Baby Boomers Have Failed a Doomed Generation
Mark Mazower – February 6, 2014
The Financial Times
Throughout the developed world, record levels of youth unemployment are spreading feelings of hopelessness across an entire generation. Yet what is striking is that policy makers hardly seem to care.
It is only part of the answer to observe that not everyone is suffering equally: for much of wealthy northern Europe, for instance, it hardly registers. And although it is true that in some of the badly affected countries the figures have been pretty high for several decades now, the crisis has made them much worse. The real problem is not economic; it is political. An epoch of some two centuries is ending, and the young are the main losers.
The rise of modern states coincided with a valorisation of youth. Napoleon marked the change. After him, age came to be associated with the ancien regime, youth with the hope of something better. Scarcely out of university, the great Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz, wrote his “Ode to Youth” in 1820, perhaps the best-known expression of this attitude. Founded a decade later, Giuseppe Mazzini’s Young Italy generated endless spin-offs – there was a Young Germany and a Young Poland, not to mention Young Ottomans and later Young Turks. A radical umbrella group, Young Europe, briefly brought many of them together, turning the name of the continent into the emblem of a fairer, more peaceful and more brotherly age ahead. The contrast is striking with what Europe has now come to stand for – a vision dreamt up by old men, now out of touch and increasingly out of mind.
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