The news from Great Britain has been sickening: riots and looting that began in London have gone on now for three nights, and have spread to other British cities. The riots are uncaused in any rational sense. Some observers associate them with bad economic times, but that is an act of faith. When looters make off with iPod accessories, The Wretched of the Earth, it isn’t.
These aren’t race riots, either. While quite a few of the looters are immigrants, criminality is perhaps the one sphere in which the U.K. has actually achieved multiculturalism.
As so often happens in Great Britain, law enforcement has bordered on the pathetic. Only after three days of violence were significant numbers of policemen added to London streets, and only now are officials threatening to use plastic bullets on the looters. Traditionally, looters have been shot, and not with plastic. Napoleon’s “whiff of grapeshot” always works: the first volley goes over the heads of the rioters. The second is never needed. But nowadays, there seems to be an implicit admission that rioters are entitled to take over the streets and wreak destruction in revenge for…what?
What makes the present such a frightening time is that a number of nightmarish phenomena that we had thought consigned to the dustbin of history are reappearing. Rioters in the streets. Burning buildings. Plunging markets and the threat of depression. The scent of socialism in the air. Who, as of, say, 1989, could have imagined that in barely 20 years, what was then known as the Free World could sink so far?
What we are seeing in London and other English cities is an outpouring of evil. To try to explain evil as the result of something else is almost always a mistake. The urge to do evil is a primary motivation, not the indirect consequence of something else. Take, as just one example, this video of a young man in London who has been beaten and is bleeding profusely. A group of thugs approach him and pretend that they are going to help. Instead, they loot his backpack. Just for fun: the guy who steals his possessions throws them in the street a few moments later. They just wanted to do evil:
The British riots, like similar events in any time and place, are a reminder that while the existence of God may be debatable, the existence of the Devil is not. It also reminds us that a society that does not have the will to defend itself is doomed.