When people riot, help them

The riots in Paris, ill-defined and poorly led as they are, do not deserve Macron’s 2018 Marie Antoinette response. His relating them to Brexit is merely a way of spreading the blame. If he endows them with a ‘State of emergency’ he will certainly create one. Our restless world, so excited by technology so bored with democracy, is in search of something to replace the spirituality it had for four hundred years. It wants a reason for living beyond making money for others.

Of course, it wants the money too. Politicians have promised financial paradise since women got the vote in England. The principal qualification for a politician in Western Democracies has been the gift of the gab. Who, given that KPI, would not make unattainable promises? Moreover, they have been, at least partly, fulfilled. Not being magicians, politicians have repeatedly mortgaged the future. They won’t be there to account for it, so rob the next government of its inheritance. In fact, it is not the next government they rob, it is your children and grandchildren – and mine.

No riots in Britain (yet) then? Oh so wrong. You’ve just seen one, in the debating chamber of the House of Commons. The House has convicted the Government of contempt. Thought they were one and the same thing? Yes and no. Parliament is the body which produces Government. Parliament parent, Government baby, so to speak. The delivery is often painful and, as is the way with babies, the product usually becomes the dictator.

Until the parents riot, which is what they have now done in Britain. Rioting babies, understandable; rioting parents, a whole new ballgame. Britain isn’t unique in this respect. Voters the world over are pressing their elected representatives to riot. At the root of it is a fear of fiscal sense returning to political management and depressing excessive lifestyles. They shouldn’t worry, absolutely no risk of that. They should, however, worry about the corollary of fiscal sense, fiscal irresponsibility.

After all, if the US Government can run unredeemable debts why not everyone else? ‘Die in debt’ has always been the mantra of the wicked. ‘Not my problem’ has become the watchword of those who once said ‘couldn’t care less’. Fashionable for all who don’t think. How many people is that? One hell of a lot, if you ask me. The lonely voice of David Attenborough crying for the planet at the Polish conference, the tepid applause from people frightened to threaten coal, a lifeblood of Poland, these are public manifestations of private selfishness. And selfishness is winning.

They say cataclysmic events such as major wars are needed to pull people together and make them work for a single cause. I support that view. There can be little more catastrophic than the prospect of life disappearing from the planet. We may be able to tolerate mass murder; extinction is another matter. We now need politicians who will turn the cause of rioting from indecision about what life is for back to our earliest human purpose – survival.

As a political agenda it is a gift. People are beginning to understand the climate problem. The promotion of it is done by the media, who like nothing more than a good fire. All politicians have to do is say they are on the side of survival and their votes will be increasingly assured.

Turn the riots to essential purpose.

It’s what good politicians do.

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