Blogging is a strange occupation - a solitary writer in search of the sort of communion with others that used to happen in the pub, on the corner, on the bus is now engaging with others electronically instead. So much for progress.

THIS blog is about ideas - big and small - connected with one of the things I care about with a passion, namely the future of liberal thought in this country. I am instinctively a radical liberal, with a grudging belief in the value of markets but an abhorrence of statism and indifference, and a strong belief in social justice. I find Labour bankrupt of ideas, and the Tories intellectually flacid. This is my response.

I am intending always to stick to the point: there will be no rabble-rousing talk, and no wasted jibes at other parties and political philosophies.

Comments will be moderated, but anyone can leave one.

Friday, 8 August 2008

One in three!

One in three young people, according to a survey by the Prince's Trust reported here, "do not think of their own parents as people they respect". I can't say I have ever been more moved by a single statistic about the attitudes of young people. Now we could become very Daily Mail about this and call for measures to make them show respect (National Service/ prison-meaning-prison/ 'make them clean it up' etc - choose your own favourite), but the essence of the problem is surely to do with a rootlessness of mind that is now endemic in whole generations - and not just young people.

This 'rootlessness' is now particularly strong among the young. Many of them lack confidence in themselves in this society, and express that lack of confidence in aggression and a bigger, more showy, version of teenage arrogance. This is the teenage arrogance that thinks nothing of shootings in supermarkets, the teenage arrogance that thinks nothing of robbing single pensioners at knife point, the kind of teenage arrogance that regards authority of any kind as being not protective of common interests but necessarily antithetical to your own.

How do we deal with it? It is easy to decide on solutions, and Lib Dems are announcing some of their own at the moment (see here), but solutions to youth violence are not the same as solutions to the deeper, more pervasive, rootless inaction and fatalism that grips the Jeremy Kyle generations. This isn't (for the Marxians among you) alienation since alienation is a conscious and active rejection of a social order; this is a strange mix of separateness and a dependency that leaves mothers at once indifferent to their childrens' violence, afraid of it, yet clinging to state solutions for both the violence and their separation from 'grown up' living.

No amount of brave talk about 'zero tolerance' on the one hand or "understanding the roots of young peoples' alienation" on the other will help. We need to tackle the much more grave problem of the generations of people - grandparents, parents, kids - who no longer think of themselves as influential in their own lives.

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