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The riots that broke out in London last week and are raging all across England at the moment are an event that was waiting to happen. In fact it’s amazing it took this long for it to emerge.

In the late seventies similar events that lead to the London riots we see today let to burning and looting. After that the streets stayed relatively quiet for 30 years.  At the end of the eighties the economic crisis that started in the seventies and the cold war were finally over and made way to the glorious nineties. The nineties were an era that in many ways resembled the happy sixties. But just like the happy sixties were followed by the depressing seventies the first years of the 21st century mark the end of a period of joyous consumerism.

Crisis strikes again.

Violence on the streets is a reoccurring cycle that entered a new phase with the riots we see in England at the moment. The images of looting that mostly harm those who, working hard, started their businesses in their own neighborhood, and especially the pictures of the student who was injured and got robbed by a thug (a white thug!) are sickening.

You may wonder why it’s seems to be so easy to turn people into ruthless animals. But if you add up the dominant youth culture and the ideals it advocates one just wonders why violence like this took this long to happen.

There certainly are similarities with the revolt of the eighties but there are huge differences also. Dominant youth culture in the eighties was Disco; empty entertainment that was al about dancing the night away high on coke. People who protested in those days were people who were into the counter cultural movement; Punks, Rasta’s and Squatters. These were people who tried to break free from materialism.

The youths that set England ablaze today are indeed part of today’s dominant youth culture; R&B and hip-hop. A culture defined by shameless materialism. Off course one may add that not all rappers are into bling-bling and bitches only, but the part of this culture that has gotten mainstream certainly is. It’s glorifying gangster culture; a culture that says to take whatever you can take. A culture that says every (rich) individual deserves respect no matter what they do and how they obtain their riches. A culture that advocates that respect can be enforced; if threatening looks and behavior don’t get you respect, violence will. “Get rich or die trying.”

The youth of today is tempted into the lifestyle of the rich; they see how those people live on TV and computer screens. But they also see that becoming rich is a dream that won’t come true by just studying and working hard. Back in the seventies people were proud to be part of the working class, but nowadays you’re an idiot if you are content with the life of a working man. If you learn a trade today you can make a very decent living of it but that’s not enough anymore; one must have a gold plated ceiling and a large swimming pool filled with whores to earn respect.

As a result of that attitude the youth takes to the street and simply grabs the possessions they think they have a right to own. The first couple of rioters who got convicted were not unemployed scum but guys who had an education and only obtained a shitty job with it.

The rioters are not hardened criminals; the business of criminals thrive a lot better under peace and quiet.

Society set an example. Young people see today’s rich grab whatever they want, and get away with it, because the companies they are involved in are “too big to fall”. The rioters themselves are too big in numbers to fall.

The consumer society created many monsters; you made the mess, now deal with it.

read this article on the Quietus; it has a slightly different view on rap music. Note that I wrote about the culture surrounding hiphop, not the music style

Klik hier voor een Nederlandstalige versie van deze column

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