Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Millennial Youth Unemployment Catastrophe

That is, youth unemployment defined as the number of unemployed people from 15 to 24 years old as a percentage of the youth labour force.

Have a look at the figures for European nations in 2015:
Greece | 49.8%
Italy | 40.3%
Spain | 48.4%
Portugal | 31.9%
Slovak Republic | 26.4%
France | 24.7%
Belgium | 22.1%
Finland | 22.0%
Ireland | 20.9%
Poland | 20.8%
Sweden | 20.3%
Hungary | 17.3%
Luxembourg | 17.3%
Slovenia | 16.4%
Latvia | 16.3%
Austria | 10.6%
United Kingdom | 14.6%
United States | 11.6%
Czech Republic | 12.6%
Netherlands | 11.3%
Denmark | 10.8%
Germany | 7.3%
This is truly catastrophic, and under our present system is likely to get worse and worse.

These people are the generation called millennials.

Now it could be that these millennials will become disillusioned, useless and totally politically disengaged as their plight gets worse. But I doubt it. Under current neoliberalism, they will see their societies implode, as manufacturing and services continue to be outsourced, automation and robotics cause mass unemployment (even if some manufacturing is re-shored), housing prices are much too high to allow them to have homes or have families (even if they wanted children), private debt drives them to debt slavery, and the social cohesion of their countries is shattered by Third World mass immigration.

More likely, as these people’s lives become increasingly hopeless and they become politically engaged, there will be tremendous backlash and millennial political movements will emerge in the coming decades. I imagine that their current propensity for cultural leftism and open borders will be shattered by reality, and one of the first casualties of their political development. Economics will be one of their major concerns, not cultural leftism.

The million dollar question: will that political movement be mainly left-wing or right-wing? What will it look like?


  1. I think it would look a lot like Italy's 5-star movement (Movimento Cinque Estelle or something like that) - random coalition of all kinds of people, but all opposed to the orthodoxy of existing parties.

    Not necessarily left or right.

  2. Hypothesis: the poorer or more oppressed the starting point, the greater the odds that this climate will radicalize one in a leftward direction, whereas more privileged sorts suddenly finding themselves hard up will (on average) be radicalized in a rightward direction.

  3. And yet, as we have seen in France, those who protest are leftists. Do not think they will come running to you and your simple-minded and bigoted approach. Populist right wing movements appeal more to the more homogenous, prosperous and older voters, not the more diverse and less well off younger ones.

    Like the article says, economic issues will be the major factor in any sort of political mass movements to result from this situation. Any attempts to derail them into discussions of "ideas of racial, cultural and sexual equality" would be met with backlashes.

  4. Yes, I doubt the Alt-Right will succeed among most Millennials. There just isn't much in it for them. Outside of limiting immigration and maybe some protectionism the Alt-Right proposes few policy ideas that will help your average worker.

    In the United States, Bernie Sanders was more popular among Millennials than Trump or Clinton.

    The above poll included older Millennials (up to 36 years old) so I don't think that we can just chalk up the popularity of Bernie Sanders to youthful idealism. Because of their poorer economic prospects I suspect that many Millennials will stay left-leaning.

  5. Many of these unemployed, in my experience, are left-wingers. But those that politically engage are middle-class. They have thus been able to travel around Europe on their free-movement passports. Some have done so for education and some have come to, say, London to find work because they can't get it at home. They tend to see free movement as their savior as it allowed them to escape unemployment.

    They also tend to buy into the cultural leftist narratives. These are definitely subordinate to the economic issues for them. No doubt about that. But they remain strongly committed to the cultural stuff. My feeling is that Trudeau in Canada is a pretty accurate representation of their politics. Lots of bizarre micromanaged multi-gender bathroom sorts of legislation. Weird stuff. I'd imagine that they will constrain their ability to govern economically by imposing their bizarre cultural ideas on the general population.

    1. They are left-wing at the moment, yes.

      And you are right that this current brand of millennial cultural regressive leftism is characterised by an obsession with victimology and increasingly bizarre causes.

      However, we are speaking of what they will look like 10 or 20 years from now, given more economic and social catastrophe.

      The notion of people becoming more conservative as they age is not a stereotype, and I can't see this current cultural leftist insanity having much of a future given how trivial it will seem as millennials are severely hit by economic problems.

      Combine this with them seeing and having to live with the catastrophic effects of mass immigration in Europe, and it is far less likely their political anger will manifest as current liberal or cultural leftism.

    2. I think much depends on what we consider "left-wing." I apologize for always mentioning the United States, since it is the country I know the best, but one of the stereotypes of Bernie Sanders supporters was that they were "Bernie Bros," that is white males who only cared about economic issues. It is somewhat like the "Brocialist" label used on the Left for socialists who are mostly interested in traditional, "Old Left" politics.

