Riots

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I find it interesting that there are so many views of the rioting in the UK. Consider this:

They (sic) key to understanding why people riot is not poverty–it is injustice.  When people feel that their suffering is not their fault or bad luck, but is being imposed on them by the entire social structure being tilted against them, they get angry.  They may seethe quietly, or feel despondent for long periods.  But they also feel the need to strike out, should an opportunity arise.  Violence allows those who feel powerless to gain a sense of empowerment.  Looting allows people who feel betrayed by the system to seize a bit back.  A provocation (stories of police killing an innocent child or man from the neighborhood) can unleash a firestorm of protest, and a weak police response can encourage people to indulge their desires to ‘strike back’ against the system, unleashing wave after wave of opportunistic looting and destruction (something similar also occurred in the banlieu riots in the immigrant suburbs of Paris in 2005.) –Source

But here is an entirely different view:

The best question is not “why weren’t these kids taught better?” but, rather, “where are their parents now?”  True, there are lots of kids that are morally and intellectually mature enough not to engage in lawless, disrespectful behavior.  But there are many that are not (and often it is hard for parents to distinguish the difference).  What kids need more than moral reasoning are real constraints on their behavior.  These come from parents, schools, law enforcement, churches, and other institutions.

There have always been and always will be rebellious kids.  Liberal, morally permissive societies get more rebellion; authoritarian societies get less.  How does a liberal society both value freedom and autonomy yet keep its youth in line?  Simple.  By recognizing that adolescents are not morally mature adults and, therefore, they must be subject to constraints and be subject to authority of adults and adult institutions.   The scary thing is that even the best parents cannot exert moral authority all by themselves.  As Hillary says, it takes a village.  Sadly, most of our villages in the Western world are seriously screwed up. – Source

Hmm. These views aren’t totally contradictory. After thinking about this a bit, I see the following facts as significant:

  • The rioters are teenagers.
  • Teenagers always see the world as unjust and themselves as aggrieved.

So, the key question is: where are the parents? My guess is that they are reluctant to act because of the severe nature of British child welfare laws.

Riots – another triumph of progressive politics and the welfare state!

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