Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: London's Burning

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  • Islander, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I have an abiding long-term interest in all kinds of twins - because they can sometimes be the frightening borderlines of humanity. Conjoint people, especially,
    but so many other refractory people...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which, of course, applies to the looters themselves.

    Quite - and that should have been "just because you can do something, it doesn't immediately follow that you should." Really don't think it was a good look for an insurance industry umbrella group to be feeding journalists a story like that today of all days. I don't pretend to be an expert in British insurance law, but I would suggest I have some idea of what a PR FUBAR looks like.

    Even if Grahame Trudgill is right on the point of law, it's rather tasteless (and ill-judged) to be talking about suing Police for "compensation" when every news bulletin is full of reports of Police resources being stretched to breaking point, and angry victims complaining that they felt abandoned while their communities were trashed. It's not only vulgar, but just feeds the perception that the insurance industry uses trade paperbacks of The Walking Dead as corporate training manuals.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Islander,

    Tautoko.
    I dont know what the current training regime is for Maori Wardens

    And to be fair, I don't think they were the ones who came up with the idea of being race-based bouncers, but whoever decided to dust off that act for the World Cup needs some time on the naughty step. The Police already have pretty extensive powers under licensing laws that apply to everyone, and if they're not properly staffed, trained and resourced to do their damn jobs during the RWC outsourcing isn't going to be much use.

    Still, nice to see that there seems to be a pretty solid cross-party consensus to bring that Act into the 21st century.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Which is truly encouraging.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    but whoever decided to dust off that act for the World Cup needs some time on the naughty step.

    While they're at it, why not also the Mental Defectives Act 1911 and the Offences Against The Person Act 1867?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5426 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    It's hardly socialising the losses to apply the law as it stands, and I think that if the insurers have to claim against the police within a 14 day period, and therefore need claimants information within 7 days, it is hardly fair to complain they are rushing things.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Cragg,

    I have to admit I haven't kept up with all the responses this time - still on page two infact... I just thought others might find this interesting: http://salomejones.com/?p=1112

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Keir:

    That's an argument, but could we agree that 1) it's ultimately not the Metropolitan Police paying the bill but tax-payers and 2) a blaring headline in the Torygraph about poor hard-up multinational corporations claiming their corporate welfare entitlement isn't a good look?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    2 swedish twin sisters does get one there.

    Although I suspect that one may wish to check that google safesearch is fully engaged before carrying out any searching along thoses lines......

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think any analysis of what is happening has to take into account that the behaviour of people in groups is not a simple aggregate of their individual motivations, but something more complicated, more chaotic, and more primal. When enough of us are together, our relationships transcend the merely spatial, especially when some outside force acts on us. In those moments, it is not all about me.
    If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? If we are honest, sometimes the answer is yes, we would.

    Agreed. Myself and Russell mentioned something along these lines back on pg 2.

    I've been struggling to think of a way to describe it for a few days now. The closest I can get (and I'm not at all religious or spiritual) is that the crowd are almost like collective puppets on the strings of some malign unseen demonic presence hovering above and making the little ants dance to its evil, random and chaotic whims.

    Trust me, I know how daft and OTT that sounds. But it's the best I've got.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The right wing establishment in Britain clearly now feels it has carte blanche to unleash a rampage of vengeance. Rubber bullets, water cannon, summary police execution - Cameron is not going to let any "fake concerns" about human rights get between him and his Mosley moment in the sun. Increased repression of the marginalised in their London barrios is now the crisp order of the day. Britain is already a reflexive surveillance state - that much the government response to these riots confirm. Cameron's rhetoric indicates that a frightened elite is sliding towards the dictatorship model offered by Argentina and Chile in the 1970s as the next step.

    At the moment, the world's economy since 2008 is mirroring the collapse that followed the great slump of 1929 with a frightening symmetry, and that great crisis almost swept away social democracy. The reaction of Cameron, aided and abetted by the deliberate obscuring of the truth by an almost hysterically right wing yellow press, says to me that the we may be heading into a dark valley every bit as frightening as that of the 1930s.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rich Lock,

    any searching along thoses lines……

    Throw in the M6 if anyone is interested. It was an interesting case study but might not be everyone's cuppa tea.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Unfortunately I am dreading that possible outcome,( although with PR these days, it will be in the name of safety) , but the Olympics will soften any blow. Perception will be everything and it must be an inviting place to visit for the games. But, history repeats eh. :(
    Still, really sad that pick pockets are still rife on the streets.Then, why are they so desperate?Because we reap what we sow?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The reaction of Cameron, aided and abetted by the deliberate obscuring of the truth by an almost hysterically right wing yellow press, says to me that the we may be heading into a dark valley every bit as frightening as that of the 1930s.

    Each to their own chicken entrails : )

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Trust me, I know how daft and OTT that sounds. But it's the best I've got.

