The rioting in England has moved from London to the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham. And if the violence started out as a localized and ethnically defined expression of rage over the police shooting of a black man, it has since become a hooligan’s free-for-all.
England has become a bonfire for every left-wing gripe and excuse you can name. There’s the claim of racial injustice, of course, but there’s also the call to class warfare. Young British looters explained to the BBC that they’ve been “showing the rich we do what we want.” There is the demand for the continuation of the unbridled welfare state. In the Guardian, Nina Power describes the riots as a response to “brutal cuts” in government spending. And anarchists have joined the fray. One self-proclaimed British anarchist told the Associated Press, “This is the uprising of the working class. We’re redistributing the wealth.”
The global economic downturn has made leftist ideology obsolete in the official political sphere, but that shift has left behind a nasty problem: Millions of people had expected leftism to make good on its myriad promises of contentment—equality of outcome, free goods and services, and less time spent slaving away at work. How do the post-war generations who were raised on modern liberal dreams—and who bought in to an ever-expanding entitlement state—come to terms with the realities of the left’s failure? (If you’re an American your leftism is likely an outgrowth of affluence, so you attend some anti-corporate documentary screenings and get on with the your life.) But if you’re in Europe, you’ve actually been let down by the system that was supposed to sustain you. Getting over that won’t be so easy. So without a viable leftist blueprint for actual political progress, you riot incoherently, collaboratively, and opportunistically. The abandoned orphans of the left are taking Britain by storm.