Looting with the lights on

Written By: - Date published: 5:24 pm, August 18th, 2011 - 28 comments
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Naomi Klein writes “We keep hearing England’s riots weren’t political – but looters know that their elites have been committing daylight robbery”. Some comparisons are relevant here too. She gives some examples:

Argentina’s mass looting was called el saqueo – the sacking. That was politically significant because it was the very same word used to describe what that country’s elites had done by selling off the country’s national assets in flagrantly corrupt privatisation deals, hiding their money offshore, then passing on the bill to the people with a brutal austerity package.

Sounds familiar – shades of 1987-1992 – Rogernomics and Ruthanasia.

Argentines understood that the saqueo of the shopping centres would not have happened without the bigger saqueo of the country, and that the real gangsters were the ones in charge. But England is not Latin America, and its riots are not political, or so we keep hearing. They are just about lawless kids taking advantage of a situation to take what isn’t theirs. And British society, Cameron tells us, abhors that kind of behaviour.

This is said in all seriousness. As if the massive bank bailouts never happened, followed by the defiant record bonuses. Followed by the emergency G8 and G20 meetings, when the leaders decided, collectively, not to do anything to punish the bankers for any of this, nor to do anything serious to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

Instead they would all go home to their respective countries and force sacrifices on the most vulnerable. They would do this by firing public sector workers, scapegoating teachers, closing libraries, upping tuition fees, rolling back union contracts, creating rush privatisations of public assets and decreasing pensions – mix the cocktail for where you live. And who is on television lecturing about the need to give up these “entitlements”? The bankers and hedge-fund managers, of course.

Sounds familiar – shades of 2008-2011 – we haven’t got a name for this period yet as many Kiwis still believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

This is the global saqueo, a time of great taking. Fuelled by a pathological sense of entitlement, this looting has all been done with the lights on, as if there was nothing at all to hide. There are some nagging fears, however. In early July, the Wall Street Journal, citing a new poll, reported that 94% of millionaires were afraid of “violence in the streets”. This, it turns out, was a reasonable fear.

No wonder the next move is to put the clampers on unemployed youth.

28 comments on “Looting with the lights on”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    ‘we haven’t got a name for this period yet’

    Not correct, I’m afraid. It’s called ‘Post Peak Oil’, ‘Peak Everything’ (other than peak mayhem), TEOTWAWKI’, ”The Long Emergency’, ‘The Great Turning’, The Never-ending Depression’, ‘The Reversal of the Industrial Revolution’, ‘The Collapse of Industrial Civilisation’ etc.

    People have been talking about all this stuff, including the looting of the till by the elites, for many years. Nice to see it’s finally starting to go mainstream … even if it is ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    Next thing we know there will be open acknowledgement that 9/11 was a false flag operation and that Al qaida (various spellings) was invented by the CIA. .

    • aerobubble 1.1

      I disagree. yes, it is peak oil, easy cheap high density fuel fueled the world economy, and
      it was easy for the corrupt to disruption and deconstruct oversight, fact checking, etc.
      This of course would be easier in Argentian than in the UK, concentrated populations
      know they have to give and take more. It wasn’t until Murdoch enter the UK media
      market that the takeover started and corruption took hold. And please greed is good
      in moderation, like alcohol, its the boozers who should be made to be ashamed.
      Yes, there is a correction and it will hurt a lot more thanks to the like of Key, Cameroon,
      Obama, right of center politicians. But really it takes time to detox middle US,UK,OZ,NZ
      to the reality that the privately own motor vehicle is dead.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        And please greed is good in moderation

        I think I know what you mean. Wealth has it’s place, when used to invest in one’s own capacity, your family and those less fortunate in the community.

        I have no problem with wealth in itself; there always will be those with talent, capacity for hard-work and not a little good luck, who do much better than those around them. The real question is what do they do with it?

        Perhaps the most legitimate and gratifying use of wealth is when it is used to transform the lives of others. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates appear to understand this, but few do. And it applies at all levels of society, not just the mega-wealthy.

        • Carol

          And please greed is good in moderation

          Surely greed implies excess, and if it acquisition, and/or use of wealth is done in moderation, then it’s not greed?

          • Colonial Viper

            Taking an extra helping from the soup pot when there is plenty to go around is human nature.

            Taking an extra helping from the soup pot when there is hardly any to go around is greed.

