Several news media reported yesterday that British Prime Minister David Cameron wants Britain to look to the United States for solutions to gang violence after nights of riots and looting.
The first problem with this, of course, is that the rioting was not caused by gangs and the destruction bore no similarity to gang violence. There are substantial differences in both quality and quantity between drive by shootings, assassinations of competitors and street brawls on the one hand, and looting, arson and vandalism on the other. There are also significant differences in motive.
But let’s ignore all that, since the politicians have and they will do what they wish anyway. What they want is class harmony or, more accurately, class servility. Workers and their children must accept graciously the conditions imposed by the ruling class and be grateful they are permitted any luxuries or freedoms at all. Anyone who threatens private property, regardless of their motivations, is a dangerous thug and must be dealt with harshly.
Britain has already labeled large portions of its immigrant and minority underclasses terrorists or potential terrorists, justifying a sharp curtailing of civil liberties and protection from search and seizures. By now calling them gangsters and equating them with Crips, Bloods, Mara Salvatrucha, Nortenos and Surenos, and calling for a U.S.-style response, they must surely also be calling for the massive buildup of new prisons, three- (and two-) strikes laws, and mass incarceration of youth of color. In the U.S., this policy has led to incarceration rates higher than any other country in the world and a society in which nearly 12% of young black men are incarcerated.
Perhaps they are also calling for the imposition of youth curfews and injunctions that would allow the police to round up any juveniles who are dressed in inappropriate colors or styles or who happen to be hanging out publicly with more than two friends.
It might also include giving the police greater fire power and the green light to use it against unarmed people of color who talk back to police on the tube and do not shuffle and bow to them on the streets.
We do know that Cameron is considering allowing police to evict troublemakers from subsidized housing and temporarily disabling cell phone instant messaging services, Twitter and Facebook, as the SF Chronicle reported today.
The use of the term “troublemakers” rather than “convicts” implies that innocent people could lose their homes merely for being suspects, or that they might evict people for thought crimes or even free speech. It is entirely possible to make heaps of trouble for the authorities and the bosses of the world without breaking any laws at all. Going on strike, advocating strikes, picketing corporations or even private homes, writing scathing articles, boycotts, even nasty letters could all be considered troublemaking, particularly by those affected by the tactics. If fully enforced, England could be creating a homeless problem far worse than in the U.S.
The disabling of cell phone instant messaging services and social networking sounds eerily like Iran or China. Even so, they are pretty naïve if they think that will stop future riots, protests or even insurrections. For large masses of unemployed, frustrated and angry people, world of mouth can go a long way. People still have access to printed pamphlets, fliers and posters. There is also the ever useful tactic of one-on-one organizing, which is far more powerful than any digital communication as it allows face to face interaction, feedback, give and take. And for every person that gets organized in this way, there are potentially many others who they will reach.