Sunday 23 October 2022

The Language Of Those With Nothing Left To Say.

Running Wild: Three of the more than 100 young people who trashed and burned a Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, earlier this year. This degree of lawlessness, akin to, but a whole order of magnitude greater than, our own ram-raids, is indicative of a society that has lost all respect for itself. Societies that respect themselves produce citizens who respect their fellow citizens – and their property .

WHILE NEW ZEALANDERS RECOIL in shock from a seemingly endless series of ram-raids, the news from overseas is worse.

According to the UK internet magazine, Spiked: “a few weeks ago, about 100 young people ransacked a Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia. The mob stole merchandise, knocked over shelves and threw food and drinks around, leaving the store looking like a natural disaster had hit it. Many got their phones out to record the madness. As chaos reigned, a young woman twerked on a counter. Fighting spilled out into the parking lot.”

This degree of lawlessness, akin to, but a whole order of magnitude greater than, our own ram-raids, is indicative of a society that has lost all respect for itself. Societies that respect themselves do not produce young people who pillage convenience stores or drive stolen cars into neighbourhood dairies. Societies that respect themselves produce citizens who respect one another.

Those who recall the rioting that accompanied the “Black Lives Matter” protests against the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer back in 2020, may also recall the number of times journalists and politicians repeated the words of Martin Luther King:

“Let me say as I’ve always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.”

What happened in Philadelphia, however, was not the spilling-over of rage at the death of yet another African-American at the hands of the Police. White America heard the rage of the BLM protesters – and the rioters. What happened inside that Wawa store is what happens when White America hears the rage – and ignores it.

Comfortable New Zealand needs to ask itself whether the ram-raids it finds so disturbing are the product of something similar.

Prime Minister Ardern and her Labour colleagues promised action against poverty and homelessness. A government, supposedly driven by “the politics of kindness”, pledged itself to fulfilling a “transformational” programme of social and economic change. Except, the only transformation visible from the mean streets of South and West Auckland was the transition from bad to worse.

The Covid-19 pandemic was undoubtedly a factor in the deterioration of young and marginalised citizens’ life-worlds. For many the habits of schooling were simply lost. That so many of them remained lost, however, owes a great deal to the fact that so few people came looking for them. An education system that does not crack down hard on truancy sends out a terrible message. It is saying: “We don’t care.” Young people seldom need to be sent that message twice.

Comfortable New Zealand is learning the hard way that its alienated and unwanted young people have some “messages” of their own to deliver.

Earlier this week it was reported that, in the past five years, the number of gang members in New Zealand has doubled from 4,000 to 8,000, and that the recruitment of 18-25 year-olds is up by 75 percent. When the state’s official places of learning breathe a huge sigh of relief that their most disruptive students are no longer in the classroom, does that mean that those truants have given up on being taught? Or, are they simply learning different lessons, from different teachers?

And these lessons are dreadful – made all the more so for having about them the unmistakeable ring of truth. Money is everything. No one cares where it comes from. The Courts can’t cope. If you’re under 17 you won’t go to jail. The Police are powerless. The Law is a joke. Stealing is easy. Don’t worry about getting caught. Always remember who your friends are. Violence works.

Think of the ram-raid as a kind of grim performance art. Like the trashing of the Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia, it offers a terrifying, fun-fair reflection of the hyper-consumerist society we all inhabit. Because, if money and things truly are what define us, then why should our alienated and unwanted youngsters be content to remain undefined, simply for want of cash? If, as they strongly suspect, Comfortable New Zealand has given up on them, then why shouldn’t they make New Zealand uncomfortable?

If rioting is the language of the unheard, then ram-raiding and the trashing of convenience stores is the language of those who no longer believe in talking.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Evening Star of Friday, 21 October 2022.


David George said...

There seems to be little will to deal with any of this - plenty of words but nothing constructive. Perhaps the problem is that our liberal/post liberal societies, having dismissed their metaphysical foundations no longer believe in their own stories, no longer believe in a unifying vision of what they are, where they are from and where they are going. The terminal phase of liberalism?

"Nevertheless, to treat the common good as a kind of manualistic solution to the crisis of liberal order is to fail to grasp the depth and breadth of liberal nihilism. Genuine political order presupposes political community: the common good presupposes that we share a common nature and a common reality. Mutual deliberation about the means to attain the goods proper to this shared reality presupposes, too, that we all participate in a shared order of reason. Yet all these common things are profoundly threatened by a liberal and technological order premised on their theoretical and practical negation.[28] The exaltation of possibility over actuality in the name of freedom and pragmatic “truth,” or rather, the reconception of freedom and truth as forms of power, has inaugurated a state of permanent revolution against every form of antecedent order—natural, moral, political—with the technical and political dimensions of this revolution mutually reinforcing and capacitating each other.[29] Even the language by which we recognize this world in common, the connatural knowledge that we drink in with our mother’s milk and that precedes every ideology, is now under assault, aided and abetted by a science ideologically bent on bringing the brave new world into being. The “American experiment” is rapidly becoming an experiment to determine whether a society can be duct-taped together by physical infrastructure, bureaucratic and financial administration, and a shared antipathy toward reality. How is anything common to be found or recognized?"

