Saturday, February 19, 2011

A New Generation Takes to the Barricades

They used to talk about the "whiff of powder in the air" on old battlefields. These days there is a whiff of revolt encircling the world. There were:
Here is a wonderful resource for would be revolutionaries. It is from the UK student protests, a book called Fight Back! Here is a bit from it by an activist named Laurie Penny:
Not every generation gets the politics it deserves. When baby boomer journalists and politicians talk about engaging with youth politics, what they generally mean is engaging with a caucus of energetic, compliant under-25s who are willing to give their time for free to causes led by grown-ups.

Now more than ever, the young people of Britain need to believe ourselves more than acolytes to the staid, boring liberalism of previous generations. We need to being to formulate an agenda of our own.

There can be no question that the conditions are right for a youth movement. The young people of Britain are suffereing brutal, insulting socio-economic oppression. There are over a million young people of working age not in education, employment or training, which is a polite way of saying "up shit creek without a giro".


Just weeks ago, as news came in that the top 10 per cednt of earners were getting richer, 21-year-old jobseeker Vicki Harrison took her own life after receiving her 200th rejection slip. Whether a youth movement is appropriate is no longer the question. The question is, why are we not already filling the streets in protest? Were is our anger? Where is our sense of outrage?
I like the above. It is refreshing. It is the sign of a new generation of revolt with its own sense of grievances and a need for a clean break from the failed politics of the past.

But at the same time, you hear the same theme that is coming out of the Middle East: youth who are killing themselves because they see themselves trapped in a corrupt culture with no way to get a foothold with a job and a future. The theme of "dignity" plays a big role. I think the Wisconsin demonstrations are similar in that government workers are outraged that the social contract has been broken and their dignity assaulted by a state governor who is intent on breaking their unions.

You won't find any deep analysis of a "new age or revolt" in the Fight Back! book, but you get a ringside seat in the student struggles and a sense of one bit of the new wave of protest breaking out among youth around the world.

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