Not a good news week
It wouldn’t feel right to blog this week without mentioning the economic holocaust that appears to be threatening the world. The Dow is doomed, Greece is gutted, the States are failing and anyone close to retirement is likely starting to panic. If you didn’t already have your super sorted, you’d be forgiven for feeling downright depressed this week. You might even feel tempted to pack it all in, don a hoodie and join the riots in London. But the rioters don’t in fact stand for anything. There is no silenced, disenfranchised voice emerging from the fray. The only audible voice is that of a greedy kid wanting a cool TV and the latest Air Jordans. It looks like nothing less than a nasty old scab grab.
The deeper cut
While it is easy to sweep the entire episode under one heading and label them all criminals, any society whose youth feel this disconnected from their own communities, undoubtedly needs to take a deeper look. And although ironic, a world whose leading economy just lost their credit rating, is also disturbing and unsettling. Certainly the “I”, “I” “I, “me”, “me”, “me” liberal individualism of the capitalist model is being tested.
- The greed had to peak eventually, and it sure did in spectacular fashion smashing through the global debt ceiling. American financial markets played pass the parcel with the debt until it finally landed in the states lap and there is no more passing it on. The government is screwed, we’re petrified and the global markets are flailing. But what got us into such debt? A society focused on the accumulation of wealth above all else?
- Observing the looters in London certainly suggests that the youth don’t know what else to want for but ‘things” – consumerism gone mad. For years they have postured on the corners outside shops and liquor stores being ignored. Now they have our attention and it must feel good, but there is no political aim or social criticism. It looks like blind consumption and destruction. Is it capitalism that has fostered this unhealthy degree of materialism, or is it instead a hallmark of socialism and the “I expect a handout” mentality it can sometimes foster?
The capitalist, democratic systems of the west are copping it from all sides – economic, political and social concerns are emerging in force, and are airing quickly and efficiently across the globe through the use of modern technology.
Social Media: the good the bad and the ugly
Once again in our brave new world, social media have played a vital role in unfolding events. Social media was used to organise the initial peaceful protest against police brutality in Tottenham, after a local man was shot dead. Once the riots began the looters used social media to arrange the next “hit” and to avoid police. Onlookers and locals used social media to express outrage, generate social debate and share the latest news updates. Locals used Twitter #LondonRiots to stay abreast of the moving, changing situation, identifying safe back streets via which to return home. Twitter #RiotCleanup was used to mobilise people for clean ups throughout the ravaged communities. The good, the bad and the ugly, social media operates at the very heartland of our world.
Elsewhere it’s same same but different
While London youth rioted, Tel Aviv in Israel claimed itself a revolution after more than 300,000 people peacefully protested against rising housing prices and an increasingly unaffordable cost of living. Whole tent villages spanned the city and spontaneous dancing and music filled the scene. A far cry from London’s masked children smashing windows for “stuff”. Perhaps the same fundamental issues underlie both events – a rising gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. While both events will be experienced, explored and shared through social media, sadly only one stands a chance of achieving a positive outcome, the other having lost all public sympathy.
The end game
A rough week indeed, one for head scratching and pondering the shocking scenes from London, while worrying and despairing about our personal fortunes as the world’s leading financial nations teeter on the edge of an unchartered abyss. It’s only natural to wonder if we’re on a one way street toward anarchy and poverty – a world that after economic depression is handed over to the likes of the angry youth we see in London. If it all goes tits up, Aussies know exactly what to do. Buy a dirt bike, a helmet and some shin pads, and strap in for a hell ride….Mad Max style.
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