Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Riots Across the Pond

I've been listening to the BBC for coverage of the rioting/looting in London and other English cities, and I've come to think that nobody over there actually gets it. In case you hadn't noticed, the class system over there is quite pronounced (including "clahhss," "clawws," "clows," and several others.) The rioters, according to David Cameron's "clahhssmates" from Oxbridge, are the "lowest of the low." They are young, uneducated, and unemployed. They are white, black, and various shades of brown. They are just knowledgeable enough to realize that the only way they ever are likely to have a few nice things is to steal them.

I think it was my favorite senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who first coined the (now very politically incorrect) term, "underclass." Back in Moynihan's day, the "underclass" in the USofA was predominantly black, since race and class were even more closely correlated then. I know I heard that very term on the BBC today, spouted by some Tory twit or another, whose argument seemed to be that "the lowest of the low" are congenitally defective, with no regard at all for their lower-middle-class neighbors struggling to keep their beauty salons and falafel stands unburnt.

It's true. They couldn't care less. They'll never have a beauty salon or a falafel stand. A more upscale Blackberry or pair of sneakers is their height of aspiration.

Cameron and the Conservatives are committed to austerity. So are our homegrown plutocrats and their political allies, from both parties. Here in the USofA, as the rate of teen unemployment and the widening gap between rich and poor continue to increase, our ability to pretend that we really don't have a class system is falling apart. As state and local governments, strapped for cash, cut back on policing, fire fighting, and education, things can only get worse.

'Ow's 'at 'it ya, guvner?

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