I have been trading worried emails with London friends all week, and trying to think of something to post here about the violence.

I knew not to say, as many have, that it had to do with the coalition government’s cuts in services, because those cuts haven’t started yet.

I was going to say it had to do with typical young male behavior and lack of meaningful roles and socializing forces for them, but then I learned that many rioters were female.

I was going to say it showed how angry Britain’s African-descended community feels at the white majority, but then I learned that the rioters were from multiple races and ethnicities, as were the victims.

I was going to say it was just about poverty, and then I learned that many of the looters were working class, middle class, even upper class.

In the end, the only thing I know for sure is that if this had happened in the states, there would have been hundreds of more deaths because everyone would have been firing guns at everyone else.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Keith Humphreys is a Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and served as Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama Administration. @KeithNHumphreys