Why do we have widespread rioting/looting e.g 1981, 2011, whenever Tory governments come into power on a cuts agenda? As any criminologist/ social anthropologist/ or even casual observer will tell you - it is not the level of poverty on it's own that makes the looter, but the looter's 'perception' or the general perception of society as to what the potential looter's future holds coupled with their low status in a highly unequal society.
As any rightwinger will tell you, there are plenty of examples of people much more socially deprived than some of the rioters and looters that were about last week across English cities. No, what matters is how these people foresee their future - do they see it getting worse, or better? The current recession coupled with the miserabilist ideology of the current government has combined to set this perception well into the negative. Add the spark of anger and mistrust at establishment and the police with a perceived injustice of police murder and there you have it, the conditions for widespread rioting are created.
So what of the moral debate that the right has set raging in the country? Aren't these looters just morally bankrupt? Well, for a start politicians like David Cameron have one hell of a cheek asking that question when they are happily taking £20k a year off the taxpayer to pay a mortgage they don't need. Are these looters really any worse than the bankers who take millions in bonuses while simultaneously wrecking the balance sheets of both bank and country? Two wrongs don't make a right. Looters are rightly being arrested and prosecuted, it is a shame the same hasn't happened to the elite who created the conditions for riots in the first place. Until we tackle widespread greed at the top that widens inequality, we will continue creating miscreants at the bottom of society as well. Shop windows full of goods that they can't afford are bound to be smashed by people with no hope of ever attaining what the media tells them they must have. Are they really solely to blame for this?