As most of us struggle with plummeting wages and living standards, the more interesting question is: "Why aren't there riots in the streets?"
Those are the words of Laurie Penny and come from a column of hers in the New Statesman about MPs' salaries and, more generally, inequality in Britain. Perhaps they're just for rhetorical effect and their real intended meaning is to urge people to get angry about it. But Penny likes the thought enough to reprise it twice. 'Why', she asks, 'do we continue to accept this situation? Why – let's be frank – isn't Parliament Square on fire?' And again: 'How long can the logic of inequality, the logic of "workers" and "shirkers", withstand public rage?'
As she's attached to the question of why-no-riots, let me offer one part of an answer to it: because not everybody thinks like you do, Laurie.
In fact, she's aware of this when she wants to be, for she deploys a version of the dominant ideology thesis. She explains popular quiescence by reference to 'a new morality of money and power that justifies inequality'. Leave aside that inequality is not that new; it is a long-standing feature of capitalist societies (to say nothing of other human societies); but Penny even writes in one place as if she, too, is under the spell of the dominant ethos, of 'the idea that the free market, despite all evidence to the contrary, rewards everyone justly and therefore we all deserve what we end up with'.
She should credit her non-rioting, non-arsonist compatriots, or at least many of them, with as much intelligence as she has. There are large numbers of other people who care about inequality, whether by being opposed to the current extent of it or by being in favour of (some version of) social and economic equality. But most of them are looking for a constructive democratic way of dealing with this. They too saw what Penny describes from 2011: 'riots rag[ing] in England, the kids in hoods smashing up the high street'. Not all egalitarians saw this as a worthwhile response. It was possible, indeed, to be critical of it.