The System, Youth and Democracy

When masses of students from all over the world mobilize around a utopia, adults become uncomfortable, writes Roberto Savio.

By Roberto Savio
in Rome
Inter Press Service

If we ever needed proof of how the political system has become self-referential and unable to update itself, the latest student march in more than 1,000 towns is a very good example.

Of course, politicians referred to it in declarations and, in a totally demagogic gesture, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Community and an old political fox with a lot of mileage, even kissed the hand of Greta Thunberg. She is the 16-year-old Swedish girl who, frustrated with the pace of government action to deal with climate change, launched a “school strike for climate” last year, setting off an international youth movement and widespread demonstrations in an unprecedented initiative on climate change. We are fortunate that the Asperger’s syndrome Greta suffers from brings little empathy and greater determination, so is totally improbable that she will be co-opted by flattery and recognition.

It was interesting to see the reaction of politicians.  In the Italian Parliament, for example, insiders report that the reaction was one of  “in any case they do not vote, they are too young.”

Barricade in Rue Paul-Bert, Bordeaux, May 1968. (Tangopaso via Wikimedia)

It should be recalled that in its 2017 budget, the Italian government earmarked $20 billion to save four Italian banks and just $2 billion for subsidies and support to young people. School principals from Germany to Italy declared that the duty of students is to study, not take part in demonstrations, and – as usual – a conspiracy theory circulated that because climate change is too complex an issue for young people to understand, Greta was clearly a puppet in the hands of adults.

Rush to Discredit

Newspapers dwelt on the relations between Greta Thunberg’s family and climate change campaigners to show that she had been used. Maybe so, but it is now too late to discredit her. She acted on her initiative, on goals that were hers, and the hundreds of thousands of students around the world were not copying her … she has touched a chord that was already there.

The fact is that when masses of students from all over the world mobilize around a utopia (a concept which has totally disappeared in the political world), adults become uncomfortable. It measures the distance between what we are now and what we were when young; the world was more idealistic then than now, and we all had some hope and engagement.

That distance is quite large … many of us have betrayed those ideals or put them to sleep. The way out is skepticism and paternalism.  We know the reality, we know what dreams are, and young people should listen to our experiences. In May 1968, during the student riots in France, Tristan Tzara, the father of Dadaism, shouted to the marching students from his balcony: ”Criez, criez, vous serez tous des notaires” (Yell, shout, you will all be notaries). And for those of us who have not betrayed ideals and commitments, there is the sad realization that we are a failed generation, a generation that was unable to implement its vision of a better society.

The difference is that when we were young, the most existential threat was the atomic bomb, and we took part in many marches. Today, that threat is not only coming back to haunt us with abolition of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but there is a new existential threat: climate change.

Demonstration in Lyon, France, in the 1980s against nuclear weapons tests. (Wikimedia)

Demonstration in Lyon, France, in the 1980s against nuclear weapons tests. (Wikimedia)

What is very impressive is that many students speak of how they are changing their lifestyle: from not using plastic bottles, to reducing meat consumption and using less water when they brush their teeth. This change of lifestyle goes far beyond climate change, it goes to the heart of our consumption society and its values, a society in which advertising budgets are greater than those for education.

And the fact that the heavy users of the Internet, the first willing victims of commercialization of the Net, are starting to doubt the use by Google, Twitter and other platforms of people as consumers and not as citizens is a significant fact. They are now ignoring advertising. Automakers are very sad that the car is no longer a status symbol among young people … Nike, jeans and smartphones are today’s status symbols and their impact on climate is much smaller.

Extremely interesting are the reflections of a high-level staff member of the World Economic Forum in Davos: “We view with great sympathy the mobilization  of civil society … thanks to them, several gaps in the field of medical assistance, museum and art care, and many social problems, are being taken care of … this has a dual positive effect: it reduces social tensions, and it keeps volunteers busy, and out of political engagement.” In other words, civil-society activists are seen as hamsters: running all the time, and going nowhere.

The time has perhaps come for our generation to make three considerations.

