I don’t live in London anymore …. I was thinking of the song…
“The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is one of the most dramatic events of English history. What began as a local revolt in Essex quickly spread across much of the south east of England, while some of the peasants took their grievances direct to the young King, Richard II, in London.
The revolt began in Essex when locals in Brentwood reacted to an over-zealous poll-tax collector. From Brentwood, resistance to tax collectors spread to neighbouring villages, while across counties such as Kent, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Norfolk, armed bands of villagers and townsmen also rose up and attacked manors and religious houses.
It was the rebels of Essex and Kent who marched on London. By 12th June, the Essex men were camped at Mile End, in fields just beyond Aldgate, and on the following day the Kentish men arrived at Blackheath. Incredibly, neither the government nor the city of London authorities seem to have been prepared, although the king was moved from Windsor to the Tower of London. During the next few days, the different bands of rebels from Essex and Kent were joined by some of London’s poor, and they set about attacking political targets in the city. They burned down the Savoy Palace, which was the home of John of Gaunt – Richard II’s uncle, and probably the most powerful magnate in the realm. They set fire to the Treasurer’s Highbury Manor, opened prisons and destroyed legal records.”
They went on to burn Chiswick, Clapham and Twickenham.
I am not on any ‘side’. I am not ‘for’ the riots. I am simply remembering that riots have been around for as long as the rich tax the poor and, in doing so make them poorer.
The Church and State as main agents of taxation has changed slightly, it is now State and Corporations, but the effect is the same, give a person nothing to lose and they become dangerous….. and desperate.
Now, this is, of course, only one side of the story.
There are plenty of people who lived and live in poverty who would never harm another, or another’s property. They have an inbuilt ‘moral’ guidance system that disallows them to damage others in their frustration. The Church, for all it’s hypocrisy, probably helped somewhat to curtain destructive instincts within society.
What happen’s though when the highest authority in the land robs neighbouring countries, i.e. Iraq, Lybia, of their oil in a blatent show of “the end justifies the means’?
What happen’s when the corruption of politicians and police is front page news?
What happens when their is no genuine ‘feedback’ from the public to those in power as democracy is turned into a Reality Gameshow?
Well, I think that any guiding moral compass gets chucked out of the window. The idea that the poor should be the Salt of the Earth and maintain moral standards higher than those in authority will obviously be seen as a mug’s game by some. Anger is bound to rise.
The stuff stolen in the riots is poor compensation for the dignity, emancipation, freedom that those involved feel they have had stolen from them, but, for a hour or two in the frenzied heat of crowd hysteria, they were empowered.
Might does never make it right, and the end never justifies the means, but when those in power set such a poor example it seems somewhat ridiculous for them to get on their moral high horses and take no blame whatsoever for the anger and frustration.
Time to look at both sides of the (growing) divide I think.