Why I Riot

People are saying I am just a violent hooligan, a mindless thug, a criminal, an anarchist. They’re saying I lack proper respect for authority and for people’s property. They say I am engaging in wanton destruction and causing mayhem just because I’m wicked. People are saying I am part of a small, criminally-minded minority who should be locked up. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am just a worthless piece of shit. Maybe I should be locked away forever, punished, excluded. But what do I really care what ‘people’ think?

There are reasons why I riot. You might not like them, but they’re mine.

I riot because I’m angry. Anger envelopes me like a blanket every day of my life. I’m angry because I’m poor, I’ve always been poor, and I know I will never be able to afford all those nice things people are supposed to have. I’m angry because my life is shit and I know it’s always going to be shit. I’m angry because I know that there’s no future for me; no one will ever give me a decent job or a hand-up in life. I will live in the same shitty housing that my family have always lived in, drawing down the same shitty benefits. I’m angry because I live in a shit place full of poverty, crime, vandalism, gangs, garbage, grime and neglect. Most days I take my anger out on myself; I engage in a wide and creative array of self-destructive behavior. But sometimes, like last night, I direct my anger outwards. I let my rage take over, and for a brief moment, I feel a profound sense of release.

I riot because I hate the police, and because I know that the police hate me. They’re racist and brutal, and they treat me like scum every day of my life, always coming around blaming me for everything bad that happens, harassing me when I walk down the street. I hate them because they think they’re God and they don’t have to answer to anyone for what they do. I hate them because they show me no respect. In a riot, you can fight back against the police; you can stand up to them and tell them how you really feel.

I riot because I am nobody, nothing, less than nothing. I am invisible, a ghost in this city, this country, this world. People don’t see me, and don’t give a shit about me or what’s going to happen to me. My parents don’t care, my teachers don’t care, the politicians don’t care, the police don’t care; no one gives a fuck about me and my life. If people do ever see me, they don’t really see me; they just see an anti-social, worthless, feral teenager; they see a danger to society, a threat to the peace. If no one cares about me, why should I care about anyone else?

I riot because no one ever listens to me. No one has ever really listened to me; nobody hears what I have to say. But when I riot, it seems the whole world stops and listens. My riot is my voice. It is the expression of my feelings, the sound of inarticulate rage which I cannot express any other way. I don’t expect anyone will understand what I’m saying, I cannot put it into nice words; but I feel the need to say it anyway. I have to let it out somehow, and right now, music, or drugs, or vandalism is not enough.

I riot because I feel powerless every day of my life. I’m not in control of what happens to me; other people are always deciding about my life, telling me what’s right for me – teachers, cops, social workers, pastors, politicians, media commentators. When I riot, I feel powerful, I feel in control. It may only last a few hours, but for those brief moments when I smash something or burn something, I feel like a free person in control of my own destiny. I feel like somebody. When I riot, I feel like a real man.

I riot because it is the most exciting thing that has happened to me in forever. It’s like being high, but way better: the adrenaline, the sheer thrill and terror of fighting with the police, burning shit down, smashing and stealing, running, hiding. What would I be doing otherwise? Watch the tellie? Studying? Hanging out with my friends on the corner? Smoking dope? Fuck off! This is so much better than the mind-numbing tedium of my regular life where I simply exist from day to day with nothing to look forward to. In my usual life, I am like the walking dead, a real zombie; there’s absolutely nothing exciting to do around here, especially when you have no money. I will live on this excitement for ages.

I riot because when I’m in a group with my friends, we sometimes egg each other on. I’ve done things with them that I would never have done on my own. It’s a group thing; I feel braver and stronger when we’re together. We try to impress each other; we give each other respect. It’s how I get my esteem, the only way I get some respect.

I riot because it might allow me to loot a few shops. I know I could never afford all those beautiful things everyone else seems to have, but in a riot, you can just take them. I need some new trainers, a new phone, a laptop, clothes, money, games. It’s a consumer society, my friend. We have all got to have these things, otherwise we won’t be happy. I just want to be happy.

I riot because I have absolutely nothing to lose. You want to lock me up for it? Go ahead. It means nothing to a nothing like me.

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About richardjacksonterrorismblog

I am currently the Deputy Director of the National Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Prior to this, I was Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. I study and teach on issues of terrorism, political violence, conflict resolution and war. I have published several books on these topics, including: Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; co-authored with Lee Jarvis, Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth); Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Cases (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010; edited by Richard Jackson, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting); Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; edited by Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning); Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-first Century: Principles, Methods and Approaches (Ann Arbor MI: Michigan University Press, 2009; co-authored with Jacob Bercovitch); and Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005). I am also the editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism.
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80 Responses to Why I Riot

  1. grahart says:

    fascinating post. I can;t decide whether you are being ironic or specious. I’m hoping it’s ironic.

  2. Martin says:

    Hey Richard, an interesting post that may be open to misinterpretation. I understand that you are making some sociological observations but it raises some interesting moral questions too. At first glance some may say that you are simply providing excuses for violence and vandalism. Having read your post on the Oslo Attacks, however, I don’t believe this is your intention. A particular sentence caught my eye; the underlying principle of which describes a general rule of agency that I believe, from a philosophical point of view, to be true:

    “[Breivik’s] ideological beliefs were merely the justification he used to rationalize his decision to use violence, and the way he strengthened his resolve to act.”

