Eggheads Who Saw It Coming.
"But it's not as if rioting was unexpected when the government embarked on its reckless programme to shrink the state. Last autumn the Police Superintendents' Association warned of the dangers of slashing police numbers at a time when they were likely to be needed to deal with "social tensions" or "widespread disorder". Less than a fortnight ago, Tottenham youths told the Guardian they expected a riot.
"Politicians and media talking heads counter that none of that has anything to do with sociopathic teenagers smashing shop windows to walk off with plasma TVs and trainers. But where exactly did the rioters get the idea that there is no higher value than acquiring individual wealth, or that branded goods are the route to identity and self-respect?
"While bankers have publicly looted the country's wealth and got away with it, it's not hard to see why those who are locked out of the gravy train might think they were entitled to help themselves to a mobile phone. . ."
Theodore Dalrymple (whose daddy was a tanky), a conservative author of several books about the lumpenproletariat, is as unsurprised as Milne claims to be:
"The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked. . ."
It is possible that both are at least partly right and that neither are as clairvoyant as they claim (update - Norm Geras, a major egghead, points out this very thing, with an interesting "semi-formal model" of the sort familiar to students of logic.)
Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement's. You owe me five farthings, say the bells of St. Martin's. When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey. When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney. I do not know, Says the great bell of Bow.
But what do ordinary Britons say? Here comes a candle to light you to bed and here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
As for me, I say send in the Kurdish shopkeepers.