    • johnm 1.2

      I agree with AFKTT
      The elites have been rejecting the social common good model with genuine participatory democracy for 31 years now.Result is we have outrageous wealth and income inequalities. The U$$$$$ is a ruined has been where the rich are doing great thank you by exporting 43000 factories to Asia and they’re cashing in on increased PROFITS from dirt cheap labour. Meanwhile ordinary Americans are 43,000,000 of them are existing on food stamps. Ireland the traitorous government have sold their people into debt servitude so that the rich shan’t have to look like Telly Savalas. The message is the now failed fiat interest bearing Ponzi scheme must be paid out on even though it’s bankrupt and by GOD the ordinary herd will be made to pay for it though they have got no benefit from it at all.

      Capitalist greed has tossed off the U$$$$$$and the EURO zone(Shown now to be another rich boys club-not for the people)refer Ireland and is doing so to NZ. Privatisation is another attempt to keep this failed paradigm going, crazy cause it benefits rich bastards overseas while making life harder for the ordinary kiwi-what can you expect when the PM is a former currency speculator from a failed fraudulent outfit called Merrill Lynch?Don’t kiwis love to suck it !

  2. mike 2

    Fay/Richwhite et al (and the list goes on), looted this country just as surely as the recent English mob did theirs. Their cover was Friedman theory and, politically, Reagan/Thatcher, Rogernomics. These days are joyous to those of us who have always believed that this whole ‘market driven’ thing was a total con. Business – shmisiness. Everyone has a say in this world, Government is not our enemy. It’s great to see those that people have been so afraid of in the last thirty years, including the Murdock dogs, and the Herald, squirming because of a sudden realisation the wall is too high. Read the 1956 C.Wright Mills book Power Elites, he describes their nefarious methods brilliantly. How come no-one listened?

  3. Bored 3

    Just posted on Open Mike, try this link


    They might just go after S&P.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Don’t forget the UK MP’s Expenses Scandal which helped take Gordon Brown down


    Antique rugs, furniture, flat screen TVs, bathroom scales, DVD players, food and drink. Moat cleaning too, for those with residences with moats.

    Apparently whats good for the political elites is frowned upon if the common folk just decide to pick it up and walk away with it themselves.

    Hypocritical of Cameron to pretend that there is no social, economic or political context to the looting. Fraking Tories.

  5. RedLogix 5

    I’ve been crook with the flu this last week, and in my off moments I’ve repeatedly contemplated this extraordinary lack of self-awareness from the conservatives.

    I don’t know about others here but one of the most frustrating, frankly anger-making, aspect of trying to converse with many right-wingers here … is their endless pig-headed self-centredness. In their world greed is good as long as you get away with it; taking what you haven’t truly earned is fine so long as you can point to a ‘rule’ that allows it; and any entitlement money can buy is yours with no responsibility.

    Every vice that David Cameron rightly rails against virtually defines the mindset of the modern conservative.

    The only difference, as always, is that privilege protects the rich from their looting, while poor will feel the cold arm of the law in its full force.

    I don’t know quite what to say, part of me wants a call to revolution, yet that isn’t right either. And doing nothing seems to condemn us to a slow unravelling into reactionary bigotry and violence.

    The core of human life is social co-operation and collective action; yet the modern neo-liberal has waged a 30 year war on it’s foundations. I wonder how Cameron can talk about ‘breakdown of society over generations’ when Maggie Thatcher assured all conservatives that ‘there was no such thing as society’.

    I feel like I’ve finished trying to talk with these self-serving greedies.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Agreed. They generally just seem to lack a sense of compassion or understanding for how other people live their lives.

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      Yup. The Right never expect to convince or mollify the Left; in fact they constantly dog-whistle and encourage their own base while selling themselves via every base means possible to those who are largely apolitical and impressionable.

      The way to take on the Right is by expanding efforts like The Standard into a full MSM channel and taking the discussion to far more non-aligned people.

      • uke 5.2.1

        The way to take on the Right is by expanding efforts like The Standard into a full MSM channel and taking the discussion to far more non-aligned people.

        Great idea. How?

        • Colonial Viper

          Would require $250K to $500K start up capital. I’d put up the first 1% myself, only need to find another 99 punters willing to do the same.

          Would comprise two parts, a printed newspaper, small format, weekly, 8-16 pages long. This paper would be sold for $2 each, the seller would keep 50c, the remainder would go back to the publisher.

          The second part would be an internet TV channel which does interviews with important NZ figures, analysis of latest events and critiques of the NZ 4th estate at large.

          Advertising would be sold on both channels.

          Content, format or other ideas from The Standard could also be professionalised, edited and used.

