Rioting is not revolution

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I was in London not three weeks ago, and it was marvellous. I wouldn’t like to be there tonight.

It’s a city I’ve loved and loathed in equal measure; I’ve sometimes been troubled by its bustle, but never by its people.

Until now.

These riots are no revolution.

Though they may have started as a reaction to the death of a man in Tottenham, apparently at the hands of the police, they have long since become something else.

Now they are about violence, and greed, and power, and taking what you can’t afford because in some way, deep down, you think you deserve it.

I’ve news for you – if you’re rioting on the streets of London, looting from and burning down small businesses, you don’t deserve it.

Whether it be a satnav or a flatscreen TV, you don’t deserve it at all.

And if you think that this is the way to change things, you’re utterly wrong – in fact, you’ll find in the coming days and weeks that actions like this usually make life worse for the downtrodden you claim to represent, not better.

After all, what small business will give a teenager in a hoody a job after this?

What magistrate will take a lenient view of a gang member brought before them?

What school will look to help a problem child who has been bounced out of school?


People will read the headlines in the Daily Mail and turn their backs on you.

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If you want to know what it’s like to be disenfranchised and robbed, look at the Irish people.

Their government have not only robbed this generation, but several generations into the future, to pay for the foolishness of the banks. If anyone has an excuse to riot, it would be them.

But they don’t. You might say they’re too lazy, but after hundreds of years of violence and uprisings, they’ve come to a different conclusion.

Setting a car on fire or breaking a window never changed anything, and it’s not going to do so this time either.

If you, in your righteous anger, truly want to make life better for your people, your community, your children, you’ll take off the mask, put down the brick and go and learn how the system is run.

Because if you don’t understand the system, you cannot change it.

Real revolution comes not from breaking windows and stealing televisions; real revolution comes from reading books and communicating with your neighbours and friends and from the hard work of building your community from the bottom up, one small victory at a time.

Real revolution is about helping your neighbours and friends to build up sustainable local businesses that serve their communities, not smashing them up and burning them out.

Real revolution is not about violence or bitterness or hatred.

Real revolution is about being angry enough at society to want to change it. Not destroy it.

Because you are society. We all are.

And in trying to destroy it, you’re destroying yourselves as well.

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