It was always going to be students
The “usual suspects” are a product of that alienation. And this generation of twenty somethings has more “usual suspects” than any for a long time. We walked out of school and marched in our millions against the Iraq war. We were ignored. We begged the government to save our future from devastating climate change. They lacked the leadership, bravery, and will to stand up for us and against corporate power. And we have noticed that the welfare state, well paid jobs, and society’s wealth are not being handed on to us, but rolled back, scrapped, and preserved for small elites. Many voted for a party promising to stand with them as times got tough. They were sold out.
No one is born a usual suspect. People react to the world around them. And there are more usual suspects among people born in the mid-eighties for a reason: we are Thatcher babies, and the world we find ourselves in sucks, and is getting worse. Our radicalism is not about nihilistic rage. It is about a desire to secure a better world to hand that on to our children.
Similarly, the rest of our generation is not apathetic but alienated. People do care about their communities. But they have been given a choice of 100 different flavours of crisps but 3 almost identical political parties. They have been told that politics is a hobby interest for a particular brand of geek, not the process by which we agree how we are going to live our lives together, and build better lives for ourselves and each other.
And it was always going to be students who stood up first because these cuts are hitting the young hardest. It is difficult to remove benefits and services from those who have become used to a world where people look out for each other. But rolling back the welfare state for a generation who have never had it was thought to be easier. Surprise! That thought was wrong. Surprise! Thousands of students and school children do care about their friends, their families, their futures. Surprise! A mist of apathy consructed from the alienation of a generation evaporates when you kick us in the face and the future.
But it can’t just be students, it can’t just be the young, and it can’t just be education. Those occupying universities across the country have made it clear that they do so in opposition to the whole program of economically illiterate cuts targetting the young, disabled people, women, the working class – and anyone who didn’t vote for those imposing them.
And the broader student movement must do the same. And the rest of us must stand with students, learn from students, and stand up for ourselves.
Students were always going to lead the way. They have ended for good the narrative in the media that there is a consensus about cuts and austerity. Now it’s time for the rest of us to follow, to stand with students, and refuse to sit down until the government understand something no one has yet said about their plan: it shall not pass.