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FRANCISCO LEQUERICA

8.8.11

Tottenham tantrum

(Photo: BBC)

It is often the nature of fully fledged reactions that they cannot be justified by any, but can be easily explained by all. They often come as no surprise, precisely where and when they could be predicted, still they deliver the shock for which they were feared. Poverty, racism, poor education, police misbehaviour in urban areas: all of these issues converge punctually to produce results that mass media then cannot choose to ignore, even though they have chosen to ignore the causes consistently right up to the event. These issues are not new, and are brewing massively in many countries, in their cities and suburbs, in their schools and streets, and – as can be deducted from the speed of the Tottenham riots – they could ignite at any time.

What is to be done? Clearly repressive force is out of the question: it would precipitate a more violent reaction and widespread collateral problems; laxity too is risky, especially if the issues are not tackled at the root in the most humane and empathic of manners. For any solution within reason to be envisaged, there needs to be a consensus about the real powers that are maintaining these causes in place, as well as availability of education, information and the encouragement of active communication between all parties involved. There needs to be a full realization, by all parties involved, that they are invariably, and even at times of apparent spontaneity, being fully controlled – civilians and police alike – by a greater force: private and corporate interests.

The people of the entire world have been divided by these powerful interests, they have been transformed. All the trends, the ideas, all the styles, the clothes, the music, all the mass sports, the media, the different kinds of people that we recognize each other as being – they are all fake. What hip-hop, for example, or soccer, has done to culture is terrible, like religion; hip-hop’s scorched-earth policy has had deep repercussions in at least one generation’s human awareness. The oppressed have often been given rotten wood to build their homes, rotten jobs and deficient education to build their culture, for the same reason Lord Amherst offered the Indians blankets ridden with smallpox (which they thanked him for, ignoring the latter part): to exterminate them without even having to fight them.

At Tottenham, rioters responded to prejudice by becoming the impersonation of the worst prejudice held against them, by justifying that prejudice. We must realize that our identities have been heavily tampered with; as a result, we have only become programmed enemies to one another, through a feebleness that only the excess of useless choices can bring about. We are not poor, rich, jock, punk or goth, more or less loved, better or worse as such – these things we are told to be. We can be tall, fat, black, gay, blue-eyed, or all these at once (and proud!) – these things we are. We can be looters, cops, shrinks, milkmen, yesmen or marketing people – these things we choose, but we can also reject, hence these things we will need to assume, once they have been chosen. We must cease to be what we are not.

Has anyone asked the insurance companies what they think of the riots at Tottenham?
In the name of what crime does one commit another?
Who or what’s behind this?
Who’s making money from it?
What must we learn from the looting: do our inbred consumerist clichés cloud our humanhood, interfere with our ideals to the point of blurring the well-distinct line between useful rage and petty theft and arson?
Was there anyone along the line who saw it coming, blew the whistle, and was told to put a sock in it, in order to let the crowd discredit itself alone before intervening?
Or were the arsonists and thieves actually infiltrated, was the whole operation designed to find scapegoats, cover up political scandals (of which Britain can boast a few), hence justifying a severe strengthening of the grip on the civilian population?
While these and other questions are open to speculation, should they in fact remain unanswered, for fear of global consequence?
Is this but the mere drip of an untapped source ready to drown us all?
Or is that being an alarmist?