Mass Unemployment Sweeps Europe

Rioters are a problem. A worse problem looms when rioters have no glass left to break.

The World Socialist Website rightly calls our attention to the record levels of unemployment in Europe. One in four young people across Europe finds themselves without a job. Prior to 2008, this rate was significantly lower at only 15%. The statistic is indicative of unemployment for people between the ages of 14 and 24 throughout the 27 states in the European Union. However, this is merely an average.

In Great Britain, youth unemployment stands at about 20% and is rising fairly quickly. The government and the media were both taken aback during the recent riots by young people in that country. In Spain, the social-democrats have found their crowning glory in a horrendous 46% unemployment rate for this demographic. Germany, long considered the industrial war-horse of Europe, has the lowest youth unemployment rate at just 9.1%.

The socialists contend that this poses a risk for a revolutionary uprising. We would agree, but would argue against the positive nature of such an uprising.

These young people have little to lose in an insurrection. The current system has failed to provide them with property, ownership, social stability, religious creed, or any sense of responsibility. They have, as of now, no loyalty to it and plenty of free time. This spells a particular tragedy for Europe; not only is a large, young population becoming agitated (which may well lead to social unrest) but their bad economic and spiritual policies have jeopardized their most precious resource – their children. Having one in four or one in two young people out of work and separated from the productive centers of society is a huge and almost unforgivable waste of human potential.

While pundits are likely to criticize rioters, and while we may all agree that rioting is counter-productive to whatever (if any) aims rioters have, we can hardly blame them for their anger. It is absolutely depressing to watch a society crumble. Idleness breeds malcontent. If unemployment and the debt crisis are allowed to continue, more people will be idle and more people will have time and frustration enough to turn into rioters.

Our thoughts and prayers must be with the people of Europe who may lose their children and with ourselves so that we may avoid a similar catastrophe. The truly frightening prospect, however, is that we may soon find ourselves in a situation where there’s nothing left for rioters to break.