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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

An inversion of power: an analysis of the British riots of 2011

The response of the British cultural institutions to the riots of August 2011 was that they were caused by British society. This accusation antedated the riots and provided an ideological framework for them. Civilization requires that aggression either be repressed, by being turned into guilt, or suppressed by legitimized power. Holding the society guilty leaves room for the outward expression of aggression, in this case on the part of the rioters. The police hesitated to suppress the riots because they had been required to turn their aggression inward, as guilt, regarding matters of race. The roots of this are explored through analysis of the finding of 'institutional racism' by the Macpherson inquiry into the police treatment of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.