What does the rioting in London (and other UK cities) mean?
(Image: Rioting in Toxteth, Liverpool, from the Guardian.)
It's too early to say. Maybe.
I had been mulling over writing a speculative piece about whether or not the worldwide financial crisis (see this Ezra Klein column "Double dip, or just one big economic dive?" from the Post), which is deeper than a recession (think the long period of financial decline and revival required after the Savings and Loan Debacle of the late 1980s--this period, for DC proper, lasted more than 10 years), and the possibility of a progressive response to the Tea Party in the U.S. will lead to a rise of civic activism and populism (not riots I hope).
After all, there has been organizing and demonstrating in Wisconsin and Ohio during the process of Governor-imposed restrictions on collective bargaining, and in Berkeley and other university campuses with regard to tuition increases, not to mention demonstrations in Israel ("Israeli protesters seek radical change" from AFP and "Israel protests show nation's beating heart: Protests led by the young have rekindled the spirit that built the nation," an op-ed from the LA Times), and Spain ("Spain Protest Movement Targets New Rallying Point" from Dow Jones Newswire)about the high cost of living and austerity programs, and in Germany against nuclear power ("Demonstrators in Germany Demand End of Nuclear Power" from the New York Times). Also see "May Day protests take place globally: Demonstrators in France, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Germany and Iraq were among those protesting on a range of issues" from the Guardian.
Although, as always, I am reminded of this 2004 Ted Rall editorial cartoon, and the point made by Neal Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business) and others about media, entertainment, and an anaesthetizing effect as it relates to civic involvement.
Labels: participatory democracy and empowered participation, policing, progressive urban political agenda, protest and advocacy, public safety, riots and unrest, social control, urban design/placemaking