Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
How Corona is radicalizing Generation Z
by Grace Blakeley and Paul Mason
Saturday Jun 12th, 2021 8:50 AM
People are fighting back. While governments spend huge sums of money to bail out big corporations, many people are rightly wondering why those same states can't seem to raise money to stop climate change or reduce inequality. They are taking to the streets to demand justice - be it social, environmental or gender justice.
How Corona is radicalizing Generation Z
Capitalism Young people in Europe were asked how the crisis had affected their lives. They responded with frustration, but also with radical criticism of capitalism
By Paul Mason
[This article published in June 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Kapitalismus ǀ Wie Corona die Generation Z radikalisiert — der]

All over the world, young people respond to loosening up with demonstrative partying, like here at a spontaneous rave in France. Every now and then, the parties turn into political protests
They've been tested, scrutinized, judged and graded since childhood. They've been told to compete, excel and prevail. But thanks to Covid-19, a generation of high school and college graduates* now face a bleak present and an uncertain future.

The British newspaper The Guardian asked Europeans in their late teens and early twenties how the pandemic affected them. One might have expected frustration: about lost jobs, friendships forced to wane, cancelled appointments. But the response was criticism of capitalism.
This generation of young people is capable of drawing systemic conclusions about the way political elites have handled the pandemic - much like their predecessors who emerged from the protests in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis. They know they will have to pay higher taxes, carry greater private debt, and endure more uncertainty than any generation since World War II. They realize that they will have to deal with a climate emergency in the near future, in addition to the shambles that followed the Corona crisis. And they are just as clear that they cannot influence the politics of the present.

That, as we will see very soon with summer approaching, is an explosive mix. From Dublin to Cardiff, Barcelona to Berlin, young people everywhere are responding to the relaxations with demonstrative celebration: spontaneous raves, sudden takeovers of entire beaches, gatherings on the party miles of various cities. Wherever protest can be found - such as at the pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London last month - young people are emerging as large, loud and resistant groups.

However, their statements prove that behind the relief sits a deep frustration. Because older people have borne the majority of the physical risks of the Corona pandemic, the young have had to endure the psychological ones. "The past year has felt like a wooden stage, and I broke right in," responds one interviewee. Another recounts feelings akin to a midlife crisis - at 22. The anger and despair are evident, but just as evident is the political conclusion many draw: that society is run by the old for the old.

The young should pause their lives to protect a generation that has already lived its life. If this had been accompanied by payments, support and, above all, a token sympathy toward the socially liberal views and culture of the under-24s, the headwinds might have been mitigated. Instead, they were allowed to listen to their views and lifestyle being ridiculed as "woke." At the same time, they watched as politicians of all stripes became obsessed with promoting social conservatism and supporting the material interests of homeowners, entrepreneurs, and people already on a stable career path.

Generation Z knew beforehand that they would be poorer than their parents' generation; their late Millenial siblings learned that lesson after the 2008 crisis. But the future - as bleak as it looked to the generation that took the seats in 2011 - at least seemed to promise a dual and clear struggle: against racism, sexism, austerity and climate denial.
In the statements of the interviewees, the leitmotif is uncertainty. They are willing to believe, as one respondent put it, that the "world could end tomorrow," that civilization is collapsing, that the current system is held together "by duct tape and toothpicks," that the present is as "unpredictable as it is monotonous."

And they are right. Given the risks, the measures to contain the climate crisis are a joke. The unspoken subtext of this year's UN climate conference is clear to the young: 'We, the suit-wearing, SUV-driving generation, will do our best - within the bounds of what big corporations will tolerate and what older voters* are willing to accept.' We are set up for failure because we won't be around to live with the consequences.''

Radical, centrist, ruthless
In light of the pandemic, young people in most countries from which data are available rate the actions of those in power as incompetent, shortsighted, or corrupt.

In retrospect, the entire political cycle since 2008 can be seen as a response to the financial crisis. 18-year-olds understood then that their future was canceled. They took to the streets, were greeted with water cannon, and subsequently got involved in political movements such as Podemos, Syriza, Corbynism, or the Bernie Sanders campaign.

In many ways, the Corona shock is bigger than the 2008 shock; it made it clear to an entire generation that no one will rush to the rescue when things get serious. And that, thanks to demographic change, politics is working against them. The question now is: How will the young react? They will celebrate everywhere and riot in some places. And they will look for political alternatives.

If I had to predict where this will lead next, it would not be the anarchism of the early anti-globalization movement, but rather in the direction of "climate bolshevism," as advocated by Swedish economist Andreas Malm. Social democracy, Malm argues, has no concept of catastrophe. The same could be said of liberalism and the mainstream of the green political movement. They are not made for sudden and urgent action. Their replacements must be radical, centralist, and ruthless.

This generation has a theory of disaster. It has seen how effectively centralized power can be exercised, how quickly injustices can be distributed, how hollow is the legitimacy of a government that cannot organize a lockdown or a vaccination campaign. If this generation discovers a new collective project, I doubt it will be one of small steps, or small in its amibitons.

Paul Mason is a freelance journalist, book author and filmmaker. His new book, How to Stop Fascism, will be published in August 2021.

