London’s Burning – the answer lies in the people

London’s burning. If socialism is about anything beyond economics, it’s about solidarity and community. If you’re a Londoner, get down to your clean-up (see list below). Agitate for something better to come out of this. Meet your neighbours. Forge links strong enough to resist the hopeless kids, and give them hope. Leadership and direction will emerge from this. The answer doesn’t lie in the army or the water canon. It lies in the people.

There’s been a programme designed to atomise us for decades now. It’s working. Last night we all stayed in our houses, as frightened individuals and nuclear families, just as Thatcher told us we were. There is such a thing as society. It is the foundation of socialism. Let’s go outside our front doors, bump fists with our neighbours, and set to work building a society that we want. We’re living in the society the ruling class wants. The consumer fetishism that makes the latest daps so attractive that you’ll smash in a storefront to get them; the atomised bellum omnium inter omnes of late-capitalism with the institutions of working class life almost comprehensively destroyed and replaced with the institutions of consumerist life; the attraction of competing with gangs in other postcodes to see who can torch the most buildings, rob the most stuff and get the most media coverage because our conception of status is so fucked up that celebrity is the only way of measuring it; all of this is the cultural logic of what’s been going on in the economy for decades. It doesn’t excuse it – far from it. But it explains how we got here. Cos we didn’t get here by chance. We got here by design, and this is the excess, spilling over the top.

Time to press ‘reset’, comrades. Enough is enough. Rebuild the bonds of solidarity and community. Reject inequality and fivolous consumerist bullshit designed to atomise us. None of us wants to live like this. None of us. So let’s build something better. Out of joy and hope, solidarity and community, freedom and equality. Start now, at the clean-up. Meet your neighbours. Plan a better world. Don’t wait for politicians and leaders of the police force to do it. They won’t. You need to do it. We need to do it. Let’s start now.

 Details of the clean-up (9/8/11). Some offer hashtags. Check twitter for news.

Bethnal Green road in front of the money store at 10am. We should be well underway on roman road by then and hopefully catch you up

Bow #riotcleanup Roman Road, Tackle Shop. 9am

Croydon #riotcleanup – meet East Croydon Station, 10am – thanks @lucyorlulu for this one, follow her (via @artistsmakers)

Chalk Farm tube, 10am Tuesday morning. Bring brooms, bin-bags, and wear decent gloves and shoes if you can.

CAMBERWELL: St Giles Church 10am #riotcleanup

CAMDEN: 11am, Chalk farm 10am, Roman Rd Hackney 9am, Clapham 9am, Peckham 10am, Westbourne Grove

CLAPHAM JUNCTION: Either The Falcon Pub or Nando’s on Northcote at 9am

Ealing meet up is at the Horse at 10am

CROYDON: East Croydon Station, 10am

HACKNEY: Town hall at 10am #riotcleanup

LEWISHAM: Lewisham shopping centre 9am


PECKHAM: Library from 8am


– Check out!/Riotcleanup for the very latest updates


Let’s salvage something from all this, and build something of joy and hope. We need to show we have limitless wells of both. As the song below tells us: smashing a Starbucks window won’t set you free.


  1. One heartening bit of news being tweeted: apparently, so many people turned out for the cleanup in Ealing that the’ve run out of things to do…


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