It’s not yet sunset in the UK, so we don’t know if a fourth night of rioting will follow the first three. But the glee and impunity with which rioters torched and looted large sections of London are an indictment of two beloved projects of British and other European elites: a disarmed citizenry and an all-encompassing, cradle-to-grave welfare state.
It’s hard to imagine riots of these size going on for days on end in the American South or Midwest simply because so many armed, law-abiding citizens would stand ready to defend their lives, liberty and property. Once you’ve shot a few rioters dead, it does rather tend to put a damper on the festive mood of the others. An armed shop owner in Texas or Ohio wouldn’t have to stand idly by while his life work burned, waiting vainly for police that never come.
But London shopkeepers and home-owners never had that choice. As Instapundit noted, “Unlike L.A., there are no Korean shopkeepers with AR-15s to help contain the looting.” Since handguns were banned in the UK in 1997 (tightening already restrictive firearm laws), their per capita crime rate has skyrocketed compared to ours.
As Theodore Dalrymple and others have so depressingly documented, the welfare state has hollowed out the once redoubtable English character and replaced it with crime, inter-generational dole-dependency and general hopelessness. “These youths in hoodies and men in bandanas are not fighting for a principle, they’re trashing neighbourhoods for a plasma telly and a pair of new trainers. Masked gangs are looting department stores, not waving placards.”
Will this be a wake-up call for those pushing for an ever-larger welfare state? Of course not. My liberal British friends on Facebook are already trotting out the classic liberal phrases. “Underclass,” “powerless,” etc. Why “powerlessness” leads inevitably to someone looting a plasma TV is never adequately explained, nor how an ever-more-expansive welfare state would prevent this, unless they expect that taxpayers buying a plasma TV for every single person on the dole would remove the temptation.