London was burning. The world saw an Arab Spring, and in London and San Francisco — across Europe and North America — we celebrated other people’s civil discontent as a sign of positive transformation. Why did we not celebrate our own civil unrest?
One reason is that, unlike the protests against cuts in student benefits earlier in the year, there are no clear causes being promoted. The people looting shops and starting fires have no signs, no social media groups — their only communiqués are the mime of street violence. The spark — a vigil-cum-protest-cum-riot — was a response to the shooting death of a Tottenham local at the hands of police. The rioters are not carrying that cause however, not relying on even that tissue-thin excuse. There is no pretense.
I often wonder about the madness of crowds, the emergent violence. It can be cultivated, the way lynch mobs and the Rwandan genocide were cultivated by murderous leaders. It can also simply tip over the edge, with no visible leader, no single individual clearly stoking the flames. If we ever get public access to the Blackberry messages that have apparently been the primary coordinating medium for young looters, I suspect that there will be some people who wrote more messages than others but no clear organising center.
I wonder, “how did we not see it coming?”.... see here to read the rest of this article http://decisionlab.org.uk/the-stop-button/#more-1504
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