Ackroyd on London riots.

Ackroyd always wonderful – if you ain’t read his books start with Hawksmoor – an astonishing first novel. Buy it on Amazon:

From his Indie interview:

“Rioting has always been a London tradition. It has been since the early Middle
Ages. There’s hardly a spate of years that goes by without violent rioting of
one kind or another. They happen so frequently that they are almost part of
London’s texture. The difference is that in the past the violence was more
ferocious, and the penalties were more ferocious – in most cases, death”

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  • aquifer

    Riots and complex modern economies do not go well together however. Tourists and global traders may be too jittery, unable to distinguish traditional riots from revolutions or murderous mahem.

    The government needs to get ahead of the curve and give those sturdy fast food fattened sixteen year olds the vote.

  • Alias

    Folks are probably obfuscating rioting with looting because the former is sexier than the latter but rioting usually has some political undertone whereas looting does not. Looting is an extreme form of consumerism practiced by people who don’t have credit cards or, indeed, cash.

    It was just a bunch of morally-voided citizens who saw an opportunity to get something for nothing and duly took it. It’s probably the first time in their Nannystate-spawned lives that they ever ‘worked’ for anything of material value so I guess it should be regarded as progress of a sort.

    These folks are innoculated with a sense of entitlement by the State. They have a mentality wherein the responsibility to provide for their material needs is displaced onto others and they were really just taking what they felt they were entitled to anyway, so that’s what you get when you strip personal responsibility out of the social equation and create a state-dependent underclass with unrealized expectations.

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias ,

    ‘so that’s what you get when you strip personal responsibility out of the social equation and create a state-dependent underclass with unrealized expectations.’

    Rubbish . What the western world has endured these past several years has been brought about by a ‘state dependent ‘ overclass as seen in it’s financiers , banksters and hedge fund casino money purveyors . The destruction wrought by ‘rioting ‘ Londoners of the ‘underclass’ bears no comparison with the destruction wrought by the Wall St or City of London banksters and their fawning paid off politicians 🙁
    Where was the personal ‘responsibility ‘ at the top of Lehman Bros , or Bank of America or Citgroup or Deutsche bank or Northern Rock or RBS or Anglo Irish or in the House of Commons for that matter . I’ll exclude the RC Church hierarchy on this occassion as they seem to have stopped paying themselves large bonuses for their destruction of some members of their congregations – which point can’t be made about the ‘banksters ‘who continue to pillage on the backs of taxpayers:(

    I suppose Alias you would prefer to see a private sector dependent underclass with no expectations i.e no health benefits -no unemployment insurance – no paid holidays -no overtime -no unions and preferably confined to using non existent public transport to get to their non existent jobs ?

    Grow up man ffs .Has it not dawned on you yet that it’s perfectly possible for the private sector to be unable to provide full employment at a wage rate that people will actually work for ? As the banks now unload further thousands of financial services employees BOA (3,500) and UBS (3,500) onto already lengthening unemployment lines as their response to being able to afford their chief executives bigger bonuses -one wonders just how long it will be before London’s riotous example will be followed by others .

  • Rory Carr

    “It was just a bunch of morally-voided citizens who saw an opportunity to get something for nothing and duly took it.”

    Ah! Budding little capitalists then getting in a bit of early practice before they go on to hedge fund management, asset stripping and playing nice little games with pension funds? Not really – they are all much too innocent and insufficently unscrupulous, greedy and uncaring of the suffering of others to graduate to the premier league of thuggish wastrels who dominate and plunder this world.

    A measure of this is that they have stopped, they have gone to their homes perhaps replete, in order to rest, or simply exhausted or fearful of capture. The capitalist classes never stop, never sleep, they are relentless in their theiving, in the promotion of war, in the exploitation of human misery for profit. They are never replete and they create their murder and mayhem with impunity since they practically own the governments and armed forces that carry out the mayhem on their behalf. No one who would praise their mischief, who would laud their power as progressive and beneficial has any authority whatsoever to pontificate on the morality of their victims, in fact has no moral authority whatsoever to speak on any matter for they have already sold their souls to the devils of avarice and greed by which the world is reduced to the misery of events including the riots in England of late, which unrest however pales into insignificance when placed against the ongoing wars of aggression being waged by Western capitalism in so many, many spheres of the globe.

