Monday, July 14, 2008


I don't understand this knife thing. One policeman said it is a problem that has been building up for some time. Why? Knives have always been easily available so a sudden knife wave can't be the reason. And is it all hysteria? Figures suggest the number of knife attacks has remained unchanged.  On the other hand, knife use by under-sixteens and unreported attacks are not covered by the figures.  If this is all hysteria and there has been no real increase, then we can sure be there will now be a big increase as the media spreads the idea of carrying a knife as a cool thing to do. The government initiatives from the increasingly wrecked-looking Jacqui Smith are absurd. But are they necessary? What is actually going on? Can anybody explain?


  1. You would think, given that they have not made a fork or a jug that works in the last 100y or so. There surely should not be all that much problem to design a knife in the same vein.

  2. You are right about it having very little to do with the knife itself. The knife has merely become part of the vocabulary of poor, working class youth, who have no idea what society expects of them or needs from them. Or even if it needs them at all. Their frame of reference is the dregs of popular culture. It is a world of ephemera, moral ambiguity and zero-sum games.

    The answer isn't more short-term, government initiatives to make them look as if they are doing something. Nice middle class kids aren't slicing each other up at the weekends, are they? So, without wishing to jump to conclusions, could it have anything to do with poverty and social exclusion? Might the answer lie in tackling more fundamental issues concerning the inequality that is inherent in the laissez-faire capitalist ideology of the political classess, an ideology that equates a healthy economy with a healthy society and individual worth with financial status?

  3. i would guess that, as knife attacks increase (or are increasingly reported), young people arm themselves with knives 'to defend themselves' against all those dangerous knife-carrying people. But you can't really defend yourself from a knife with a knife, except by pre-emptively attacking anyone who looks aggressive.

    In reality, a knife will suddenly be produced during an altercation and the victim won't have time to react, even if he has his own knife. And many knife attacks will be Judas attacks, from the back or side.

    So carrying a knife 'to defend yourself' from all those knife-carrying yobos is no good. Not to mention that even if it was knife versus knife the only likely end is death or severe wounding for one party, possibly for both. An expandable baton would be a much better defence. However, again it's unlikely you'd have time to pull it unless you were sensitive enough to see that the guy you're talking to is working himself up into a rage and may have a knife, etc.

    Best thing is just not to go out of the house if you don't have to, a policy i zealously practice.

  4. Elberry, you should enter politics. What an initiative that would be: just don't leave your home. If you have a home, that is. For those without home, don't leave your hostel or institution. All the money saved by not having to invest in public amenities could be spent on providing everyone with 42 inch plasma televisions and free internet connections. Who'd need to go out? And it would be good for the environment.

  5. Oh, i wouldn't let people have tv or the internet, Neil. i'd have learning Old Norse and meditating on decomposition. It'd do them good and would be even better for the environment.

    The way i see it, if you're dumb enough to leave your house you shouldn't be surprised if you get stabbed.

  6. It's gang culture on sink estates. Keep away from those places and where their denizens go and you won't see much of it.

    It drives the government mad because its existence means that a decade of targets, 'elf and education spending, Tsars, initiatives and all the rest have failed. Ten years and what have they got to show for their efforts to improve the lot of those at the bottom of the pile? Failure. In the same period, those nearer the top of the pile have done fabulously well. Success!

    The government's failure lies in thinking the world works in a way it manifestly doesn't. So their next effort - full of targets and politically correct twaddle - will fail too. No wonder Jacqui Smith and co looked wrecked these days.

  7. Neil, who are these powerful laissez faire-driven political classes you speak of. I have a hard time thinking of anyone sitting on the front benches or the back benches of Parliament much less any bench, chair or stool in Whitehall who meets that standard.

  8. Duck - your "take" merely demonstrates the folly of basing a critique of a foreign country on the basis of a couple of articles you read on the web. At no stage in British history has gun ownership been as widespread as it is in the US so how can the banning of guns none of us had in the first place explain an upsurge in violence? Yes, at one time British gun laws were more liberal than they are today but at no stage was it normal to have one in the house.

  9. Laissez faire, eh? Consulting, I learn that Britain, snake-pit of unbridled devil-take-the-hindmost capitalism red in tooth and claw, scores a miserable 0.9 murders by youths (‘youths’ – the age range is 10-29), about half as many as progressive paragons Canada and New Zealand, and behind Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Italy. Socialist Scotland scores a more creditable 3.1, about the same as Chile, though the worker’s paradise of Cuba trounces us with an astonishing 9.6; Bolilvarian Venezuela does even better – 25. Wow. The USA doesn’t even make the top 50, so yah boo sucks to them: the EU is far better at murdering its own children than those vile yanks. Hurrah

    Figures are from the WHO for 2002.

  10. Fair comment, Randy. Laissez-faire is perhaps too strong. For to keep up their pretence of caring about poverty, social justice and inequality politicians must be seen to act decisively to address such issues. And they do. But little changes. The 'haves' still have what they had. And, wouldn't you know it, the 'have-nots' still have bugger all. What's that all about? Are all politicians stupid or is it that they know, deep down, that they mustn't piss off the business classes with such trifling things as taxes and better pay for workers.

    It will be interesting to see where the cuts are made when the economic downturn really bites. We all know who suffers most when that happens, don't we?

  11. "If this is all hysteria and there has been no real increase, then we can sure be there will now be a big increase as the media spreads the idea of carrying a knife as a cool thing to do."

    I was standing at a bus stop in a part of Glasgow i really didn't want to be in and was thinking exactly the same thing. I was shitting myself more than usual due to all the stabbing stories we're being bombarded with. Perhaps the media's relentless appetite for bloodcurdling stories subconsciously spreads fear and panic thus increasing crime?
    I've also just found old readers digest going back to 1988 and it's chalk full of stories of muggings, stabbings, rapings, drugs and the imminent explosion of society. That's the problem that is a current in all ages (Britain's anyway)-the belief that the sky is going to fall in at any moment.