There’s one response to the riots which, if not unheard, has not been as widespread as I’d have hoped. It’s a bit like this:
Occasional riots are a feature of most societies, not just capitalist ones; the fear of the “mob“ is an ancient one. This alone suggests they are ineliminable.
So too does another thing. Whatever you think are the causes of the riots - poverty, neo-liberal consumer culture, bad parenting or some sort of moral decline - these cannot be swiftly removed, except by large sacrifices of liberty or economic efficiency. It could be, then, that sporadic riots are less costly than the redistributive policies that would remove poverty and disaffection, or the statist interventions (assuming them to be feasible) that would remove bad parenting or reverse moral degradation.
Nor can we expect the police to prevent riots. Arising as they do from poorly understood and perhaps genuinely unpredictable emergent behaviour, riots cannot be foreseen in advance. So they will catch the police unawares. And given that the police force is a hierarchical monopoly, it is inevitable that it will be a deeply flawed institution, prone to big errors.
Riots, then, are just something we have to live with.
What I’ve just described is a strand of old-style conservatism - what David Willetts called the “melancholy tendency”. This, a position I suspect Oakeshott or Salisbury would at least sympathize with - says that some social evils are ineradicable because governments have bounded rationality in the face of deep-rooted complex problems. Some imperfections, then, must be tolerated.
Reasonable as it is, this view seems to me to have been under-expressed. Which just shows - again! - how old-style conservatism has been supplanted by a managerialism which pretends that society can be “mended” as if it were just a broken watch.
In this sense, though, there’s a curious similarity between rioters and politicians. Just as rioters looted (in part) because they aspired to consumer goods which they could not acquire through their own legitimate skills, so politicians aspire to social goods which they cannot acquire by their own meagre skills.