Exclusion from the future

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Ultimately, youth unemployment is not just a Greek phenomenon, nor is it limited to Europe. It is a global threat to stability and to our societies’ ability to reproduce. Worse than the fact that 13 percent of people aged between 15 and 24 worldwide are out of work is that 6 million of those 75 million unemployed are not even employable. They have no hope of finding work and feel shut out from society.

This is a strong warning bell of the clashes to come within societies. Desperate people make for potentially explosive situations, especally when talking about young people. They will not process what is going on in political terms the way their elders might, they have no memory of what civil strife means and no knowledge of the terrible consequences of certain ideologies. That is why they lash out uncontrollably against a shallow and undetermined target, which more often than not is consumer society. The outbreaks of violence we see every so often in poorer parts of Athens are mainly due to the prevalence of discontent among those who feel they have no future and it is hardly surprising that their first targets are often electronics stores. Most are not starving, nor in a state of penury, as the leftist mythology likes to present them. But they are shut out from the future and so they attack the present.

Greece has not gone too far down that road yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant. The outcome of the May 6 election is cause for alarm. The country’s young voters opted for parties at the extreme ends of the political spectrum or at least those they thought extreme. According to a breakdown of the vote presented by pollster Yiannis Mavris three days after the polls, the percentage of young people who voted for the neo-fascist party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) was 14 percent, just trailing the 16 percent that voted for the far-left Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

Voters aged 55 and above mostly cast their vote in favor of the two main parties, New Democracy (31 percent) and PASOK (23 percent), and they also gave a significant 13 percent to SYRIZA, though they steered well clear of Chrysi Avgi, which got just 3 percent of the vote from that age group.

The choices made at the polls by young Greeks may simply be a passing fancy that will disappear, but it does merit attention.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday June 5, 2012