After four nights of looting and violence like many other people in our society I'm angry. Very angry. My anger is directed at the people who are responsible for what has been described as mindless vandalism. Not just those who were directly responsible, but those who are really responsible for the crisis we are in. These real villains are the people I've been talking about in many posts on this blog for the past 3 years or so. The people who have imposed 30 years of Thatcherism on our society. The people who said they were going to make us better off when they knew damn well that most of us were going to end up poorer. These people are the privatisers, the deregulators, the people who have taken our pensions away whilst supporting bankers bonuses, the ones who pocketed the profits whilst the losses were being nationalised, the 'free' market fanatics who worship the winner-takes-all, beggar-my-neighbour capitalist economy which puts us all in thrall to the market.
We used to have a reasonable balance in this society. We used to believe in the public sector and the public good. Not any more. People have been seduced by the glitzy worship of celebrity and consumerism that has been rammed down our throats. Private good, public bad. The wanton destruction of good honest public institutions that served to public good. Those institutions weren't perfect. They had their faults. They needed improvement. But they were a bloody sight better than their profit-driven private sector replacements. I look back with nostalgia at British Rail. Yes it was tatty but that is because it was starved of investment. It was a damn sight better than the crowded 'luxury' cattle wagons we are crammed into nowadays at exorbitant prices whilst the likes of Richard Branson trouser millions of pounds worth profit every year.
The phenomenon we have witnessed in the past few days is the result of the chickens of Thatcherism coming home to roost. The underclasses have learnt the lesson from their betters in society - if its there for the taking - take it. The looting is the mirror image of the behaviour of the bankers and politicians. The bankers have looted our society to the tune of hundreds of billions and now the so called "feral rats" are taking their share from Top Shop and JD Sports to the tune of hundreds of millions. The difference is that the "rats" will end up in gaol. But what about the bankers and their politician chums? The message to society is - "If you wear a suit you can go out and loot" - with impunity.
I have seen some very good comments about what has been happening, particularly in today's Guardian letters and I just wanted to finish by quoting this wonderfully perceptive comment from Rick Osborn:
"While we all must condemn the violence and looting of recent nights, we must not allow those who lead our society to duck their roles in the conditions leading up to it. We find members of parliament fiddling expenses and only some of that deemed illegal. We see bankers plundering the public purse to cover their incompetence and still receiving ridiculous bonuses. Members of the press, that bulwark of our freedoms, pay criminals to get them stories and some of those criminals are members of the police force. Meanwhile what happens to the law-abiding, decent citizens whom we would like our young people to become? They are told that they must pay more for their pensions, have certain health procedures denied to them, pay more for food, fuel and housing, and probably get made redundant to boot. Our young people are not fools. They see quite clearly that in modern Britain, being good brings no rewards; on the contrary, it is punished."