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9 Sep 2011
Caroline Lucas condemns 'greed-based economy was built on sand'
For years, we have spoken of the dangers our country faces from within.
How globalisation and unrestrained capitalism have been eating away at the fabric of our society.
How big corporations and cynical marketing have left people feeling manipulated and exploited.
How consumerism excludes those who don’t have money and enslaves those who do.
How, in a society where individuals are defined as consumers not as citizens, those who cannot afford to consume effectively become non-citizens .
And we’ve spelt out how this greed-based economy was built on sand.
On the myth of cheap resources and on exploitation.
Alienation. The undermining of community spirit.
These are the practical effects of decisions by government.
Starving local authorities of the means to provide alternatives for young people.
We pointed out how crime was a symptom of this malaise.
How unless you got to the roots of these issues, then building more prisons or putting more police on the streets would at best buy you some short-term relief – but at the expense of a worse problem in the future.
Well, now it is the future.
We’ve seen scenes on our streets that might have come from a dystopian sci-fi film.
A kind of collective madness in which trouble-makers and gang members are mixed up with ordinary people acting out of character.
Such behavior must be condemned.
But while some politicians have spoken at length about a sickness in society, perhaps the riots have shown most clearly a sickness with politics itself.
It fell to David Cameron to deliver this response – but it is one that might have come from Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, or Ed Miliband.
The first instinct of the typical politician is to shed responsibility and try to pin the blame elsewhere.
So we have attacks on the police not only from gangs on the streets, but from the Home Secretary and Prime Minister.
The truth is, the police faced an unprecedented situation and though there are lessons to be learned, recriminations are a distraction.
The second instinct is tough talk.
Talk of calling in the Army. Of water cannon and baton rounds.
Heavy sentencing, cutting benefits, making people homeless.
All panicky and unnecessary responses made against the advice of the experts.
The third is to use rhetoric to cover up inaction. So we have Cameron’s inane sound-bite about a security fightback being followed by a social fightback.
How wrong can he be? It’s not about society fighting back against alien invaders.
The people who took part in the riots are from our society.
They are our neighbours and our work colleagues. We sit next to them on the bus and visit the same shops.
Casting them into outer darkness is exactly what you would expect from a ruling cabal who will not accept that the divisions in society are largely of their making.
And where are they to go, these enemies of our society, when the fight-back has been won?
Prison? Internment camps?
I fear Cameron already has the answer in his mind – though he will not speak it clearly.
It’s the idea of ghettoes, where the undeserving poor can be kept and contained through heavy policing, CCTV surveillance, and the use of benefits as a stick to intimidate, without the need to use the courts, with their inconvenient interest in evidence and justice.
That is Cameron’s vision.
I want to be plain about this. That vision is immoral. It is a betrayal of everything that we should be proud of in the traditions of our country.
It is a betrayal by the same elite that has gained so much at the expense of the rest of us.