London Is Burning

This just in from a blog in London:

Tonight, in one of the greatest cities in the world, society is ripping itself apart.

If you want to know the latest in the American-European Political-Debt Crisis of 2011, I recommend you read blogs like Penny Red.

If you want a preview of what’s coming to an American city near you, California is no longer the barometer. Look at what’s going on in London, or Dublin, or Greece, Italy, Portugal, and the entire European Union. Europe is now in worse shape than America, but maybe not for long.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s report in Penny Red:

Tonight in London, social order and the rule of law have broken down entirely. The city has been brought to a standstill; it is not safe to go out onto the streets, and where I am in Holloway, the violence is coming closer. As I write, the looting and arson attacks have spread to at least fifty different areas across the UK, including dozens in London, and communities are now turning on each other, with the Guardian reporting on rival gangs forming battle lines. It has become clear to the disenfranchised young people of Britain, who feel that they have no stake in society and nothing to lose, that they can do what they like tonight, and the police are utterly unable to stop them. That is what riots are all about.

And more from Penny Red:

 This morning, as the smoke begins to clear, those of us who can sleep will wake up to a country in chaos. We will wake up to fear, and to racism, and to condemnation on left and right, none of which will stop this happening again, as the prospect of a second stock market clash teeters terrifyingly at the bottom of the news reports. Now is the time when we make our choices. Now is the time when we decide whether to descend into hate, or to put prejudice aside and work together. Now is the time when we decide what sort of country it is that we want to live in. Follow the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. And take care of one another.

I also recommend Baroque in Hackney, who can provide other pertinent links in Britain.

And today, in Wisconsin, the people are voting. I wonder if what they decide, one way or another, will be able to slow down, one iota, the spread of the chaos in the Western World.

I have to go to work now.

— John Hayden

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“You Say You Want a Revolution?”

A picture is worth a million words. There seems to be a difference of opinion throughout Europe (and in America, too) concerning money, and debt. Also, some mild disagreement about who should pay the price and make the sacrifices, and who should get bailed out.

Schoolgirls link hands to protect a police van during student protests in London. -- Peter Marshall photo.

Baroque in Hackney reports that a younger generation — “The Kids” — is seizing responsibility because their elders are cowed by the powers that be. Ms. B’s post is enlightening. I urge you to read it.

How far will the wealthy elites in Europe and America push the children of the former middle-class? If you want to know which way the wind is blowing, please read this article by Jonathan Jones from The Guardian. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“For this picture tells a lot, very quickly. It tells us the menace of violence is real as anger grows among groups directly afflicted by the coalition’s cuts. Yet it also reveals that most protesters are peaceful, idealistic, with a sense of history and of the gravity of their actions. Most of all it tells us how amazingly young many of them are.

Future historians may well write that the Conservative-Liberal coalition was doomed the day schoolchildren took to the streets to assert their right to a university education.”

People are protesting in the streets in France (Social Security); England (college tuition); Ireland (budget cuts); and the European Union is getting ready to bail out the biggest banks in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and maybe Italy. The U.S. already bailed out its bankers, and people protested with their votes.

So this is the way it’s going to be? The rich get richer; the middle-class get screwed?

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right”

— The Beatles

I’ve written about the consequences of what I would call “capitalism off the hook” before. I didn’t think the reaction in the streets and at the voting places would be so swift or serious.

With apologies to Buffalo Springfield, I don’t think it’s paranoia. I think, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

Mr. Jones of The Guardian describes what’s happening as follows:

“We can look at this picture and see a mass movement rapidly evolving as a generation goes beyond merely taking to the streets and starts finding a larger meaning in its rebellion, and imposing order in new ways. What these girls are showing us is that this is not just about rage. It is a defiant stand for youth and hope.”

Do you think President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke understand what’s happening?

“The Kids” and their “cowed” parents understand that they’re being screwed. Government leaders understand the consequences of tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the poor.

The wealthy elites understand that they’re screwing the poor, and what’s left of the middle-class. The wealthy always believe they have a right to exploit the poor.

So it looks like it’s the Powerful elites against “The Kids.” You can call it “class warfare,” if you want. I’m afraid that the Powerful will make precious few concessions to “The Kids,” at least not without an ugly struggle. How it will play out, no one knows.

— John Hayden