I should start by stating that I am one of the fiercest critics of my generation. I believe we have been too spoiled and that this is now taking a toll in the socio-cultural evolution(?) of our countries; we were fed dreams of greatness and easy money and, stupidly enough, we still believe them. It’s a generation that, as the band Deolinda puts it when referring to internships and precarious jobs, “has to study to become a slave”.
However, a recent article on the “post-1980s Generation” got me thinking. With all this time wasted on trying to define what “we” are, more relevant debates are being neglected or left out entirely. “We”, as the present generation, are offered an incredible, historical opportunity: the opportunity to significantly change things. And I’m not referring to changing the world in a 16-and-pregnant-naïve kind of way; I am referring to the remarkable power that a
mass group of people has.
The group I’m specially reporting on is the “post-1980s Generation”, born after the major world conflicts and into a world thriving with economic prosperity (in the Western side, at least). This generation is more educated than any ever was, relatively well travelled and with a defiant, rebellious spirit brewed from years of amorphous politics. In Europe, these traits cross borders, as we are more than ever bound by our common struggles and anxieties, not being able to imagine life without a common currency or open borders. Though many criticize the European Union and its policies, seldom one can find a youngster that would give up the perks of being within the EU for a more domestic existence.
This generation doesn’t forget history, but it also doesn’t let it get in the way of taking the right action. Take as an example the solidarity that gets to Turkey from all over the world, specially from Greece. These two countries have been rivals for centuries and the threat of a mutual attack is still on the table. However, Greeks stand up as one of the biggest supporters of the Turkish protesters that have been fighting on the streets these past few weeks. Young people meant to be rivals brotherly united by the difficult times one side is experiencing – and this has got to mean something.
These forces of solidarity and communitarian protest are shaping the way people perceive themselves and their culture; in a sense, it is somehow changing national cultures themselves. Cultures like my own, used to a very passive attitude towards politics and a lingering feeling that the future will be better by the actions of some entity that carries the force of fate – commonly known as Sebastianism in Portugal -, are now getting up of the couches and working their way into fairer, less miserable lives. For the first time in a long while, the revolution is no longer (only) televised, it is lived.
And in order to live it, people must not only go to the streets and protest. They must also organize citizen alternatives to political parties. Political parties, currently main laborers of poor educational systems and even poorer political critical thought, are shit scared of citizen movements. When people gather to build opposition brewed from politically independent citizens, the clichéish “power to the people” gets a physical concretization. In other words, it gains a face, a force.
Surely, short after the parties realize the strength of these movements, they try to associate them to their own cause and lure the movements into their political sphere. And that’s where all the education and critical thought we’re supposed to hold must come into play. We cannot be puppets any longer; we have to beat political corruption and inefficiency in its own game. And how do we do that? By playing it better than them, strongly basing our legitimacy in the core of the whole democratic system: the citizens.
And so, instead of being a bunch of spoiled, iPad-equipped bunch, let’s be the generation that turns the tables of power, the generation that gave back “demos” to democracy, the generation that was not afraid to defy. Let’s stir revolutions, folks.