      The media painted Sanders as the candidate for young white guys. Now, to be fair there is some truth to this characterization since Sanders did not do well among non-whites and less well among white women than white men, who were his biggest supporters. See:

      Eventually there is going to be a major showdown within left-wing circles over whether to emphasize economics and working class politics vs. identity politics.

      Adolph Reed (who is an African-American) has a good discussion about how identity politics is used as a support for neoliberalism here:

    3. One exit poll from NY doesn't show the picture. This post is about millennials. Those under 30 still preferred Sanders over Clinton, 62-26, even if they were black. Granted, whites preferred him 66-19 which meant Clinton was 50% more popular with young blacks. But Sanders was still overwhelmingly popular with them.

      I disagree about class vs identity politics. Sanders has already shown that among non-white-male millennials you can get votes for a bold social democratic or left-liberal programme. The party can walk and chew gum at the same time and young people know it. They rejected the idea that class issues have to wait until race issues are solved for the obvious ploy it was.

    4. LK,

      I fear that the identity stuff will actually proliferate more and more. It probably won't take over the economic radicalisation that is occurring. I think that will stay. But it will greatly impair their ability to govern. They will hold fast to fringe causes that will alienate the rest of the population. As I think is happening in Canada.

      The question of the commitments to these causes is interesting. Many started as genuine issues that, while I won't go as far as to say they were civil rights issues as they are currently advertised, were pretty close to. So, gay rights pre-1967 was a genuine issue. I think it remained an issue during the AIDs pandemic of the 1980s. But today it has morphed into something else. It now seems to be an ideology in and of itself. Strangely it does not appear to be an ideology designed to do anything except hassle people who don't conform. So we see all these stunts about wedding cakes in the US.

      As this is pushed to its limits the cultural left start to try to find ever more fringe 'identities' and promote these, also misleadingly as civil rights issues.

      The question is: why? I've come to think that this is a new form of morality. It really is about seperating society into 'good' and 'bad'. The 'good' support these causes. The 'bad' are painted as evil, hateful people - usually racist, misogynistic, backward and so on. They are not just wrong. But actively evil.

      By this reading the causes that are sought out don't matter much in and of themselves. So long as they annoy the 'bad' Other they should be actively pursued. THe ideology seems designed to be divisive and is really all about painting the adherent as (i) virtuous and (ii) engaged in something resembling a 'moral war'. I'm sure that these sorts of politics lift peoples' self-esteem but they are anti-political in the sense that they are geared toward alienation of the Other.

      I do not think that the left will be able to move away from this. The Brexit result brought that out to me particularly strongly. And since they won't be able, they will not be capable of governing. I think that what will largely happen is that left economic ideas will permeate the right and be deployed by them. We're seeing this now with Theresa May calling for an end to austerity and a promotion of industrial policy and worker involvement on company boards. I think that we must basically get used to the fact that this is what victory looks like. To my mind, it could be a lot worse.

    5. Sorry, I meant to add this link to my post above. Sanders beats Clinton more than 2:1 among blacks under 30.

  6. Unfortunately this is what causes people to turn to unconventional political movements. Hopefully the alt-reich doesn't capitalize on the current trend, but its obvious they have been gaining slight momentum given the general disillusionment with the mainstream parties.

    1. I think the idea that the Alt Right is on the rise is ridiculously overblown. It's mostly an internet movement, with blogs and YouTube channels.

      The European populist right, which is rising rapidly, *isn't* Alt Right, however.

      The Alt Right is also schizophrenic on economics and politics: some are left-wing on economics, others are ultra libertarian nutjubs or even quasi-authoritarian ultra-socially conservative anarcho-capitalists like Hoppe.

      If this movement got popular, it would more likely break up as they fought each other.

      Also, their mentally-ill anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, neofascism, Holocaust denial, love of Hitler, and so on will keep them marginal.

    2. Agreed. The only thing that unites the alt-right is their hatred of the cultural left. Apart from that they are vacuous and have nothing to say. Just spend 30 minutes listening to that buffoon Milo. You almost think that he sounds smart - until you realise that he is debating complete morons who have no capacity to see anything outside of their ideology. He has nothing to offer beyond that. The alt-right is, if anything, a reaction to the cultural left. It has no positive substance of its own.

    3. Oh, come on, Illusionist. I actually hate to be the one who breaks this to you, but Milo Yiannopoulos *isn't Alt Right*.

      Milo Yiannopoulos' social conservatism on feminism or Islam is hardly different from that of, say, Peter Hitchens. When Milo says the gender pay gap, in the way feminists spin it, is a myth, he's, umm, not lying.

      But Milo is, more or less, a liberal or cultural libertarian on gay issues and sexual liberation.

