The UK riots may come as a shock to many but not to anyone who has had their wits about them. That is the view of Francis Gilbert, author of Yob Nation and frequent commentator on youth culture.
The anger of socially-disadvantaged youth in England’s cities has been accumulating for about two decades. They are more organized and less frightened of the consequences of misbehavior because they have been getting away with it without punishment for many years now, explains the writer.
“Yob is a theatrical creature, someone who wants the street to become their theater,” Gilbert points out, drawing attention to video footage which shows rioters “actually parading themselves and their power, smashing things publicly.”
Politicians were quick to dismiss the unrest in the British cities as pure criminality but the truth is that “there are some disaffected, alienated, but in fact very clever people out there from the underclasses who are incredibly bitter about the lack of opportunity – and they are incredibly ambitious as well.
“They realize that the actual opportunities for them are very limited,” Francis Gilbert concludes.
British industry used to provide jobs for millions but now new technology and advanced mechanization have come along to strip them of this possibility and with it any chance of earning a decent living, thus producing a “vast rump of people actually not needed for work.” This is the crux of the problem – how to occupy people destined to spend their whole lives on welfare.
Education is not the key to the problem because being well-educated will simply give rise to a keener awareness of their narrow horizons.
“This is a toxic mix of the bright working class kids and a group of the [illiterate] people they manipulate perhaps very easily.
“The underlying, rumbling kind of disaffection of yobbery that affects all of us on a day-to-day basis – I do not think that is going away for many years,” concludes the writer. “We need to re-orientate prospects for a lot of these young people.”