Keep calm and read the London Bluebird

“The painful alliteration of ‘Broken Britain’ was invented by The Sun in 2002, and became a coarse concertina of a label, in which anything can be sandwiched that corresponds to present representations of social breakdown – teenage pregnancies, the absence of conventional parental units, social deprivation, crime, drug abuse and endemic violence. It has been applied to so many things that it is almost rendered meaningless. We are doing ourselves an enormous disservice if we allow our mental faculties to be ‘swamped’ by the over-arching culture that tells us such baloney as ‘we are broken’. The dialectics of despair inherent in the concept of being broken serve only to disenfranchise us from the possibility of realizing a different future. In short, it socially and mentally disempowers us. Conversely, ‘Broken Britain’ implies that at some point it was ‘Unbroken’ which doesn’t mean anything. Because it wasn’t.

“The strange thing is that underclass, the vagrants, those that exist beyond our normal society, do not and cannot permeate the robust rich commercial and residential heartlands in the centre, i.e. they cannot and do not ‘swamp’. What they do is smash and grab, violate and terrify randomly – and this is something the authorities constantly seek to curtail – but there is too much long-term fundamental structure and normality in the way we live to sustain further development, to ‘seep’ into conventional societies values, aims and customs. Urban societies co-exist but rarely combine their own socio-cultural codes. Urban spaces are remarkably intricate like that ; we share spaces but are removed, and we see faces yet are strangers to the humans behind them. Many of us in London are no more than 1,000 yards from a crackhouse. But that doesn’t mean we all go inside them. There is no evidence in world history of a mob rule ‘breaking’ through this invisible urban divide and making a fundamentally functional and law-abiding liberal democracy ‘broken’ by usurping its social structure, magistrates, the legal system, police force and the common morality of the man on the street. Political revolution with ballast, money and power behind it may end with the cutting off of a king’s head. But riots do not manipulate in the same way. Further reading (excellent reading) on this can be found in Peter Ackroyd’s London : The Biography in which its section on the London mob throughout the age illustrates the implausibility of a mob ‘breaking’ into a city and literally obtaining it.”
A Riotous Message, London Bluebird, August 11, 2011

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