    The rational operation that occurs here, how Breivik’s decision (his will) is the cause of his actions not the extreme beliefs he holds, allows for the possibility of responsibility. Responsibility, if it is to have any application at all, logically presupposes a free will. The narrative above however is slightly different in that the reasons determining the will of the person who engages in violence are drawn from the material and social circumstances in which he finds himself, circumstances which he cannot easily change. I suppose, what I am trying to ask in this roundabout way (apologies) is: where does responsibility fit in to your story? Or, how responsible are the rioters in London for their actions, according to your narrative? Thanks!

  3. inderjeet parmar says:

    Another great post – and right on the button, as usual.

    The point I wd add is the response of the media (or large swathes of it) – whose inner criminality and corruption and effects on lowering the tone of public life are the subject of investigation (re the Murdoch empire), which has also enveloped the Metropolitan police, and the upper echelons of 10 Downing Street. Their calls for the restoration of the rule of law contain not a hint of the rich irony that Richard’s post exhibits. Apparently, Parliament, that bastion of work ethics and virtue, fresh from their expensive holidays and expenses scandals, is to be recalled, no doubt boldly to declare their Daliy Mail-esque moral indignation.

    And now we have the premier league’s finest – overpaid and oversexed, frequently offensive and violent in their conduct on and off the field, and fired with greed beyond comprehension, calling for calm and the poor to return to their hovels!

    Only the bankers of the world have yet to be heard about the need for responsibility and order.

    I am afraid that the youthful rioters on some of London’s streets do not have to show much imagination to be able to expose corruption and moral decay at the very heart of British national life, partly to justify their actions and partly to explain them. When elites – however they may achieve such status – behave without thought to the larger consequences of their actions, as the media/police/government/parliament so frequently do, they can have little moral authority over the behaviour of those at the very bottom of the social pile, in a society at the bottom of an economic crisis, and in one that is increasingly failing as a society. allowing inequality to tailspin out of control.

    Shame.

    • Well said, Inderjeet! I can’t help but think that it’s a case of chickens coming home to roost, and as you say, a verdict on the corruption and sleeze at the heart of the political-media-economic system. What’s worse: looting a few trainers from a shop, or looting the national economy of billions and putting millions out of work – and then getting a bonus?

  4. Kevin says:

    Good piece of work Richard! That’s the REALITY!

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  6. John says:

    Yep that’s the reality… and also the reality is they are too lazy to want to improve their futures and easy benefits with free housing is available

  7. Norman says:

    Oh poor rioting nobody if only you were doing it because you have and never will have anything,does the shop assistant on the minimum wage without a job after you destroyed there livelihood respect you ,does the single parent in the flat above the burnt out shop respect you for making her homeless with no possessions,does the 20 something chef who just bought his first second hand car thank you for warming your hands on its burnt out shell,do your neighbours and relatives thank you for adding to the misery of a life made hard already by a worthless government hell bent on cutting everything including your self
    respect.
    If you want your self proclaimed worthless life to change then take your fight to the people who created this situation don’t in flicked more suffering on the already struggling masses.

  8. Wendy Stokle says:

    Thanks for the explanation. Something definetly needs to change in the way the world functions. Inequality is widening. Its like we are going back to the Victorian Era. Large houses were split into flats are are now back to being large houses. People have lost sight of what is important in life. That being said I doubt you are going to feel happier acquiring an iphone, material things don’t make you happy in the end. But you do need to be heard and people need to take notice of the anger that feeds your rage.

  9. John Broomfield says:

    Tolerance, consumerism and looting

    We will be rewarded for working to serve the needs of our customers. Is this still the rule for all or has liberal tolerance undermined this fact of life? Some people are tolerated and given money for not studying or deciding to live a subsidized life without working. Their children simply want to be famous.

    Decades of politicians, social commentators, elites, fathers and mothers tolerating such bad behavior have broken the family and are breaking British society.

    Remember your banker whom we used to trust? Let us consider how we tolerated the bankers’ misdeeds of knowingly manufacturing and selling defective products to investors. Have any of them answered for their frauds before or after we borrowed money from our children to bail them out?

    Our tolerance has had an even more insidious effect. For decades young people felt no shame and we were told that we must tolerate and subsidize their lifestyles. They now depend on us to subsist. Whole communities depend on those of us who are luckier because we were disciplined by our will, our parents, our teachers or a higher power to study and work harder and smarter.

    Equality of opportunity is important to all of us. Some elites go beyond tolerance and make this even worse by advocated equality of outcomes as well.

    Discipline used to enforce service throughout our upbringing, marriage, family, parenting, eating together, reading together, schooling and then serving others through productive work. Now we are told see these “unlucky” people as victims and that we must tolerate their aberrant behavior. Lucky people have damaged the unlucky by making them feel entitled.

