Do you remember the good old days when an Englishman’s proudest boast was that he paid his way? That was then, and this is now: today something like a half million Englishmen demonstrated in London against proposed budget cuts. Their boast, apparently: someone else pays my way!
That’s bad enough. But the decline of British civilization is reflected even more brutally in the rampaging mob that smashed store fronts, “occupied” businesses, and battled police. And perhaps most of all in the weak response of the authorities.
First, the mob. Here, they smash windows at the historic Ritz Hotel:
Here, hundreds of bums “occupy” Fortnum & Mason:
Their rationale was as dumb as you would expect:
Sally Mason, one of the protesters who occupied the store, said: ‘Fortnum & Mason is a symbol of wealth and greed. It is where the Royal Family and the super-rich do their weekly shop and a picnic hamper costs £25,000.
‘This sits in stark contrast to everyone else who is struggling to make ends meet, fill in their tax returns and benefit forms and facing huge student debts, unemployment and the closure or dismantling of local services such as the NHS, libraries and leisure centres.’
Tonight, riot police tried to stem the mob’s destructive fury as fires burned in the center of London:
As noted earlier, the London police and other authorities failed to foresee the violence–odd, given the fact that last time there was a major demonstration in London, radicals tried to attack the Prince of Wales–and, worse, they responded weakly when the violence spiraled out of control:
Anarchist groups had spent weeks preparing the action on Facebook and Twitter and even posted a map directing people to the time and location of where to attack shops.
So naturally the police were taken by surprise.
More than 4,500 police officers were on duty for the march but seemed powerless to stop the violence, which began when a group of activists bent on trouble peeled off into London’s busiest shopping area. After five hours of running battles, there were 75 arrests. At least 30 people, including five police officers, were injured. Police said the anti-capitalists threw lightbulbs filled with ammonia at them.
Incredibly, the police considered weakness a virtue:
Senior officers watched the chaos from a command room in Scotland Yard where they had invited civil liberties activists to monitor a “softly-softly” approach after criticism of their tactics at earlier student protests. At one point they used Twitter to warn the occupiers of Fortnum and Mason they would be arrested.
How pitiful! Can you imagine the contempt with which a lawless mob would greet the arrival of a police tweet?
They ordered limited use of “kettling” to contain the rioters but admitted that such was the scale of the violence, they could not protect property.
Shoppers and day-trippers were forced to take refuge in stairwells. Karen Underwood, 28, who was shopping on Oxford Street, said: “It was pretty scary at times. Paint was being thrown and large groups of men were charging through the streets.”
Maybe this was part of the problem:
Chairman of Police Federation Ian McKeever has warned that many police officers who are assigned to patrol the protest marches are feeling a lot of sympathy with protesters as they are faced with thousands of redundancies and £500 million in pay cuts.
We have seen something similar in Madison, Wisconsin.
The first duty of any government is to maintain order. Peaceful demonstrations are fine, but mob rule is incompatible with civilization. Any government that cannot maintain order deserves to fall, and will. Napoleon had his faults–well, to be blunt, he was crazy as a loon–but he had the right prescription for dealing with mobs: a whiff of grapeshot.