I am puzzling over the ethics of our youth. That’s not unusual, of course. By an accident of history, I am a typical Gen Xer. I drink water and carry a laptop. I’m highly independent and anyone not quite ‘up to it’ receives a glance of disapproval that is the hallmark of my generation.
Gen Y’ers elsewhere
I’ve also lived in a country where the Gen Y’ers clashed magnificently with the old guard who reminded them constantly of history. “We fought for your privileges”, said the old guard. “Toughs”, said the youngsters, “give us more. And NOW!”
Little emperors, indeed.
Student action in UK November 2010
The student action along Oxford Street of the moment are interesting. So many students are not there. We look around our universities and wonder. Not even self-interest can get them out.
But self-interest has got some out. Are they really ethical though? Are they pouting because they have been excluding from the loot and pillage of the economy? Or do they really care about a well run society and are they prepared to run society well in exchange for a fair and decent wage?
Solidarity is the ethical test of politicians
The test is in solidarity. Let’s see what alliances are formed and let’s see how easily they are bought off. How many of the leaders would join Top Shop tomorrow if given a graduate management position?
The test is in solidarity and I am hoping (against hope) that they will take the lead in mapping the issues that face the UK today.
But beware: Politics is about results not motives
But then an old politicial science professor said to me once: In politics motivation doesn’t matter. Only results matter.
Unless students have a clear ethical position and a map of the alliances they want to forge, they will find their energy quickly coopted to other causes.
It happened to other generations who were smug and complacent. It can happen to them too because that is politics.
We are waiting to see. Hoping but waiting. I hope their political science professors have taught them well.