What bailout policy, for whom?
Debt It is not the increase in government spending, but its distribution, that suggests neoliberalism is far from over
By Grace Blakeley
[This article published in June 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Schulden ǀ Welche Rettungspolitik, für wen? — der]

In State and Revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote about the erroneous "bourgeois-reformist assertion that monopolistic or state-monopolistic capitalism is already no longer capitalism." Lenin argued that it is a common fallacy to confuse a capitalist regime in which there is high state spending and some nationalization with "state socialism."
The spread of neoliberal ideology since the 1970s has tended to reinforce this tendency. Neoliberals argued that all areas of human life should be governed by the logic of the market. Their premise was that people can be free only in a society founded on free markets.

Accordingly, the neoliberal era was characterized by policies aimed at strengthening the market at the expense of the state. The problem with the neoliberal narrative, however, has always been that "the market" does not exist as something that would be separate from "the state." Markets can only function if states provide the infrastructure within which market interactions take place. Just as capitalism can only function as long as the state steps in whenever there are crises.
In fact, the state never really shrank during the neoliberal era; it was transformed. Instead of fighting unemployment, as it did in the postwar era, the neoliberal state chose to keep consumer price inflation down and discipline labor. In other words, the neoliberal state is not a lean state; it is a state tailored to the interests of capital.

Seen in this light, the supposedly radical transformation of capitalism that we witnessed during the Covid 19 pandemic is not so radical after all. The states are digging in their heels because the big corporations and financial players need to be bailed out - again. It's the same game as after the financial crisis, when states and central banks around the world spent trillions of dollars to prop up the financial system.

When stock prices rise
Today, governments and central banks in the global North see that they have no choice but to prop up their economies as the pandemic forced the suspension of almost all economic activity. Some conclude that the resulting increase in government spending already indicates the end of neoliberalism, but the way this spending has been distributed suggests that this is not the case.

The first part of the state apparatus to be mobilized was the central bank. The four major central banks bought assets with newly created money on a large scale to reduce financial market volatility. The result was the stunning asset price inflation seen in U.S. stock markets last year. This was despite a severe recession and underlying structural challenges that could threaten the recovery. The second step was for finance ministries and central banks to provide cheap credit to large companies. In the U.K., companies such as the American oil company Schlumberger first took out huge loans from the Bank of England, then cut jobs and paid out hefty dividends to their shareholders. The U.S. government bailed out virtually the entire domestic corporate sector. Many of the companies that received government assistance are notorious tax avoiders.

Once the financial sector and large corporations were taken care of, states moved to support smaller businesses, homeowners and landlords by providing loans to small businesses. Only after all these groups were taken care of were workers also offered assistance. In the U.S., the poorest used their stimulus checks to secure their basic needs, while the rich speculated with the money in the stock market. The result will be a dramatic increase in inequality: The wealthy will come out of the pandemic with large savings, the poor with even more debt.

And the crisis in the South?
Much has been said about Joe Biden's climate pledges and his support for unions. Those are steps in the right direction, and it's not surprising that Biden decided that way: If workers don't have household income to spend after this crisis, then lower demand will hurt U.S. businesses, too. But these steps do not go far enough to make up for decades of inaction in the face of the climate crisis and the long-standing general attack on the union movement.

Perhaps the greatest omission in the Corona policy of the Global North, however, is that it ignores the humanitarian and economic crisis currently ravaging the Global South. This is not only a moral failure, but also a strategic one. For without recovery in the Global South, the pandemic in the North will not end. Without support for the nations of the South, many of which are on the brink of insolvency, there will be no global recovery.

Covid-19 does not mean the end of neoliberalism - let alone a threat to the world capitalist system. The world that emerges from this crisis will be as unequal and unstable as the one before Corona.

There is, however, one significant change that has taken place over the past decade and solidified during the pandemic: People are fighting back. While governments spend huge sums of money to bail out big corporations, many people are rightly wondering why those same states can't seem to raise money to stop climate change or reduce inequality. They are taking to the streets to demand justice - be it social, environmental or gender justice.

Governments have two ways to deal with this resistance: They can help the people. Or try to hold them down. Most states have chosen the latter. Instead of the end of neoliberalism, we are witnessing the birth of a form of authoritarian capitalism the likes of which we have not seen in decades. The choice we face today is not between neoliberalism or Keynesianism; it is between authoritarian capitalism and democratic socialism. But capitalist states will not voluntarily switch to the latter. If we are to build a just, free, and sustainable world after the pandemic, working people around the world must organize to fight for it.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article stated that Easyjet also took out huge loans from the Bank of England, then cut jobs and paid out hefty dividends to its shareholders. In fact, Easyjet paid no dividend for 2020 as the company ended the fiscal year with a loss.

Translator Marc's note: From Rep. John Yarmuth:
Speaker Ryan told us the GOP tax bill would help companies like Harley Davidson hire more workers. What did the company do when it became law? Bought back $700M in stocks, fired 800 workers and opened a plant in Thailand. This is #GOP Tax Scam at work!
Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


Donate Now!

$ 117.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network