After a conflagration of arson attacks, riots and looting in several British cities, including the capital, London, there is a sense of order having been restored from a massive mobilisation of police forces.
There now follows the tracking down and prosecution of individuals involved in the mayhem. Conservative Prime Minister is leading “the fight back” to punish anyone who has inflicted damage and destruction to Britain’s society.
The events have visibly shocked the political establishment of all parties, police chiefs and the mainstream media. But what should be more shocking is the myopic and incredibly banal commentary that is being offered to “explain” the outburst of street disturbances and violence.
As pundits sit in comfy television studios trading inane insights about the “evils” of individual immorality, criminality, dysfunctional families, gang culture – in the background, so to speak, are the glaring signs scrolling across the screens of the cause of this societal breakdown. And yet the preponderant signs escape the mental radar of pundits and politicians alike.
The fact that the capitalist economic system is in worldwide meltdown is not even registered in the mainstream commentary. This is the system that the mainstream political parties have facilitated and fawned over, whether Labour, Conservative or Liberal, and which has resulted in social devastation across Britain while the corporate and financial elite has ransacked economic resources. This system of legalised looting has been going on for decades, but certainly took on a precipitous dynamic starting with Cameron’s Conservative predecessor Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were merely purveyors of the same dynamic.
In surveying today’s Britain, Karl Marx words are so right: “An accumulation of wealth at one pole of society indicates an accumulation of misery and overwork at the other”. That is the hallmark of capitalism in today’s Britain, the US and Europe.
All other problems are largely secondary in causation. Crime, racist policing, disorder, the lack of police budgets to restore order (so ironic), alienation and self-destruction, and so many other ills including the mobilisation of resources to fund illegal wars – most of our present day problems flow from the tap root of dysfunction that is the capitalist economy.
Speaking in the House of Commons Thursday, Prime Minister Cameron’s “explanation” for the outbreak of street disturbances across England demonstrates a total ignorance and poverty of understanding on his part of the nature of the breakdown in his society. He blames it on “criminality pure and simple” and “pockets of sickness” and “lack of individual morality and responsibility”.
This view is largely echoed in the British political establishment of all parties and the media.
The looting, thievery and lawlessness that Cameron so condemns is but the reflection at the street level of British society of what is taking place on a much greater scale at the upper echelons of government and the economy.
Despite the appearance of pinstripe suits and well-groomed accents, we can, if we are honest, see decades of looting and thievery of economic and financial resources by corporate elites aided and abetted by Labour and Conservative governments. The taxpayer bailout of corrupt banks initiated by Labour PM Gordon Brown and now overseen by Cameron, paid for in large part by austerity in public spending cuts, is but the latest manifestation of official robbing of the majority to swell the already outrageous wealth of the ruling elite class.
Cameron and his gang of plumy-accented thugs are gunning for $150 billion in public spending cuts to pay for the criminal enterprise known as British banking. This is racketeering that a street gang in London’s east end can only marvel at… and indeed, in a very real way, only emulate.
Combined with that looting by the elite we see the total lawlessness and criminality of British governments who have worked hand in glove with other criminal governments to launch wars of aggression (Nuremburg standard war crimes) in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, resulting in the deaths of over one million civilians. Where is individual responsibility for that mass murder and destruction Mr Cameron?
This social decay and necrotism is a symptom of the collapse of capitalism, an economic system that enriches an elite at the cost of the majority. It polarises political power beyond democratic accountability to the point where, among other deformities, wars and planetary looting are being carried out even blatantly against the consent of the majority public.
So when Cameron and his political cronies fulminate about pockets of sickness, looting, criminality, lawlessness, and the need for “consequences for actions” – his words and exhortations are so richly ironic and benighted.
For he is inadvertently describing the very society and world that capitalism creates in its own image. The indoctrination of Cameron’s mind and that of the entire political establishment prevents them from seeing the inferno for the sparks. An inferno that the government of Cameron and his Labour predecessors, and in other western countries, have been dousing fuel on with their slavish policies aiding and abetting capitalist kleptocracy, both at home and abroad.
The real lessons from Britain will not dawn on, never mind be drawn on, by mainstream politicians or media. And the same can be said for the US and other western countries. To paraphrase a slogan used by former US President Clinton: “It’s the capitalist economy, stupid.”
Finian Cunningham is a Global Research Correspondent based in Belfast, Ireland.