Fuck You, Kids! Why On Earth Was Yesterday Necessary?!

Student protests gone out of control in Ljubljana, Slovenia from pengovsky on Vimeo.

Some 15.000 students and pupils protested against proposed reform of student work in Slovenia. Protests started in Prešernov trg, but were then – presumably for added effect – continued in front of the Parliament. It is there where situation slipped out of control and all hell broke loose.

After some 15 minutes people started throwing everything they could get their hands on. Rocks, stick, bottles and even chairs were being hurled at cops and into the Parliament. By underage kids! Most of these brats were born after 1991!

What Ljubljana witnessed yesterday was not an outpour of crisis-fueled rage or misery. These kids go to school, do their homework, take tests and have crushes. They are not unemployed, without future or socially disenfranchised. What we’ve seen was a joyride of vandalism, alcohol induced courage and herding instinct by a generation used to getting away with anything.

And for no apparent reason other than the fact that a law is being proposed which would introduce some changes to the field in dire need of regulation. Student work in Slovenia has spiralled out of control and is far from the social corrective it once was. Even worse, most of these kids would be far better off with the new legislation, not in the least because it would allow them to start accumulating pension and welfare benefits as well as officially recognised work experience much earlier, making them much more competitive in the labour market once they graduated.

While I can understand that the above can be a bit much for a 17-year-old to grasp, I can not understand what makes that same kid pick up a stone and hurl it against a building he never even entered. OK, so you’re seventeen and you hate authority. You hate teachers, you hate cops, you even hate the fucking janitor of your building because he represents a system that you’re suppose to fit in.

But while object flew above my head and into robocops’ shields, pengovsky tried to find some logical explanation for all the brutality and rage. And I could find none. They’re not being forced into anything. Funding of school meals is to be altered a bit, but hey, do you really need to fuck up the parliament because state subsidy for your meal drops from 0.8 to 0.6 euro? Do you have to go after robocops with a stick because you’re not allowed to work more than178 hours per month? Do you dig up granite cubes and hurl them through a window because the hourly wage for student work will now start at 4 euro?

Yesterday looked just like any other protest we’ve seen on TV lately. And I suspect that is part of the problem. These kids are great at aping things. They’re great at aping whatever subculture they belong to. They’re great at repeating one liners and moves they’ve seen others do. Pengovsky was, for example, repeatedly told to “stop filming” and then threatened with having his balls broken if he didn’t turn the camera off. Palm-to-the-camera move included. But ideas you cannot ape. You either have them and believe in them or you don’t. And they don’t.

Yesterday made no sense. Not to me and I suspect not to those kids either. But they did it anyway. Because they felt they could. And that they’ll – yet again – get away with it.

I wasn’t angry yesterday. I was just sad.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

43 thoughts on “Fuck You, Kids! Why On Earth Was Yesterday Necessary?!”

  1. Meh, it was just an excellent example of manipulating the (ignorant) masses, this time not by the leaders of the state but by the leaders of student organizations etc.

    I’m still surprised why people are surprised at what happened. 🙂

    It was all written on the wall, you just have to take some bus rides in Lj. and overhear some conversations of these brats and you can paint a picture for yourself. Throw in the embarrassing actions of the young NSi, SDS etc. and you can see where we are heading.

    I’m still kinda disappointed by the lack of action from the police. When the first rock flew they should have taken firm action.
    Lack of action is just reinforcing them little MFs.
    It does so in school, when the system fails to firmly control them and it does so at home when parents are not doing their fuckin’ job of making their children decent human beings.
    Instead TV and internet (the No.1 mass control/dumbing down means) is taking over and yesterday is a result of that.

  2. @Bono: Dunno, man. I mean, first of all, letting cops loose on underage kids ain’t kosher. I mean, I had the same impulse, but were cops to do their thing, shit would have really hit the fan.

    Secondly: This was not about ideology. It wasn’t even about venting frustration and anger. For these kids it was like an excursion! I mean, ferfucksake they were taking pictures in front of the cops! Facebook must be teeming with them today

    And thirdly: I totally agree with your first sentence.

    @Dinozaver: I’m still just sad.

  3. or perhaps ‘the system’ should stop feeding these kids subsidised lettuce and just give them burgers they want.

