...read this insightful essay on the reshaping of politics, by Professor Frank Furedi of the University of Kent.
The other day my eight-year-old son came home, took off his jacket and announced 'Daddy, I really hate Bush!' Until that point, this child had strong views on the subject of football (which he loves), school dinners (which he dislikes) and mobile phones (which he desperately desires). But this was his first statement of political preference. Why did he feel so strongly about the American president? 'Because he's so stupid', my son replied.It's late, and I'm not at my optimum writing/thinking levels, so I'll just forego any attempts at segue into the next quote:
As a proud father, I would like to boast that my young son and his classmates have developed a precocious interest in political affairs. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Children are no more curious about political life than their elders. Rather, political life in the Western world has become so infantilised that even eight-year-olds can share its brilliant insights.
In the USA, demonstrating how much you hate Bush has animated discussion during the Democratic Party primary elections. Howard Dean, who has perfected the art of being very angry, managed to mobilise tens of thousands of young people to join his vociferous campaign - before it failed.
It appears that how you feel, rather than what you believe in, has become the defining feature of political protest.
[M]ore importantly, protest has become a strikingly personal matter. It is about the protester as an individual, and says more about how he feels about himself than what he thinks of the issue at stake. That is why it is difficult to define today's acts of protest as constituting a political movement. On the contrary: they are the product of a profound mood of political disengagement that afflicts most Western societies.This piece needs to be read from top to bottom.
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