No. 1: 2008 Crisis

The first is that we would do well to remember that until the crisis of 2008, with the exception of Le Pen in France, populist, xenophobic and nationalist parties were marginal. Now they are everywhere, except for Portugal, and they are frequently in power, as in Italy, Austria, Poland and Hungary, or in the government coalitions of several countries, including the Nordic countries. Nobody at that time could have thought of rabid nationalists like the U.S. Donald Trump, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Colombia’s Iván Duque Márquez, India’s Narendra Modi, the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte, Japan’s Shinz? Abe or China’s Xi Jinpeng would be at the helms of these countries. Nor could anyone have seen how the multilateral system, based on the idea of peace and cooperation, would be disintegrating.

Now we know what capitalism and finance mean when they are unchecked. We now have a financial system that is 40 times more powerful that the world of industry and services, and without any control. Since 2008, banks have been fined over $800 billion for illegal practices.

Nobody foresaw a world where 40 people would possess the same wealth as 2.3 billion people, a world where in just one minute the family owner of the Walmart supermarket chain makes the equivalent of the yearly salary of its employees. Over the last decade, fiscal paradises have hidden at least $30 trillion from the fiscal system: six times the budget of the U.S. government. Countries are now unable to act globally, while finance does so daily, unfettered.

Occupy Wall Street picket of HSBC, midtown Manhattan; Feb. 14, 2013. (Michael Fleshman Via Flickr)

Occupy  picket of HSBC, midtown Manhattan; Feb. 14, 2013. (Michael Fleshman
Via Flickr)

The last decade has seen a steady deterioration of democracy, of social justice, of concern to secure a future for the young and halt the existential threat to the planet, to humans, animals and plants.

There have been only two new changes. One is the arrival of women on the political scene, with millions mobilizing against injustice and patriarchalism. Has that enormous mobilization brought about any change in legislations and budgets? Hardly. On the contrary, the prestige of dinosaurs like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Trump, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, Le Pen and company has been reinforced; they are the defenders of the values of the Western civilization, against dissolution of the family and the advancement of woman (associated in the same breath with lesbians, gays and transgenders in a revealing logic).

The second is the arrival of young people who are mobilizing … so far, the extreme right has made no comment. Yet, touching on climate change, alternative energies and lifestyle is bound to create opposition soon or later. A strange destiny that of the extreme right; it is now against peace, development and social justice as central values. In a short space of time it will be against women, and now it will be against young people.

No. 2: Young People

Greta Thunberg in front of the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, August 2018. (Wikimedia)

Greta Thunberg in front of the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, August 2018. (Wikimedia)

The second consideration is this campaign by young people. Its main value is that it has put the political system in front of its responsibilities. “We have no time,” and it is true. We are all mesmerized by the Paris Agreement on climate change, with the participation of all countries of the world.  However, it is important to see how the treaty was conceived. To make a tent large enough to accommodate everybody, the rules are: every country will decide what targets it will adopt; and every country is responsible for checking implementation of its engagement. What would happen if we did that with taxes? Citizens would decide how many taxes they would pay, and all would be responsible for seeing that they complied.

Well, on the basis of the engagements taken until today, global temperature will increase by 3.5 degrees C compared with 1840. Scientists have always insisted that a reasonable limit is 1.5 degrees C, after which they speak of irreversible changes. Paris adopted the goal of 2 degrees Centigrade to make things easier.

Then Trump left the Agreement, explaining that climate change is a Chinese hoax to block American development. He has cancelled all legislation on climate control created before him, to the point that he is now opening all national parks to fossil fuel extraction. Of course, this pleases people like the Koch brothers who own almost all the coal mines; the petrochemical companies; the workers displaced by the fight against climate change, like miners. And it pleases the large numbers of Americans who see China as the main threat, and believe that America is a victim of international exploitation, especially by its allies (Canada, Europe, Japan), Trump’s withdrawal has given a perfect alibi to countries like Poland (coal) and Saudi Arabia (oil) and others for ducking the issue.

So governments now say that in 2020, when the first conference on implementation will be held, they will assess the situation. But the students are here to remind us that, according the vast majority of scientists, unless we change the present trend, by 2030 we will be over the famous threshold, of 1.5 degrees C, and they are calling for an unprecedented effort. But climate change is now is considered a left-wing issue and times are not really the best. In other words, there are many chances that we will reach 2020 and we will still be debating. The very important Laudatio Si encyclical from Pope Francis, who links climate to social justice, migration, technological progress, and so in a holistic approach, has been largely ignored.

From Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. (IPCC)

From Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. (IPCC)

Young people are asking us to act now. As Greta said at Davos: when we arrive in society, the damage will already have been done. This is an intergenerational call, and it is very important and powerful. “Parents, if you say you love us, why you do not take care of our future?” Should young people take a lesson from the violence of the Yellow Vests in France to be heard, instead of peaceful marches?

No. 3: Previous Grassroots Movements  

Now to the third consideration. The climate movement comes after several others grassroots movements. The most traumatic was the protest against the World Trade Organization in Chicago in 1999, when thousands protested against unchecked capitalism imposed by the Washington Consensus (a holistic neoliberal view of international and national relations, based on extreme reduction of the role of the state and unfettered capitalism). This Consensus,  subscribed to by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury, changed the trend  from cooperation to competition and success. Social costs were unproductive, only trade and finance were the tools for the world. Margaret Thatcher famously said: there is no society, only individuals.

Then, in 2001, in Porto Alegre, the World Social Forum was created, a meeting place for sharing practices and views as an alternative to Davos, and started a process of conferences with several hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. This process continues today, albeit with a major loss of steam. Ten years later, in 2011, the Movement of the Indignados started in Madrid, asking for change to the democratic and financial system, and spread to 68 towns of Spain, lasting until 2015. Anti-system parties came out in 2013, and stood at the European elections of 2014.  Podemos gathered 1,253,837 votes and won four seats. The others did not make it: Partido X received 105.561 votes, the Movement of Citizens Democratic Renewal 105,688 and Recortes Zero 30,827.  Had they stood together, they would have won seven seats. But a proverb says that the left unites only in front of a firing squad.

Podemos supporters in Madrid, Jan. 31, 2015. (Barcex via Wikimedia)

Podemos supporters in Madrid, Jan. 31, 2015. (Barcex via Wikimedia)

But many other citizens’ movement took to the streets.  In 2011, there was Occupy Wall Street against greed, corruption, social inequality and the power of finance and corporations over political institutions, joined by several hundreds of thousands of people.  Some see the Arab Spring, and the massive protests of Algiers as part of the same revolt. But it is instructive to see how the political system read those events. They were classified as anarchist movements. Horizontalism (they elected no leader), autonomy from existing institutions and defiance, demonizing the rich and introducing class warfare, were considered anarchists who rejected the political system. The content of the demonstrations was obscured by how they structured themselves.

It is a fact that by acting without the rules of organization that political parties apply has been a huge handicap. Podemos, the only survivor of the Indignados wave, like the 5 Star Movement in Italy, structured itself as a political party. Like it or not, laws are made in parliament, and external protests, large as they might be (just think of the women’s movement), can be perfectly ignored, no risk except for recurring elections. But the political system today is not a free one. It is conditioned by finance, corporations, trade, armaments and technological developments (many more people will be made jobless by artificial intelligence than by migrants). The political system is hardly the representation of citizens in the old sense. There are 32,000 lobbyists in the U.S. Congress, and 16,000 in the European Parliament: not really a symptom of unfettered democracy. The Koch brothers, who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party at each election, have a vote like anyone else? Do they compete at an equal level?

Now, the student movement is asking those in power to introduce urgent changes on their behalf. Until now the system has been able to ignore requests from peoples’ movements, and let them fritter away, “Students do not vote” was the main comment from the system after the last large demonstration.

Yet, the students are denouncing an existential threat, which will reach the brothers Koch, as well the unemployed (but remember, the weakest will be affected much more). If the system does not listen to the voices of young people, the gap between political institutions and citizens will increase. And history tells us that voices from the street can be ignored once, twice, many times, but not for ever.

Young people are those who see clearly that climate change jeopardizes their future, already affected by precarious jobs, unemployment and a difficult future in which pensions will be minimal. They see growing injustice and lack of participation. They represent a revolt based on idealism and hard facts. They are also a minority because of our changing demography. If the political system ignores this latest mass movement, it will take an unprecedented risk. What happens will be something that will shape history. If the young people are be ignored, democracy will be in great peril … killing idealism is a very great responsibility.

Publisher of OtherNews, Italian-Argentine Roberto Savio is an economist, journalist, communication expert, political commentator, activist for social and climate justice and advocate of global governance. Adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global Cooperation Council. He is co-founder of Inter Press Service news agency and its president emeritus.

