20 August 2011

riots, the antennae of the nation

I don't chime with everything Zizek says, and don't feel as compelled as some to pretend I know what it was all about, but this makes some sense to me:

Are the shopkeepers a small bourgeoisie defending their property against a genuine, if violent, protest against the system; or are they representatives of the working class, fighting the forces of social disintegration? Here too one should reject the demand to take sides. 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.

Although this: The rioters’ violence was almost exclusively directed against their own. The cars burned and the shops looted were not in rich neighbourhoods, but in the rioters’ own. is actually incorrect. I was speaking to a Kurdish shop owner in Dalston (I've been staying with a friend there, and was waiting for him to get home), and this guy, apart from saying Mark Duggan was 'a bad lot' (a phrase my Dad uses!) because he used to come into another of his restaurants up near Angel, was categorically saying that the kids who came down to Dalston were not from there. They were conspicuous by their unfamiliarity to this shopowner and the others who chased the rioters/ shoplifters down the street. Therefore the idea of the rioters mindlessly shitting where they sleep just doesn't work.

Going back to the Zizek article, I thought this was beautiful and persuasive (and actually the article should have concluded here): It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.

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