    We are lucky because we are disciplined. The harder we study the luckier we get. The harder we work the luckier we get. Unlucky children are lost made sick by tolerance. Some seek rules to live by so they give up on their dreams and join gangs to flash raid (with the aid of expensive phones) for loot. Other youths loot just because they can and think they deserve it.

    Lucky people are identified by their education and work but we are all increasingly identified by the logos we display on the consumer products also displayed by the rich and famous.

    Now those of us who add value through our work are not generating enough wealth to pay the debts or support the unlucky ones. However lucky we are we all must re-double our efforts to lead by serving others instead of ourselves by demonstrating the benefits of care, discipline, study and work.

    • kisgebe says:

      I agree with a lot of the things you said here, so I went and copied whole sentences into a Word doc to save it for later, because they resonated so well with what I think, feel and experience.

      But I also don’t agree with a lot of things you are saying. There is a lot of generalisation there, and I find that often that is what polarizes people and makes it easy to use one small tag to identify groups of millions. Rich people, poor people, lazy people, smart people. It is not that simple, not black and white. But endless shades of grey.

      Thank you for taking the time to share this. When people complement me on my successes, I always fend that off with saying oh I’m just lucky. But your post made me realize that I work hard to be lucky.

  10. Gabriella says:

    You’re angry because you’re poor. And because your life is shit. I am angry because your life might be shit, but you ain’t doing a single thing to change it. Do you think rioting is the answer? Well mate, it is not.
    I am sorry you feel that way but guess what, be the change you want to see in the world (Ghandi. But I assume you’ve no idea who he is). Improve yourself, work harder and stop complaining about your life. When you will, something better will come your way. That’s the real pursuit of happiness.

  11. Somehow a line has been drawn in all this. The sight of a couple of ‘hoodies’ kicking in a city centre shop window on a Saturday night, would lead most to dismiss them as scumbags, yet get a big enough group together and set them rioting across a city and suddenly they become victims of society’s failings.

    We have watched a generation of people grow up in families entirely provided for by the state. What motivation or inspiration can young people gain when they have never known their parents to work and none of their friends’ parents work either? It may not be a good life but it is the only life they know and they have little guidance to help them do better. Many will lack a father figure or any proper male role models either. With parents not teaching them the value of work and discipline, and peers in similar circumstances, they are unlikely to apply themselves to school work and therefore fall behind educationally, with associated behavioural problems not helping them. Leaving school barely literate and with a range of antisocial behavioural traits they are pretty unlikely to be the preferred option for employers, so despite jobs being available, they are more likely to go to others – look at any public-facing business in central London to see a large number of employees are articulate, hard-working migrants. So they continue into adulthood on state benefits with nothing to occupy their day-to-day lives. It is not sociologically normal for a person to have nothing to do in the way of work (and by work, I mean any range of daily activities which contribute to one’s survival, be it a paid job, or gathering food and building shelter). The human left deprived of occupation will inevitably turn that energy to other pursuits to stave off the depression of ‘doing nothing’. Devoid of a moral framework and lacking in education, socially unacceptable behaviour is often the result.

    People need to work. Living on handouts deprives a person of their dignity and destroys their motivation. If society has failed the rioters, it was through allowing so many to learn nothing other than helplessness and dependency, which lead to depression and anger.

    • Well said! But the problem goes deeper than this: capitalism requires an underclass; it’s how wages can be kept down and super-profits for the rich maintained. Britian has a level of social inequality at the level of Victorian London. The Spirit Level and a host of other studies show that inequality breeds depression, crime, violence and social instability. The happiest societies in the world with the highest qualities of life for everyone are also the most egalitarian – like the Nordic countries. The liberal capitalist model has failed; we can expect more, not less social instability if it is not reformed.

  12. Maybe there is also a “lumpen” element at work in other cities outside London where rioting has spread. It strikes me that there are still larger causes of the problem that we need to get at, some of them mentioned by several contributors above. It is clear though that there are many involved in the disturbances who are mere opportunists taking advantage of the situation (and this is common wherever such disturbnces and protests occur). The big question is why so many are willing to take up the opportunity, why so many appear to feel little reluctance to loot and, even more, attack community facilities in their own neighbourhoods. That suggests levels of alienation that go even deeper than we saw back in the riots of 1981 and 1985, in the slipstream of the Thatcher revolution.

    Have just heard PM Cameron’s statement on the riots: it’s largely a problem of morality and selfishness, not politics or economics. I just hope that that’s the PR line he needs to espouse at this particular time and NOT the longer term attitude informing state policies. If it all comes down to more “discipline”, unconstrained by “phoney concerns for human rights”, as Cameron stated, Britain will be in for a lot more trouble.

    • Paul says:

      people think DC is being too soft because he cares about Human Rights because it’s sexier?? WTF. Anyway, not sure he cares that much about human rights by smashing up civilians in Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, while both some of our troops and their rebels find ways to kill each other at the cost of billions a year when we’re in a recession. Then cutting the services that these little hoodies on the streets need. I am so angry about what these kids have done and part of me wants to beat the crap out of them, but then i’d be a violent idiot like them. TheThe financial services looted us of billions of pounds that put, and still are, putting lots of people out of work and then got nice big bonuses, but very little happened to them… the little kids smash some shit up and because of the nature of the looting, we want quick and violent retribution… very sad about the deaths today though! I am sure it will incite revenge attacks!

