Update (10 August). Aha. This isn’t random violence perpetrated by criminal layabouts. It’s a cry for social justice:
Here are some of the demands from protestors, according to Reuters:
- Increase personal tax brackets for top earners
- Enshrine the right to housing in the law; introduce rent controls; boost mortgage relief
- Stop further privatization of things such as health facilities
- Provide free education for all from the age of three months
- Raise the minimum wage to 50 percent of the average wage
I believe the common word for this sort of behavior is extortion.
The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.
Update (13 August): Some folks are getting a bit sarcastic about all this. American Digest posted this one:
and John Cook spotted this video of a Swiss riot: