Riots : when normal behaviour is meaningless.

Looking back at the Commune coverage of the riots.

Barry Biddulph suggests that we need to find a way to engage with the contradictory and elemental nature of  the recent riots.


Riots. We should have seen them coming. After all, the combustible material has been stacking up for some time. The majority of rioters who appeared in court were under 24, and from poor neighbourhoods. Strikingly: 41/% of suspects live in one of the top 10% of the most deprived places. [1] We already knew that in Hackney there are 22 claimants for every job. In Haringey, where Tottenham is located, there are 29  claimants for every vacancy. [2]  Youth unemployment  currently stands  at 949,000. [3] Add to these grim figures, the volatile mix of police harassment, affordable housing shortage, cuts in benefits,  resentment at bankers and parliamentary politicians robbing the tax payers, and what do we have? Alienation, and disaffection. As Naomi Klein put it in the Guardian,” When you rob people of what little they have, in order to protect the interests of those who have more than anyone deserves, you should expect resistance.”[4]

Even so, many on the left did not expect this resistance. Furthermore, they did not  like the look of it. The Socialist Party was particularly disgusted. In their opinion, it was a tragedy for small shop keepers, and devastating for working class communities. As if capitalism in crisis wasn’t. The SP leadership was worried about the lack of police numbers. The view of Peter Manson of the CPGB was that the riot targeted working-class people. In a moment of self-doubt, he mused that at one level, it was a collective rebellion but on balance it was without political content with anti social gangs having a moment of power. [5] But the rioters’ most comprehensive critic was  the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. The riot would have no positive effect. Indeed, it would have reactionary consequences. It would strengthen law and order, stimulate racism as well as alienate organised labour. [6] Continue reading “Riots : when normal behaviour is meaningless.”

why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?

Daniel Harvey gives a theoretical insight into the existential problem of relating to others as a revolutionary in a liberal society.

The old slogan of bourgeois entertainment, ‘But you must have seen this’, which just represented a swindle in the market place becomes a matter of deadly seriousness with the abolishment of amusements and the market alike. Formerly the supposed penalty was being unable to participate in what everyone else was talking about. Today, anyone who is unable to talk in the prescribed fashion, that is of effortlessly reproducing the formulas, conventions and judgments of mass culture as if they were his own is threatened in his very existence, suspected of being an idiot or an intellectual.

Adorno, ‘The Schema of Mass Culture’

What's missing?

One of the most misleading delusions we hold about ourselves is that there is some insoluble distinction between our public and our private selves. This illusion gives us the flattering idea that we are only forced to wear social masks, that underneath this persona that capitalist society forces us to adopt, there is some redeemable ‘real me’, who would be able to express themselves if only they were allowed to.  This distinction supposedly makes us unhappy and depressed, alienated even, and we feel it separates us from bonding with the people around us.  ‘Express yourself’ is now probably the most common advertising principle, and it’s a true testament to advertisers professional skill that they have made doing this seemingly very simple task so expensive. Some sad cases in the 60s took this and turned it into an entire new ‘self discovery’ industry.  The wealthy and bored go on long and expensive retreats to monasteries filled with Indian, so called, mystics, and then Louis Theroux made a documentary about it. Continue reading “why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?”