London Riots 2011 Analysis

Too much text has been spewed around the media and blogosphere about the London riots, so instead here are two  meme generator images that sum up the most salient political revelation to come out of the whole mess.


  1. Overplayed as it may be, I'd be interested to read what you have to say on the riots.

  2. Hi Ralph - Thanks for looking.

    The two images are quite generic, one is the infamous cameron riots speech with the (photoshopped?) youths in the background, in front of this image I put camerons statement that he made about Andy Coulson, when he was forced to address the issue of how Coulson was hired after his NotW arrests.

    The second image is the best image I could find of Coulson and Cameron- in front of this image I popped in (verbatim as before) Camerons statement he made about the riots whilst giving his speech...depicted in the previous photo.

    The two images are basically just loaded juxtapositions of Camerons words upon the contrasting political events that reveals typical moral inconsistency or rather a sacred tory consistency of nepotism.

  3. Hi Vivian, I recognised the sound bites, in fact I'm pretty sure I could have placed these as Camereon's words even if I hadn't actually heard them repeated on the radio so often. The banal image of piety and unashamedly populist language of clichés pretty much sums up how witless he believes the masses to be. What I meant really was that I would like to read your views on the continuing events of the riot, as it seems the event is still unfurling (and began a while before things actually kicked off in Tottenham, or the police shooting). I enjoy your blog a lot, I found it near the beginning of the year after having started reading Fanged Noumena and wanting to see who was writing on the Nick Land revival.

  4. I presume you have seen his blog, Urban Future, if not check that out. I haven't seen many texts about the urbanomic release Fanged Noumena, though, im very interested in the whole CCRU, Warwick, stuff from the 90's but it's hard to find contemporary texts that actually say something about these works....

    The images are cheap shots, these are exactly the 'one liner' - 'bah-dum-tish' sort of pieces that I'd hate if I saw them in a gallery, but I felt that the nepotistic in genesis hypocrisy from Cameron was too tempting a shot not to take!

    Regarding the riots - myriad factors simultaneously culminating would probably be my best 'understanding' of the event. That is all I'm comfortable about saying really, reason being, I have never lived in London, I have never been on benefits, I have never owned a commercial property, I have never been to a football match and I've never been stopped by a policeman. I don't come from a particularly privileged background, but I know that I am very lacking in the real world experience required to understand the events or have any depth of comprehension about the plethora of motives behind the groups and individuals involved. Pointing out a moral U-turn by Cameron is one thing, but some clueless kid analysing these events off the back of too much K-punk and a few J.G. Ballard novels - agh, I'm wary of that!!!

    Politics are frail, subject to whims and woes - seems like yesterday democracy and freedom were pushed to the front of the stage as sacred beings we needed to protect and promote (aggressively by invading other countries, a la neo cons)..... then this summer, a few hoodies running around and a few shops looted and all of a sudden restricting people from vital info like facebook etc seems A. ok, sino-form restrictions upon data rights dans la UK!?!?!!? Where am I living???? Consistency is scarce nowadays. The governments can be as liberal or right wing as it likes, but stick too it regardless please, otherwise the public will continue to dismiss politics as lies and shadows....

    Ralph! Sorry for ranting! It's late.


  5. Sounds very reasonable. I'm not sure either, and the issue has been highjacked to validate a number of issues in a tenuous manner on both sides. Obviously it is times of overwhelming and general social apprehension (the ghost of the recession...) in which right wing politics naturally thrive, that is what I'm mainly concerned about. I have heard the phrase "bring back the death penalty" considerably more frequently on the radio in the last 18 months that than any other period I can remember in my lifetime.

  6. I'm going to jump on a few points here, I can't type an essay about the riots but I can happily react to specific statements or suggestions.

    'The Recession' massive theme - possibly a contributing aspect of some disquiet, certainly not a primary IMO, otherwise we would've seen phenomena like the spreading riots much much earlier, back when peoples mortgages were outrunning them and when swathes of people fell into negative equity, and unemployment sharply increased..... I think the 'squeeze' is an issue, how growth is still static but living costs rising.... last few quarters growth has been static whilst the target for CPI has been 2%!?!!?!?!?! It's actually now 4.5 inflation - - nuts. Surely if growth is 0 then CPI inflation target ought to be zero too to maintain a standard of living. - Inflation and CPI issues are actually non UK issues though, infact they are east/west markets/demands issues - but need curbing by mummy and daddy government.

    anyone who says "bring back the death penalty" is not worth listening to, in England it was introduced because there was no police force, slowly the police (of some description) crept in and the death penalty remained before we dropped it to the soundtrack of Come Together back in 69. Any discussion about the DP requires the police's role to be heavily re-evaluated..... criminality wise I feel there is too much stick as it is and not enough carrot, too much Orwell and not enough Huxley.... this is where we can question the disintegration of public libraries, the death of the £500 started fund, the increase in tuition fees, the decreasing of social mobility, the privatisation of education....... these are cutting away the positive options for the next generation of sleeper-crims.

