Why are Western Riots Happening?

Russell Brand has been surprising me of late, specifically in his writings about Amy Winehouse and now his opinion piece in The Guardian about the London Riots. I feel I have to take him much more seriously than I have been.

His piece on the London Riots is bang-on. More so than most erudite intellectuals in the press will ever grasp. Here is just a portion of his spot-on commentary:

Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.

If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

–Russell Brand, The Guardian

I’m braced for a future in which riots are more common, and more violent, than they’ve ever been.

We’re at a turning point in this world of ours. We’re on the verge of Alvin Toffler’s fanciful future, and we’re not receiving what we were sold.

Technology hasn’t made our lives easier. It hasn’t increased employment opportunities, it’s doing the opposite. We have economic upheaval the world over. Food shortages are everywhere. There’s no sense of community in the western world anymore.

There’s a haves/have-nots divide greater than ever, and with more media around us than any point in history, that reality is being driven home, hard, in every newscast and throughout the web.

The real news stories about real people leading troubled lives and feeling disenfranchised, where are those? There are none. If you’re not eating $25 plates in the restaurants, gallivanting through the social scene to be seen, then you might as well be invisible. The media sure as fuck doesn’t want to write or talk about you.

After much of a decade lived with reduced income — as often by choice as by necessity — I can tell you the anger and jealousy one feels at seeing all the pretty people with all the pretty toys isn’t reserved only for Angry Young Men. The feeling of being excluded is also not only their lot.

The divide is growing, and politicians today seem to encourage that divide.

The anger is not dissipating. The community is not healing. It will not.

This world is locked in a losing battle against spirituality, community, and togetherness. It isn’t THERE anymore. There’s a declining sense of ethical responsibility for our fellow humans.

Add to that the changing economies, the losses on the jobs fronts, the increase in retail jobs that underpay people, and escalating costs of living, ever-increasing taxes with less to show for them, and it’s a wonder we don’t see more rage in the populace.

The London Riots are a harrowing potential turning point.

Politicians of the world need to wake the fuck up.

Corporations have no soul, and to continue pandering to the millionaires and the upper classes will leave politicians gasping as the Forgotten Citizens start realizing we have more power than we’ve been led to believe.

And god help us if those realizing it are devoid of ethics and don’t give a shit about the law.

Remember the French Revolution? Everything changed in three years. The monarchy fell and it spread across Europe. It only took three years because they didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, et al. Those revolutions changed the known world for the following two centuries.

And times are ripe for change again.

I don’t agree with the riots. I’m radically opposed to them. I loathe the destruction, violence, and crass behaviour.

But maybe the day is coming when it’s the only way those in power will listen.

When every politician is barely a change on the last, what’s the point of putting faith in ballot boxes?

London is the canary in the societal coalmine. The change-train is a-comin’. You better get onboard.

I know I’m fed up. I’m angry. And I’m pushing 40, smart, have everything I theoretically need in life… but I’m angry, too. My “fuck that” schtick on Twitter isn’t actually a schtick. I’m really that bitter about much of life today.

It’s a simmering pot of discontent, this big ol’ world of ours, and I fear the day it boils over.

What’s the solution? It’s not on Wall Street. That much, I know.

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