No riots please-we’re British


“A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.” (1984, George Orwell)

The recent spatter of protest actions have reverberated through the Earths magma opus as millions of angry, disenchanted people from all quadrants of the globe united to “stick it to the man”. England’s London riots being a major cause for concern as half the burgeoning emigrants struck the U.K off their promise-land lists. During this volatile time, you have to admit you all couldn’t wipe those smug grimaces as you watched Tottenham, Bristol and Birmingham succumb to its fiery fate. Fascination and an almost scoff emanated from South African soil, as she flipped the land of Earl-grey and civility off.

As with all riots, the last straw had been drawn – the death of a twenty-nine year -old father of four, Mark Duggan, whom had been shot by police. This uncouth, most foul display of police brutality set the community ablaze. The ensuing protest sounded a call to arms – uniting the youth. Adolescents now harnessing both their primal instincts of hunting and gathering and a brotherhood of men showed that the kids of the U.K showed their forefathers that a “stiff upper lip” is a fallacy. They have problems – deep gaping therapy inducing problems.

Wait. Let us back track a bit. Why do people strike? Why is everything spiraling out of sorts?

A strike is a form of protest (peaceful or otherwise) that seeks to voice an organisation’s or people’s concerns. South Africa’s history is steeped in a culture of community and justice. We have always been a people that spoke out- even when in moral peril.

Matters went awry after that. The U.K’s leaders making their disgruntled return to familiar shores as the summer holidays were cut short due to those “hooligans”.

Boris Johnson’s (Mayor of London) first public appearance since the riots has been of disastrous. Strident heckling and curse words were flung his way as he made his address at Clapham Junction.

“You’re racist and need to resign”, a woman shouted through – it was heard on footage carried around the world.

Politicians up top continually deny the very real issues its citizens are shouting.

They go a little something like this:

Austerity measures – The increasing of the retirement age from 60 to 65 as a reaction to the worlds faltering markets.

Tertiary education is no longer free.

Police pushing civilians around. Police are public servants; in England however they are well on their way to running the place.

Unsympathetic government – they have backtracked on the U.K’s modus operandi of successful democratic and social reforms (after all, that was why your uncles, aunts and friends left-isn’t it?).

They had done it. Without consulting an entire populace they took back every promise they had ever uttered to their beleaguered citizens. All this and the administration expected widespread acceptance.

The official statement from Britain’s Prime Minister condemned the scenes erupting all over the country.

“We are on the side of the law-abiding citizens who are appalled by what has happened in their own communities”, said Cameron.

He then went on to praise British police forces, commending them on their bravery while confronting these broom wielding hooligans.

 Hold up, this has “1984” (novel by George Orwell) all over it.

Mr. Orwell prophesized a time when humans would devise their own destruction. This connotes an attitude of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the “Unperson”. That being when a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments.

The most common sense of being Orwellian is that of the all-controlling “Big Brother” state, used to negatively describe a situation in which a Big Brotherauthority figure — in concert with “thought police” — constantly monitors the population to detect betrayal via “improper” thoughts. Orwellian also describes oppressive political ideas and the use of euphemistic political language in public discourse to camouflage morally outrageous ideas and actions. In this latter sense, the term is often used as a means of attacking an opponent in political debate, by branding his or her policies as Orwellian. When used like this in political rhetoric if it is not sincere, it is interesting to note as it can be a case of a hypocritical Orwellian strategist denouncing Orwellian strategies.

British media who wholeheartedly heralded the use of social media in the Egyptian revolution did a 180 and vilified the youth’s use of social networks to aid its ends. Authorities there then went on to track down people via Facebook, Twitter and the ill-famed Blackberry messenger service – the result meaning the arrest of minors and various protestors. 2000, almost.

Is people power dead? The Arab uprising would certainly point towards a “no”, but as far as recent events in England are concerned perhaps in the first world people power is not as healthy as we would like to believe

 “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

 

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