I was glad to be out of London while the rioting and looting was going on. It may have been chilly and damp in the Lake District, but it was also peaceful and quiet. Nevertheless, watching the footage on the news, I couldn’t help thinking that most of those responsible were ‘looters’ long before they started smashing up JD Sports and setting shops on fire. I wonder what percentage of the looters live off the product of other people’s labour? I wonder how many of them rely on the forced confiscation of money earned by others to fund their delinquent lifestyles? In a sense, the recent outbreak of criminality in England merely gave full, violent expression to the principle by which so many people live their lives.
Perhaps I’ve just been reading too much Ayn Rand. Here’s Francisco d’Anconia making a similar point in Atlas Shrugged:
Then you will see the rise of the double standard—the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money—the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law—men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims—then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.