17 August 2011

Nothing new under the sun

There’s been a lot of commentary, explanation, interpretation, rationalisation, condemnation and justification going on regarding the UK riots. To pick only a tiny sample, there’s writer and cultural critic Kenan Malik’s take (it’s largely the fault of the Right), and there’s The Economist’s (it’s a bit more complicated than that). The New Humanist calls bullshit on the more ludicrous examples of the post hoc discourse, while the Heresiarch cheekily exposes the absurdity of all the post hoc discourse.

Here’s a typical censure of out-of-control hooligans:

What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?

A Tory politician wagging a stern finger at British youthdom? A baby-boomer lamenting the dusk of good manners and personal responsibility? A conservative newspaper columnist asking hard, discomfiting questions?

No, it’s Plato having a gripe in the Athens agora circa 4th century BC.

Some things never change.


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