record, I think the was a fairly good idea). Protesting against socialist government? Sheesh!

    The riots in Ljubljana were just as senseless as their London counterpart (minus the initial demo in Tottenham). However, I never said that the two were one at the same thing. In fact I said that Ljubljana was peanuts compared to London.

    However, as for looting is concerned: I wonder how many items that were brought from the nearby Mercator store in the middle of the riot were unpaid for 😀

    However, your second paragraph baffles me. Violence has to be *more* legitimate when directed against the state than against the innocent? So, you don’t need a reason to riot against the people but you need a reason to riot against the government.

    Anyway, my point was elsewhere: Regardless of how this thing in the UK evolves, the army is the last thing they’d want on their streets. Luckily, it seems that cooler heads have prevailed. For the time being, at least.

  3. Really? You saw abandoning totally flexible employment with 10% tax wedge and 0% unemployment rate and replacing it with regulated and heavily taxed alternative as liberal? One learns something new every day. I thought it was a major fuck-up. I would fix what is broken instead.

    As for legitimacy of violence my point was that attacking government and military targets is not the same as attacking civilians and the latter should be condemned stronger. Stoning parliament is not the way to go but it is better then stoning a civilian apartment building. The danger comes with the job.

  4. Oh, come on. If you really believe those kids were out there protesting against socialism, then you need to realign your reality sensors 🙂 Besides, what makes you think liberal is opposite of socialist? Why not conservative? Or social democratic? Really, you should stop thinking in out-out terms.

    Anyways, I don’t intend to debate a dead legislative initiative with you. Glad we cleared up what’s worse, stoning the parliament or innocent people, though. Although I’m not sure how many people run for office assuming they’ll have to wear helmets for protection.

  5. I wrote kids were protesting against socialist government, not socialism. As in “who is in power in Slovenia”. The main line of political division in modern western society is between wellfareism and statism vs. self reliance and individualism. That makes socialism and it’s derivates the political opposite of liberalism.

  6. Meh, you’re making a sophistic argument. If anything, they were protesting against the government. Period. But as I said at the time, whatever political agenda there was to the protests, it was overshadowed by pointless rioting.

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