Gonna throw a music link in here that I think is a nice intro:
Frank Turner - Thatcher Fucked the Kids
The key lyrics here are those from the first part of the chorus:
We're all wondering how we ended up so scared;
We spent ten long years teaching our kids not to care
And that "there's no such thing as society" anyway,
And all the rich folks act surprised
When all sense of community dies
I think that's a nice lead-in to what is an unsurprising, but still heartbreaking (there's a balance for you to walk), set of findings:
According to the Unicef report, which measured 40 indicators of quality of life – including the strength of relationships with friends and family, educational achievements and personal aspirations, and exposure to drinking, drug taking and other risky behavior – British children have the most miserable upbringing in the developed world. American children come next, second from the bottom.
Yep, that's right. Out of the entire first world, British kids have the worst childhoods, followed closely by their American counterparts. Why is this? There are any number of possible explanations, and Hampton's article does a solid job of walking through several of them - a decline in morality, an adverse reaction to market pressures, parents in the workplace rather than at home, a result of a neoliberal ideology that Britain and the US share - but I find the most telling response towards the end of the piece:
But what if the behavior of broken British children is less a violent reaction to their inadequate pasts than calculated defiance against their hopeless futures? Looking ahead, demographers and sociologists have begun to map out the downward trajectory on the bell curve called “progress.” They’ve spotted trouble – the kind of trouble that may already be written in the faces of today’s teens’ older siblings.
I like that phrase - "calculated defiance against their hopeless futures." Calculated defiance, that is, against a branded, corporate-dominated, ideology which presents a stark and depressing picture (and a picture only) to every person of my generation:
[...] as Conservative MP David Willetts, put it: “A young person could be forgiven for believing that the way in which economic and social policy is now conducted is little less than a conspiracy by the middle-aged against the young.”
While, myself, I don't go that far - I view it rather as the perfect realization of an ideology of capitalist individualism which will, naturally, favor those who have the capital to assert their wills - I take the point that Willetts is making there, and the point that Hampton's article pretty clearly demonstrates: when you've got an entire generation that's getting (and I use the term advisedly here) fucked by their parents, if even a small, small percentage of them realize it, you're going to have a big, big problem.
Then again... maybe this big, big problem - the riots in London serving as a beautiful starting point, though clearly nothing more than that as long as the media persist in calling them "shameful" rather than symptomatic - is the only way out...?