  • Dewi

    Anyone read the wonderful “Hawksmoor” btw?

  • Greenflag

    @ dewi ,

    Thanks for bringing Peter Ackroyd to our attention . I haven’t read Hawksmoor not being into ‘novels ‘ in recent years but I’ll list it for a future look see . From what I read in your links he seems to be quite a character . Not a Wat Tyler but probably knows more about Wat’s rebellion /riots than any historian alive .

  • rhys

    I thought Hawksmoor was excellent. As to the rioting, only people who expect to own the whole shebang soon behave morally: after the squalid treachery of the Labour Party and the rotting of the CP people have returned to the older tradition of getting what they can, just as the English tory mob has returned to the acceptance of ANY humiliation as long as they are allowed to spite others. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

  • Rory Carr

    Yes, Dewi, I read Hawksmoor some years ago and I do agree with your assessment. Unfortunately some time after that I watched a television documentary about the author (I think it might have been around the time of the publication of London) and I found the man so unappealing that I have not been able to bring myself to obtain any of his subsequent work. Which is probably a great pity I know and a case of cutting off one’s nose etc. but life is too short not to make these kind of decisions if I am to get to read as many of the works of those authors who are not so disagreeable as I am able before I enlist in the Big Library in the Sky.

  • Dewi

    Rory – i think that’s fair enough…..

  • Alias

    Greenflag, I agree with that rather dismal assessment of the amorality of the EU political and financial class, but that moral relativism doesn’t negate anything I said about the looters. In other words, the looting of plasma TVs and NIKE trainers by a state-dependent underclass isn’t rendered morally correct just because the EU and its collaborators plunder tens of billions of taxpayers’ wealth. But it does weaken the moral fabric of a society when the underclass observe the hacks at Stormont, for example, stick their snouts in the trough and gorge on the finest. The solution is to punish the corrupt, not emulate them.

    The looting we saw in London shouldn’t be misdescribed as rioting in an attempt to dignify it. It was just a bunch of greedy underclass consumers acquiring goods sans the moral obligation of paying for them. Given that the political left has relentlessy attacked moral value systems, that’s a logical outworking of it.

    The business class, unlike that underclass, never had any morality innoculated into them as a form of social engineering but they do compensate with ethics and a respect for law.

  • Dewi

    Alias – read some Ackroyd – edifying.

  • Riots in Ackroyd? Must look out how he represented William Blake’s involvement in the Gordon Riots.

    Meanwhile, I recall [from The House of Doctor Dee]:

    I had come up to the fragment of the old stone pillar which marks the site of the Red Lion Fields massacre of June 1780; at the time of the Gordon Riots a group of children were killed by troops here, and three months later John Wilkes started a subscription for this memorial. The stone was now so cracked and worn that it might have been a piece of nature in decay but, on an impulse, I knelt down and touched it.

    From Hawksmoor:

    He was a Man of uncouth and halting Speech, but I peeced together his story as follows, viz: Two days before, some Report of our Activities was spread abroad, and thereupon a Riot was raised among the Streets by our Meeting-House, the people becoming very clamorous against it; there were six withinne the House and, on hearing a confus’d Noise approaching them, they first bolted the fore door, and then padlock’d the Back door, which was glazed, and began to fasten the Shutters belonging to it. The Mobb then threw Stones at the Windows, and among them Flint-stones of such a Size and Weight as were enough to have kill’d any Person they hit (which was their Purpose). They likewise stopp’d those passing thro’ Black Step Lane, robb’d them of their Hats, tore off their Wiggs, and buffetted them on suspicion that they were Enthusiasticks (their canting Term): Joseph as one of these and escap’d scarcely with his Life. The Mobb had now crowded into both Lanes running each side of the House (a Disease comes out in Pus and runs so), and they forc’d the Doors. There was no help for those inside but to give themselves up to the Mercy of the Mobb, who shewed none but barbarously mangled them, hacking and hewing them until there was no Life left in their Bodies. The House itself was quite destroy’d.

    Those occasions were religious riots — don’t mention them in contexts closer-to-home.

    Above all, I love the quotation about gang-busting from Henry Fielding in this Ackroyd clip on Georgian London (just after 45 seconds in).

  • Dewi

    Malcolm – you are great value as always.