Of course we should’ve expected this. In the video below, David Starkey argues that the London riots can be traced to the growing power of black culture over Great Britain, and when he talks about black culture it is clear that what he really means is hip-hop and rap.

The quality of BBC discussion is a lot higher than the quality of CNN/MSNBC/Fox News discussions around this issue, but note that it is almost as if the argument about hip-hop and violence jumped across the Atlantic wholesale. The connections between race and culture, the connections between hip-hop and nihilism, they are all there. We remove the accent and the geographic references and there is very little specifically “english” about this discussion. The references to black on black crime–itself an American social construction–the police brutality.

Some ask when these rebellions will hit the US. I’m not sure they are asking the right question. Or the most interesting one. The interesting question for me is, looking at this specific case, how is it that people on the other side of the Atlantic, with different political and social systems, different dialects, subtly different histories, come up with almost exactly the same set of references for explaining social phenomenon? These similarities are not “natural”. They are constructed somehow, by participants and observers alike. How does this process happen?

I dealt with this issue a bit in the conclusion of Stare in the Darkness. In fact I wrote an entire chapter about it that didn’t make it into the final draft because it just didn’t fit. But I didn’t focus on Great Britain, rather I tackled France, which was for me a much more interesting case because France doesn’t technically have a language of race (it is literally illegal to collect racial statistics of any kind).