  13. Looser says:

    If you don’t want live at London, go back to home Pakistan, India, Turkey …

  14. schulz says:

    go home, nigga’!

  15. Alma says:

    Doing this makes your life worst than it was before. If you want respect than live a respectable life. Nothing is free on the world.

  16. schulz says:

    who is interested in your problems? you have to behave. if you can’t, the europeans will make special camps for you and the other immigrant or second generation criminals. europe was a good place, but now… we don’t have anything what we can like in our homeland. shame…

  17. Michelle says:

    Boo hoo. Poor you. There is absolutely NO excuse for what has happened in the UK in the past few days. The world DOES NOT owe you a living. You’re life won’t improve unless YOU do something to improve it. Get off your arse and get some qualifications and then maybe employers will offer you a job. You say nobody cares, it’s because YOU don’t care. Only you have the power to change it.

  18. Ann says:

    You do not have to live in London. You can go to home anytime.

    Si fueris Romae, Romano vivite more!

  19. telente says:

    You are angry, ’cause you are poor. Well, I happen to live in a country where 60-70% of the people make less money than your unemployment allowance. And there are countries where this figure is 99%. Nobodies. Even no-er-bodies than you are. Hopeless. Futureless. And noone listens. Noone cares. You have probably not even heard of the countries where they live. They have at least heard of London.
    Now the question is: do you want them to visit your place and burn it down to ashes? This would just release the tension inside them. Hey, what is the problem? All they want is to be listened to! All they want is some attention! And you, wealthy bastard deserve a little punishment, right?
    You do not like this solution? Nobody does.

  20. Benji Cartwritght says:

    so what most people are saying here is that contribute or get out, otherwise …? They’re British Kids; we created this society we live in so we should at least try an understand why the hell looting and rioting is acceptable to them. Sure we may get responses as the two girls on teh BBC say “to show conservatives, the government, dunno…and rich people who have a business” (rolling eyes)… but, at age 14, i am not sure I expect to here a smart answer. If we just react angrily and ask them to leave because they’re black (although i saw some white poeple and I am sure their were some rebelious middle class there, too) then we may as well set up the concentration camps and rename us as the United Kingdom of Fascism… I hate what they did; it was vile, but I want to understand why and prevent it. it. The PM calling them a small minority or not part of society will only further serve to create boundaries between them (and the chances for them to become model citizens) and us…

  21. Tom says:

    The post was translated and published on a foreign blog.
    Here I translated a few comments from the readers.

    “…this was a fucking long punk-rock song lyric from the early ’80s…”
    “…the writer must be a credible froward…based on his blogs introduction…”
    “…the writter only tries to imagine what those teenagers think…this is the version of an educated man…those mobsters are far from being that conscious…”
    “…oh yes…I riot…because I far too lazy to learn to work…to be more than I am now…I riot because I dumb enough to believe other peoples well-being were free of charge…”
    “…the largest unemployment is 20% in Spain in the EU…and still…Madrid is not on fire yet…”
    “…dont you like the UK?…you feel they discriminate you (of course they dont!)?…you can go back from you came…or you can shovel shit if they pay for this…your children will have the chance to be more…if your children will learn…”
    “…Europe gets what its deserves…open gates…respect of other “cultures” which doesnt show any respect to Europe…”
    “…ok ..I do understand this riot stuff but what the hell we should do because he was not able to live a decent life in Africa…they came here and no one wanted to brownose them. Burning down the city is the solution? Did they do the same at home? Oh no, because they would be shoot down from tanks!…slowly but surely you should admit the naiv idea of ‘lets love each other, the difference make us richer, we are very equal’ will lead you nowhere.
    The forced acceptance of diversion will lead you to the same road the forced equalisation led the former socialist countries in th ’90s…”

  22. buttfuck says:

    amazing that you can type so many words.did your nanny help?

  23. Dylan says:

    I work and pay taxes to the state that provide YOU with food and housing and this is how YOU repay me ?

    1- I am angry because YOU have put the living fear in to my 13 year old daughter.

    2- I am angry YOU have destroyed not just property but hard earnt dreams.

    3- I am angry that I am angry and that YOU have made me so bloody angry.

    However unlike you I wish you no harm.

  24. Jock says:

    What a load of sh**. If there’s a bunch of kids smashing and stealing from stores on a Saturday night they’d be thugs, but since there’s a lot more they suddenly become victims of society? Boohoo, my Xbox broke and I only have a first generation iPhone, I’m so oppressed. What about the minimum wage shop keepers that were attacked and have to clean up afterwards? What about the people just like you who poured blood and sweat into opening a shop only to have it set on fire? Do they not matter?

    Quit justifying thieving opportunists in some pseudo-intellectual way.

