In the recent London riots, two young English youths were interviewed on camera and made interesting comments. One girl, who was drinking from a bottle of purloined wine, said: “We showed the police and the rich people that we can do anything we want.” Her friends and accomplices were nodding in agreement. Another young man said he and his friends were angry because they had wanted to go to university, but recent changes by government had prevented this.
Anger seethes in the hearts of the dispossessed in many parts of the world, from Cairo to London. I see this as a result of capitalism’s contradiction, the disparity between the theory of its proponents and the reality of siphoning by the rich. In theory capitalism is supposed to be the flood of wealth that raises everybody’s boat; while in fact some people get rich and many get left behind. Furthermore, recently wealth has been increasingly accumulating in the hands of those who are already wealthy and some rich have become the super-rich. This has been occurring at a time when many people have come to realize that they are locked out of having the things they see advertized on TV, jobs and the promise of higher education. The satellite TV programs and social media have shown many locked in poverty that some are living charmed lives unavailable to them.
The anger remains sub rosa until sparked by an event such as the self-immolation of Mohsen Bouterfif in Algeria or the killing of Mark Duggan, a father of four in London. The rich and the governments they support are out of touch with the people. In America things are also not copasetic. Politicians on both sides of the isle seem more interested in being reelected or moving on to plus jobs after making the right connections in Washington than helping the people cope with the economic downturn. Partisanship is strangling democracy. Yet the people can see that they are being harmed by the actions of the wealthy and well-placed. In a recent CNN poll, people were asked: “Should the Deficit Reduction Bill include taxes on business and higher-income Americans?” Sixty-three percent said yes. Again, they were asked: “Should the Deficit Reduction Bill include taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans?” Eighty-seven percent said no. Yet this is precisely what government has done, given the recently inane move to the right conservatives under the influence of a small minority of Americans who are well off and who want to protect their privileges.
We can expect to see more riots worldwide if the rich don’t address growing poverty and misery being produced by their insensitivity and greed and their support of office-holders who pass laws and make policies to help the rich get even richer.