37 comments for “The System, Youth and Democracy

  1. Jaime Quintero
    April 3, 2019 at 11:22

    Un lúcido e iluminador análisis que pone en evidencia la capacidad del ser utópico que encarnan hoy las generaciones venideras, desde la irremediable y fatal desesperanza del presente que nos trajo la estupidez y la codicia humanas. Paisaje ensombrecido y luctuoso del homo bellicus que hundirá aún más las posibilidades de redención global y de conservación de la vida misma sobre el planeta.

  2. John
    April 1, 2019 at 06:38

    Having one’s hand kiss by Juncker is not a good thing, or am I wrong? Is he a hero now?

  3. Robert Mayer
    March 31, 2019 at 16:24

    As i’m on truth-tell… I personally pay tribute2 Every Elected Representative who serves us in the US… My belief is that this a Life/Death Decision… So… RESPECT

  4. Robert Mayer
    March 31, 2019 at 16:10

    Thanks x-occupiers4 informing me2 the value of repeat talk… the group think thing on reflection is… Very…VERY COOL!

  5. dave
    March 30, 2019 at 23:20

    The 1999 anti-WTO protests were in Seattle, not Chicago:

  6. vinnieoh
    March 30, 2019 at 19:23

    There was an agnostic and humanist of the mid-20th century, fairly well known – Jacob Bronowski – who recounted in an essay what he told a class of grade-schoolers in England. Where the discussion began I have forgotten, but he told those young students that it is always necessary for the young to question the knowledge and wisdom of their elders, because, if that wasn’t so, humankind might still be living in caves.

    I would humbly append to that the thought that if the young, the ascendant, do not now question the wisdom and dictates of the old, the established, that at some horizon still beyond the view of our stunted stature the rump stock of remaining humanity may once again find themselves living in caves.

  7. vinnieoh
    March 30, 2019 at 12:32

    This piece is all over the place. Perhaps it was translated to English, and something was lost? Yesterday composed a comment addressing the reference to utopia but then deleted it – didn’t want to appear to be picking nits.

    I’m going on 66 now and when I was a grade-schooler and adolescent this region was the leader of coal production in the US (and possibly the world) due to a convergence of circumstances that made it possible. There exists a seam of bituminous coal here of consistent (widespread) thickness of 3 – 10 feet, very lucrative, if you can get at it. In this region of low rolling foothills west of the Alleghenies that strata lay within 100 feet below the surface in much of the area (depending on the immediate topography.) To get at it, the technology of the times created machinery that could indeed get at it, not by sub-surface mining, but from the surface. Huge electrically powered shovels dubbed “Giant Earth Moving” shovels (GEM’s) were constructed (only three of these behemoths were built, if I’m not mistaken); additionally our technology had grown the size and power of conventional earth-moving machines (bulldozers, pans or scrapers, haul-backs or Euclids, and draglines) to the point that, with the use of blasting to loosen the overlying material, the goal of getting at that coal could be accomplished just as well as with the GEM’s.

    When surface mining began in earnest here in the late 1800’s it was recognized in this formerly post-colonially agricultural region of farms and small communities what a real and potential scourge upon the land this posed. The movement to regulate the worst abuses of surface coal mining began here, and was stifled and derided in so many ways that would be perfectly recognizable by today’s citizens. The “Grange” movement began here, local citizens banding together to try to confront the coal industry, and some of their old framed meeting houses still exist, though they have all been re-purposed for other uses today.

    Many folks are familiar with “strip” mining, where bands of the surface 60 to 100 high along the slopes of hills where the coal seams crop out are opened to get at the coal. Here however the advanced machinery and methods and the relatively shallow depth of the seam made it possible to mine entire tracts of land regardless of hills. The assault on the land here was not “strip-mining” but was “area mining.” The devastation here was immense, and as activists photographed and published those images, the general public finally began to realize just what was occurring here, and consensus finally solidified to regulate and mitigate the flagrant destruction that was happening.