  25. blabla says:

    I think this is the big b#llsh#t. If you don’t like your life than kill yourself. If you do, just live it as it is. Enjoy it, experience it, do something you like. But don’t harm nobody! But you are a weak coward because you are frightened of your life, frightened of your death, you just hide yourself behind violence, because for violence you need only ignorance. And some lyrics, ideology, and blamings and excuses and complaint. You are sick, man, try to recover.

  26. Jalipeno_mexican says:

    Mr Jackson, any chance you can include a blog why teachers riot? One to go against the deprivation-low intelligence argument for rioters, or a fine example, a complete idiot to riot when he is rather wealthy in comparison to some random mexican street kid!! third string of thought, is he also shows that rioters are not mindless as he was clearly educated.

    http://www.tntmagazine.com/tnt-today/archive/2011/08/10/teacher-31-looted-in-london-riots.aspx

  27. Laura says:

    You are an idiotic loser! No one gives a FUCK about your problems. Everyone has problems. You have to learn that in life, you have to look after yourself. Sort your own life problems out because no one will do that for you. You wanna be rich and successful? Fucking get off your arse and stop whining and taking it out on other people then. You have a loser attitude. Get a grip and sort it out. It’s pathetic.

  28. James says:

    ummm, I am worried that some people really think this an actual hoodie writing this?

  29. Parker Adams says:

    A dumbass white ‘copy-cat’ rioter in Manchester on BBC tonight “we have to riot…. blame the polish… taking our jobs”…. I will cherish this excuse from a wiseman if ever I am out of work in future and I am having trouble finding a job because becoming angry prejudice will do me wonders! Just like all the people that will blame the unrest on me because I’m an unemployed lazy prick…

  30. Gabor Nemeth says:

    I came to the UK as a GUEST. EU citizen, but a guest none the less. I am being tolerated, sometimes even appreciated for working hard and trying to live a decent life. I do not own a big screen TV or an iPod Pad or whatsoever. Still you did not see mee running about in the Tottenham retail park looting and causing damage. Why? Because i respect the household i have been invited to.

    Simply put: You do NOT bite the hand that feeds you ( there are hundreds of thousands of households in the UK wich make above 35k in benefits. That is more than my partner and myself make with hard work ), and you do NOT shit at the table you eat from.

    So all these little fuckers can go straight back where they came from. Maybe this kind of behaviour is being tolerated there.

  31. Laura says:

    Saying this person may not know who Ghandhi is is exactly the kind of attitude these young people face every day. Why do you assume they don’t know?

  32. isabella says:

    Your pathetic. Everyone else has those ‘nice things’ because most of them have worked damn hard to get them. ‘nice things’ wont make you happy. having nice things and that flickering sense of power wont change the fact that you are right and you will probably never amount to anything in your life. you can walk down the street now in your nice new stolen trainers. but that guy across the road with his nice trainers who has worked hard to support himself and to buy them, respecting other people and in turn himself, will have much more of a sense of worth in life. for those people who earn the same wage as you do on benefits but work hard for no money because they would not burden the country for the easy option, or because they feel a sense of living by going out and taking control of their life rather than riding society. Your right no one cares, no one would care about someone like you because you care about no one but yourself and shallow ideals like having ‘nice things’. you could have a better life if you were more respectful and intelligent. it is no ones fault but your own and no one intelligent or respectful in this whole country condones what you and your friends do. Everyone in the country is making fun out of you – all these facebook pages – ‘going to collect my benefits and realizing i burnt down the post office’ etc.. you think you have power now. and yes you have shocked the nation. but mostly you have angered it, that harassment from the police, those people who judge you on the street, that will increase ten fold now. you have made thing worse for yourselves. because after this has blown over those hard working people who’s lives you have destroyed because you think you have the right to do what you want – they will hopefully get back on their feet and with everyone else will be the ones with the full happy lives and you will still be in your council house / prison. you have no power because your not intelligent enough to know why you are angry. you and your friends are what destroys this country, and now you are doing it literally. hopefully the government will buck up and spend more money on education, have harsher benefit requirements, and so maybe people like you will be a thing of the past. because you are spot on, no one cares about you, most of us wish people like you did not exist, i guess your picking up on that.

    • TottenhamBred says:

      just thought i’d help –

      1. Your = your car, your opinion.
      2. You’re (aka You are) – You are a wrong, you’re angry.

      Just in case one of the imagined hoodies comes by and reads this, i’ll want to be sure they can make sense of your opinion in case they’re (they are) to dumb to read and react violently and start another riot because they can’t make sense of such smart people.

      • TottenhamBred says:

        …and now i’m angry because I realised my own errors!!! i guess i’ll have to riot!

    • Some people have nice things because they stole them – like the bankers and politicians who looted on a scale the rioters could not begin to copy! I think they took their cue from the leading members in society. After all, the bankers and the politicians got away with it! There were no real consequences for them, except that they were able to charge the taxpayers for their flat-screen TVs!

  33. isabella says:

    ps realise this is not real, just speaking to an the imagined hoodie hoping a real one stops by and sees it

  34. It Starts with You says:

    You have no paying job. So create a non-paying one.

