From UK Rioters to Tea Party members, the root causes of madness must be understood

August 11, 2011 by  

The UK riots have been raging for days now, as had the blame. The spectrum of blame ranges from “Criminal, no-good kids being violent and destructive for no good reason” to “Societal and economic inequalities.”

The truth is somewhere in a nebulous area in between that will never be fully understood or clarified. Nonetheless, it would be foolhardy to ignore the societal and economic factors. The police are collecting the criminals. Brits are forming groups to help clean up the mess. What must follow is thought and action to help prevent such breakdowns of civil society.

Political philosophers from Plato to Machiavelli have one thing in common - they sought to avoid violent revolution at all costs. Once the masses reach the stage of revolt, the game of politics becomes one of survival, and few governments survive. As we have seen this year in the Middle East and Africa, the power of the people is not to be ignored.

Which brings us to the United States and the “Tea Party Movement.” Mind you, the whole “movement” is based on a lie. Those in the Tea Party are Republicans who have embraced their most base of ideals. But that is a the political aspect. It would be folly for Liberals to ignore the societal and economic reasoning behind the actions of those who count themselves as “Tea Partiers.” Because while it may be a group created and enabled by rich Republicans, it is a group dealing with the same financial problems as many other groups in the U.S.

The connection between the UK rioters and the Tea Party is essentially this - both groups have given in to unreasonableness and irrationality in order to overcome feelings of powerlessness. For the rioters, it came in the form of free-for-all violence and savagery. For the Tea Party, it comes in the form of clinging to false beliefs and the destruction of the federal government. Neither group has an endgame. It is destruction for the sake of destruction.

It is quite easy to be simply repulsed by the far-right of the United States. It is a group clinging to antiquated ideals, debunked stereotypes and anger. From preaching that Gay males were the cause of the Holocaust to shouts of “keep government away from our Medicare” to the most heinous of racial insults, the Tea Party’s reputation is one of hatred and ignorance.

But much as the UK would be mistaken to ignore the deeper issues of the riots, American liberals would be mistaken to ignore the deeper issues of the Tea Party. Because those deeper issues affect us all. Economic stagnation, wealth inequality and education being chief among them.

There will always be anarchists and fascists amongst us who cannot be reasoned with philosophically. But much as Brits wake up to learn that those they know and love were a part of the riots, American liberals can all point to people they know and love who have been swept away in the fervor of the Far-Right rebellion. What is happening in England is not the result of crazed criminals going bonkers. What is happening in the U.S. is not the result of fascists ripping off their masks to attempt to dominate the political process.

The UK is seeing what a disaffected and angry group can do. Such a revolt in the United States would lead to death and destruction on a much higher level. It is already happening in a political sense.

There is nothing wrong with being repulsed by the actions or words of those on the fringes of society. But a growing fringe cannot be shouted down or ignored. There are no easy answers. But finding a way to stop rampant wealth inequality is certainly a step in the right direction. As is understanding the root causes of such madness.



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