As a company with its headquarters in what is currently Western Europe’s most besieged metropolis, Mediolana is well-placed to proffer comment on the continuing rioting that has spread across London since 6th August 2011. While acres of news coverage have been dedicated to such developments as the ransacking of Wood Green and the deployment of thousands of extra police officers on the streets of the capital of the United Kingdom, there has been little convincing analysis of what has engendered the city-wide public disorder. Commentators and politicians – mainly on the left – have pointed to stringent government cuts as the source of the disaffection; those on the political right have cited a ‘broken and detached‘ Britain wracked by gang violence.
However, we at Mediolana think that the August 2011 London riots can be explained better within the following context:
1. The Destruction of Value. The United Kingdom is a country which, during the past decade, has seen its economy suffer severe destruction of capital value at the hands of an often feral financial sector. This culminated in the central government bailing out former fiscal behemoths, a process that is still ongoing and which has cost the taxpayer a sum in the trillions of pounds. Given that such world-class gouging has occurred within the same cityscape – unpunished – we should perhaps not be surprised at members from less fortunate demographic groups echoing a similar ‘winning’ logic in their actions.
2. A Hyperreal Cult of Adrenalin. A generation which has been raised in a virtual environment – often bereft of parental love or even presence – is now coming to fruition. Making the connection between their actions and the concomitant consequences may not be the simple task – on either a neurological or ethical level – that previous eras held it to be.
3. Moral Neutrality. In a culture where moral relativism is the norm and where countries can be invaded by lawyers via remote control, both private property and public space are mere aggregates to be subjected to power. The cultivation of virtue and the preservation of dignity are stripped bare from society like so many mobile telephones from a Carphone Warehouse wall.