    When I was a boy, you could stand on any hilltop here made barren by surface mining and look in any direction and see nothing but other hilltops made barren by mining, and see the bulldozers, rock trucks and draglines busily at work. Entire townships of counties were being transformed from lush forest and farmland into massive dead zones. If we were at war with coal, then coal had decisively won. It enraged my adolescent idealistic sensibilities and I began to study bomb-making (thank you Abby Hoffman) and methods of disabling or destroying heavy equipment. As I tried to screw up my courage to become an eco-terrorist something miraculous happened. I had not then yet become politically aware and didn’t understand the workings of government, but low and behold the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act was passed by the US Congress and signed into law by Carter in 1971. Let’s call it semi-miraculous; by that late date much of that coal that was accessible with our technology had been taken and the coal industry decided the fight against it was no longer worth pursuing. Along with the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act the pinnacle of progressive America had arrived. A citizenry sufficiently prosperous to widely support efforts to begin to regulate and repair the worst of our industrial abuses had matured.

    When I hear doubters and deniers claim that the presence of humanity on this rock can not possibly alter our climate and environment I would take them back in time to stand with me on those barren hilltops and witness the devastation as far as the eye could see. I have seen what we collectively can do to our world with my own eyes. And the CO2 released from the coal that was taken here continues to circulate in our thin veil of an atmosphere, bringing us closer to a day of reckoning.

    None of the environmental Acts that were passed were perfect, and all continue to be chipped away at by the greedy and the blind. But that progressive political serendipity did occur, and at the height of the Cold War no less. Yet today the “greatest nation-state the world has ever known” can not – will not – address a real and occurring environmental threat because of “economic realities.” What economic realities would those be? The siphoning upward of the modest wealth of the poor and working class to the absurdly wealthy? Who really don’t give a shit about anything but themselves and their ease and privilege?

    I doubt that any number of people energized to fight for climate action are looking to create an utopia. I suspect that young people especially are first looking for some form of immediate triage, to stop the bleeding.

  8. Robert Mayer
    March 30, 2019 at 11:18

    Allow me2 add2 my comments below.

    I apologise4 characterizing occupy as ineffective… after all Bernie & Elizabeth are running on the fact that 1% inheritors bribe the pol establishment to enact policy screwing every average American… So the valient occupiers succeeded in changing our pol dialogue.

    Part of my occupy experience was viewing Thrive vid which points out the wealthy allow a “monopoly of force” to govt branches… So… I believe California confidential license plate membership indicates it’s actually the 5-6%.

    Tnx CN4 continuing2 supply me a post source.

  9. Paora
    March 30, 2019 at 05:45

    Perhaps the comments are stuck in moderation but surprising that no one has mentioned Cory Morningstar’s reporting on Wrong Kind of Green regarding ‘The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg’. Haven’t made it through all 5 parts but seems to make a pretty good case that the Military-NGO complex quickly identified Greta and moved to coopt her movement.

  10. Godfree Roberts
    March 30, 2019 at 04:56

    Calling our system ‘democracy’ plays into the hands of those who control our politics and our economy.

    Our system is not a democracy in any meaningful sense: not constitutionally, electively, popularly, procedurally, operationally, substantively, or financially.

    It’s a typical oligarchy in the Roman tradition, though our Founding Fathers (who never mentioned the word ‘democracy’ and hated it) called it a republic and designed it that way.

    So why don’t we start calling it ‘our oligarchy’?

    The rectification of names is the first step towards the rectification of reality.

    • Skip Scott
      March 30, 2019 at 07:31

      Good point. Words matter, and when you buy into using the wrong word you further the propaganda narrative.

  11. March 29, 2019 at 23:07

    Scariest of all despite warnings decades ago from Eisenhower and Truman – the medical-military industrial complex… Generations back have let us all down by not constraining these dangerous, insidious elements. Demand review, reform, and if they continue to exist, valid, reliable, and verifiable oversight of the Intel Apparatus. Demand that Congress resolve and address fully and completely the concerns of Eisenhower and Truman. – for the SAKE of humanity, is housed – I protest in Miami if anyone wants to join me. Protest wherever you are, students and everyone, before it is too late.

