London is burning. Storefronts are busted. Looting is rampant. And rioters are reducing many of the city's buildings to piles of timber.
But what is it all for?
In the past, the English youth have faced poverty and unemployment and an apathetic government. But is that what the majority of the rioters are fighting against today.
Are these kids feeling the same anguish that (possibly) sparked the punk rock movement in their city over four decades ago?
I don't think so.
What started out as a riot for a very singular cause (the Tottenham shooting), has spread and, in my opinion, become largely a riot of opportunity.
Many protesters joined in the riot to fight against the economic situation facing the youth in London. They are faced with poverty, unemployment and a bleak future. Whether or not you agree with the riot as a form of protest, you have to agree that those are, at the very least, very valid reasons to be angry.
However, many of the youths involved in the riot look anything but impoverished. Several news reports (I heard one on NPR) are painting pictures of kids in $150 shoes organizing riots on their BlackBerrys. It seems like these kids are more interested in looting a new Fred Perry jacket than evoking social change.
Like I said, many of the rioters actually are kids suffering from the dire economic climate, but many others are simply opportunistic assholes harming the valid message of some protesters.
England used to be a bastion for social commentary due to the fact that many of its musicians actually grew up under terrible conditions and expressed their frustrations through music.
In the name of actual protest and actual suffering and actually giving a damn about something, I have compiled a list of songs written by people who actually know what it is like to suffer through poverty and unemployment and the pain of not knowing where your next meal will come from.
These are the top English riot songs.
London's Burning (The Clash) Almost any song by The Clash could make this list, but I chose this one due to its extremely apt title and chorus. The song paints the picture of kids with nothing left to do but watch the city burn.
God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols) Nothing elaborates on the impoverished youth's anger with the establishment quite like this song. The Sex Pistols sardonically rip the royalty and everything that represents the false wealth shoved in their faces.
Autonomy (Buzzcocks) The tile of this one says it all. In the face of a government that really doesn't care, the Buzzcocks just want to exert a little authority over themselves.
If the Kids are United (Sham 69) Sham 69 picked up on one of the main themes that runs through youth riots. If all of the kids stick together, no one can stop them. Not the government. Not the cops. Not the future. It is a pretty potent message given the right (or wrong) circumstances.
England Belongs to Me (Cock Sparrer) What is a riot if not a struggle for control between the establishment and the people? Cock Sparrer hits on that note by taking their home back from the Man whilst sardonically chronicling the nation's highlights.