Politics & Policy

Rioting, Anarchy, and the U.K.

Four days of rioting by mobs of youths have left parts of London looking like a war zone. Rioters have smashed and looted shops, and set fire to buildings and cars. Copycat riots have spread to Birmingham and Liverpool. People have lost their homes or their livelihoods.

The fate of a single individual, Mark Duggan, began the chain of events. Confronting him in the belief that he was armed, police fired first and killed him. Whether Duggan really was armed, and whether he would have shot at the police, is under investigation. Not informed properly about what had happened, the Duggan family started a peaceful protest.

#ad#How did this suddenly become an explosion? Duggan was a man of mixed race, and lived in an ethnically diverse area with a history of racial tension between residents and the police. Race, however, does not seem to be the explanation. Rioters mostly wear jackets with hoods pulled over their heads enough to hide their faces, but those whose races are identifiable are as often white as black.

The mobs certainly stole all manner of things, from television sets and clothes to food and drink, while vandalizing what they couldn’t carry. Yet they used the requisite modern gadgetry to mobilize and muster, to switch objectives and defeat police tactics that might have contained them. What happened was more purposeful and organized than random.

The deeper cause of the violence, then, seems to be a generalized anarchy, that special lawlessness which is the hallmark of poorly socialized young males. Neither parents nor teachers have taught these “hoodies” to know any better. They have grown up outside restraints of conscience or manners, and without any fear of discipline, never mind punishment.

The leftist establishment for many years has been assiduously encouraging this monster, excusing what is inexcusable, rewarding anti-social behavior. The view that indulgence is the right response to cruelty and mindless violence meets its fulfillment in the arrest of many hundreds of thuggish criminals, the introduction of plastic bullets for the police, the pall of smoke from fires lit by arsonists, and the shudder of fear and anger afflicting ordinary people.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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