  12. michael crockett
    March 29, 2019 at 15:40

    I see this issue of climate change made worse as a result of US adherence to the ideology of the US fiat dollar being the worlds reserve currency; the petrodollar backed by the Pentagon (the institution that can not produce an audit that accounts for 21,000,000,000$ in unsubstantiated journal vouchers over the last twenty years!). Maintaining this status as the worlds reserve currency requires countries everywhere to buy and sell oil in US dollars. US hegemony, in part, depends on this. China, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela have been pushing back. They are making payments for oil in currencies other than the dollar. I take interest in reports coming to light that US shale oil production may be overstated. Desmog and Resilience among others have reported that many fracking wells see a sharp drop in production (60%) after one year. Sister wells drilled around a productive mother well to increase production now have the opposite effect. Shale oil production in West Texas has ground to a halt because of a prolonged drought which has made water unavailable for the extraction process. Banks and private equity firms are out 280 billion$ in loans to oil companies that do hydraulic fracking. New loans have not been made in over a year. If a new loan were to be made, the borrower must pay a premium to the lender. No fish are biting. The industry may be in collapse. That the US shall be a major oil producing nation for a century or two might just be a pipe dream. Could this explain the foreign policy decisions made by the Trump administration? Regime change in Venezuela, where Bolton has stated that the US could develop there vast oil reserves. War with Iran, another country with major oil reserves. Add to that the Golan Heights, occupied Syrian territory (taken in the 1967 war), that may well be where a large recent discovery of oil has been found. Trump stated that the GH shall be considered has a part of Israel. Genie Energy, a US energy company is set to develop this new field. Not only does the empire demand that the dollar remain the world reserve currency to continue US hegemony abroad, this status would be necessary to prevent a collapse of the value of the dollar at home.

    • Josep
      April 3, 2019 at 04:12

      The sooner the world ditches the US dollar, the better. The dollar is a broken currency both at home and abroad.
      * US dollar bills all the same color and size regardless of denomination. This is bound to annoy sight-impaired folks.
      * The $1 coin still sees scant support. Instead of a $1 coin that lasts for 30 years, we are forced to use a $1 bill that lasts less than 22 months. This also means vending machines give out change in stacks of quarters.
      * Money is wasted minting (toxic copper-plated zinc) pennies with purchasing power so small that vending machines no longer accept them.
      * The coins are not printed with numerals on them, which may annoy anyone who doesn’t speak English.
      * The dollar sign is shaped like an S, which has little to no relation to the names “dollar” or “peso”.
      Which currency do you believe should replace the dollar?

  13. March 29, 2019 at 09:16

    What is democracy and how it works organically to foster a more perfect union; that is a subject we will agree on before moving forward. Start at the beginning with a brief look at

  14. Lucy
    March 29, 2019 at 06:17

    A very well-directed and timeous(may be belated) article.

  15. March 29, 2019 at 01:36

    At this point in the story is when I usually remind everyone about agnotology. Cigarettes do cause cancer and global warming is going to bake us all like chocolate chip cookies

  16. Nthan Mulcahy
    March 28, 2019 at 22:33

    I propose that we (I am speaking as a baby boomer) relinquish our power and hand them over to GenX and Millennials. We (again speaking as a baby boomer) as a generation have shamefully squandered the future of our children and grandchildren.
    Now the honorable thing to do, is to stop this madness. It is only fair that whoever will have to face the consequences should also be allowed to make the decisions.

    I usually get a lot of flak for saying this, because most people (meaning baby boomers I have proposed this to) take this personally, which is not at all my intent.

  17. Sam F
    March 28, 2019 at 21:53

    We cannot look to other generations for blame or hope. Citizens of all ages must act together, boldly, bravely, and effectively to restore democracy.

    While younger generations symbolize change, review and sometimes oppose the status quo, and the few bold activists among them should be encouraged, change is not generational. Similar proportions of the young become as good or bad as their elders. The unification of youth like the Dems around neutered climate and identity issues proves them the sheep of propaganda.

    The demand for change comes in waves including all ages, although the young are often the bolder protesters, ignored entirely by the tyrants of oligarchy. The waves will have no effect until the public of all ages is suffering and furious, which will not happen until the US is embargoed by a true UN, and its oligarchy has turned boldly against most citizens, and collapsed its economy.

    If US democracy is ever restored, it is likely to be by means of a very bloody revolution, but more likely the bread and circus propaganda will keep the population in service to oligarchy, and the youth will never know enough to unify and act effectively, as in the past.

    Show me youth/veterans groups bombing mass media, taking out corrupt officials, making armed raids upon gated communities and corporate offices, taking and holding territory despite military intervention, and I will see youth leading the restoration of democracy. They can’t and they won’t, because they have lives to lead and no real humanitarianism or public morality, just like older generations, until they have no alternative. Not at all likely.