  4. Current govermant did much more damage to Slovenia then those kids yesterday. A few broken windows is nothing. They should burn all the cars worth more then 20.000 EUR. That would send a real message to our oligarhy.

  5. If these kids show the current state of our education system, so help us God. The only bright future in Slovenia will be the one of Pivovarna Laško and co. Seriously ashamed and clueless, why it turned so ugly yesterday.

  6. hahaha, come on, cyril: it’s these kids’ parents 50k+ bmws you’re talking about, and the kids drive them when they go out friday evening. spoiled brats.

  7. Isn’t that a comforting thought – Slovenia has the highest rate of education among huligans!?

    As regards emotions: is it sadness? Anger? I don’t know, I find it appalling! Worrying! Can you EVER imagine any student protests with shouting “malo vas je pičkice”, “ubij, zakolji”? I thought they were after social justice, right to work, right to healthy meal. What was on display was just to show how true it is when they say: it’s easy to shit, when you have your ass full.

  8. Yawn. I went to UC Berkeley, I walked through that kind of scene to get to class every day.

    That said, in my book any day is a good day to throw something at a cop, especially something heavy. Fuck the pigs. Honestly.

    As much as I have disdain for the “mali kralji” of the Slovenian University system, it is SLOVENIAN SOCEITY’S FAULT that they are this way. I mean, after years of having everything spoonfed to them, who can blame them at looking down the barrel of their forthcoming disenfranchisement (low paying jobs, no job security, living with mom and dad FOREVA) and getting a little pissed? Being in this cushy state-subsidized university ( I heard people barely even have to go to classes!) is the last hurrah for these kiddos, so why not go out in a blaze of Facebook-memorialized glory?

    Oh and if anyone knows the name of these slick Willie student organizers, I’d like to get in contact with them. I’m hoping to get some backing on my idea to shut this country down and turn it into a holiday resort…

  9. @Camille: I respect your opinion, but you’re saying don’t blame the ones who threw stones, blame society? That’s really simplistic. It’s as if I said: Why

    didn’t anyone tell Americans the truth in 2008? The mess was the American society’s fault, yet you still blamed the CEOs, Wall Street, Republicans, because

    you needed a scapegoat. No politician tells Americans that they need to look in the mirror, that they are the one to blame, that the system, the society is to blame. Noone tells you them that American society is rotten, that

    you wage pointless wars, exploit numerous countries, while in your own country still a big portion of people live in poverty, where inequality rules, where

    there’s racism (despite Obama’s victory) and violence. So where are the riots in Washington? Who’s throwing stones? And don’t start with teabaggers, they’re

    the ones that are at fault of how things are. So how does that sound? Do I made some points? Yes. Did you make some points? Yes.

    But if we start to reason like that, we won’t come far. I mean, how about the personal responsibility? The one who threw the stones should be fine, because

    they can blame society for it? Seriously? Where are we, in Beijing 1989? This is Slovenia 2010 and we’ve came pretty far, we’re a small, but respectful

    country, we have a lot of room for improvement, agreed. We’re not a perfect society, but tell me which society is?

    What I don’t want to see is some drunk youngsters throwing stones into our historic Parliament building. Do you know how hard some of Slovenians fought to

    become democratic? And then you see these brainless morons throwing stones like it’s a kind of funny thing. Are you serious? It’s our parliament, there’s 2

    million of us and I don’t want to pay for the damage, I don’t feel responsible for these imbeciles. Would you like to see young drunk Americans throwing

    stones to the White House? Would you blame society for it? I wonder. I wonder if American cops would be as patient as ours.

    You say fuck the pigs. I say the cops yesterday are our heroes. And I’m not a fan of Slovenian cops, but you gotta give them credit, when they deserve it.

    I guess you just like to simplify and generalize things. But even though Slovenia is sometimes grey, things are still a bit more complex here. Don’t throw

    everyone into same batch, be it students, cops, politicians or other common Slovenians. Our society is small, but also very complex.

