“I suppose you’ll try and blame the London riots on climate change believers,” said a friend of mine to me, scathingly, the other day. It’s true. It does seem like anyone who’s got a drum to bang has clutched at the riots like a looter grabbing a pair of trainers. Everyone wants to jump on the who’s-to-blame bandwagon, with theories ranging from the nanny state to an outbreak of “let’s-get-even-with-the- hedge-fund-managers.”
The London riots have come along just at the right time for all sorts of people. For News Ltd, a welcome opportunity to get back to writing about the news rather than making it. For David Cameron, the chance to fight his own Falklands – at home. For Labour politicians, the moment to moan loudly about “the horrific cuts”, forgetting of course that the worst ones were self-inflicted as people gleefully punched their way through plate glass windows.
Personally, I think someone should study the psychological similarity between the January sales and most computer games. Wandering innocently down Wandsworth Road after a relaxed afternoon spent snorting crack cocaine and playing “Mayhem and Carnage 3”, and then suddenly being confronted by excited crowds pouring out of every High Street store with their arms laden with freebies, it would be easy to get confused. “The chance of a lifetime!” as they say in the ads. “Everything must go!”
But back to climate change. Maybe it’s true! Maybe climate change really is to blame.
Got kids? Watched as they've been indoctrinated - sorry, I mean educated - about global warming over the last decade? Then you'll know what I mean. They come home from school moodily depressed about the future of our planet and, of course, what that means for their own lives. What's the point? We're all doomed! Why study? Why bother getting an education? It's futile. Sea levels are rising. Temperatures are soaring. Soon we'll all be living in a polluted hell-hole constantly battling the equivalent of the Queensland floods or the Victorian bush fires year upon year. And you want me to waste what precious time I have left studying accountancy?
It's called nihilism, and it's even more terrifying to witness in your teenage children than hickeys, drunkenness, truancy, insolence, idleness, bad marks or bullying. Nihilism, or the conviction that life on earth is totally pointless, saps the young of their energy, their ambition, and their will to strive, struggle and triumph.
Any amateur psychologist (or even better, parent) will tell you how easy it is to demotivate a child. So as parents we go out of our way to imbue our children with a sense of self-worth and optimism. We try and tell them what a great life lies ahead of them.
Yet at the same time, our teachers and our politicians are determined to do the complete opposite. To convince an entire generation that life on earth as we know it is, well... stuffed. There is no worthwhile future.
The Sex Pistols are famous for coining two phrases., other than “God Save The Queen, which wasn’t strictly theirs. “Anarchy in the UK” and “No Future.” Unsurprisingly, the two go hand in hand. As in Australia, the UK education authorities have spent the last dozen years or so doing their utmost to persuade our kids that they have no future. No future for the planet, which equates to a very bleak future for themselves. Combined with an unrelenting culture of consumption and acquisition, the average child grows up believing a) life is shit and b) grab whatever you can whenever you get the chance. Combine that philosophy with a stimulative diet of violent computer games and a "bling" culture that prides overt materialism above all else and you get, um .... Give me a moment while I figure it out.
Oh yeah! Got it! Anarchy. No respect for authority, an instant "thrill" addiction, no interest in long-term consequences, and a very real understanding that "the system" will never dare blame you for anything that you have done. Awesome, dude!
"We're just getting our taxes back!" yelled one over-excited young woman as she happily looted a corner store the other night in full view of the TV cameras. “This was the best day ever!” yelled talented athlete and (now disqualified) Olympic ambassador Chelsea Ives after allegedly rampaging through Enfield smashing and stealing.
“Children now have the power over their parents, not the other way around,“
said the father of another middle-class teenage looter. Every time he tries to criticize or correct his daughters behavior, she has been taught to loudly accuse him or either verbal or physical abuse.
Clearly, today's "rioters" aren't actually interested in changing the world with catchy slogans and idealistic sentiments. They're far too busy helping themselves to shoes, clothes, electronic goods, alcohol, chips and cash.
Only a few weeks ago, Pink Floyd offspring Charlie Gilmour was sentenced to 16 months for his role in the “student riots” of last year. “We’re very, very angry!” he proclaimed, smashing his way into Oxford Street’s Top Shop, presumably grabbing the opportunity to get some new clothes. “You broke the moral law, we are going to break all the laws,” he carried on, as he then set about attacking Prince Charles’ convoy and desecrating the Cenotaph.
All because of cuts to student fees? Um, his step-dad made one of the biggest selling albums of all time. I don’t think so. Nihilism is a pernicious, debilitating and self-fulfilling doctrine. In the UK, as here, the "authorities" have been preaching it relentlessly for the last decade. It comes at a price. Al Gore, I hope you watched the riots in a London as avidly as our kids were all forced to watch your breathless prophesies of global gloom, doom and destruction.
It's not rising sea levels we have to worry about. It's a rising tide of nihilism, thrill seeking and moral ambiguity.
And the January sales.