Decades of conservative economic policies and military adventurism have left our country in the most serious economic situation since the Great Depression. Young people in our country have every right to doubt whether they have much of a future at this point. I think I'll quote Janis Joplin.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
People often say that the lack of a draft is why students haven't been opposing the war on Iraq as strongly as their Sixties counterparts opposed the slaughter in Vietnam. That must be part of it, but there is another factor. College students are now tended to be deluged in student loans and potential employers can easily Google their life histories. Jobs that are desperately needed to pay off enormous debt are potentially jeopardized by political activity. The post 911 era created a surveillance state that coexists with growing corporate surveillance that may or may not be limited to marketing purposes.
No wonder some people have been intimidated.
Now, the economic crises have created a situation where young people have legitimate reasons to doubt that they will have any kind of future at all. Those young people have nothing to lose.
Here are a couple of examples:
New York Times 2/18/09
Several dozen students occupied a cafeteria at New York University on Wednesday night, barricading themselves inside with tables and chairs and chanting a list of demands.
The students pushed tables and chairs against the doors, and a woman with a megaphone outlined the group’s demands.
They included a full and annual reporting of the university’s operating budget, expenditures and endowment. The students also demanded that N.Y.U. provide 13 scholarships annually to students from the Gaza Strip and give surplus supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza. On the group’s Web site, it also asked that all participants in the protest be granted amnesty from punishment.
You can learn more from the protesters' points of view at Take Back NYU's website.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education Blog 12/19/08
New School Protesters Claim Victory and End Campus Occupation
Student protesters at the New School claimed to have won a decisive victory last night in their battle with university officials and ended their occupation of a campus cafeteria at around 3:30 a.m., The New York Times’s City Room blog reported today.
The students had presented university officials with a list of demands, including the resignation of the New School’s president, Bob Kerrey, and had threatened to continue their occupation of campus buildings for a second full night.
If things get much worse in the US, we may very well see protests as large or larger than have been taking place in other parts of the world over the economic plunge. People rendered homeless by predatory subprime mortgages have even less to lose than typical college students. An army of the unemployed is the worst fear of corporations and their wealthy owners.
It's no wonder that our wealthy elites are willing to tolerate a bit of Keynesian economics for the moment.