The above from an essay by philosopher Michael Hanby. Warning: not an easy read with some profoundly disturbing implications.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) analyzed more than 7,750 Black Lives Matter demonstrations in all 50 states and Washington D.C. that took place in the wake of George Floyd’s death between May 26 and August 22.

Their report states that more than 2,400 locations reported peaceful protests, while fewer than 220 reported “violent demonstrations.” The authors define violent demonstrations as including “acts targeting other individuals, property, businesses, other rioting groups or armed actors.” Their definition includes anything from “fighting back against police” to vandalism, property destruction looting, road-blocking using barricades, burning tires or other materials. In cities where protests did turn violent—these demonstrations are “largely confined to specific blocks,” the report says.

The ACLED report includes protests toppling statues of “colonial figures, slave owners and Confederate leaders” as violent incidents. “Since Floyd’s killing, there have been at least 38 incidents in which demonstrators have significantly damaged or torn down memorials around the country,” the report states."

This from that Communist publication Time Magazine. Just a cautionary note of sense because this post will no doubt attract all those people that claimed the US as a smoking ruin because of BLM. Most of whom have been shown the evidence, but repeat the same bullshit over and over because it fits their narrative of fear.

Anonymous said...

I well remember a trip to Rio de Janiero, maybe 15 years ago. Wandering the commercial area, I passed a large electronics/whiteware store. Outside was a security guard toting a machine pistol. That we should come to that here....

John Hurley said...

It could also be about belonging in a multicultural society that celebrates our lack of an identity.
Bragging on social media is about status.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The above from an essay by philosopher Michael Hanby."

In other words, an attempt to impose theocracy on democracy. You people should be careful about which particular sect you want in charge of your theocracy David, you might end up on the same bonfires as the atheists.

"I will go straight to the point: Hanby’s clarifications do not materially affect his core claim that the entire American order rests on a false philosophy of nature, man, and God, which—although it has produced some “noble achievements” like modern medicine—is utterly contrary to and irreconcilable with Catholicism, and that this order is “an intractable social fact” so total and complete that it can only be “understood and endured,” not changed.

To my knowledge, Hanby never identifies what liberalism’s “noble achievements” are, other than medicine. Do they include “liberal” political institutions like representative government, religious liberty, freedom of speech, and the due process of law? Nor, to the best of my knowledge, does he ever explain exactly how this false philosophy produces these noble achievements, and how or whether those achievements could exist without that false philosophy.

Perhaps Hanby would not find his need for “obligatory reassurances” so tiresome if he responded to these and other questions. Instead, Hanby has a habit of making grand, contested, and highly consequential claims about the nature of politics, and then retreating into his speculative “closet” when pressed to draw what appear to be the dramatic practical consequences of those claims."

Nathan W. Schlueter - professor of philosophy and religion at Hillsdale College.

A much clearer read then Hanby's, but much more cogent, and much, much more democratic.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit, I forgot to put the/S after democratic.

Anonymous said...

No. A person's inner sense of self-respect - his identity, does not come from the iwi or Government, or the neighborhood, even when these are less than ideal. It comes from 'my mother and my father love me, and they will be unhappy if I am a bad boy.' The inner child persists at 17, 38 and death. Sounds childish? Well, it's true.

Empathy has the same origin - as I feel loved, I can understand how the other person feels. Teenage ram-raiders, and drug-users and perhaps child-parents, have not known the basic human right of attachment to their own two parents. In the light of this enormous deprivation, what is the Government policy? Oh - got it- blame Oranga Tamariki.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
George Monbiot on neoliberalism. It hits the nail directly on the head. Because if we go on the way we are, what anonymous 9:11 said will come to pass. (Mind you, I've seen security guards like that in the US, Hong Kong, and the West Indies, and only the latter really has any relation to Brazil.) God help us all, the mess that neoliberal politics has put Britain in the US in. And of course there are still people who support brexit. Well I hope they are content that regaining their "sovereignty" is worth the economic chaos.

greywarbler said...

'Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose
Nothing is worth nothing
But its free'...
I don't have to look those words up of the Janis Joplin song Bobby McGee as they have resonated in my memory for ever it seems.

