Monday, August 15, 2011

The Riots Part 4

A small discussion on the Shuttle has shown me that I need to re-state some of my previous points in a different way. What I've been asking is - why this, now? Why did everything explode at that point and not at a previous point. In that respect I find I need to turn to an old analogy that of comparing society to a pressure cooker.

Normally everything is fine and bubbling along; there's some pressure in the system, but it can be coped with. Occasionally a build-up occurs in one place, but not enough to cause problems and often dissipates into the mix. So what about the riots?

To continue it's possible to see that pressure can build up inside the cooker; on an individual front this can be from worry over employment, inflation cutting into income, cuts in services that the person is dependent on; or simply through low level interaction with other people with these problems - person molecules colliding as it were.

Surrounding this pressure system is the cooker itself; in this case made up of various 'fabrics' that make up our society. In this country we could say that general etiquette makes up one such, perhaps a dash of Protestant work ethic, a respect (but not a total one) for the law.

However given this container can only withstand so much relief systems are also in place. So one can get drunk; load up a violent video game and swear at strangers online; go down the gym and run the treadmill or fling oneself around playing squash; head down the park and play a game of football; or even just have a nice relaxing soak in a bubblebath.

When a riot occurs it does so because the pressures have built up beyond the point the container and relief systems can't cope. However when I read the media speculation they all seem to focus on one aspect. The more left-wing point to what they see as the causes of the pressure build-up; the more right-wing to the weakening or attacked fabric of the container; and a few (mostly it seems those on the 'front-line') point to the lack or failure of the relief systems.

Except it's all one thing. Sure relieving the pressure can help, but it builds up in so many ways it's only a short-term solution. Sure we can strengthen the container, but that suggests when (not if) it blows the result will be more explosive. While all these do require examination it's the relief systems that should receive top priority. Instead look at what's in place - clamp downs on smoking and drinking; harsh penalties for drug taking; prostitution (per se) illegal; games being castigated by the media; gyms only for those who can afford it; open spaces for those who can't afford it being turned into developments or being restricted by writ-wary councils on the grounds of health and safety.Those are just a few of the top of my head - from the point of view of a teenager they're even more restricted. Given they're the ones most likely to be bouncing around with energy in our pressure cooker might be an idea to let them expend their energy outwards.

Oh and before any one says anything no 'youth' centres and organised activities barely count because they're just just restrictions in another name they're doing what someone else has deemed as suitable for them. Provide a space and say 'Use this as you wish when you want to'. Let them work out their own schedules, their own squabbles over who gets to do what and when. It's the only way that they'll release that energy and amusingly work with the current societal fabric too.