The riots in London mid-August, the violent upheaval in Libya, the Egyptian experience; all these leave me asking a pertinent question – as Government officials come across more and more restless citizens, do they have the social and ethical right to control the people?
In the end, the answer is really NO.
While this answer can be viewed in a shocked manner, with opposers believing that this rash belief in the complete dismissal of power and structures may lead to chaos, let’s look at this from a common-sense approach. I’ll focus on the UK riots and the western democracies, not focus on the East. This is arbitrary, but bear with me. Here in the West, the people elect Ministers (congressmen, politicians, et al). Currently, a minority population votes these elected officials to office in a no-longer-viable voting structure. Parties are appointed as ruling governments (see my very first blog, The Struggle for Democracy, Part I) to serve the majority. In reality, however, they are in office to serve themselves and their party; they are there for self-aggrandizement and their party/members betterment. In any case, if the people riot (for whatever conscious reason – I will return to this later) they are expressing their frustration and anger, their fears and anxieties. Everyone has a basic human right; a natural right to express their concerns and feelings. We can call this the Natural Law of Self-Expression. This law goes far beyond any legal recourse. Our modern world and our obfuscated systems of politics and laws refuses to take our emotions and this natural law into account. This is an extremely Victorian view that is so outmoded it makes our civilization – particularly our governmental and bureaucratic structures – look idiotic and not balanced. Riots are a release valve from the unbalanced system. They are, in the grand view, this natural law of self-expression in action. All natural laws flow freely. We cannot prevent them from doing so for long. Pent up by communities and legal-political structures, these restricted natural laws must vent for the sanity of the human race, or worse will happen. Alleviating the pressure prevents the entire system from exploding from within.
Let me return to the act of rioting and the rights of the government officials during these times. People riot, expressing their subconscious need to vent. Elected Officials in turn send in police forces (in the UK 6,000 police became 16,000 strong) to curb the riots. In the end, this means the hired employees (the government officials) revolted against their employers (the people) and committed acts of violence against them. In truth, the government officials are admitting in public that they view themselves and their positions as more important than that of the people whom hired them to do a job; to look after them. When riots happen, this is a sign that politicians, elected governments and the bureaucracies have failed. Period. End of story.
As soon as a riot begins, an elected government (including all elected officials from all parties) should resign and all members within that elected term must never be permitted to work in bureaucracy or run for elected office ever again. It’s about competence. If you cannot deal effectively and efficiently with the true challenges, then you have no right being there. The average worker can be (and is) hired and fired for far, far less than the mistakes of any elected official. Where did elected officials suddenly get the privilege and right to sidestep their responsibilities and failures? How and when did they suddenly become above the laws they manage/govern? Is this not hypocrisy at work?
Riots: Are indicative that those elected in office are not listening to the needs of the majority and these ministers/elected officials have utterly failed at their posts. If any society gets to this point, resignation and dissolution of the political parties in so-called power is the one common-sensical step to take. Granted, the announcement must be made that an election will take place in a month. (I’ve expressed my opinions on mandatory elections/voting in my earlier blogs. If you want my opinion on healthy acts of people-power, get out there and vote, express your opinion).
If any society reaches a point when riots occur in such a spontaneous fashion (not terrorism. Terrorist acts are planned acts of violence) then something is seriously wrong with the system of governance in its historical and current state. Release valves are necessary. Released pressure prevents even more intense explosions. While I understand the personal horror and suffering to business and home owners, riots are a safer bet; a necessary cultural release that helps reduce what could become a civil war.
For those who disagree, let us look at a similar, natural process: volcanism. When a volcano burps or vents lava flows as a less intense eruption, it bleeds off the pent-up pressure and alleviates what could have been a greater disaster. When a volcano explodes without lesser eruptions, the effect is catastrophic. The smaller pressure-release eruptions are not as harmful or dangerous when examined from this point of view. The volcano (people) will continue to erupt, yet with the lesser eruptions or ‘controlled flow’, the pressure is lessened and the worst prevented. Now, this is a natural process, and volcanoes pressurize repeatedly. Every time their eruptions grow in intensity. Finally, a catastrophic explosion may occur. This is true of the human/riot effect; our natural law of self-expression. However, the lesser eruptions (riots) are necessary. We are intelligent beings. With enough effort, enough dedication and awareness, we can make use of these lesser ‘eruptions’, allow for the release of pressure then take stock and do our best to redirect the course of our human volcano (our civilization/system).
Individual rioters may claim they riot for this-or-that reason, yet the subconscious reasons behind the acts must be examined. It is within this examination we discover the true reasons that are the weaknesses of the state and civilization. Then we can take decisive and healthy, right action. Reacting against the people, tossing up punishment in the courts is a band-aid for the governing structure to look good after the fact – it solves nothing other than as a soap box for politicians to tell the people that they are dealing with the problems. It isn’t even used as a delaying tactic. In the end, it shows everyone that the elected politicians and the bureaucracy is reactive, willing to punish its true employers (the people), while doing nothing to deal with the real issues in a proactive way. Rather than engaging their employers, the system itself enforces outmoded rules, looking to curb riot-looters and riot-leaders, when it should engage these people. Worse, still, it fails to discuss the very pressures that need vented. The system seems to want to contain and hold these pressures within itself until it explodes. Does that not come across as a form of sociocultural suicide? It certainly does not make any sense from a common sense point of view.
Reasons for Rioting: What are the real reasons for rioting? Subconsciously, it’s a reaction to fear, anxiety, and an unhealthy society. Something is inherently wrong. These days, tis obvious what that wrongness is; there is a growing gap between the upper and lower classes. The middle class has all but disappeared. The economy is dying and no one is truly willing to fix it (See my earlier blog, the Creation of Democracy – Part IV on how to do just that.) People do not trust their elected officials (this is an obvious, yet sad truth). Employment, taxes – I could go on, although I believe the point is given. These, plus homelessness, plus a personal sense of purpose within the culture/society need addressing.
These are the factors politicians and the bureaucracy (and the people, too) must examine. They must be dealt with, faced and appreciated for what they are. Viewed by leaders, people, followers, doers, business people, politicians, scientists and everyone – collectively and without judgement on the self or others – these factors should be embraced, accepted, then worked through. It can be – and must be – done. I’m not saying tis an easy act. I’m stating tis a necessary one.
Until next week…