The music is a bit darker now. Identity is something that is formed amongst us. The philosophers say we and our society are plastic even amorphous. By acting together we create something - at present it seems to be conflict and relieving other weaker people of a way forward and their personship. Without either of those they say 'What the hell' and proceed to go that direction, possibly taking other people with them. And dogmatic others prate on about solid values in a world where cliffs are washing away and people lack the will to make co-operative change for the better.

Bomber goes on about the protesters at Wellington and Trevor Mallard's unwillingness to set them targets to state their demands, so giving them the opportunity to think and clearly set out their ideas and present them to the government. He was wilfully driving people with grievances towards militancy. Next the military, and I am glad he's gone.

And further I think that Members of Parliament should have fewer numbers of terms, and slide out on a managed basis so there are always some experienced, and hopefully mature ones still serving out one or two terms to balance the newbies..

Brendan McNeill said...

We are learning slowly, very slowly that functional families matter, that parenting matters, that present fathers matter more than welfare cheques, matter more than performative 'kindness' from politicians, matter more than good intentions.

David is correct, we cannot expect to enjoy the fruits of a liberal society underpinned by the Christian meta narrative if the latter no longer exists. We believed the form would sustain the substance. We have been proved wrong.

The only thing standing between Auckland and Philadelphia is time.

Anonymous said...

What about the property of non-citizens?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"we cannot expect to enjoy the fruits of a liberal society underpinned by the Christian meta narrative"

Given the fruits of this – I presume 'classical' – liberal society underpinned by Christian virtues, as shown in the US with Dominionism and project blitz – why the hell would any sane person want such a society? Particularly any non-Christian.

David George said...

While I had no expectation that you would understand that essay, GS, this is simply unforgiveable: "an attempt to impose theocracy on democracy"
He clearly didn't say that at all.

Trawling through the net to find a critique that fits your assumptions? Pathetic.

David George said...

To remove any doubt, here are some snippets from the essay, a significant part of which is directed at the many problems with integralism - the integration of church and state. Not least, as far as I can see, the essentially non Christian nature of such a proposal.

"Against this postpolitical, and increasingly posthuman, backdrop, it is difficult to imagine how a Christian, not to say Catholic, political order could be instituted and sustained in the United States without recourse to extraordinary measures exceeding the ordinary coercive powers of law—measures that would likely only accelerate the cultural disintegration and violence already underway. I do not wish to be mistaken here for a “therapist of decline”; for there is nothing at all therapeutic in what I am saying.[34] I do not offer this objection on the usual liberal grounds that America is intractably pluralistic; nor do I propose doubling down on classical liberalism as a way to mitigate the crisis of liberal order. To the contrary, I maintain that American liberal order presupposes and perpetuates a “monism of meaninglessness” impervious to Christianization, which continually remakes Christianity itself in its own irreligious image as an extrinsic superaddition to an essentially atheistic conception of reality.[35] (See the aforementioned “metaphysical disaster.”) The processes of disintegration set in motion by this totalitarian monism seem irreversible, moreover, such that many of the efforts to arrest them will likely have an opposite—accelerating—effect."

"As a practical political program in twenty-first century America, however, integralism is a fantasy, a virtual politics for a virtual world—or perhaps an exercise in personal branding for would-be political influencers.[43] This unreality perhaps explains why integralism in practice always delivers substantially less than integralist theory, to the point that it is unclear what relationship, if any, there is between integralist theory and the “postliberal order” now being advanced by professed integralists."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Actually David that critique that fits my assumptions doesn't actually fit my assumptions is just a critique from the – I guess roughly the right of your man. You obviously didn't read it or didn't understand it properly.

Not my best work I must admit that I'm busy in the garden and trying to cram all my blogging into about 10% of the time I normally spend. The point I was making which you obviously missed, was that your man is criticised not just by us anti-Theocrats, but by his own people.

Actually, the closer I get to death the more I would quite like to see one of these Christian theocracies in action – just to see which branch of Christianity gets the reins:

Obviously you and Brendan will want your lot whatever that is, but you could easily get the Catholics, and I'm not sure what your wimmenfolk would think about losing their right to contraception and/or abortion.

Or we could possibly go with the Amish – although to be honest horse shit was a huge problem in large cities back in the day.

And there is a crowd that a guy I met at university used to run with. Whenever he was out with his wife he made a walk a couple of places behind. That I'd love to see.

It would also be nice to see who sent to the auto da fe. This might be the one time where you 'heretics' whoever you are, get in the queue ahead of us atheists. :)

You really should inspect the mess that Theocrats are making of some of the states in the US. I've posted a few links in the past there are plenty more coming up now. Heartrending some of them. Not that they care. Or maybe you for all I know.