Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

September 2, 2011

Britain’s middle-class rioters

Filed under: News commentary,Social Science & History — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:20 am

Dear Readers,

As I’ve said, I’m on hiatus here. But I do run a blog at the newspaper I work at here .

You can find my stuff, and see how I write for a different audience, different venue. Such as…

From the British newspaper “The Daily Mail” August 12, 2011.

“Poverty, social exclusion, poor education – these are just some of the theories put forward to explain the recent rioting.

Yet shockingly, among those in the dock accused of looting are a millionaire’s grammar school daughter, a ballet student and an organic chef. A law student, university graduate, a musician and an opera steward also said to have taken part. They are just some of the youngsters from comfortable middle-class backgrounds who have been charged with criminality. Some of them were arrested at the scene, others handed themselves in after seeing their faces in photographs and on video.”

Right now I’m remembering a conversation I had a few years back in London with a moderately famous BBC reporter. One subject we cussed and discussed was crime and rehabilitation.

Briefly, she maintained that criminals “can be taught.”

I’m afraid I probably interrupted her at that point.

“Taught what?” I asked. “That crime doesn’t pay? I does! That hurting people you don’t like isn’t fun? It is!”

Needless to say, I never got invited back. But I wonder if she’s having any second thoughts now?

One characteristic of intellectuals is a preference for ignoring the simple and obvious and going for overly-complicated explanations, the so-called “root causes” of crime, social unrest, etc.

So why are people who are in no sense deprived looting and vandalizing shops in London?

Because it’s fun. Not to mention the free stuff.

What are the lessons to be learned from this?

1) That your personal happiness and success in life comes from not doing things that are short-term fun, and long-term bad for you. Most of us were taught this growing up, some of us have had to re-learn it through pain and sorrow.

2) That the survival of civilization depends on most people realizing this and behaving accordingly.

It’s not rocket science.

Powered by WordPress