    • geeyp
      March 28, 2019 at 22:31

      I agree with your points, Sam. Love Greta, she means what she said. Otherwise, Savio’s piece could have appeared in 1975.

  18. Tom Kath
    March 28, 2019 at 21:16

    “Don’t let your children do anything that will make you dislike them.”
    “Don’t do anything that will make your children dislike you.”
    Do you educate your children, or do you assume that they already know better than you do?
    In each case you say more about yourself than about your children.

  19. Dan
    March 28, 2019 at 21:05

    1 Consortium should have been core excellent reading in all public schools. A standard for actual journalism. Much better use for usa endowment for arts funding than most. The Constitution framers setup our gov to prevent unchecked banking & lawyer scams. Their personality hasnt changed since their invention in ancient time. Read the original Federalist & Anti-Federalist Papers if you can find them. They were standard school history until around 1939.

  20. SalaciousCrumb
    March 28, 2019 at 20:23

    Is there some reason the author doesn’t explicitly state that the minimum voting age itself is a problem? That it should be done away with, as well as withholding the vote to prisoners and every other citizen? That it should be an actual inalienable right, and not arbitrary, not something that can be granted or taken away based upon whims of bigots?

    I’m pretty tired of articles which admire the youth and says adults can learn from them and blah blah listen to their voices—BUT STILL THINK THEY SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO VOTE. It’s ridiculous.

    • whyevenbotherwiththeseposeurs
      March 29, 2019 at 09:09

      Uh, to expand since you are all as myopic as the author…

      The Title is “The System, Youth and Democracy”

      The author does this, quoting:

      “In the Italian Parliament, for example, insiders report that the reaction was one of “in any case they do not vote, they are too young.”

      and: “There are 32,000 lobbyists in the U.S. Congress, and 16,000 in the European Parliament: not really a symptom of unfettered democracy. The Koch brothers, who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party at each election, have a vote like anyone else? Do they compete at an equal level?

      Now, the student movement is asking those in power to introduce urgent changes on their behalf. Until now the system has been able to ignore requests from peoples’ movements, and let them fritter away, “Students do not vote” was the main comment from the system after the last large demonstration.”

      And this author doesn’t deal with that—with a right to vote. He points out “students do not vote” as a foolish comment of his political enemy du jour, yet doesn’t reconcile, with…

      STUDENTS SHOULD VOTE. His title “The System, Youth and Democracy” doesn’t include “youth should be able to vote in a democracy”.

      The author and also every single ConsortiumNews regular reading this and choosing not to criticize such is a disgusting anti-Democracy conservative. Or extremely stupid. I’m done pulling teeth here.

      Universal Suffrage or not. Discuss amongst your bigoted, privileged selves.

      • anon42
        March 29, 2019 at 19:31

        The right to vote extends to college students. So far it is widely presumed that high school students are not well enough informed. Whether or not you agree, that presumption is not “bigoted, privileged” in any way. In a few years those students will be privileged to vote.

        There are almost zero “anti-Democracy conservative” comments here. Please be more careful in your comments.

        • SalaciousCrumb
          March 31, 2019 at 04:19

          Of course it’s bigoted (against a group arbitrarily, in this case based on age). And of course it’s privileged (decided by the non-group for one definition; let me know when a national referendum on voting age can be voted on by those under the initial age). Plus “privilege” meaning “can be taken away”, as opposed to a “right”, which cannot.

          In a few years, hundreds of those high school students (in the US at least) will have been murdered in school shootings. Thousands murdered in domestic violence cases. Tens or hundreds of thousands in cases involving guns. None of them would have had any chance to vote for someone who might try to change such a thing.

          “anti-Democracy” in my mind is anyone who disagrees that in a proper Democracy, one citizen should get one vote, and all equally valued. You disagree with this. Thus you imo are anti-Democracy.

          “conservative” is of course about the status quo being a chosen state, as opposed to a more progressive notion, with progressive generally meaning more rights and freedoms, not less. Anyone content with denying the right to vote to 20-30% or so of a population in a “democracy” is a “conservative” as opposed to “progressive”.

          Imagine if this website existed in 1880 and the topic was allowing women to vote. Just what would your arguments look like and how would they differ from now, 140 years later. Or a bit further back, extending the vote to negroes. Back again to only white male landowners.

