Out of the Ashes
Discussing David Lammy’s important book Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots.
In the midst of Olympic euphoria it is easy to forget that exactly one year ago London was ravaged by riotous mobs. David Lammy warns that the underlying conditions that led to the violence, from the lack of community spirit and the breakdown of the family have not been overcome. While Lammy emphasises the need for parents to reassert their authority,however, the politics of parental responsibility he supports seems to be dominated by the perceived need for external support. From early intervention to the new science of epigenetics, policy makers often assert that without state support today’s children are already the rioters of the future.
Similar questions are raised by Lammy’s call for young people to be inspired by a new community spirit. The Olympics have been lauded both for forging a spirit of volunteerism and for producing new sporting heroes who can inspire youth, but such a moment is marked by a contrast with a prevailing pessimism that young people can be challenged or inspired by anything outside of their comfort zone.
Out of the Ashes raises important issues such as; Is parental autonomy compatible with responsibility and is it possible to inspire our youth while creating strong communities? Will any of this help prevent the next riot?