The current riots in Britain may be coming to the USA and how they impact society, here there and in other countries, may depend largely on how children have been raised in the past, whether or not they’ve been abused and whether or not they have been subjected to corporal punishment and other authoritarian child rearing methods. A closer understanding of how these things impact violence later in life as well as other contributing factors like social injustice may help predict how these riots may turn out. I have reviewed this in several past blogs including Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence, Daddy’s hands and the Fundamentals of Psychology. It may also indicate how to recommend different courses of action for both those protesting and those running the government.
(First posted on Open Salon August 12 2011)
Unfortunately those running the government have already had access to these research reports and they seem to have decided to disregard them in when making the most important decisions. Either that or they do understand them and they’re trying to use their understanding of them to implement their policies without holding the most powerful members of society accountable; instead they seem to be attempting to use scapegoat tactics to blame the rioters for all problems even when they have some mitigating circumstances although most would not consider them justifications for the riots. The later seems highly unlikely, since, if they truly understood the results of using these scapegoat tactics and the risk they would realize that it would come at far too great a cost even if it did work, which is unlikely; a far more likely possibility is that they think they understand it to some degree but instead they’re acting based on prejudicial beliefs or they just dismiss the research they don’t like out of hand.
In Britain the use of corporal punishment has been banned in schools and for the most part in prisons according to the global initiative to end all corporal punishment (United Kingdom); in the USA it has also been banned in prisons however it has been allowed in schools according to federal law but 31 states have banned it; however it hasn’t been banned in all juvenile detention facilities according to the global initiative to end all corporal punishment (United States). As indicated in previous blogs on the subject corporal punishment and child abuse clearly leads to additional violence later in life and it also leads to authoritarian attitudes that make it harder for many adults to do their own thinking; instead they rely more on what they’re told by their leaders and they are often more susceptible to follow orders even when they are clearly illegal or counterproductive; and they are less able to sort through details and make important decisions that are necessary to participate in important democratic decisions. At a glance this may indicate that the USA might, in some cases, be more susceptible to violent riots than Britain. However this may be premature at least for some parts of the country. The USA is a much larger country so there are presumably a much more diverse way of raising people and dealing with these social problems so in many cases it may depend on which part of the country protests are raised and the way they’re organized as well as the way the police are trained to respond to them.
Judging by the way they’re being portrayed in the media they don’t seem to be interested in addressing many of the most important issues in Britain; instead they may be attempting to use this as a distraction to scapegoat the rioters. The current riots were, presumably set off by police who shot and killed a homeless man; however this is clearly just one of many problems they’ve been having and the protestors are concerned about much more than that. Several stories that have been reported over the past several months or years are worth considering when considering the root causes of these riots some of which the Mass Media is currently ignoring. They have recently enacted many spending cuts that are designed to benefit the majority and they have raised the cost of tuitions. They have gone to war in Iraq and other activities when the majority of the public may not have supported them; In the case of Iraq I think it was less than twenty percent of the public that supported the war if it was just the USA and the UK according to statistics cited by Mike Moore. This is essentially what the war was done by although they had other countries that provided a token amount of support. They have also been providing what should be considered welfare for the royal family; this was displayed in a blatant manner when Prince Charles and Camellia were caught off guard last year during the protests for higher tuition, which was doubled or something like that. They clearly could have and should have avoided that and the fact that they placed all the blame on the rioters without considering the possibility that they shouldn’t have been cutting their tuition while they were continuing to flaunt the waste spent on the royal family is absurd. The fact that they didn’t seem to see any problem with this indicates how closed minded or corrupt and indifferent they may be.
The protesters clearly have plenty of justification for their protests although the methods are counterproductive. Whether or not they know how to use more peaceful protests or to strike out with rage may depend largely on how they were raised. Some of the footage seems to indicate that they’re attempting to use a herd mentality when cleaning things up. They have showed on TV a cleanup process that involves a dramatic amount of cheering from people that are supposedly taking back their streets and cleaning it up. If they considered the sincere concerns that the protester had it is hard to believe that the cleanup crew would have behaved in this manner. It seems like this footage indicates that the people that were presenting it were trying to scapegoat the protestors without addressing their legitimate concerns which may mean that they may have to go through it all over again.
