There's not a lot I feel I can say about the rioting and looting that's going on this week in London and around the UK. By all accounts, it's pretty scary and everyone is quite shocked.
I am absolutely sure though that I don't want to live in a society where this happens.
But I've read quite a bit of two related views in response that I just don't think make sense. Firstly people are asking what the point of this is, from the point of view of the rioters. "If racism by the police or the system more widely is an issue for these people", goes the line of questioning, "how does it help to burn out houses and shops in your own neighbourhood?"
But from what I can see, I don't think any of these rioters are trying to "help" the situation or improve it. That's not the aim; it just seems to me an outright combination of anger and opportunism.
The second subsequent view is that if it's just violent and selfish crime, the main response being suggested is just to give them a good kicking, so to speak, to bring in the army, water cannons and rubber bullets, to lock them all up and make sure they pay. That's the way to deal with these sorts of criminals.
While there is some logic to that, it misses the point. I repeat that I do not want to live in a society which behaves like this. And that includes both the behaviour itself and the reasons for it. This happens because we, collectively, make and let it happen.
From what I've seen, we've got four things which have combined to make a nasty cocktail this week:
1) These people seem to have nothing to care about: no jobs, no money, no aspirations, prospects, political direction, influence or hope.
2) They are angry at being sold out by the establishment and / or the system and more recently and specifically angry at perceived racism, manifested through the Duggan killing.
3) They have absolutely nothing to lose.
4) They have a lot of time on their hands, given that they have no jobs and nothing better to do.
The question isn't why go crazy, it's why not. And for all those that are rioting and looting, there are probably ten times as many just sitting at home depressed and lonely. This is our failure.
There can't be any excuses for what they are doing, but there's sure as hell a reason for it. We have to own up to what that reason might be.
The only exception I can see to not having anything to care about or aspire to, is possibly that they've been bombarded with clever psychology for their whole lives to condition them to want 42 inch plasma TVs and Adidas tracksuits. All in the name of stimulating consumer demand and keeping the economy growing. So, when it kicks off, it's no wonder that's what they go and try and get. In a previous generation they might have been after something less material.