'There's no excuse for violence.' It's a familiar refrain. Even people who spend their lives campaigning against injustice are susceptible to blindly repeating it at the first whiff of a riot's rising smoke.
But stop to think for a moment before you condemn what's happened in Tottenham.
Violence, after all, bleeds from every pore of the capitalist state: from dire impoverishment and starvation through to police brutality, all the way up to war. But this kind of violence is routinely excused: it's either necessary to 'keep us safe', or it's just the way things are.
The kind of violence that we're told there's 'no excuse' for - the kind the newspapers focus on so angrily and relentlessly - is usually not even actual violence at all. It's setting a police car on fire - or, for that matter, smashing the windows of the Millbank Tower.
Property damage is not violence - it doesn't physically hurt anybody. And it doesn't come out of nowhere: time after time, it is a desperate response to the violence of the police.... read more