Riot? If I were 20 years younger I would take to the streets

Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man – 1973 live

That’s what Henry Porter says in The Observer, citing the cratering British economy and plundering by the few of the many.

The riots in Paris and the demonstrations against foreign work forces being used at British oil refineries and a power station seemed to be a presentiment of widespread civil disturbance, especially in this country. We are, after all, only at the beginning of a slump which is predicted by the IMF to hit Britain more seriously than any other developed nation.

Worse than Iceland? Yow. But then, Iceland has already slumped. When we were in London in December, the newspapers were filled with near-apocalyptic reports of coming layoffs, closure of major chain stores, as well as governmental job letting. Things there appeared to be, yes, much worse than here in the States.

It is fortunate for the hedge fund managers and derivative traders in Britain that the London mob does not materialise at moments like this to drag them from their spruced-up homes and limousines as regularly happened in the 18th century. In one way, it is also regrettable, because then the mob, which, incidentally, is a shortening of mobile vulgus, affected the conduct of politics and on several occasions changed things for the better

“Mobile vulgaris” is Latin for “easily movable crowd.” It’s a crowd with no brain, quite capable of doing appalling as well as positive things. Not hardly a long term solution. But sometimes catharsis is needed.

Back to the Stones.

Hey! Think the time is right for palace revolution
But where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause sleepy London town
Is just no place for a street fighting man

It appears London in the near future may be anything but sleepy, if Porter is correct…

He concludes with

And now if my children’s generation demonstrates, we will deploy a newly equipped and trained riot police to protect us. You see we have been expecting trouble.


  1. btw, Iceland appointed the world’s first openly lesbian head of state:

  2. England, Iceland, France, and now Russia. I’m beginning to wonder how much longer until America will appear in that list of “Mobile vulgaris” happenings.

    And I don’t think anyone in government has a solution that will lead to a quick recovery. If anything the solutions they’re giving are going to extend the down turn and lead to inflation and probably another depression.

  3. @Hal: Look for it this month. When the TV stations all switch off, and the poor folks without cable can’t get their American Idol you’ll see it.

    The masses won’t hit the street until the electricity goes off, either because of business collapse, or because it’s cut off for non-payment. Every time the electric company cuts off the power to another house (they’re now disconnecting more than their connecting, excluding storms) the riot needle goes up just a little bit more.

  4. Sadly, the most important thing our government can do to prevent unrest is to ensure that everyone gets their 998 channels. To mangle two metaphors, if you can’t bring Mohammed to the Colosseum, bring the Colosseum to Mohammed. That’s actually better since they;re at home and not in a mob.

    • You forgot about cell phones and social networking sites like Twitter. You can assemble a mob in a few minutes using them. A free app called Twinkle for the iPhone uses the GPS to show anyone tweeting in your area. You can tweet them. Would be simple to assemble groups of people in real life using that, maybe using a one-off FaceBook group to plot strategy in, also by cell phone.

  5. That assumes you can get them off the couch. Wait, another Law & Order rerun is on!…

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