Listening to young people? A duty



A few days ago the Occupy Wall Street movement marked its first anniversary. At the same time I was involved in the launch of the UNEMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR campaign and I am now returning to that same topic.

Why raise it again? Because the way I see it, in the future, Occupy Wall Street (I already discussed it here ) will be considered one of the key phenomena to understanding these years. The protests of these young people of New York are neither subversive nor destructive. Their actions, of civil disobedience even, have almost always been peaceful. They have drawn attention, through radical methods, to the distortions of a poorly regulated financial system, and some of the issues tackled by them have now been legitimately acknowledged by the most powerful international institutions.

In short, Occupy Wall Street has livened up the debate in recent months, putting forward diagnoses that in some cases it would be difficult not to agree with. But above all, this movement reflects an image of the society of recent years. On the one hand there is an excessively financialised capitalism that, without appropriate curbs and controls, risks undermining social structures and policies of coexistence at a global level, whilst on the other, there is an age group (the under 30s) on which much of the social risk produced has been offloaded.

 This, I believe, is the issue of the decade –  namely that of an entire generation that risks being wasted. For the first time, since the post World War II period, young people in the countries of the western world have lost any hope that their lives might be better than those of their parents. They struggle to find a way in to the world of employment and in the future they will probably have to pay debts (financial, but also environmental) that they themselves weren’t responsible for.

With the UNEMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR campaign we wanted, in our own way, to celebrate the energy of those young, out of work people that have put themselves on the line, with creativity and intelligence, despite all the difficulties. The protest that took to the streets during the last year is perhaps one more expression of that same desire to become involved and it is important to grasp everything that there is of constructive in it. Listening to what young people have to say isn’t simply a good exercise in democracy. It is a duty…