          “So far it is widely presumed that high school students are not well enough informed.” This sort of statement should be reviled as illogical and conservative and anti-Democratic in any area or time-frame, about any cohort who the privileged decide shouldn’t get a privilege; where the privileged get to set laws which which will massively affect, and even kill by millions, the “others”.

          Yeah you’re a conservative on this. Would’ve fit right in 100 years ago talking about husband influence and female hysteria and menstruation. Anti-Democratic. Privileged. Make a hard-copy of this and post it on your mirror and look at it every day before you ever tell me to please be careful about what sort of commentators exist here, or anywhere. YOU. ARE. A. CONSERVATIVE. ON. THIS.

          And typical, oh so typical. Enough that you can’t even see it.

  21. Robert Mayer
    March 28, 2019 at 18:42

    Please allow me2 add2 my comment below- last paragraph: well paid city council… vote2 allow homeless the right2 assemble.

  22. Charles Cox
    March 28, 2019 at 17:20

    “The fact is that when masses of students from all over the world mobilize around a utopia,,,,,”
    Change “around a utopia” to “for survival of human civilization” or survival of a livable planet, and you would be accurately describing what is happening.There are not going to be any livable, governing countries within a few decades. As for your estimates of temperature change, they are dangerously inaccurate. If you double the numbers that you have sited, then you might be close, but still underestimating the impact of the “climate crisis”. I suggest you watch:
    Where Chris Hedges and his guest outline the ecocide that his happening at present, and the mass extinctions occurring.

  23. Robert Mayer
    March 28, 2019 at 17:13

    Tnx CN & Roberto 4 posting the Euro view…

    May i share my take on US method of killing idealism?

    The right?2 assemble must be accomplished thru obtaining a Permit from the exact forces whose duty is Suppressing Freedoms… Law Enforcement! So now the assembling org has surrendered Info… Allowing not just surveillance but also covert intrusion… Occupy is an example.

    The communication by repeating not only wasted time but was Irritating… & the 100% Consensus Prevented Action when some decision makers were quislings!

    Any surprise little got done?

    & though I can’t say by experience the US homeless crisis is instructive.

    Here in Sacramento Ca voters passed a housing initiative but there are still Few Beds in the very location where the G Runs the 6th Largest Nation in the World!!!

    The view from the streets is different in LA where a Well Paid City Council has Autonomy enough2 Vote Action… just sayin’.

  24. Matt
    March 28, 2019 at 17:08

    Except that man made climate change is a hoax and these children are being used for propaganda.
    Consortium News? No now its the Huffington Post.

  25. Stephen P
    March 28, 2019 at 16:18

    From a recent presentation by the moral voice of our time, Greta Thunberg:

    “We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change because if we fail to do so then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing. And all that will remain of our political leaders legacy will be the greatest failure of human history and they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time.”

    Greta Thunberg

    • anon42
      March 29, 2019 at 19:36

      Sure, let’s ignore all political issues that might discomfort your oligarchy sponsors, and scream about a few degrees of climate change over several generations, which will cause some movement from coastal areas, and some adjustment of agriculture. Wow, what a surprise. How will humanity every adjust to five percent migrations and ten percent agricultural changes in just a few generations? Apart from some weather anomalies no one will notice. Drop everything and scream about climate change!

  26. gdd
    March 28, 2019 at 12:22

    Your rss link [ ] in your page source file doesn’t work. Please remedy!

  27. gdd
    March 28, 2019 at 12:16

    Please add rss to this site.


  28. March 28, 2019 at 11:59

    How many people found it coincidental and a bit heartwarming that here’s another “Savio” writing and pontificating about students fighting for democracy?

  29. March 28, 2019 at 11:35

    All we can do is make sure the youth have access to correct information. Here’s some now:

    They are going to have to run things once Trump and Clinton and the rest of the older generation finally get out of the way, so we can address climate change, neoliberalism, the surveillance state, and so on.

    God knows the “adults in the room” proved themselves to be idiots, whether they are named Ryan and McConnell or Koch and Mercer or Pelosi and Obama makes no difference to the kids, nor should it.

    Just get your hands the hell off the steering wheel grandpa and grandma, because we’re all collectively riding the Alzheimer Train of Lost Thoughts in a Handbasket Straight to Blazin’ Hades.

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