    There's probably scientific versions, analyzing crowd psychology. But I expect it's pretty soft science.

    There's always evolutionary arguments, although they seem to be little better than making shit up half the time - you can see why it is that the species might have rioting mechanisms built in, certainly wild massed violence characterizes human history, and it seems likely to me that prehistory would have had a fair share too, just less well organized for carnage. The mechanism does exactly what Stephen says, transcends the individual, because of course groups have more power than individuals. How else can one explain why people would rush headlong into a battle, in which it is patently clear that many people on both sides will lose their lives? It's like playing Russian Roulette. The reason is that it is not an individually rational choice, but it is a collectively rational one. Groups that have this ability to mass hysteria are more powerful than groups that don't.

    Most animals know to avoid beehives because the bees go berserk, not caring that they are tiny, easily killed. En masse, they can't be intimidated, which makes them very intimidating as a collective.

    One of my favorite authors, Doris Lessing, put it well when she observed that the ugly brutal animal side of humans is shockingly close to the surface, that it really doesn't take much for it to leap to the fore, even in the politest of society. Later on, people are surprised at the way they acted, that collective madness came upon them so easily, and would layer all manner of rationalizations onto their earlier behaviour. I was reading this during "Shock and Awe", and it rang horribly true, how previously civilized friends relished the wholesale murder of people in the Middle East, and acted in a frighteningly tribal fashion when I voiced any dissent at all. Years later, they admitted they were wrong, that no good came of it, but still insisted that it was the right thing to do at the time, just poorly executed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Islander,

    As the parent of identical (genetically and aesthetically) twins I find that comment a bit creepy. You probably don't mean it like that, but I've had to defend my two from day one from various sorts of unhealthy interest. Substitute "black", "gay", "disabled" or "women" -- or any group it's not okay to differentiate -- for the word twins and you might understand my point.

    One day I may have enough energy and time to write a blog on this one. Just don't say "double trouble" around me. Please.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The right wing establishment in Britain clearly now feels it has carte blanche to unleash a rampage of vengeance.

    But only because – as polls are demonstrating – the majority of the population wants order restored and isn’t fussy any more about how it’s done. Nine out of 10 people say they want water cannon deployed, a third want to see live ammunition used.

    This blogged account by a young black man of the barely-reported looting in Walworth Road is fascinating. It also contains this:

    I presume that it is up to the government as to whether police can use rubber bullets, water cannons or even bring in the army. Therefore its disgraceful that the most senior politicians were not here. I obviously don’t know all the pros and cons, but I am massively in favour of water cannons.

    Trouble is, water cannon make almost no sense. They’re good for dispersing crowds. But these are crowds that disperse rapidly on their own. That’s how they’re working.

    This column has a bunch more reasons that they're an absurd idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Each to their own chicken entrails : )

    I'm with Tom in thinking that we're in a time of crisis the like of which has not been seen in my own lifetime, nor that of my parents. I don't know if it will play out like the 1930s. I certainly hope not. I hope that the industrialized world can learn to regulate its way out, rather than resorting to massive scale violence. The very existence of nuclear weapons makes things much different to the 30s, in which wars between Great Nations might have seemed winnable to more than just mad people. The proxying of war into the Third World seems to me to have nearly played out - now it's just bankrupting Americans rather than projecting their power. Will humans have the sense to realize that we have the power to make heaven on earth, by incremental changes to our economic management? That war is a disease that needs to be eradicated, by tinkering with the capitalism that feeds it, until it isn't capitalism any more?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Good ; I'm not the only PA reader with a filthy mind.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Will humans have the sense to realize that we have the power to make heaven on earth, by incremental changes to our economic management? That war is a disease that needs to be eradicated, by tinkering with the capitalism that feeds it, until it isn’t capitalism any more?

    I scared myself yesterday by looking at some Tea Party tweets about the UK riots. They're seeing a showdown too, but their ideas about responding to it are paranoid and violent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But these are crowds that disperse rapidly on their own. That’s how they’re working.

    They seem to have adapted well to the cops' kettling tendencies.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    They seem to have adapted well to the cops’ kettling tendencies.

    Well, yeah. Kettling only works in areas that have already been secured, or can easily be secured. It relies on everyone being in the same place. That's just not what's happening there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich Lock,

    safesearch

    the redundant "2" should weed out the one-handed typists

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder, in reply to BenWilson,

    There’s probably scientific versions, analyzing crowd psychology. But I expect it’s pretty soft science.

    The tendency to become 'lost in the crowd' is pretty well covered by research on deindividuation, which isn't too soft. See this article for a good summary of deindividuation and its effect in crowds (and in anonymous online forums - it's a psychological effect that's very applicable to modern life).

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That's just not what's happening there

    You don't reckon that's deliberate?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

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