But it’s more than childish destructiveness motivating the rioters. At a more fundamental level, these are youngsters who are uniquely alienated from the communities they grew up in. Nurtured in large part by the welfare state, financially, physically and educationally, socialised more by the agents of welfarism than by their own neighbours or community representatives, these youth have little moral or emotional attachment to the areas they grew up in. Their rioting reveals, not that Britain is in a time warp back to 1981 or 1985 when there were politically motivated, anti-racist riots against the police, but rather that the tentacle-like spread of the welfare state into every area of people’s lives has utterly zapped old social bonds, the relationship of sharing and solidarity that once existed in working-class communities. In communities that are made dependent upon the state, people are less inclined to depend on each other or on their own social wherewithal. We have a saying in Britain for people who undermine their own living quarters – we call it ‘shitting on your own doorstep’. And this rioting suggests that the welfare state has given rise to a generation perfectly happy to do that.

This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one’s own community. And as a left-winger, I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly negative impact on working people’s lives…

There is one more important part to this story: the reaction of the cops. Their inability to handle the riots effectively reveals the extent to which the British police are far better adapted to consensual policing than conflictual policing. It also demonstrates how far they have been paralysed in our era of the politics of victimhood, where virtually no police activity fails to get followed up by a complaint or a legal case. Their kid-glove approach to the rioters of course only fuels the riots, because as one observer put it, when the rioters ‘see that the police cannot control the situation, [that] leads to a sort of adrenalin-fuelled euphoria’. So this street violence was largely ignited by the excesses of the welfare state and was then intensified by the discombobulation of the police state. In this sense, it reveals something very telling, and quite depressing, about modern Britain.