August 9, 2011

BRIAN MICKLETHWAIT ON LETTING THE POLICE DO THEIR JOB:

One of the more depressing things about these riots is the way that the only thing that the Police can think of to say to us non-looters and non-arsonists is: “Don’t join in” and “Let us handle it”. If the bad guys start to torch your house, let them get on with it. If they attack your next door neighbour, don’t join in on his side. Run away. Let the barbarians occupy and trash whatever territory they pick on and steal or destroy whatever property they want to.

There was a fascinating impromptu TV interview with some young citizens of Clapham last night, not “experts”, just regular citizens, one of whom stated the opposite policy. Law abiding persons should get out of their houses, he said, en masse, and be ready to defend them.

The trouble with “letting the Police do their job” is that in the precise spot in which you happen to live, or used to live, their job probably won’t start, if it ever does start, for about a week. In the meantime, letting the Police do their job means letting the damn looters and arsonists do their job, without anyone laying a finger on them, laying a finger on them being illegal. This is a doomed policy. If most people are compelled by law to be only neutral bystanders in a war between themselves and barbarism, barbarism wins. The right to, at the very least, forceful self defence must now be insisted upon.

Indeed.

Plus: The riots are not about “cuts.” No, but the bureaucrats being cut hope you’ll think so, so that they can profit from the violence.

UPDATE: Richard Fernandez:

Since no police force has the numbers to be everywhere at once, it maintains order through the force of its name, the power of the uniform. This was once known as ‘prestige’; today it is better known as ‘legitimacy’. Although as insubstantial as air it is as vital as oxygen. Without it things become very dificult. Once the authorities begin lose their prestige they must rely ever more heavily on force, of which there is never, ever enough.

In one sense legitimacy is the fiction on which society is based. It is to government what confidence is to a bank.

As he notes, the British government has been undermining its own legitimacy for decades. As I’ve noted before, maintaining a sufficiency of moral capital is at least as important as maintaining sufficient financial capital, but our elites are oblivious to the importance of both, since paying attention to such concerns might limit their short-term freedom of action.

MORE: Can’t stop the riot, but they’ll stop the cleanup: “Local people arrived in Peckham High Street armed with cleaning equipment to help restore order in the aftermath of the riots. About 20 residents with dustpans and brushes offered small businesses help cleaning up their destroyed stores. But people waiting to clean up Clapham Junction have been told they cannot help because of health and safety issues.”

MORE STILL: Brendan O’Neill: A Mob Made By The Welfare State. “This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one’s own community. And as a left-winger, I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly negative impact on working people’s lives. . . . So this street violence was largely ignited by the excesses of the welfare state and was then intensified by the discombobulation of the police state. In this sense, it reveals something very telling, and quite depressing, about modern Britain.”

STILL MORE: Victor Davis Hanson on paralytic Western society:

It is fascinating to see how postmodern Western societies react to wide-scale rioting, looting, and thuggery aimed at innocents. In Britain, politicians contemplate the use of water cannons as if they were nuclear weapons; and here the mayor of Philadelphia calls on rappers to appeal to youth to help ease the flash-mobbing that has a clear racial component to it (is the attorney general’s Civil Rights Division investigating?). . . .

We seem able to admit that massive federal and state entitlements have created a sense of dependency, a loss of self-respect and initiative, and a breakdown of the family, yet we still seem to fear that trimming the subsidies would lead to some sort of cold-turkey hyper-reaction. We assume that society is to blame for disaffected youth and therefore are hesitant to use commensurate force to quell the violence or even to make it clear that perpetrators are responsible for their own conduct. Yet at some point — when the violence reaches middle-class communities or, in serial fashion, downtown or suburban stores — we likewise assume that sufficient force will be used. Sociological exegesis will go out the window. Reality has a way of dispelling such cognitive luxuries.

The gods of the copybook headings will have their way in the end.

Plus, from Andrew Stuttaford: “The British state lectures, hectors and micro-manages the law-abiding. When it comes to defending them, it is, all too often, AWOL.”

Related: Hacker News: 5000% Increase In Sale Of Baseball Bats On Amazon.co.uk.

FINALLY: Reader Barbara Van Horn sends this perennial Internet favorite. Perhaps some British policymakers will take a lesson, though I very much doubt it.

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