    Clean up your neighborhood instead of destroying it.

    Show respect for yourself then others will respect you.

  35. Spiritmonger says:

    For all, who is rioting:

    Why you riot?

    because you are a wanker, who is lazy to work and learn also, because you think that the aid is obligate, because you are a piece of shit, for who somebody else property is not untouchable, because you don’t wanna exceed from your current circumstances, but mostly you riot, because you are a loser, who does nothing for himself.

  36. GuessWho says:

    So you are ruining honest people’s life, who haven’t done anything to you because you are a worthless piece of shit right?
    Nice.
    If you would have put as much effort in learning a skill, or finding a job as you have in this blogpost, maybe you wouldn’t be as much of a worthless piece of shit.
    People in your country get more money on welfare than what the average salary is in my country, so don’t try to tell me that your life is so hard.

    P.S.: You are a poor excuse of a man. You are a pussy who can’t control his own life.

  37. Andrea says:

    Yes. You are hooligan. I am unemployed. I live in a month about £ 80. I’m poor, but I don’t steal. I search a job. Your arguments are false.

  38. Pingback: Klimat Wielkiej Brytanii « Czerwony Kieł

  39. Luuuu says:

    how you can do this? i think isn’t right answere!

    like an animal…

  40. Daboha says:

    Thank you, Prof. Jackson, for helping those of us who want to *understand* the rioters by recreating their point of view. I applaud your effort.

  41. Hunting Ostriches says:

    Uh oh, it’s a comment riot by lazy people who don’t want to think.

  42. ZT says:

    “I riot because I hate the police, and because I know that the police hate me. They’re racist and brutal”

    Brutal? Who? The British police? Go to ANY other country and you’ll quickly find out that the police in the UK are the least brutal of all police forces. They don’t even have water cannons (except for a few in Northern Ireland), and they don’t use rubber bullets either. In fact they appear to be WAY too lenient with the type of people you are trying to personify in this post. Being (relatively) poor and dissatisfied doesn’t justify rioting. Especially not if the rioters haven’t the faintest idea of how to make this world a better place (and probably don’t even care).

    I’m not saying you’re wrong in thinking that these might be the rioters’ “reasons” – even though few would be able to put them into words the way you did – but you guys over in the UK should be crystal clear about not tolerating “reasons” like these. Too much tolerance can be bad for your health, you see.

  43. Anon says:

    Leftie apologist “imagines” what it’s like to grow up on a council estate. At least the rioters are just stupidly ignorant. You are wilfully, maliciously ignorant. If the nasty police people weren’t around, weakass pacifist twats like you would be the first people that these feral wankers would prey on. Never mind that though, you sneer at the people that put their lives on the line daily to keep you sleeping safely in your bed and the evil consumerists whose taxes keep you in your public sector job and you go on defending people who wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. Cunt.

  44. randysandy says:

    Does this mean that the 2 peerages for the price 1 offer has ended?

  45. Pingback: Why I Riot | Prologos

  46. Tzimisce says:

    You are justifying Breiviks actions just right now…

  47. Saria says:

    Dear Mr.Richard,
    I get your anger cuz I live in Syria… but the way I was raised and most of the people in this world were raised, it’s never the answer to take your anger on other people (harmless, innocent people)
    a great man which Muslims respect a lot said: “to be a man is not to be able to fight and hurt people, but to be able to control your anger and calm down”
    (prophet Muhammad)

    so please; there’s better way to express your anger, such as this wonderful article … people now know what you mean, but please keep innocent people out of it.
    thank you

  48. Outsider says:

    As a person not living in the UK please tell me, how is it possible that Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic immigrants had shops to protect from the unemployed rioters? Is it a result of some kind of dark magic that these immigrants are able to find jobs or a small business to run, and the mostly black rioters maybe feel as the author states? Do the rioters really have no chance to find job in a city where thousands of Polish (and other Eastern Europeans) usually find some kind of job and make a quite good living?

    • 2.5 million unemployed in the UK. Record youth unemployment. Much of the unemployment geographically located. In other words, if you lived in those areas where the rioting took place, you’d probably find getting a job about as likely as winning the lotto – no matter if you had a decent education, which is unlikely in a deprived area where schools are under-funded.

  49. gash says:

    All rioters deserve to die.

  50. Yulek says:

    To be honest, there is only one reason why people riot.
    They don’t think with neocortex but with limbic system.

  51. I hope this is an ironic post…..

  52. insurrectblog says:

    Another fascinating read once again Prof Jackson. I see you’ve managed to provoke ‘the herd of independent minds’.

    I’ve written a short piece on my blog highlighting the hypocrisy of the people condemning the riots. I would be grateful if you could check it out.

    Keep the essays coming, they are extremely valuable in a world where to most in Britain it seems, human-life is not valuable.

    • You are completely right regarding the hypocracy of condemning the rioting and looting at home, but being willing to bomb, loot and smash entire other countries abroad. It is part of the imperialist mindset that some lives are worth a lot more than others.

      • insurrectblog says:

        Thanks Richard. I am grateful for your response.

