The UK riots: the psychology of looting

The UK riots: the psychology of looting | Zoe Williams | Comment is free | The Guardian.

…this is what happens when people don’t have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can’t afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it. Hiller takes up this idea: “Consumer society relies on your ability to participate in it. So what we recognise as a consumer now was born out of shorter hours, higher wages and the availability of credit. If you’re dealing with a lot of people who don’t have the last two, that contract doesn’t work. They seem to be targeting the stores selling goods they would normally consume. So perhaps they’re rebelling against the system that denies its bounty to them because they can’t afford it.”

Williams calls this a consumer riot – people systematically targetting malls, simply taking what they want, and moving on, without directly confronting the police. It’s all very strange. Someone posted a video of a brave woman taking on the looters in Hackney, chastising them for just stealing stuff instead of taking to the streets in support of some kind of principle or cause.

This anomie, the disengagement from the society around them, the sense of impunity, of indifference to the people harmed by their actions, reminds me of the Vancouver riots after all.

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