Rioters as young as nine are looting shops and burning buildings in cities across Great Britain. Pundits, of course, are trying to answer the question, “Why?” The left is predictably blaming social conditions–government cutbacks in particular–and the right is predictably putting responsibility on the individual “hooligans.”
I haven’t seen any interviews of the actual perpetrators (fill me in if you have), but I suspect there is not all that much “rage”–pictures I’ve seen are of the young folks laughing as they run off with vodka and electronic appliances–and minimalistic responses on the order of “whatever” to journalists as to all adults.
My theory is this: Western nations in general are suffering from a crisis in authority. Specifically, young people today tend not to perceive the validity of ANY authority over them. Not their parents. Also not the police, their teachers, their pastors. Nor the law or a moral code. And certainly not their governments.
I would say too that we conservatives, while being strong on the authority of the family, may be contributing to the erosion of authority, especially when it comes to the contempt we tend to express for government authority of every kind.
Not only the person who holds the office–always subject to political opposition–but the office itself seems to be denigrated. We oppose not just our local Congressmen but “politicians” and “Congress” in general. That’s different from how I remember it in the good old days of Goldwater and Reagan conservatism, which tended to be very patriotic, “law and order,” “my country right or wrong,” even to a fault. I don’t deny that our office holders contributed to this new cynicism towards government. But I’m saying that the social contract needs a general respect for authority, including the authority of the state–a notion that is explicitly Biblical–otherwise, civilization will come apart, as we are seeing in England.