  7. I do see what you're saying Vivian, and I'm not going to argue that concrete events are irrelevant. However I do feel that a cultural illness, a problem of perception (obviously established by combinations concrete events) is the most profound aspect of what is going on now. Perhaps IDS has found himself close to the point when condemning the consumerist society. However, the hypocrisy/stupidity of this point is that government utilises and directs this consumerism in every form, from "New Labour New Danger" to an economy that is dependant on people spending what they can't afford on what they don't need! I also think that the language of fear used in the recession has been more damaging than the occurrence itself. People are regurgitating the language of the newspapers and television back to the the same reporters the next day, but the original idea has no real source outside of the media representation, it was spoken, and then it magically became true. The same happened during the riots, interviewees spouting half digested editorial bites from the papers the week before. "it's because the youth centres have closed", rather than "it is because the youth centre I used to go to in Haringey shut down and I am unable to travel to any of the other ones nearby". 19 year olds are living their lives in the third person. So are their parents. It's a fantasy world that is cracking at the edges, letting us see it was rotten all the way through the centre anyway.

  8. Sup Ralph

    This is a second draft as blogger lost my first version, cheers blogger.

    You make two quite interesting points here, i'll try and address each before blowing it open to a massive grey area of generalisations or relatively macro issues.

    "However, the hypocrisy/stupidity of this point is that government utilises and directs this consumerism in every form, from "New Labour New Danger" to an economy that is dependant on people spending what they can't afford on what they don't need!"

    I do not think there is an alternative to capitalism, not realistically, however there is massive difference between Nth degree capitalism and capitalism as a base. Left or right, libertarian or authoritarian modes of social (dis)order always fail when taken to extremes. So whilst it's possible to locate and highlight a weakness in capitalism, or point out it's breaking point, it's also important to firstly question if the capitalist hedge could be trimmed, question if it's rhizomes need to be quite so ubiquitous and secondly to question if there is any alternative to the capitalist core. My answers in in consecutive order are (emphatically): yes, no.

    There needs to be introverted capitalism and not a la labour aggressive capitalism, aggressive austerity is not the answer either.

    Your second point is fantastic and really quite insightful.

    "People are regurgitating the language of the newspapers and television back to the the same reporters the next day, but the original idea has no real source outside of the media representation, it was spoken, and then it magically became true. The same happened during the riots, interviewees spouting half digested editorial bites from the papers the week before."

    This has always happened to some degree. BBC and Sky are masters of auto-generating 'news' shite. Think to any time where has been a vaguely hot summer or a touch too chilly a winter and you will no doubt recall the dozens of reporters scrambling around the country to report news - namely the weather - before the real weather is broadcast followed by a MET office warning for us mortal viewers to 'stay inside and keep safe' and only travel if absolutely vital. Weather is a bad example of the media-news-public dynamic content feedback and auto myth creation for reportage - but I like it because the clouds outside my window are not news, they are weather, as lovely as she is I do not want Laura Tobin informing me of todays goings on in parliament.
    Perhaps a better example is self generating news and the feedback dynamic is fuel panic buying. If a premium unleaded pump in Bix, Berkshire goes empty the BBC can report an isolated case of fuel shortage, speculating on the wider ramifications whilst glossing it over with anecdotal evidence. The BBC can keep reporting this until there is a fuel shortage, created by the neighbouring villages reaction to the earlier media content. This pattern then snowballs until the whole of berkshire has a 'fuel shortage' but every car on the M4 has a tank brimming with fuel! This all happens so often quicker than you can say "Pass the charlie please Georgie". I used to think this phenomena of data/thought feedback between the public and the media was a solely top down structure (like the previous two examples) - but due to tweets, blogs, facebook etc I actually think the dynamic is much much more complex with chinese whispers of misinformation swirling round this way and that, up down across media and mediums. This is my understanding of the riots coverage you mentioned, and it leads me to a rather uncomfortable question: If this phenomena is akin to a pulsing, scrambling crowd of people relaying chinese whispers and regurgitating soundbites to one another until the feedback effect is arrived at and commentators are merely echoing the zeitgeist - I ask, if untruth is the content why it it allowed to reach this stage? Why is this world of fantasy not challenged?

  9. Hi Vivian, firstly, now I know there is an argument that ideas I'm an lazily lumping under the label consumerism are themselves integral to and an unavoidable outcome of Capitalism but in my above point I was referring to a psychocultural attitude, even if this is inseparable from the larger economic program.
    (on a side note, I do think that even within the mechanisms of Capitalism there is the possibility for absolutely beautiful examples of controlled and resilient systems which do not lead inevitably to the abstraction of individuals within it. The example that springs most strikingly to mind is the Green Bay Packers. An NFL team owned and run forever as a co-op.)

    And on your second point...

  10. Ha - I can't go toe to toe with you on related Richard E Grant films!

    Just like Cyclonopedia and House of Leaves all the juicy stuff has ended up in the comments below the main text/blog.

  11. Hi again Vivian,
    I wrote a piece recently for another blog which converges at points with some of things discussed here and indeed a few things you've covered before on NFTV, I'd be interested to know your thoughts. A link is available through this post (right at the top)