      I am afraid you don't really seem to understand the Alt Right. The real Alt Right is things like this:

      Red Ice Radio

      Alternative Right

      These people, when they speak freely, say they hate Milo Yiannopoulos because (in their own words) he's a, umm, "degenerate, Jewish, race-mixing homosexual".

      Yep, you heard right, the Alt Right are **those** type of people.

      The type of people who normally only exist in the minds of regressive leftists, but unfortunately they still do actually exist.

      In the meantime, Milo isn't one of them.

    4. Self-identifies...

    5. No, Illusionist, that is Milo's (ghost written) attempt to explain the Alt Right and whitewash it, because Trump's support partly comes from it.

      Show me where Milo himself self-identifies as "Alt Right" in that article.

    6. Alt Right are people like this:

    7. I know these people. Alt-right are not racist. They just hate the cultural left. But whatever. That's the consensus view.

    8. Milo may not be alt-right, but whatever that group he belongs to - which includes the likes of Sargon of Akkad, Gad Saad and Dave Rubin - is called, it fails, especially since they're obsessed with the values of liberalism and individualism.

    9. No, Anonymous, Sargon of Akkad, Gad Saad and Dave Rubin are NOT like Milo.

      Sargon of Akkad and Dave Rubin are basically old-style liberals, left-wing on economics, but holding a type of Liberalism before social justice warrior insanity took hold.

      Milo is a self-identifying conservative; they are not conservatives.

    10. TheIllusionistJuly 14, 2016 at 5:47 AM
      Alt-right are not racist.

      Whoa, what?

  7. Except the Front National under Marine Le Pen isn't Alt Right, Smoothcritical. Nor is Trump. Nor are the Sweden Democrats. Nor is AfD.

    You Alt Right people mistake these European populist right parties for your brand of ultra-right politics.

  8. Let us remember that what is motivating these identity-politics ingrained youngsters is their awareness that economics/ecology trumps social justice.

  9. I doubt feminism, fertility rates, and "ethno-cultural identity" are so important in themselves. European populists stress economic issues above any of those other things. Let us recall that even they were marginal prior to 2008. Their opposition to immigration has no racial, or ethnic undertones, they stress the failure of cultural integration among the numerous masses of Muslim youths who are often unemployed and resort to crime and religious fundamentalism as a catalyst for their rage. Xenophobia is also undifferentiatedly at Eastern Europeans, who are regarded at least as more culturally compatible. You just contradict yourself by saying the political future of the West will not be defined by economics and later admitting that demographics and feminism are in part economic issues. Political issues have an economic substance, even though they may take different forms of expression.

    I think people do have a revulsion to unadulterated racialist, ethnicist and sexist positions. Accusations of racism have fallen on deaf ears with with populist voters and politicians because they do not consider themselves as such, and they distance themselves from those who actually are. To them, adherence to an ethos is more important than background. I doubt they would send women back to the kitchen to secure employment and increase the fertility rate.

    Right wing populists have taken some very leftist positions, and there is cross fertilization and competition between them and the left as they target for the same chunks of the electorate. Many of the middle class are susceptible to populism, as they are vulnerable to economic crises and their numbers are shrinking. They are alarmed at becoming either working class or lumpenproles. They are also at odds with the upper classes, who are neoliberal elitists. They make up the bulk of Trump's electorate, even more than working class people.

  10. Very interesting comment from Illusionist about so called identity (sex, race whatever) politics becoming a kind of 'morality' within some sectors of the middle class (castigating one's way of speaking etc. as being part of a status, kind of a weberian Stand ethos).
    May be the phenomenon is not entirely new. If you think of the alcohol prohibition leagues from the first half of XX century, I think many middle class women were deeply involved in such causes. Hence their electoral appeal for political entrepreneurs, at least in the US. I guess many rather lower middle-class people are prone to claim "moral high ground" in that way, against both the "corrupted" elites and the "undeserving" poors. Only the way in which the "others" are supposed to be inferior has changed : yesterday too fiew, to day too much strictures about sexual conducts and the like.
    Self-righteousness (consciously or not) all the way ?
    That might explain why it is so hard to oppose those postures with rationnal arguments : it is not a matter of "what is effective to diminish human suffering?" but of "who are the righteous ones?".

    And last but not least, economic or climate / energy issues need more tiring readings and reasoning than purely "moral" stands. It does not take Keynes or Minsky to figure out that insulting women or gay or black people is wrong (and then seeing such insults everywhere). Understanding the hows and whys of unemployment does. So, in economic terms, playing the radical smart ass is "cheaper" on so called "identity" issues than on economics or diplomacy.

    1. Sure, understanding economics properly requires reading, commitment and deep thought.

      Screaming "racist" or "sexist" at everything, which is what the SJWs spend most of their time doing, does not.