Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Cliodynamic causes of the London riots.

Back in March, I posted about Peter Turchin's prediction of a revolution in the U.K triggered by Tony Blair's effort to raise the number of young people in higher education to 50 %. Turchin, the man behind 'Cliodynamic'- a sort of Mathematical theory of history- suggested that this was symptomatic of a 'credenitalist crisis' - too many young people chasing too few middle class jobs with a corresponding inflation in paper qualifications- credentials- for those jobs. Apparently, Clio- the Muse of History- inspired Revolutions whenever too many young people were stuck at Uni in the queue for the sort of jobs which their parents had gotten as school leavers.

I thought this idea ludicrous. The other side of the coin of credentialism is a tight job market in which a Criminal conviction- for example, for rioting- disqualifies one from even the default profession of teaching. In any case, what truly terrifies the young is that they might not be able to emigrate to the States or Australia or wherever- because of a criminal record- once Britain succumbs to Eurosclerosis and joins the PIGS, and France and so on in stagnation.,

Since the riots began, on Friday, an even funnier notion going the rounds is that the amiable young thugs storming Foot Locker and stealing HD Tvs are only doing so out of a sense of frustration caused by not being able to pay higher tuition fees to become Molecular Biologists or Jobbing Actuaries or free lance Radio Telescope operators or whatever.

The truth, of course, is that the riots were opportunistic and succeeded because the police were demoralized and on the back foot. The really interesting thing thrown up by the failure, both of politicians and police chiefs, is the revelation that protection of property is not compatible with the duties of the 'Human Rights' State. The true Cliodynamics of London has to do, not with the demographic bulge in feckless young Adults, but the fact that these moronic thugs are now greatly outnumbered by people from 25 to 55- of the most diverse ethnicities and class origins-  who have businesses and livelihoods to protect. The Police have clearly shown that their hands are tied. How will the cohort of property owners respond to the threat posed by the 'hoodies'? The Media has already made much of the Turks in North East London and the Sikhs in Southall lining up to defy the looters. What of the ethnically mixed business communities elsewhere in the Capital? I'd imagine that dodgy private security companies would be in clover just now. No doubt they will expand by recruiting from the criminal under-class and thus the long term strategy evolving out of the tactical successes scored by the older gangsters- who used Social Networking to bog the police down with feral kids they had called out into the streets- will fructify into a sort of protection racket/ land sharking business of a sort we are all too familiar with in India.

Should this be the case, property markets become less transparent and real assets less fungible. This in turn increases uncertainty, Transaction costs and allocative inefficiency in the Local Economy. One effect would be an exodus of the foot-lose cosmopolitan class of metics. This further shrivels up the tax base for Local Authorities and further enfeebles the Police. A vicious circle has been created- unless...

There is another way the market deals with crime. It is by spontaneously creating social exclusion- cloud sourcing pariahdom. The hoodies have demographics against them. At the moment, as a Youth Worker has said, if their Moms slap them they take a hammer to her. But what if the grown-ups gang up on the little darlings and break their legs on a regular basis? The Police aren't going to be too quick to respond to cries of distress from feral children in the Council Estates. They aren't going to arrest shop-keepers who beat the fuck out of hoodies pour encourager les autres. Of course, when a class of people is castigated and targeted, it is the marginal member, the wannabe, the innocent caught wearing the colors at the wrong time, who gets picked off first. Most kids wear hoodies only to camouflage themselves. Once this uniform results in their being beaten more often by the good guys than the bad guys- the uniform disappears.

Ultimately, if the riots were about greed, greed will deal with the problem of feral children. The Human Rights State will go the way of the Welfare State. Why? Protecting Property is not compatible with privileging Human Rights. But Human Rights are expensive. So they will be corralled somewhere nice for Barristers and Academics to commute to and Politicians can go visit for photo-ops. Meanwhile, Clio will continue to inspire- not Revolutions- but the embourgeoisment of the sans cullottes.

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