Workers communities, throughout the country, are coming under sustained attack from gangs of lumpen youths. Luckily, despite properties being set alight, in these communities, many of them where people live, no one, so far, has been killed.
As Marxists, we understand the basic causes of social phenomena such as this. Capitalism breeds, the kinds of despair, and the kinds of individualism that leads to all kinds of criminal activity. It also creates that layer of society that provide the human material for such activity - what Marx called the Lumpenproletariat.
The first step is to bring our communties under our control. Firefighters need to feel safe when they go out to fight fires. Local Trades Councils have a role to play here. They can use their channels to get other local Trades Unions to organise themselves into Workers Defence Squads that can go out with fire crews to ensure that they are protected from the thugs. In the same way, local Tenants and Residents Associations should organise themselves to set up such Defence Squads to defend their areas, by organising local patrols of the area.
The basic causes of this outbreak are pretty clear. On the one hand, we have a section of society that over many years has been growing, and which is essentially separated off from the rest of society. At the same time, these lumpen elements have often found that they can just get away with stuff. The kinds of social control that used to exist within working-class communities have broken down.
The kids, and mostly they seem as if they are just kids of around 13-14, have got away for years with all sorts of anti-social behaviour. Ordinary people in local communties have let them get away with that, and the police have had no means or inclination to really stop it, other than by bureaucratic, and repressive means. The consequence has been that a generation, that grew up being able to act in this way, essentially without sanction, now are the parents of the kids following in their footsteps. Ordinary workers see it every day, in the response of those parents to any criticism of their kids, be it in the communities, on the estates or in the schools. Workers have to stop that too. It can't and shouldn't be attempted on an individual basis. We have seen the result of that when individual workers have attempted to intervene, and been killed for their efforts. It can only be done as with every thing else the working-class seeks to achieve, by workers organising themselves, and acting in a collective and democratic manner.
Dianne Abbott, accurately described what was going on as "recreational looting", that seems to be right. None of what has happened seems in any way connected to the original shotting of Mark Dugan. It seems that TV pictures of looting has simply triggered copycat looting in other parts of the country. That these kids have resorted to this action, is, however, understandable. They have grown up in a society where advertising, and other media force down people's throats all of the images of a consumerist society, and the lifestyles that go with it.
In London, we have billions being spent on the Olympics. We are told that it will help regenerate communities, but everything we have seen before tells us it won't.
On the other side, we see what I had predicted, some time ago, in my blog A Bit Of A Pickle. The Liberal-Tory Government has been attacking important sections of the very Capitalist State apparatus upon which every Government relies. It was inevitable that the State would fight back in various ways. I pointed out, last year, that top cops were saying that riots would likely erupt, and that they would not be able to cope with them due to the cuts. The top cops will, of course, use the riots to demand more resources, and there will be sections of the Tory backwoodsmen who will be keen to give it to them. For the rank and file coppers, they are facing wage freezes, job cuts, increased pension payments, and poorer pensions. Who could blame them for feeling less than keen to risk life and limb under those conditions.
Our solution to these riots, the looting, and the risk they pose to workers communties should be the same as our response to the EDL, and others who threaten us as workers.
* No confidence in the Capitalist State;
* Get the Police and the Thugs off our streets;
*Set up Workers Defence Squads in every community;
* Organise Democratic Neighbourhood Committees, and Workplace Committees to run our communties, and control our defence.