This Guardian headline begins to answer the question:
Looting fuelled by social exclusion: Young looters from poor estates have nothing to lose and no reason to obey social norms, say experts.
My initial reaction to the riots is a simpler version of the same answer: Food and money. People with reasonable amounts of food and money don’t riot. A writer who lives in the area of the riots, Darcus Howe, claims that racial prejudice by police also led to the riots. Howe said his grandson has been stopped and searched by police countless times, just for being black.
Are the people justified in looting and rioting? On the face of it, it seems like marching into a Wal-Mart and grabbing from a soulless corporation is a victimless crime. However, here are a few points to the contrary:
- The rioters were not discriminating. They burned down local businesses along with looting major chains.
- Rioting is at best a short-term reaction to a long-term problem. The people rioting have legitimate complaints — racial inequality and economic injustice. Smashing windows and stealing only provides justification for the people doing the oppressing. You want real change? Educate yourself on the cause of the economic inequality. Tell people what’s going on. Show me a David Cameron or Barack Obama supporter and I’ll show you someone who wants to make the world a better place. Many people just haven’t realized that Cameron and Obama are puppets of the bankers causing the financial crises.
- Rioting won’t change you. When we make internal changes, starting with our selfish desires for the self alone and anger and judgment, the world around us will reflect our changes. As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.” Rather than riot, disaffected youth should invest their energy in better themselves and those around them.