Damn or Fear It, the Truth Is That It's an Insurrection

By Pilger, John | New Statesman (1996), August 22, 2011 | Go to article overview

Damn or Fear It, the Truth Is That It's an Insurrection


Pilger, John, New Statesman (1996)


On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more who waved me aside. They surrounded a young black man who, like me, was ambling along. They rifled through his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time.

For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain--mostly the black, the marginalised and resentful, the envious and hopeless--there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs; this was panoramic looting.

Such is the truth of David Cameron's "sick society", notably its sickest, most criminal, most feral "pocket": the square mile of the City of London where, with political approval, the banks and the super-rich have trashed the British economy and the lives of millions. This is fast becoming unmentionable as we succumb to propaganda once described by the American black leader Malcolm X thus: "If you're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing."

Money-moving parasites

As MPs lined up to bay their class bigotry and hypocrisy in parliament, barely a handful spoke this truth. Not one of the heirs to Edmund Burke's 18th-century rants against "mob rule" by a "swinish multitude" referred to previous rebellions in Brixton, Tottenham and Toxteth in the 1980s, when Lord Scarman reported that "complex political, social and economic factors" had caused a "disposition towards violent protest" and recommended urgent remedial action. Instead, Labour and Liberal bravehearts called for water cannon and everything draconian. Among them was the Labour MP Hazel Blears. Remember her notorious expenses? None made the obvious connection between the greatest inequality since records began, a police force that routinely abuses a section of the population and kills with impunity, and a permanent state of colonial warfare with an arms trade to match: the apogee of violence.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It seemed hardly coincidental that on the day before Cameron raged against "phoney human rights", Nato aircraft--including British bombers sent by him--killed a reported 85 civilians in a peaceful Libyan town. These were people in their homes, children in their schools. Watch the BBC's man on the spot trying his best to dispute the evidence in front of his eyes, just as the political and media class sought to discredit the evidence of a civilian slaughter in Iraq as bloody as the Rwandan genocide.

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Damn or Fear It, the Truth Is That It's an Insurrection
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