The August, 2011 riots and looting in various cities in the United Kingdom have caused many proper politicos to make pronouncements about “senseless violence” and looting. Looting stores of shopkeepers in the areas of the British cities where the riots took place seems not only morally wrong and criminal, but counterproductive, as well. Most of these shopkeepers are members of the same ignored, disaffected, discriminated-against class and race as the rioters. What more need be said?
If these rioters had looted Harrods and other Knightsbridge shops, or shops on Savile Row and Regents Street, where the upper-class Brits shop, that would have made much more sense because they would have been striking back at the most conspicuous consumerist symbols of the class which controls most of the wealth in the U.K. and enjoys keeping the lower classes “in their place”. But the looting would still be morally wrong and criminal, because looting is always wrong, no?
However, when nations loot weaker nations, usually populated by darker-skinned peoples, that is considered “foreign policy” or “defending our homeland”. See: Genocide of Native people of the Americas and theft of their land by Europeans, then the United States, 1492-1900. See northern Mexico, 1849. See Hawaii, 1893. See the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, 1898. See Nicaragua, 1912-1933. See Iran, 1953. See Guatemala, 1954. See Iraq, 2003. See Haiti, 2005. See Libya, 2011.
What about “senseless violence”?
The U.S. war on the people of Vietnam, North and South, who never threatened the United States, killed more than 3 million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers, with millions more Vietnamese and U.S. people maimed for life, and tens of thousands of them still suffering and dying from the effects of Agent Orange. And what for?
The U.S. wars on the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, who never threatened the United States, have killed more than one million people and made more than four million refugees, with hundreds of thousands maimed for life, and tens of thousands of them still suffering and dying from the effects of depleted uranium used by U.S. and NATO forces. And what for?
But, of course, this is not “senseless violence”, is it?
And taking revenge for the 9/11/01 terrorism by bombing, invading and occupying Afghanistan, now approaching ten years, in the process killing countless thousands of Afghan civilians, including many children, is “sensible violence”, right?
And when oligarchs, plutocrats, and corporatocrats loot the people of their own country, such as with the Savings and Loan thefts of the 1980’s U.S., or the NAFTA betrayal of U.S. workers, or the 2007-08 bailout with taxpayers’ money of Wall Street banksters guilty of fraud, you don’t hear cries of “senseless violence” and looting. These were all “business deals”, right?
And when these and other deliberate economic policies of a nation cause the majority of its citizens, its middle class, to have their income stagnate over more than 30 years while the upper 2% gets wealthier and wealthier as their taxes are reduced and wealth is transferred from the middle class to the upper 2%, as has been done in the United States since Ronald Reagan became president, that is certainly not “looting”, is it?
And when, because of these policies of redistributing wealth and income from the poor and middle class to the upper class, more than one million people per year in these “lower” classes not only suffer, but die as a result, that is certainly not “violence”, is it? See Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America: Over 1 Million Deaths Annually, 62 Million People With Zero Net Worth, As the Economic Elite Make Off With $46 Trillion by David DeGraw.
The current “austerity” policies in the U.K. and the U.S. will not only cause more hardships and more suffering for the poor and middle class of each country; they will continue to loot these classes and redistribute even more wealth to the upper class, all under the excuse of “lowering government debt” and “decreasing the government’s budget deficit.” Meanwhile, these same governments continue to waste not only lives, but trillions of pounds sterling and dollars in endless wars for control of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya, with the U.S. now additionally fighting wars in Yemen and Somalia, and operating more than 800 military bases in dozens of foreign countries.
Of course, the worst violent looting has been going on since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Industrial nations have violently, recklessly, and wastefully looted the earth of resources such as coal, oil, gas, uranium, and clean water, using methods which pollute the air, water, soil and seas, sickening and killing plant and animal life, including humans. The recent B.P oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the destruction of mountain tops in Appalachia for coal are only two examples of violent, irresponsible practices still used which destroy and pollute our only environment while adding more fossil fuels which accelerate catastrophic climate change, a human-caused acceleration which already kills many more people annually than all acts of terrorism combined. According to the World Health Organization, climate change already causes more than 150,000 deaths each year (see http://www.who.int/heli/risks/climate/climatechange/en/ ). That death toll is equivalent to the combined death toll of fifty 9/11 terrorist attacks a year, or nearly one every week.
Yet the leaders of the nations most responsible for contributing to the human acceleration of catastrophic climate change, in North America, Europe, and Asia, have done virtually nothing over the last ten years to even begin to reverse this most serious threat to human existence. They continue to support and encourage policies which only make global warming even worse while ignoring the many sustainable, alternative energy technologies and society-wide conservation measures which could significantly slow down the acceleration of climate change. In their lust to loot the earth of its last fossil fuel resources, their latest debacle is the proposed pipeline from the Alberta, Canada tar sands to Texas. Foolishly and irresponsibly supported by President Obama, his Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and most of Congress, this project is the latest example of how these leaders knowingly commit violence against our children and grandchildren by making immensely important policy decisions, greased by the unlimited funding of the fossil fuel lobby, which will create a hellish future environment with dismal living conditions due to global warming.
Let’s stop tolerating the hypocrisy of “leaders” such as David Cameron and Barack Obama who decry “senseless violence” and “looting” while they command military forces in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and elsewhere which make the U.K. rioters look like people on a Sunday picnic.
Let’s stop passively accepting these leaders’ unrealistically narrow, self-serving definition of “terrorism” and “terrorists” being confined only to violent religious/political extremists who cruelly murder a few thousand people in a decade for political, ideological, and/or religious reasons while violent nations such as the U.S. and U.K. callously, intentionally cause the deaths of, no, the murder of, more than one million people, including their own citizens, for political, ideological, and/or commercial reasons during that same time.
Let’s stop tolerating these leaders’ intentional inaction on catastrophic climate chaos, inaction bought by bribes in the forms of corporate campaign contributions (or, as the five corporate Supreme Court justices view it, the right of “speech” by “corporate persons”) and lobbying by the fossil fuel industry.
Want to end looting on its biggest scale? Want to end terrorism? Stop supporting governments such as the U.S. and U.K, and their corporate/Wall Street overlords with their sociopathic, profits-over-lives mentality, which daily loot and terrorize millions of people all over this planet, including their own citizens.
Stop voting for all candidates who refuse to oppose all the violent, murderous, suicidal policies described above, and support all candidates who oppose these insane policies.
Stop buying products from those corporations which lobby and bribe these sociopathic politicians and whose lobbyists actually write the laws of these governments so all this legalized violence and looting will continue.
Remind others to broaden their view of “looting” and “violence” to include the far greater daily looting and violence, financial as well as physical and psychological, committed by corporate-directed nations such as the United States, and the victims of this looting and violence in their own families and neighborhoods. Remind them that our grandchildren’s future is at stake, and that we are responsible for the direction that future will take, by our action or inaction.