Let them eat Ikea

Jesus. An Ikea store opening in Edmonton leads to rioting and (reportedly) one man getting stabbed in the store’s car park.

Although part of the blame can be put on the store management for poor crowd control, this is not really the whole answer. Rather than fighting over essentials like food or water (or a loved one – to put this into perspective, read the story of Baby 81 in Sri Lanka, a tsunami survivor who is being claimed by several couples as their own child), this was people actively fighting over mere pine furniture and tasteful pastel-coloured upholstery. The rage on this woman’s face as she confronts some hapless Ikea staff is a frightening illustration of the emotion involved.

Depending on which political wing you’re on, this is either the latest illustration of the rise of rampant consumerism and selfish individuality, or a further sign of the steady decline of good manners and traditional British politeness. Taking it a little further though, David Lammy, the local MP, castigated Ikea for provoking people in a relatively poor area of London with the bargain prices. This reasoning makes me uncomfortable, not just for the implication that it is only poor people who will indulge in violent avarice, but also because of the uneasy parallels (or lack of them) with the Tottenham riots of 1985 – then the local people rioted against social exclusion and police persecution – while today they fight for a £45 sofa. While thankful that the riots of twenty years ago are a distant memory and unlikely to repeat themselves, I’d prefer the Daily Mail explanation that it was just sheer thuggishness, than the notion that people think the only thing worth fighting for these days is the acquisition of over-hyped, to the point of fetishised, consumer goods.

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