August 15, 2011
The riots that began in Tottenham on Sunday evening had flared out to multiple loci by Tuesday, when Prime Minister David Cameron finally returned from filing his nails and sunning his navel in Italy. He issued an order that nearly tripled the number of Met Police on London’s streets. As if some sort of magic wand had been waved over London, the riots’ ferocity quickly ebbed. By Tuesday night, the fires began to wane in the Big Smoke.
By Wednesday night, authorities fingered the biggest “threat” to civil order as a cluster of a hundred or so Caucasian yobs in South London’s Eltham district who’d convened not to loot or torch, but to protect local buildings from such eventualities. The Telegraph reported that “more than 1,000 officers battled with dozens” of “mainly white men,” one or two of whom may have thrown a bottle or two at the police. Not only did most press reports make a point of noting their race, they also repeatedly noted that they’d been drinking. In most accounts of the previous few nights’ pyromaniacal pandemonium, the press seemed extra-careful not to mention the race of most of the rioters, nor the possibility that they, too, may have been intoxicated. They tended to see more seething malignance in those who were defending English property and culture than those who were smashing and destroying it. Scribes clucked at the men of Eltham, and a similar grouping in Enfield, as “extreme right-wing” tools of the British National Party and English Defence League, mindless scumbags whose almost entirely nonviolent defensive activities had forever been “contaminated” and “tainted” by racism’s ineradicable stink.
The press heaped no such scorn upon Bangladeshi, Sikh, and Muslim vigilante groups who understandably had also gathered to protect their neighborhoods. Instead, they portrayed them as heroic. One headline even rubbed indigenous Brits’ noses in the idea that “Immigrants love this country more than we do,” failing to note that the police didn’t clamp down on such groups with nearly the zeal that they did the Anglo-Saxons of Eltham, nor did anyone in the media or government lob endless “R” bombs at the Turks, Kurds, and Somalis.
And still they scratch their pointy heads and wonder why England has festering cultural problems.
Undoubtedly aided by vigilante groups of all shades as well as the swollen police presence, a temporary sort of order was restored in London and elsewhere in England. Government officials were quick to lecture their subjects that it’s wrong to take the law, and the truncheons, into their own hands. Otherwise, the government would be out of a job, wouldn’t it?
Notably missing from their homilies was the fact that self-righteous platitudes did nothing to end the violence—it was only the threat of superior counter-violence that did the trick. Also unmentioned was the idea that although governments pretend to rule by popular consent, they have always been little more than the biggest gang in town. The difference between politics and crime is that politicians reserve the right to define the latter term. Governments monopolize the right to harm, kill, steal, and detain. Everything else consists of semantic gymnastics and window dressing.
Should any peaceniks scoff at the notion that superior firepower—not lofty ideas—is what rules the world, remind them that mercilessly blunt force is the only thing that stopped Hitler. It wasn’t Lincoln’s speeches, but Sherman’s scorched-earth tactics that smashed the Confederacy. The Declaration of Independence would have only been a scrap of quaint parchment if it hadn’t been backed by 20,000 muskets wielded by men who were willing to die. Pacifists are unable to concede the eternal truth that violence only ever yields to greater violence.
Mark Duggan understood that, as do all gangsters. Police and politicians understand it. Ordinary citizens are only beginning to comprehend it.
Despite fleeting illusions that we’re civilized, the world will always be a jungle. It makes me queasy to think that this year could be a turning point where a block-to-block civil war erupts all over the world, but I’d rather have a mild tummy ache than a bullet in my gut. There may be shortages of food and money but a bounty of violence and mayhem. Things may grow so chaotic that you’ll need to take the law into your own hands. So the kindest gesture I could make is to gently suggest you get ready. It’s the only thing that will protect you from the federal shooters on one side and the feral looters on the other.