The last few days saw riots breaking out in London and then spreading to other British cities. The riots had been triggered off by a shooting by the British Police of a youngster. And having started as demonstration of protest against the shooting they soon turned into waves of arson and looting in shopping areas of major British Cities. And politicians and journalists are asking: “Why?”
At the start of the riots a local activist remarked: “They call us violent, but they [the authorities] are more violent then us”, and then cited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But, of course, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not justify “High Street looting”. Looting is a crime, and so are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But one crime does not justify another crime as seen from the point of view of Law. But this is not how the rioters see it.
To understand why crimes by governments are seen as justification of lawlessness by the governed one needs to look at the very essence of Government Authority.
The base Human Instincts are (1) to take by force what one wants and (2) to destroy by force what one does not like. The main function of Government is to suppress these base instincts and to replace them with Rule of Law: (1) Theft is crime, (2) Violence, except in self defence and enforcement of Law, is crime.
This Law is imposed on the People by (1) Moral Guidance, (2) Threat of Punishment (Violence by Government).
And to be able to enforce Law effectively Government needs to have agreement of the People to submit themselves to the Rule of Law enforced by Government — that is “acceptance of the Government Authority”.
And the main condition for the People accepting the Authority of Government is submission of the Government itself to the Rule of Law. Without such submission the Government have no Moral Authority, and the only way to maintain themselves in power left to them is violence and deception. And government without Moral Authority leads to protests, riots, uprisings and revolutions.
Having committed crimes of wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan the British Government has lost their Moral Authority. And attempts to justify these crimes by false arguments or to “sweep them under the carpet” had still further undermined the People's trust in Government.
The rioters are not rioting against the Crimes of War committed by the Government, they are committing crimes of looting to satisfy their base instincts — they take by force what they want and they destroy what they hate. And this lawlessness and criminality of the rioters is the result of the loss of the Moral Authority by the Government. The rioters message is: “Who are you to rule over us — you are worse criminals than us”.
Since the present Government have no Moral Authority, their only option to quell the riots is to use physical force. And, being work of a relatively small group of people, sooner or later the riots will be stopped, but the Moral Authority of the Government will not be restored, and this will lead to further possible unrests and lawless acts by members of the public.
The present Government did try to restore its Moral Authority by a “Humanitarian Intervention” in Libya. The thinking was: “Here is our chance! By taking the side of the good guys we shall regain the High Moral Ground. And even the Iraq War will be whitewashed as just another humanitarian intervention to remove a tyrant”.
But this is not how the Libyan War is seen by the rest of the world. Most people see it as just another war of aggression. They ask: “How many lives have they saved in Libya? And where was their humanitarianism when they were killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq and still are killing in Afghanistan?”.
So, how can the British Government restore its Moral Authority?
They should take the following steps: (1) official public declaration that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are wars of aggression and therefore crimes, (2) cessation of all the military activities and withdrawal of all troops from the attacked countries, (3) Nuremberg style tribunal for Tony Blair and his immediate accomplices, (4) public self‐denunciation campaign by all the other public figures who had played any role in supporting these wars.
The above “de‐Blairization” campaign to be followed by fundamental reforms of Government aimed at preventing abuses of Government Power in the future.
No, the People are not asking for these measures, they are concerned with their personal wants and needs. It is the Government itself, as an institution, that needs these measures to re‐establish its own Moral Authority.