In August I asked why people were surprised by the riots in English cities, arguing that the pleasures of recreational violence and robbery make rioting very profitable and desirable to many young men. I was interested, then, to hear conservative writer Roger Scruton being interviewed on a BBC podcast and making the same claim. Riots are not unusual and baffling, they are the default behaviour for many young men. More from Scruton on The American Spectator:
Rioting is natural to human beings, and is a frequently observed effect of our inherent savagery. Young men are particularly prone to riot: and in the conditions of the hunter-gatherer it is to be assumed that, between sleeping, copulating, and eating, they didn't do much else. Young men lapse into riot as soon as there is something to be gained from doing so, and whenever there is nothing serious to be lost. What needs explaining is not the fact that they riot, but rather the far more extraordinary fact that on the whole they don't. What is it, down the ages, that has contained the energies of our youth, and ensured that they respect the lives and property of others?I don't really buy into Scruton's wider argument on that article but I'm glad I was not the only one wondering why people were so surprised by the chaos.
The answer is "civilization."