Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is it 1968 again?

I was too young to take to the streets in 1968 - though I remember the heady days of that year quite well - and I'm probably too old to occupy the City now (though, I'm not sure of that).

It is heartening to see countless thousands of young people taking to the streets in cities across the globe. And totally understandable: in Spain, where the movement started in May, unemployment among the young is touching 50%; even in the UK it's almost 20%. In virtually every economy the young and the poor are paying for the reckless activities of the so-called masters of the universe.

It's a shame that the demonstrations in Rome turned troublesome, with tear gas and water canon being deployed. But it is still thrilling to think that in 80 cities across the world, people are standing up (or should  say, sitting down?) and saying enough is enough. And that the young are leading the way for all of us. We cannot continue running the world in the interests of a minority of rich people, arguing that their profits will generate funds that will trickle down to the poor at their gates. It's time to nail this lie: trickle down doesn't work, it never has and never will.

It's also time to say that ordinary workers and young people at the start of their working lives should not be asked to pick up the bill for an economic meltdown that arose in the financial sector because of the actions of a small group of people who got above themselves.

We'll know we're approaching 1968 when the airwaves fill with songs about the possibility of a new world order and the movie theatres run films that offer an alternative to business as usual (sadly Hollywood seems incapable of producing anything with a brain at the moment). There are hints of this. The new BBC drama Hidden appears to be asking questions about the rich and their effect on the rest of us. But one swallow doesn't make a spring. Has anyone heard any political pop recently?

At least what today's news shows us is that not every young person on planet earth is gripped by apathy and sitting in front of the X Factor!

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