        I am aware that it is part of the mindset socialised into British society, but I think the same could probably be said for many of history’s most wicked people. I never submit to the idea of ‘punishment purely for punishment’. I believe that crime and wrong-doing (Assuming I believe the said wrong-doing to be unjust) should be entirely about redemption. But in certain cases, if I do support force, it is entirely out of necessity rather than punishment.

        For example, an overwhelming majority of the people in Germany supported the government in World War 2, at least prior to Stalingrad, and a majority afterwards, but I would consider it justified to use violent resistance against those who were contributing to the objectives of the Nazi Government, whether civilian populations or military. I think in certain instances civilian populations can be playing such a negative role that they can no longer be considered ‘innocent’.

        What are your thoughts on this?

        Thanks again

    • I agree that notions of ‘innocence’ are problematic today, especially when we are all bound together in oppressive systems. Even buying a cup of coffee or driving your car on Middle Eastern fuel involves you in a system of oppression and violence. However, I don’t believe that violence ever solves anything. It is inherently destructive and anti-human. Also, there are always alternatives to violence. I don’t believe it is ever necessary or inevitable.

  53. Linda says:

    Oh please. You have a voice, which you have amply demonstrated by writing this editorial. Your argument is the last refuge of a coward. What do you do all day? What do you do to make your world a better, not a worse place? Your future, your life, is in your own hands. Whether you squander or live it it is up to you, but bringing down death and destruction on others is inexcusable. Let me tell you something I don’t normally share with strangers. My sister and I had the same start in life. Today she is a junkie, living in squalid public housing. Her children have been taken away from her by the authorities and her neighbours have tried to have her evicted. I have a degree and PhD in biology, a beautiful house, a loving partner, I own my own business and I’m an aerobatic pilot. I worked to put myself through University and I worked for zero pay in my first job to gain experience. I made my own life from nothing. Don’t bleat your excuses and justifications to me.

  54. Harry says:

    ‘I riot because no one ever listens to me. No one has ever really listened to me; nobody hears what I have to say.’

    This post has been read by hundreds, possibly even thousands, of people, many of whom even went out of their way to respond to what you had to say. It may be easy to blame society when you feel that you can’t achieve anything; but in reality you’re capable of almost anything if you stop spending your time projecting and focus on what you want to do.

    As for the point about lack of respect, nobody respects violence, they fear it when it is close to them and then they just have one more reason to look down their noses at those who commit it.

    • Nobody respects violence – unless it is dished out on foreigners by the military, or by the cops on protesters, or in movies, on television, in novels. comics, etc. Our society actually loves violence; we have whole industries devoted to it, and we teach children from a very early age that it is sometimes ok. We even give them toys and tell them to go play at killing each other. In this case, the youth have also learned all about aggression and violence from the gangs that live in their areas and the police. They are well-versed in it; it is their daily language. Violence is probably well-respected in their neighborhoods. Of course, this raises deeper questions about the various cultures of violence which are entrenched in our society. It probably does little good telling young people not to trash stores when our troops are trashing entire countries elsewhere.

  55. Curianth says:

    How bizarre that so many people have mistaken the words of a white, middle-aged, middle-class academic for those of a poverty-stricken teenage rioter. How predictable that so many others have interpreted an attempt to understand and explain as an attempt to excuse and justify. Perhaps it isn’t an accurate portrayal; perhaps it’s “specious”, as grahart suggested (annoyingly, without elaboration). But it’s thought-provoking and insightful, I think, and so much of it rings true to me. Thank you.

  56. Curianth says:

    I was wrong about grahart. He did elaborate, in his blog, on why this piece is “a lot of meretricious and specious claptrap”. I liked this bit: “So, I say to the rioters: if you want to know what ‘need’ is then fly out to Kampala, or Mogadishu …” Surely it goes without saying that the poverty experienced by many of the English rioters is not the kind of absolute poverty experienced by far greater numbers in the world’s poorer countries. But surely relative poverty is still a meaningful concept. Even someone who can afford a Blackberry can be socially excluded, can be disadvantaged from infancy in terms of housing, health, education, diet, family relationships and community involvement, can have a greater exposure to violence and conflict and crime and drugs, and racism and prejudice of all kinds, and far fewer opportunities to develop the personal skills and attitudes and values that would increase their chances of gaining employment. And they can be made all the more aware of those disadvantages because of their greater access to depictions of the lives of those who have so much more. The contrast seems to be greater and more obvious now than it’s ever been. Surely it’s possible to care about and want to help those in absolute poverty and absolute need, while at the same time appreciating how corrosive are the (relatively) impoverished conditions in which so many people in Britain still live.

    • Research has long shown that it is not absolute poverty which causes violence like we’ve seen, but relative poverty and the gap in expectations between between what people expect from life and what they actually get. Those kids rioting were brought up to believe that they lived in a society where they could one day be wealthy and happy; that’s what the media promises. Then they look at their lives and realise that they have nothing and will most likely never have anything because they live in an unequal society where success is largely determined by class. They then express the inarticulate rage they feel in anti-social behavior. Such behavior is usually low-leve, but then sometimes, in the right confluence of factors, becomes collective.

