There appears to be an existential crisis at the heart of society epitomized by seemingly never ending periodic economic bubbles that come around roughly every five to ten years. Miss the opportunity to surf the wave, and its unlikely you will ever be in the position to ride it again. The backdrop to this story relates to a ‘mob’ who attacked the well publicised Cereal Killer Cafe run by a group of privileged hipsters in a former run down working class district in east London.
Passing the White Collar Factory in nearby Old Street Station, a group of about 200 demonstrators made their way east to their intended target in this now fashionable part of town. As a symbolic extension to the bubble economy of the 1980s exemplified by job insecurity, deregulation and financial speculation, the White Collar Factory that produces Apps as opposed to tangible products is regarded by many disenfranchised locals as being symptomatic of the societal malaise that’s sweeping the post industrial city in which increasing wealth is becoming consolidated in fewer and fewer hands. A tweet from Cereal Killer Cafe said:
“Tonight we were attacked with paint and fire by an angry mob of 200. Riot police are on the scene.”
The vandalism of the cafe by the mob appears to be a direct reaction to the process of gentrification and growing inequality that the Cereal Killer Cafe is emblematic of. I can recall something similar happening shortly after I arrived in London in the late 1980s where class warriors would regularly smash up symbols of the City elite like Jaguar’s and Porches. So this is nothing new, rather it’s currently being played out at a cafe in east London frequented by well to do kids who pay over the odds for cereal and a splash of milk. According to the BBC website:
“The demonstration was organised by a group called Class War, which was protesting against unaffordable London housing. A statement on their website reads: “We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing… we want community.Working class people are being forced out of our homes but we won’t go out without a fight.”
The backdrop to the demonstration is Margaret Thatchers famous phrase, “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” The implication is that community impedes the ability to maximize profits of the individual. Central to this philosophy is the lack of any notion of collective social responsibility and community. According to Thatcher, people are inherently individualistic and driven purely by selfish desires personified by greed.
Under Thatcher, working class people were given the opportunity to buy council owned properties at discounted rates subsidized by the tax payer. But those who typically bought them were the people who made and built things. Consequently these were the people who were made redundant in the new service-based abstract economy. The people who took advantage of the growth in blue collar unemployment were the white collar rich who bought up the homes the poor could no longer afford to keep.
The sons and daughters of the people who bought them are the main beneficiaries of this process. These include the hipster generation who own businesses like Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch. So the younger generation of the poorest families who missed out on the Thatcher/Blair ponzi scheme bubble are the mob who vandalised the property of the hipster generation owned by the richest.
Naturally, all this has been exacerbated by the exponential rise in land values and the regeneration of former economically depressed city pockets like Shoreditch aided by the increased investment in the built infrastructure of these areas and the improved rail and road links into them.
In an article written shortly before the mob attack on the Cereal Killer Cafe, author Charles Hugh Smith predicts more ‘Days of Rage’ to come. “The resistance will take the form of subverting the signifiers of wealth that exemplify the few who have benefited so greatly while everyone else lost ground”, he says.
He continues, “The rage of the masses who have been losing ground while the Financier Oligarchs, the New Nobility and the technocrat class reap immense gains for decades has been suppressed by the dream that they too could join the Upper Caste. But once the realistic odds of that happening (low) sink in, the Days of Rage will begin.”
People can’t attack the banks directly because of the nature of the surveillance state outlined by Edward Snowden who has uncovered the facts determining how tracking phones and wireless devices (your laptop) from a plane works. Snowden also explains that the same technology is used by our own government to monitor us at home.
So the targets on the future days of rage will likely be businesses, cars, houses and other displays of material wealth. As Smith points out, levels of rising inequality outlined in the graphs below are likely to give rise to more days of rage in the coming months and years:
The top 1% skim 23% of all income:
While the top 5% has enjoyed substantial income gains over the past 45 years, adjusted for inflation, the bottom 90% have lost ground:
The contempt many of the new Thatcherite hipster generation have for the poor, as demonstrated by their tasteless ‘in your face’ gimmickry which the Cereal Killer Cafe exemplifies, was bound to have the kind of knock on effect that resulted from it. Just as the initiation process of the Bullingdon elite is to fuck the head of a dead pig and burn £50 notes in front of the homeless, so it was the case during the bubble period of the 1980s that the wealth and lifestyles of the rich were celebrated with gratuitous excess.
The common theme here is the notion of the importance of the individual over that of collective responsibility of the many. This is what the rich and establishment promote on a daily basis and is symptomatic of an embedded non empathetic culture that displays utter contempt for those less fortunate. If you have empathy you might actually care that your actions have consequences.
But conversely, if you don’t, then you will be able to sleep easily at night knowing, for instance, that your decisions resulted in the deaths of thousands or, in the case of Blair, hundreds of thousands of innocent people. This might explain why leading establishment politicians, bankers and lawyers attend elite public schools where empathy is drummed out of them.