Happily, the Guardian at least seems to be stepping back a bit from the blanket depoliticization of the recent English (and I believe Welsh) riots: here’s an essay by the magnificent Gary Younge, here’s one by Naomi Klein, here’s a particularly triffic article about how the idea of a ‘mob mentality’ is about a hundred years out of date, and while I’m at it, here’s a blog post by Dan Griffiths reminding us, brilliantly, that the Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman claimed £8865 in expenses for a 40-inch TV.
I have one more post I want to make about this, about the legal power of shop windows to stop us taking things that we want and how that’s bound up with other, less salubrious ways in which law divides space and regulates flows, but it’s taking a while to wrestle it into words. And anyway, I’m supposed to be blogging about Derrida–
ETA: Zizek on the riots, from the London Review of Books, reblogged at I Cite:
The truth is that the conflict was between two poles of the underprivileged: those who have succeeded in functioning within the system versus those who are too frustrated to go on trying… The conflict is not between different parts of society; it is, at its most radical, the conflict between society and society, between those with everything, and those with nothing, to lose; between those with no stake in their community and those whose stakes are the highest.
Zygmunt Bauman characterised the riots as acts of ‘defective and disqualified consumers’: more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology – so much, perhaps, for the ‘post-ideological society’. From a revolutionary point of view, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self-assertive. It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.
How I hate to agree with Zizek–