Jonah Goldberg

I'm much more sympathetic to this suite of theories. The last time I was in London, the tabloids were making a huge fuss over some lower-class parents staging quasi-gladiatorial fights with their toddlers so they could put the videos on YouTube. That's not a good sign, I thought at the time.

The problem, of course, is that even if conservatives are right, there's precious little government can do to fill the holes in such souls.

Moreover, I think we put way too much effort into intellectualizing or romanticizing mob violence. Whatever the root causes of such behavior, the simple and unavoidable truth is that looters loot because they can. As one looter explained on a British radio show: "The government aren't in control -- because if they was, we wouldn't be able to do it, could we?"

This is the shame of Britain right now. Four days of murder and mayhem demonstrated that the police have become an incompetent social worker program. As goons of all ethnicities destroyed the livelihoods of hardworking storeowners of all ethnicities (sorely in need of gun rights), as they targeted shops not for their political symbolism but for their inventory of the latest sneakers and video games, police held a delicate seminar on the propriety of water cannons.

Meanwhile, as the mobs' useful idiots organized conferences trying to imbue the wanton bloodshed and avarice with political nobility, the savages were announcing on their BlackBerrys which shopping district to swarm for "pure terror and havoc & free stuff."

Mustn't forget the free stuff.

There's an adage that the "plural of anecdote is data." Maybe so. But what we know for sure is that the plural of criminal is criminals. And the people tearing apart English society are simply criminals, whose villainy is not diluted by their numbers, but magnified by them.

If Britain lacks prisons to hold them, build more prisons. Call it a jobs program if it helps.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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