(Photo by Jose Farinha)
In light of the recent riots that have caused London to shiver its timbers, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a motley crue of topics that all seem to intersect…music, policy-making and social anxiety.
Dorian Lynskey at the UK newspaper, the Guardian, recently wrote about how music can capture a crisis, it can describe a mood, and it can maybe even incite a movement. He selected The Specials’ Ghost Town as the best way of describing the smog of social anxiety currently floating above London and perhaps even telling how it got there. But for me, the song was particularly resonant because of the way it made me feel. It’s bass tones, spooky horns and haunting chanting describe a London that I felt this past Tuesday afternoon – the 3rd and final day of the riots. The staff at my school were encouraged to leave early. Taking the tube home on the Picadilly line at the evening rush our was eerie in the fact that my car was nearly empty, compared to the previous jam packed days with struggles for space. Getting back to my flat in Earl’s Court, the human traffic on the streets was empty-ish, and a sense of fear was definitely in the air.
But with all forms of citizen action, I generally try to maintain a positive spirit despite any possible violence, destruction and loss. And that is totally captured by The Beatles’ Revolution. Amid Prime Minister David Cameron’s ridiculous reforms, austerity cuts and his refusal to examine the social causes of the London riots, there might just be a revolution simmering. My knowledge of policy reform in the British welfare state is limited to a basic knowledge of health and various movies about council estates, but what I’m describing now is derived from the general feeling I get from newspapers, friends, and what I see myself. What I see is a English welfare state that might be characterised as being one of status quo in the last decades, with very little reform being legislated or implemented to create a more efficient system that inspires positive change. This stagnation is now being made worse by the global economic recession, the threat of further cuts, and a Prime Minister who just won’t budge(t). However, it should be noted that instability has long encouraged the (Eton-educated you know who) elites of status quo regimes to legislate and implement reforms (Bossert, 1983). So perhaps this is now the beginnings of a revolution. I really do feel it coming. Perhaps I’m overlooking all over the immense barriers to policy change, but I can feel it in the air…And so I leave you with this peace….
PS – the next post will be less politicking…
PPS – any other thoughts on a soundtrack for the revolution? Another one that might characterize the actual action on the streets might be Rage Against the Machine’s Sleep Now in the Fire
PPPS – it would be really interesting to know about other soundtracks accompanying other revolutions that are going on around the world right now, like those of the Arab spring. Any suggestions?