Following on the discussion about the riot, I have some other reflections on the theme of scape-goating. At the weekend retreat we looked at the issue of power and scapegoating, and I have been reflecting how this street violence maybe an expression of this.
When I was at a comprehensive school I was in quite a rough class, and there was one guy who I would now recognise for being gay, who was constantly being picked on. Not only was he gay but he came from quite a poor family – which stood out in his clothing and sports kit. He was relentlessly bullied by the richer more able kids from the affluent suburbs. One day, he could not take it anymore, and he flipped out and raged beating up a class room and our possessions one lunch time. He simply could not take the violence expressed at him anymore – and in his rage and powerlessness – he took out his rage on the only thing he had the power to do – on his environment.
For the last year we have as a society been doing economic violence to the poor and young with reductions in social and health care, the ending of projects to reduce poverty and the effects of poverty – and now huge unemployment particularly of the young – where all the resources are still being held by the boomers who had grants for education, a free health service and a lot more possibilities. These opportunities have been squandered by greed and selfishness and are now not available to anyone but the rich. In the cuts sure-start and many many worthwhile projects seeking to challenge and eleviate poverty have ended – creating ghettoisation in our now market society that actively excluded the poor. In a world where everything is about competition rather than co-operation we have recreated a society modelled on the rules of the class room I mentioned earlier.
Just may be the poor including the excluded many young people who have experienced the violence of exclusion and economic injustice have expressed their rage and anger at the only thing they can – their environment in front of them again like that class room. Scape-goating is when the powerful project their violence and raging at others – and just may be this is what we have done as a society justified by the language of prudent economics.
A final thought – are the unspoken rules of a class society. The rich express their crime through sociopathic gain by manipulating others such as the politicians expense scam, many of this is expressed power abuse to those perceived to be over lower class. This is then expressed down the chain to those who are at the bottom who are expected just to absorb the violence – like the victim of a bully. May be some of the anger I hear on the news is because of peoples anger that some of the most marginalised people in our society didn’t just take the abuse of our current unjust social system – may be our anger is because they have expressed their anger back at society – breaking the rules of a bully – and our anger is because the scapegoat has fought back by naming their anger against the shops as the environment.
I find it interesting to see the anger that starts with the actions of those who did the rioting. No one is asking what caused this rioting to act out all round the country – why are we unwilling to ask what is the cause? May be it is because we would then need to face our responsibilities for creating an unjust society whose values of competition will always do violence through the language of competition? In so doing we are collectively the bully and we are collectively scapegoating…