Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Does Rioting Really Work for the Excluded?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Does Rioting Really Work for the Excluded?

Article excerpt

URBAN RAGE: THE REVOLT OF THE EXCLUDED by Mustafa Dikec (Yale, PS16.99) RICHARD GODWIN IN THE aftermath of the 2011 London riots simpler times, eh? David Cameron was searching for reasons why tens of thousands of British youths would do such a thing. As Chelsea fans put it when they came to Tottenham: "You burnt your own town! You burnt your own town! You stupid b******s! You burnt your own town!" Wisely, Cameron resisted MP Sir Peter Tapsell's suggestion to round up the perpetrators and lock them in Wembley Stadium. But he still pulled that classic Conservative move of failing to take responsibility for his own actions the expenses scandal was in full swing, austerity gearing up, the banks freshly bailed and blaming it instead on a few errant individuals. Fifteen thousand of them.

"These riots were not about race," Cameron explained in his 'fight-back' speech. Nor government cuts or poverty apparently. "No, this was about behaviour. People showing indifference to right and wrong. People with a twisted moral code. People with a complete absence of self-restraint."

Mustafa Dikec, a Turkish-descended professor of urban studies who works between Paris and Malmo, disagrees. "Urban rage builds up from systematic exclusion and oppression, which go beyond police violence and expand to all areas of urban life, including housing, employment, social encounters and political worth," he writes.

He believes riots Paris 2005, Athens 2008, London 2011, Istanbul 2013, Ferguson 2014, Baltimore 2015 are less to do with naughtiness and lots to do with liberal democracy in crisis. For if London is so full of people who don't know right from wrong, why did they riot at that particular moment? Why don't they riot all the time? Dikec's detailed history of the Ferguson protests lays out the general framework of his "urban rage" theory a pattern that repeats in places as diverse as Stockholm and Istanbul. The centre of St Louis became gentrified and the developers didn't build much by way of affordable housing (sound familiar?). This led to a "suburbanisation" of poverty, concentrating the city's African-American population in the "lesser" Ferguson district. …

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