Friday Ephemera
Small Diversions

Causes, More Causes and the Politics of Trainers

Further to this, some post-riot rumination. Of variable quality.

First up, Daniel Hannan on criminal opportunism:

Potential criminals will always outnumber police officers. Law enforcement works on the theory that not all potential criminals will go on a spree at the same moment – just as banking rests on the assumption that we won’t all simultaneously withdraw our deposits. When potential criminals realise that the forces of order are overstretched – during a blackout, for example, or in the aftermath of a natural disaster – looting usually follows. What happened earlier this week was that potential criminals made precisely such a calculation. The trigger was not a power cut or an earthquake, but the television images of police in Tottenham standing by while shops were plundered. Even the dimmest hoodie was capable of making a cost-benefit analysis. If the police were unwilling to defend property on one London high street, they would be quite overwhelmed by more widespread disorder. All that was needed was numbers and, thanks to Blackberry and Twitter, numbers could now be concentrated.

Next, Theodore Dalrymple on dependence and degeneracy:

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor - quite likely - any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognise this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.

And finally, here’s a podcast of the BBC’s World Tonight, in which Laurie Penny offers her “intelligent analysis.” 

The comedy starts around ten minutes in, shortly after one self-declared rioter says he wants “more things for the community” and “less tax.” The same gentleman also thinks the police should have “more power” to “clamp down” on rioters… i.e., on people such as himself. I kid you not. Swollen with righteousness and keen to interrupt, Laurie tells us, “there’s been no attempt to understand” the rioters, which is a typically bold and puzzling statement, not least given the acreage of commentary attempting to do precisely that. Ms Penny also tells us that what frightens her isn’t the delinquent nihilism, the mugging of children or the attempts to burn people in their homes, but the use of the word “feral” to describe the people doing so. It seems we, not the rioters, are the ignorant ones. “Violence,” she repeats, “is rarely ever mindless.” And so, if your home or business was burned to the ground by people who don’t have an explanation for why they did it, besides it being “a laugh” and an opportunity to steal or smash your stuff, then you really should try harder to understand our society’s “social divisions.” And do please note the implied redefinition of the word understand, which now means agree with Laurie Penny.

“Nicking trainers,” Laurie tells us, is a sign of “desperation” and “a political statement.”