Never mind the wanton destruction of buildings, livelihoods and communities, the damage done to democratic political discourse and the English language in the public reaction to the street violence currently engulfing Britain is quite extraordinary.
The unholy rainbow alliance of lumpen rioters and looters, whether they be politically motivated nihilistic street fighters, opportunistic thieves, or a combination of both, feels that it has nothing to lose and everything to gain by denying the state its claimed monopoly on organised violence. And the sad thing is that the rioters are probably right. Our politicians and their uniformed enforcers have lost control, and they are scared. Very scared.
The state reaps what it sows, and everyone suffers.
In my own manor, Lewisham centre is an even bigger wasteland than it was when I last cycled through it (it has long been a soulless, first order shithole), and last night the trouble spread to a Wetherspoons pub in Lee, a few blocks down the road from me. Woolwich is probably the worst hit area of south east London, with a late night battle that saw rioters charging police lines in mass formation. The latter broke ranks and scattered sharpish.
Criminal? Absolutely. Thuggery? Without a doubt. And politics, at its most base and raw. I dread to think what the consequences will be for the Olympic Games next summer. For example, Chinese commentators are already expressing some anxiety about the security arrangements for the games. That is almost funny.
“Negation, boredom, ennui…” said the Hackney-based writer Ian Sinclair on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon. Sinclair is quite right. This trouble has been brewing for some time, and the authorities, like the perpetrators themselves, have no excuse.
Welcome to the Big Society.
A small boutique was smashed up in genteel Blackheath Village, where I stay when in London, and the Temple to Mammon that is the Charlton retail park on the Greenwich Peninsula was looted. The usual shops: Curry’s, sports clothing outlets, etc. And throughout the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich, the tension is building in anticipation of the night ahead.