To Be Young, Spanish And Unemployed

As autumn gives way to winter, Spain, like much of Southern Europe, just keeps getting hotter and hotter… and it has nothing to do with global warming!

As you will no doubt gather, prospects for the Spanish youth could not be bleaker. With less than 50 percent chance of finding work, much of which is short-term, low-skilled and low-paid, is it any surprise that more and more young Spaniards are rejecting the current path the country’s on and taking to the streets in protest?

Which leads one to wonder: what do events in Spain, Greece and Portugal portend for the richer economies of Northern Europe or North America, especially in light of the fact that many of their youth are also struggling to find meaningful employment?

The EU-wide unemployment rate currently stands at well over 20 percent. In the U.S., the employment rate among young adults (18-24) is just barely above half, or 54%which just happens to be the lowest in 64 years, reports zerohedge.

The current economic system in the West, based on misplaced assumptions and a bygone reality, has betrayed the hopes and dreams of the new generation. And if we are to learn anything from 20th century history, it is that having an enormous and ever-growing pool of disaffected youth does not a stable society make.

Put simply, the neo-liberal economic model is destroying the very foundations on which viable social coexistence depends. The system is broken and needs a reboot, and the sooner the better.

As Mario Savio, an American political activist and a key member of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, said in the 1960s:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

2 thoughts on “To Be Young, Spanish And Unemployed

  1. Another fine post Quijones; thanks. I think you meant neo-liberal instead of neo-classical in paragraph 6, though I’m not sure… You could of course argue that it’s a “classic” situation we have right now where the rich are getting richer etc

    Anyway, I think you’re right in that the youth are becoming increasingly disenfranchised and increasingly have nothing left to lose, but it begs the question of what options are really available for those that want change and a healthy future. Protests? The “democratic” system? Violent upheaval? Do you think any of these options offer hope for the profound changes that we need urgently? Solutions on a postcard please; I’ll be hiding in a cave in the caribbean to see what happens ; )


    1. Cheers, AB. Point taken on neo-liberal vs. neo-classical economics, although both seem to interweave at certain points. Have duly changed the wording in the text.

      As for your question regarding potential solutions, I think that it’s all but impossible to find a way out of the current crisis that doesn’t involve massive doses of pain for many members of society. That said, there is one essential goal that people should unite behind, and that is to make sure that the people who have taken us this far down the rabbit hole are relieved of their duties.

      If there is to be any hope of any kind of sustainable recovery in the long term, the personnel at the top must be changed. Also, many of the national and global institutions need to be drastically reconfigured so as to reflect the interests of the general public, as opposed to big business and the rent-seeking financial sector.

      How that can be achieved is a whole other question, which I hope to discuss in an upcoming post. Throughout history, the main source of positive lasting social change has been popular pressure and protest – the question is how to target the vulnerabilities in the current system without resorting to violence (after all, when it comes to physical violence, the state enjoys a virtual monopoly). For example, the Occupy Movement in the U.S. recently came up with an ingenious strategy for fighting the system: namely, buying up distressed debt for cents on the dollar, in order to write it off.


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