      Thanks for your comments. I am glad some people got what I was trying to do! Some of those comments were pretty hilarious though.

  57. grahart says:

    I take the point about relative poverty… so on this argument we should expect rioting and looting in Kampala when they get Internet cafes… oh wait….

  58. Well, thank you, another attept to relativise violence and other crimes. No suprise that it comes from a pen of a quite leftist author. Just telling you that back in Hungary I lived as an unemployed citizen as well. The financial support I was getting was only enough to pay the rent and bills, after that I had an amount equal to 30 pounds to feed myself for a month. Before I came to the UK I haven’t bought new clothes for years, I used a decade old computer, and ate mostly boiled potato and bread. Yet a haven’t even stole a box of matches, and whenever there were demonstrations or riots in the capital I neither felt I should be there nor thought that I should be angry at anybody because I’m poorer than the majority. And believe me, the relative difference between wages is much bigger in Hungary than in the UK.

    I just sat home, and browsed the ‘net for job offers. Now I work at a factory in England where most of my co-workers came from the worst parts of Eastern Europe, and they can’t even speak English. Yet, they are still here to work. And every month we get young British people sent by the locan job centre. Some of them won’t stay for a day, because they don’t like the type of work we do here.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were among the rioters in the last few weeks.

    No matter how hard leftist intellectuals try to forget it, there is such thing called individual responsibility. So, this kind of activity can’t be pardoned or looked over saying “Some people have nice things because they stole them – like the bankers and politicians who looted on a scale the rioters could not begin to copy! I think they took their cue from the leading members in society. After all, the bankers and the politicians got away with it!”
    This is tipically the thinking that begs for a loud WTF! Let’s not make wrecking havoc understandable just because other – richer – people stole and got away with it.
    Again, all I can tell you, that along that logic I – with hundreds of thousands other Hungarians – should have been rioting back home too… Do you have any idea that how shameful and and undbelievable crimes the democraticly elected Hungarian ruling elite – among whom not one, but many were lackeys of the dictatorship – have commited in the past 20 years without any consequences?

    If only one of the excuses you write down here could be taken seriously, or were at least partly true, Hungary should have been torn apart by civil war a long time ago with a considerable part of Easter Europe as well…
    And blaming capitalism and the state is so typical… you mentioned the Scandinavian states, as a most desirable model, well they are capitalist as well (and do not think for a second that they have no noticable inequality). When will the left – and also, the far right – realise that unequality is may be a bad experience to those who dwell on the bottom of the society, but it is also necessary to maintain an economy able to give benefits to the unemployed, the elderly, and so on?
    I believe I have read similar intellectual debates of the collapse of “liberal capitalism”… in books about the ’29 depression, or the post WWI economic collapses. In those times some intellectuals also declared the death of capitalism, and created other economic modells – like the fascist/national socialist states, and of course, the communist countries. It’s quiet telling that while capitalism bounced back from the depression, these other unorthodox economic systems failed spectacularly.

    It’s not an accident that those countries which had capitalist economy during the 20th century have much better living standards than those who adopted it only a few decades ago, or haven’t adopted at all. It’s not an accident either that the communist China radically capitalised (is this an existing word, or I just made it up?) it’s economy. And not an accidend that North Korea with it’s traditionally Stalinist planned economy is actually a big concentration camp where cannibalism is not uncommon.

  59. And also, the UK police is racist? Jesus Christ, you should look around the world, here the police is very tolerant. Back home the rioters would have been under a storm of rubber bullets and water cannons in the first five minutes while crying because of the tear gas…

    I strongly suspect that the reason why the police was so soft on the rioters in the first few days – because they were downright gentle – is that every time they dare to touch a poor non-white criminal, bleeding hearts cry racism.

  60. Properly said & with excellent timing

  61. Miriam says:

    I believe the riots displayed opportunistic greed, which comes from a mindset of being ‘owed’ something. We are the product of our earliest conditioning. Living with a family that has values of hard work, taking responsibility, not damaging others property etc. shapes ones inner values.
    The rioters obviously do not have these inherent values. And an opportunity came that revealed that. In ‘normal’ times these people would probably steal from work, trash their bosses, beat up their mates when drunk, etc.
    Yes, we live on a steady diet of TV and films that exhibit these values… hit back, take what you can, kill, destroy. We are all stupid enough to watch these, thinking they do not affect us.
    Simpler, gentler societies that pass on sound values live with very little violence. But then we call them primitive.

    • Thanks for your comments. One part of the reason for the breakdown of families and caring societies is the endemic economic insecurity and social decay which places real stresses on families and causes them to shatter, which then fails to instil values in the young people. If everyone in the family is unemployed, harrassed by the police and local drug gangs, and the government has shut down all the community centres and youth centres, it is hard to keep a stable, functional family together. And in such conditions of poor housing, high crime, and general grime, it is also hard to generate a real sense of community which can instil esteem and values. In other words, you cannot completely divorce the individual from the social conditions in which they live. A large part of this involves having a more equal society, as a brilliant book called The Spirit Level shows.

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