8 votes

Europe's young not so woke? Generational divisions in European countries seem less pronounced and young people seem to be less consistently aligned with the left than expected


  1. knocklessmonster
    (edited )
    Progressivism is generally a response to long-standing discomforts and the potential for new comforts. Conservatism is generally a response to long-term comforts confronted by recent discomforts....

    Progressivism is generally a response to long-standing discomforts and the potential for new comforts. Conservatism is generally a response to long-term comforts confronted by recent discomforts. That's all that's going on. In the US, for example: conservative politicians tended to win offices after our most prosperous periods: The 50s, 70s, 90s, and even 00s (9/11 and the wartime economy helped the US economy). We got a swing towards progressives after our worst: after the Great Depression we got FDR, the '75 recession gave us Carter, 2007 gave us Obama, the late 80s recession gave us Clinton. Part of the American switch is just party based, but AFAIK it seems to follow economic patterns, as well. A couple economic hardships rock a generation, they younger people seem to swing more progressive. I wouldn't be surprised to see a conservative Gen Z, though, after we millenials possibly make a bigger mess of the plate we've been handed.

    We're seeing a back-hand of socialism right now, unfortunately. Like antivaxxers protesting measles vaccines "we don't need," countries that have what they need either don't think they need it as bad as they do, or don't want to give it to people that aren't of their country. Take a country like Sweden: Even the far right wants the socialist programs they have, but they don't want to give them to "non-Swedes," and that's ignoring the less extreme people who want to get rid of their nationalized systems altogether. The US rolls back progressive policies after minor benefits (free CC tuition, driver's ed, public works funding), saying we're just fine. The UK isn't burdened with a shit-ton of people dying from lack of medical care, so their conservatives are trying to cut NHS funding

    More politically progressive, but quietly nationalist Europe (excluding the UK/Britain, the British sphere of influence seems to be different, and I'd wager America inherited, rather than invented, its responses) is going to operate with what seems like an impossible dichotomy, but is ultimately about the preservation of the state. In the US, we don't have that sort of safety net to rally our nationalism around, so it appears more outwardly vitriolic and is about skin color rather than national identity, but I could see modern European-style nationalism happening fifty years after we in the US nationalize a bunch of things that are being understood to be required for a functioning society in more equitable countries.

    7 votes
  2. Kuromantis

    In the United States, economic insecurity has pushed Millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) and Gen Zers (born after 1996) to the left on nearly every policy issue, economic and cultural alike. Young Americans want their country to become more “European,” favoring tuition-free education, single-payer health care, and an increased role for the state in the economy. Older Americans are the ones who tend to be attracted to Donald Trump’s populist cocktail of immigration restriction, protectionism, and easy money.

    But if a European-style welfare state is the preferred destination of young Americans, where are young Europeans heading? After all, they already have most of the things their transatlantic counterparts say they want.

    Indeed, in the European elections in 2015, the far-right National Front and its leader, Marine Le Pen, came in first among French voters under 35, winning 30 percent of their votes. However, more recent election results suggest that Millennials and Gen Zers, like their American counterparts, are pulling the center of gravity of national politics to the left rather than the right.

    It is no surprise, then, that polls show growing support among younger European voters for policies advanced by left-wing parties. Millennials and Gen Zers value public services; they worry about racial and other forms of discrimination, as well as about climate change. They are more pro-European than previous generations and more willing to hand over new governing powers to Brussels.

    Yet on closer inspection, Europe’s young are less progressive—or “woke”—than their American contemporaries. A third of Millennial and Gen Z voters in Europe consider themselves centrists, compared with about a fifth who are on the center left and fewer than a 10th who are far left.

    1 vote
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