Sommosse britanniche

Res publica   09.08.11  

Differenze e similitudini con le rivolte degli anni '80.
Là dove c'era ideologia e voglia di riscatto oggi regna più che altro il teppismo.

There may be something self-destructive in black youth culture which, 30 years on from the Toxteth riot, led the man who detonated it, Leroy Cooper, to reflect to the Liverpool Daily Post: "The riot was a symptom of there being something really wrong with our society. We smashed our own community up, we destroyed our own homes. There had to be something wrong."

But there are other differences too. The riots in the 1980s were on a much bigger scale. Several people died, hundreds were injured and the damage bill ran into billions at today's prices. There was more planning too; the weekend's riots were orchestrated impromptu on Twitter, but in the 1980s serious preparation went into assembling barricade materials and manufacturing large numbers of petrol bombs.

There is something else. Today's riots have been characterised by opportunist looting on a scale which befits our era of wanton materialist consumerism. Looters have been seen trying things on for size or browsing through vitamin supplements in smashed up shops to find the particular brand they crave.

This is rioting-meets-shopping. It does not, as one eye-witness put it, feel like an "appeal from the heart of the ghetto" so much as an opportunity "to get a nice new pair of trainers." Not so much desperate as decadent.

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