Six years ago, in that blazing autumn that saw France engulfed by violence (to a degree not seen since 1968 or even 1871), what is happenig today in many British cities (London + its suburbs, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham) seemed utterly inconceivable.
The French had granted citizenship to immigrants, irrespective or nationality and religious background, therefore they should have considered the ‘risk’ implied by this more or less forceful integration, many British thinkers were probably imagining.
Whilst on the contrary, multicultural Britain had offered homes that retained all ethnic and religious peculiarities (from the fartherst corners of Asia and Africa to the Carribean and Eastern Europe) to millions of people.
The British model was deemed superior, many believed, because newcomers were not forced to adhere to abstract values such as those of the French Republic.
Instead of that, they were likely to become law abiding citizens of a country that let them live their way, with little-to-none interference of the state in their lives.
The presumed solidity of this approach was hailed during the time when T. Bliar and his gang were in power (1997 – 2010), and every now and then Britons (and friends of Britain, like me :-) were exposed to ‘success stories’ about multiculturalism.
They sounded good: communities were interwoven by racial harmony, peace, understanding, respect for diversity, a climate of political correctness and allegiance to democratic values. All of these and economic prosperity overlapping.
Then the economic crisis struck Britain, followed by severe public spending cuts, and in early 2011, PM David Cameron openly acknowledged the failure of multiculturalism.
In theory, multiculturalism looked great – as appealing to the eye as these pictures of little streets from the City of London, a melting pot that, since the late 1600s to our days has been home to French Huguenots, Jews, Irish, Africans, African-Americans, Indians, Chinese, Pakistanis etc.
In practice, the often questioned multicultural achievements of British democracy lie shattered among the broken windows, broken skulls, and burning shops in British (only English, no Scottish, Welsh or Irish so far!!!) cities that no long before were ‘dream destinations’ for people from all over the world.
The mobs are not ‘united in diversity’ (as the EU motto claims) on the streets of British cities that I have so often praised as beautiful; there’s but a sort of ‘unity’ in discontent, rage, and meaningless devastation.
Not that I would find a political claim excusable, however, any political stance supported by the people on the streets could be at least understandable. Yet there is no such thing.
Just like the blitz riots in Canada’s most liveable city (2011), like those in France (2005), in the USA (1992), what is happening in the UK these days can’t be understood without taking into consideration the moral abyss into which Britain has been sucked for the past decades.
Unlike the localized Brixton Riots (of 1981, 1985, and 1995), these widespread events may have farther reaching consequences, in spite of (or precisely because of…) the hoodlums’ having no official agenda.
From one perspective, this makes the riots very convenient for everyone. Firstly, they look like a difficult (on the short term) but politically rewarding (on the long term – if dealed with wisely) task for the UK Government, which is very unlikely to draw any opposition to a massive crackdown.
Apart from Trotskyists and other weirdos, plus Tony Bliar’s former friend in Lybia, it’s hard to believe that anyone agrees with the violence in Britain.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to say whether UK’s law enforcement agencies, crippled by budgetary cuts, could come up with a swift response to the violence.
It appears that the summer of discontent has still reached Britain, and I wonder whether Cameron and Clegg have the strength to deal with a prolonged crisis (such as Margaret Thatcher’s miners’ strikes) in case the British riots will last as long as those in France.
Secondly, hordes of unorganised (?!) looters with no demand (albeit as skilled at using new technologies as those that ignited the so-called Arab Revolutions), and acting like mere Pavlov’s dogs, are also very convenient to Britain’s enemies.
As the cradle of ancient democracy (Greece) is faltering, it’s sad – but not surprising, for a great nation where atheism is in full bloom – to see that the egg from where democracy as we know it today hatched (Great Britain) is crumbling.
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