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The Insurrection of the English Underclass

Author(s): Takis Fotopoulos

Journal: International Journal of Inclusive Democracy
ISSN 1753-240X

Volume: 7;
Issue: 2/3;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: England | riot | systemic crisis | underclass

The spontaneous uprising of the British 'underclass' was, of course, easily crushed by the massive force of the state amassed against it, illustrating one of the main lessons of History once more: that spontaneous uprisings can never overturn a socio-economic system (as opposed to its political personnel), if they are not backed by an organised political movement with its own antisystemic project, its own vision of the future society and a transitional strategy for moving from here to there.However, it is important to assess the importance of this insurrection – which is neither the first (see e.g. the similar insurrections in France[1] and Greece[2] a couple of years ago) nor, of course, the last, as even a systemic magazine like Spiegel acknowledges[3] – and, in the process, to try to interpret its causes and effects. In fact, all these insurrections by what we may call the ‘underclass’, to my mind, represent the long overdue backlash of the main victims of neoliberal globalisation and particularly those who have not yet been integrated into it, despite the good efforts of the reformist Left, or what I call the degenerate “Left”.[4]But first, we need to clarify the meaning of ‘underclass’, as it is obviously not used here in the usual pejorative sense to imply the ‘poor’ or ‘lumpen’ (proletariat) – the meaning that we see so often in various analyses throughout the systemic mass media. Instead, we should take ‘underclass’ to mean the victims of neoliberal globalisation par excellence, i.e. the unemployed and the marginalised, those living close to subsistence level and particularly the youngsters with no future: in a word, the present-day sans culottes, who do not belong to any of the established social classes as they have not (yet) been integrated into the social system of the internationalised market economy and its political complement, representative ‘democracy’ – unlike the working class, for example, who have been integrated into it to various degrees. Therefore, the underclass are very dangerous to the elites, not because they could overthrow the system, but because they force the elites into taking inevitable counter-action to crush their frequent insurrections, thereby revealing the true nature of what passes for "democracy" today — a political system which ultimately relies on physical violence to reproduce the economic violence on which it is founded. Furthermore, the elites’ backlash could lead other social groups who are presently only partly integrated into the system (low-income, occasional or part-time employees, etc.) to take part in the insurrections of the future and/or – even worse for the elites – to organise themselves ‘from below’ with the aim of overcoming the trade unions and parties controlled by the system and creating an antisystemic movement.The insurrections of the future, if motivated by an antisystemic project like the Inclusive Democracy project, could in turn establish the conditions for a future society with an equal distribution of all forms of power, i.e. without power relations or structures — the ultimate cause of every aspect of the present multi-dimensional crisis.[5]
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