          Would be staffed by 2-3 part time professional journos, part time admin staffer+tech guy+graphics/typesetter. Oh yeah the sales and distribution guy is pretty important.

          • RedLogix

            only need to find another 99 punters willing to do the same.


          • uke

            Sounds really good. Would contribute myself except I’m totally skint at the moment. Maybe down the track a bit.

            Would be staffed by 2-3 part time professional journos…

            Perhaps Gordon Campbell would be interested?

            • Colonial Viper

              I’m betting there are quite a few excellent freelancers out there who would assist at quite modest rates, some of whom will have been long ignored by the corporate MSM.

    • rosy 5.3

      I think the have extraordinary self-awareness, but an extraordinary lack of social consciousness. Otherwise, yeah, self-serving, lacking in compassion and empathy fits.

      I’ve heard that the left spend too much time trying to explain things, whereas the right go straight for the emotional jugular, and the emotions they target are greed and fear. If this is so, the left need to use blunt tools to counteract fear and greed, and use blunt tools to develop a social consciousness. What those tools are is a mystery to me. But they need to demonstrate that social inclusiveness and social justice can build a more secure society for them as well as others.

      There is a group that will lack the capacity to care about anyone other than themselves and their own networks, but there’s a great mass that can be convinced. It’s worth trying to do that.

  6. Sunny 6

    You can’t talk an addict out of their addiction…and the rich are addicted to power and to money. They’re addicts who can never have enough, who will lie and steal and never see the harm they do to other people or if they get a glimpse, they don’t care, becuase they need their next fix. And it always has to be bigger.

  7. Jum 7

    Thank you Mike Smith. Everyone copy this post and tell everyone. Too many people in New Zealand think that this government acts alone.

    Lord Ashcroft is the lynchpin of this neo-conservative action globally – you know, the one who doesn’t pay any tax.

    Remember also that Maori have announced that they will be only too happy to buy up assets that belong to all of us but they will only share with their people.

    This is just another division in this country because of greed.

    • Carol 7.1

      Remember also that Maori have announced that they will be only too happy to buy up assets that belong to all of us but they will only share with their people.

      I doubt they will be sharing with ALL their people. Their support of asset sales shows a rightwing mind set, and not good for any of the many.

      • Jum 7.1.1


        Quite right, Carol. I have met many Maori who see little of the benefits of the assets Maoridom already have.

        It reminds me of the early welfare principles for women alone – if their husbands had deserted them they were bad women and welfare was out but if their husbands had died they were good women and welfare was in.

        This discrimination will return now that Key is contracting out welfare to all and sundry organisations who exude moral judgement and prejudice in their manifestos. (Maxim Institute)

    • ropata 7.2

      Divide and conquer. The next election will determine whether NZ joins the death spiral of democracy to feudalism, or finds a way forward for ALL of society.

      Remember 1981. People power.

  8. Jum 8

    I mentioned Lord Ashcroft above. Pink Postman has posted some more info on him. http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-19082011/ Even more damning with the Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism by Gerry Brownlee and co in Christchurch.

    “the pink postman 4.2
    19 August 2011 at 3:44 pm

    …Also sniffing and fawning around Key and the Nats is Lord Michael Ashcroft buyer of insurance companies and past chairman of the Democratic Union.How disapointed they will be if the
    Nats lose the election .”

  9. Jum 9

    I have to tell you all that when you line up the profile of Lord Ashcroft’s interests in war medals and conservative parties and (how convenient!) that war medals were stolen from Waiouru War Museum and then Lord Ashcroft donated reward money and then Lord Ashcroft started up a crime stoppers site, as in the UK, and then Lord Ashcroft flew over to give (not necessarily in this order…) John Key, not money you understand, but advice, just before the election, secretly, until the media found out, and then Lord Ashcroft was made right hand man of David Cameron and then the look alikes Cameron and Key and wives in blue dress became the controllers of their countries – it just makes goosebumps of goosesteps go up and down the spine.



  10. Jum 10

    Update on my person of interest:

    No’s 1 and 6 pertain to NZ.


    Strangely enough the report on the meeting in New Zealand doesn’t appear – in fact nothing appears between early January and early April.

    Perhaps something happened in that meeting held in New Zealand that John Key doesn’t want us to know about.

    Not that anyone is even slightly interested in this as John Key is such a handsome popular man, there couldn’t possibly be anything remotely suspicious about his membership of the national democratic conservative society that hates the left and works with its leader partners globally – whereas to me that in itself is a problem with New Zealanders losing any chance of having any say in their own country.

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