In some cases at least the excessive response by the police is of course also counterproductive. On at least one occasion there was a video which was shown on TV that shows several teens riding down the street on their bikes and they were approached and beaten by the police. The police claimed that the public shouldn’t come to conclusions based on the video since it doesn’t show the full context but they didn’t provide any additional information or justification; this particular video didn’t show any provocation on the part of the teen and the police almost certainly could have arrested him without beating him if they really did have any justification for it. The presentation clearly appeared to show police that were going overboard as a result of the excessive response which is not uncommon in these cases. The excessive police response may also be partially influenced by how they were raised and trained as well. They regained what they considered “order,” for the most part by using thousands of police officers to come out in force. The way they address this problem involves using steadily increasing force to convince the public to submit to authority without addressing the concerns of the public. These are tactics that have been taught from early childhood based on the assumption that the authority figure is right. This assumption has often been wrong and those that recognize it have often assumed that they should use the same methods.
This police crackdown and court costs will come at an enormous expense added to the repair of the damage done by the rioters; all this expense could have and should have been avoided if they were willing to address the legitimate concerns about corruption that led to the legitimate complaints. Both Britain and the United States clearly need Election reform that enables the public to control the election process so that the political candidates will actually address the real concerns of the voters not just the corporations that control the debate. Until that happens, or something similar, then the risk of this type of riot will continue to be present as long, as the most powerful people are unable or unwilling to recognize that they’re pushing the public too far; often way too far.
The United States could and should consider this to be an important learning opportunity. Ideally the people in political office should see this as a wake up call and start behaving like reasonable adults that aren’t blatantly corrupt; however, for one reason or another, this doesn’t appear to be likely. Therefore the public should prepare to stand up to the excesses of both their government and the corporations neither of which appear to be concerned with the will of the people or their rights. Submitting to this mind boggling degree of corruption shouldn’t be considered an option; however the methods used to resist this corruption and incompetence should be considered carefully to avoid a “revolution that eats its own children.” Fortunately there are many people who are already setting a good example protesting against the states when they over reached this year. The most notable of this is Wisconsin but there have been many protests in other states including Michigan, Ohio, Maine, New Jersey and others. If these can be escalated then perhaps the potential for riots can be reduced. In addition to this there could be things that individuals can do to protest the shoddy merchandise that are sold by the corporations as a result of planned obsolescence; this could involve saving receipts and when returning defective products raising the complaints, in a peaceful manner, in front of the other customers instead of going meekly to the back of the store where it will be out of hearing distance of complacent consumers. Unfortunately there is no longer any doubt about whether or not merchandise will fall apart prematurely; practically everything the corporations sell any more is made with a short life span designed to guarantee you have to go back for more.
One of the most important things that needs to be done is we need a Mass Media that actually reports on many of the corrupt activities of the corporations. And we need to stop accepting the assumption that we have to choose between the candidates that the Mass Media present to us; which essentially involves choosing between candidate A or B both of which have collected an enormous amount of money from the corrupt corporations. Answering to the public is no longer a requirement to run for office but obtaining contributions and approval from the corporations is! This essentially means that the corporations have total veto power over who gets to run for president; and with extremely rare exceptions Governor the Senate and the House as well. Things may be a little better at the state level in places where the citizens are more active and deal directly with their local representatives; perhaps the Wisconsin democratic districts are examples of this.
If we allow the elections to go as usual without major nonviolent protests, boycotts of the candidates that collect money, which should be considered bribes, from the corporations and attempts to elect candidatures from the grass roots level; then in 2013 when the automatic cuts that the recent legislation has mandated are due to come in then the usual batch of corrupt politicians will put one hundred percent of the burden of the debt on the backs of the middle and lower classes and allow those that caused it to get off Scot free and keep the billions, if not trillions they have stolen through white collar crime and corporate welfare. If this happens then there is a major chance that similar riots like those in Britain or much worse could happen here. If that happens then the damage will be much greater and the repair will be much tougher and it could lead to even more trouble. The time to avoid this is now before the corporations and politicians do any more damage.
Whether protestors succeed or not may be impacted largely on how they were raised twenty years ago; and this debate about corporal punishment is still ongoing; therefore if we have successful reform it should include education about how this impacts the long term stability to ensure that we don’t have the same problem in another twenty years.
(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)