Saturday, August 13, 2011

“Futureless” at Liverpool and Manchester?

Growing up in Serbia in the late 80s and early 90s, I have an odd kinship with the UK circumstance. My teen days were smack dab of declining economy, spiraling inflation, school violence and hooliganism that went well beyond just venting at soccer games. The lack of prospects, followed by a kind of victimology – I called it Weltschmerz in a blog a year ago – was exactly what the secessionist factions manipulated into a full-fledged civil conflict. The war was inevitable. The non-option for a youth was simple: dodge the army draft for a lost cause while giving into the hopeless nightlife of slow self-destruction, all under the international embargo and on the parents’ last dime, of course. It was a prescription for escapism, through art, sport, music, an excessive study of whatever you can give your hours to. I was seventeen. If only social networking had been around then? Who knows, maybe things would have turned different.

Flow of Youth, 1995, oil and wax on canvas, 24x36 inches

Consider rioting of this week. Here is a litany of reports on the poor living environment of many British youth, as speculated to be the cause:

British youth most alienated in Europe

Britain the worst place in developed world to bring up children

UK is violent crime capital of Europe

UK schools worst in Europe for bullying

British girls worst binge drinkers of Western world

Britain has highest rate of youth not in education or employment in Europe

UK has lowest rape conviction rate in Europe

This may be so, but the destruction was not warranted. I would like to channel what my artist-colleagues from Liverpool suggested And from Manchester, I was forwarded the article this morning. Seems as if the cause has been hijacked by the petty few. The cycle is vicious indeed: the more destructive the force, the more excessive the suppression. For that matter, Mayor Boris Johnson was politic not entertain the panicky calls for army deployment. If only restrain could bring the community together. While in Athens, for example, I was able to observe the well-publicized and peaceful demonstrations (the few out-of-hand days at Syntagma notwithstanding, see my photo below). The demands were clear, and the orchestration was a blend of political pressure with all-sacrificing-but-manageable disruptions. Too bad, that youth can’t just go on peaceful strike.

Syntagma, June 28th


Earl Grey said...

Thanks for the post, with comparisons among multiple cultures with spans of several decades. I have been amazed and shocked at how social media have impacted activities (broadly defined) and accounts of them. I refer to general activities and, also, these UK riots, of course. How does social media impact our understanding of these events and our knowledge of (and reaction to) them?

This reminds me of an account made by one of the co-founders of Twitter. Earlier this year, Biz Stone and A Macgillivray remarked that: "Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of expression is essential." But does that mean that freedom of one (or many) needs to come at the degradation, harm, and video-capture of others? See:

Boris Zakic said...

With respect to Serbo-Croat relations (early 90s, or the "lead-up-to" period) I am certain the public opinion would have been shaped differently. If nothing else, the authoritative power of the centrally-run outlets (both print and airwave) would have been questioned. I am not sure today. And once the conflict "brakes open," I don't think the "trust" is to be regained that easily. As I come to think of it, we have to guard "trust"(in highest possible way) not only when the tensions arise, but at the time of calm, and especially then.--

Also, before I forget: there is a problem with our tendency to gravitate to messages and sources we espouse or agree with already. So, the idea of "meaningful," as used by Twitter co-founders here, has no weight at all--