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Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 7:36 pm

Is It Now a Crime to be Poor?

Union Jack

There is an initiative to distract the British public from the real problems, which revolve around a debt crisis. While many of the country’s richest people receive unjust tax exemptions (Vodafone, for example, enjoys a tax dodge of over 7 billion pounds, or 30 times the estimated aggregate cost of all the recent riots and the damages caused throughout), the centralised media seeks to characterise the victims — not tax evaders — as the danger to this country’s future.

Earlier this month, events resulting from genuine grievances were collectively painted only as vandalism and looting, even though that is a gross generalisation – an oversimplification to be exploited by opportunistic politicians . The real issues were left buried under the rug and a mesmerising picture of buildings/buses on fire was implanted in people’s minds in order to make oppressive new legal instruments seem acceptable and even necessary.

These events we are seeing are not unprecedented. The burning of the Reichstag in the 1930s, for example, was used as a pretext in Germany in order to eliminate civil liberties that had been approved in 1919. Based on The Star, a respected daily newspaper, our Prime Minister is now blaming civil rights for the riots, seeking to remove these and by doing this potentially criminalising some forms of union or civil protest.

The argument is not one of left versus right wing, which would be a false dichotomy. It is not about rioters and non-rioters, either. The real issue at hand is class war and the ascent of suppressive policies that limit free speech on the Web and freedom of expression on the streets, however non-violent these may be. Do not fall for the illusion that the lower economic class is the enemy; do not allow draconian new policies to pass, either, mainly because history shows that the decline is democracy is steep and irreversible one it commences.

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