EUROPE IN FLAMES

Bridie Witton

If a refugee crisis, climate change, the panama papers and the real possibility of Donald Trump being the president of the United States of America tells us anything, it is that the world is on fire.

And after living in London, I feel like the fire is not going to be dampened anytime soon. Let me explain.

I recently worked for a gourmet food delivery service start-up. Never in my life have I witnessed such depraved displays of all the worst traits of my generation. They are the sorts of idiots who host great Gatsby parties without understanding the irony. They glorify the Wolf of Wall Street, while having no idea how the stock market actually works. They still live at home.

Essentially, all these protein powder obsessed, Ed Hardy t-shirt wearing wankers were concerned about was fresh kicks and going to the gym. I found I couldn’t look at them without a searing disgust coursing through me.

This is when I realised the bulk of UK’s youth has been infantilised and is demobilised. They are dumb, helpless babies watching the world burn while their mum does their laundry.

I found this devastating, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a waste they were – a waste of the resources it takes to keep them alive, as well as the waste they produce through their highly consumptive lifestyles.

To me they epitomised everything that is wrong with my generation, and I still can’t believe how many of them there are.

To be fair, my generation didn’t make the choices that landed us here, but we can still have more of an effect on how the game plays out. So many have already given up.

Yet across the pond a different kind of fire seems to have been lit. While Bernie Sanders is not likely to gain the democratic nomination, his attacks on corporate greed has engaged a trove of voters, many of them young people who were previously MIA from politics.

Sanders and his movement made people feel like they could have an affect on their world, starting a conversation that will continue for years to come.

Over in the UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has many similarities with Sanders. Both have a history of involvement in left wing causes with a clear socialist agenda. And like Sanders, Corbyn’s politics spoke to young people who may have not been involved in politics before.

But in the UK, it looks like the revolution is far from starting. Unlike Sanders, Corbyn has never appealed as a public personality, with Corbyn saying he is “not that kind of person”. But is a strong personality what is needed to end such a large disengagement?

A disengagement which was no more apparent than when the panama papers – whose leak only confirmed what is likely to be the tip of the iceberg of Prime Minister David Cameron’s involvement in, while legal, dodgy behaviour – only saw a few upset grumbles in the UK, while Iceland got rid of their Prime Minister for his involvement.

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A stronger personality might have also attacked the conservative government for their budget, which saw the resignation of Works and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith over cuts to disability benefits.

Corbyn has reportedly said Labour lost the election because their values weren’t clear to the voting public. Could a stronger personality illuminate those with Labour as the only viable alternative to tory austerity, which only sees societies weakest hit the hardest?

As Europe increasingly lurches to the far right, with fear mongering and hatred becoming increasingly mainstream, something has to happen before the entire world goes up in flames.

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