JONATHAN JANSEN | Poverty is not to blame for looting, a lack of values is

The breakdown of norms, rules and values happens at home and at school. Reversing it starts with us

14 July 2021 - 20:20 By jonathan jansen

First, there is the good news. The storm will subside. We will reset as if nothing happened. That is the bad news. We will move on and not deal with the underlying causes of this massive stress test of our democratic state. Until it happens again, we anguish, and then we forget, again. I asked friends living in the UK what they remember about Britain’s 2011 urban riots that their newspapers then described as “a defining contest between order and disorder” and a future prime minister observed as “disorder on a scale not seen in this country for many, many years”. None of my UK friends remember those devastating riots. Bad news.

We are in an intense search to make meaning out of the explosion of community violence and wholesale looting in especially the richest (Gauteng) and most densely populated provinces (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal). The explanations given are breathtaking in their range — tribalism, terrorism, poverty, inequality, unemployment, pandemic stress and more. No doubt, there is some truth in all of these attempts at sense-making and even less comfort in a conclusion gaining ground among political commentators — a failed state...

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