Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Beginning of The End?

Viva Philadelphia! Last night, some Philly kids got their class war on in a rampage that's prompted a city-wide curfew. Several hours of stompin', stabbin' and burnin' from the U Penn region to Center City -- which if you've never walked is a hell of a ways. Ol' Ben would be proud.

But the big news here is what's not big news -- 21% unemployment among Philly youths. And that's with the standard Clintonian metrics for counting the unemployed, so the real number is very likely in the thirties. Revolution, contrary to what your professor told you, is not the product of any articulated ideology but rather a visceral response to very real pressures. No more thought than, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" goes into throwing a rock but when enough rocks are thrown by enough people, it becomes the vector of real social change -- more so than any number of speeches or petitions.

But just as it's easy to stir up, an uprising can just as easily cool. Especially in America where despite all the apocalyptic rhetoric in daily politics, things remain relatively stable and comfortable. We've been boiling so slowly in this imperial decline that we've grown used to "tightening our belts" as the rich and overfed pundits are found of saying. Philly's early Red October could just as easily fizzle out when all those kids go back to cartoons and Playstation (I can't blame them on the latter -- I just got one myself and it's frickin' awesome).

...Or last night in Philly could be a preview of what this country's in for. Youth unemployment is higher than any other demographic and if there's one thing Egypt and Syria have demonstrated, it's that pissed off kids with nothing to do are what really make revolutions happen. We just need to pull ourselves away from throwing molotovs in GTA long enough to start throwing them for real.

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