    Oh, and I’m one of those Slovenians, who was born in a poor and rural area and the system we have really helped me. If I had to pay for my studies, I’d

    probably never gotten my BA, but thanks to our system, I could. Yeah, I saw people abuse the system and I’m fine with tackling that, but if we turn our

    system into the American, then we’re doomed. If only rich people can study, then we’ll have same social problems like in the States and that’s far worse than

    some students not attending classes. And please don’t forget those like me who studied hard, never drank or partied, in order to get an education and have a

    better life. I’m grateful for that every day and I would never throw a stone into any government building. Justifying that act in this case is for me wrong,

    if not totally crazy.

  10. Hi Andrej,

    In 2008, I was already here in Slovenia, and at that time I was blaming a lack of oversight for the financial crash in the states and also agreeing with people like the great Jon Stewart who raked financial media over the coals for failure to alert the American people. I did not as you claim “the CEOs, Wall Street, Republicans” because I “needed a scapegoat”. I don’t need any scapegoat, these issues are (say it with me now) COMPLICATED. And, yes, American society with its instant gratification, credit card, fast food values IS to blame for the situation and American people and statesman from either sides of the political spectrum have even admitted as much.

    The Slovenian story of woe about how “hard” some people “fought” to gain democracy here falls on deaf ears where I am. Some democracy, huh? Slovenia is a country where voter turnout is next to zero percent and disillusionment has reached the point of high saturation. I bet more Slovenians would vote for Tito ‘s rotting corpse to run the place than for any of the people that graced any recent ballots. Let’s be honest, the Slovenian people wanted to get off the sinking ship that was Yugoslavia at that point, and a few brave souls and bureaucrats got together to work that deal out. Fine, great. However, it seems evident that they had no clear idea of which way to swim once they got off. The country is lucky to be floating in an EU dinghy but that thing can’t hold forever. Sorry, but this country is an absolute joke to me, and it is to most people in the world who can even be bothered to find it on a map. Frankly my faith in democracy has been pretty much completely dashed living here. If it can’t work in this small and homogeneous country, it has no chance in America….

    …so pulling America out of your hat to wave in my face as comparison is also really not worth your time. Why would anyone with any good taste hold themselves up the vulgarity of the American state? A country built on so many deplorable things? It is just bad form. So, in response to your question as to whether I’d like to see “young drunk Americans throwing stones to the White House?” Your answer is: YES, I CAN NOT WAIT.

  11. Camille, there’s one thing in your comment(s) I don’t think I understand: do you really mean students who have it better than you had deserve so much scorn? Sometimes, it sounds to me as if you wanted the same tough life for every student everywhere as yours was, a bit like the Communist motto “we should all be the same” 🙂 Please, explain.
    You know, I studied in Slovenia without having to pay scholarship and I still had to work hard and had little free time. Nowadays students in Germany have to pay scholarship and they work hard and have little free time. Not much difference, really. And there are still many students around who take it easy, just as they always were and did. But I’m not sure every country should inflict exactly the same amount of pressure and suffering upon its students, to create international equality. I think students should be allowed to enjoy life to some degree. So that at least a part of the population doesn’t turn bitter prematurely. It may sound silly but I am sure Slovenia could use a few relaxed people and moments…

    That said, I can’t believe the stupidity of those protests! The future intelligentsia 🙂 attacks the PARLIAMENT and threatens journalists (FREEDOM OF SPEECH anyone) if they carry on doing their job?
    I suggest a new obligatory school subject: democracy.

  12. Also, Andrej. Back to the point, I am not opposed to the government paying for students to attend university. What I am opposed to is the fact that many students are hanging out in university for up to ten years without even obtaining a degree. I am also opposed to the fact that students seem to get so much for free, such that the city of Ljubljana seems created for them. In fact, when many foreigners first come here, people often suggest that they try and hustle up a way to get a student card. There has to be some middle-ground. Get your free degree, work a little, hurry up and get out. It needs to be more efficient and streamlined than it is now.

  13. @ Camille : As usual, talk is cheap. I wonder why you would want to remain living and working in a country which you regard as an absolute joke. If you’re unhappy about the way things are(n’t) working in the U.S., why not climb the barricades yourself and put yourself at risk? You expect to do ‘young, drunk Americans’ to do your dirty work for you, i.e. venting your – and theirs – disappointment and frustrations by throwing stones at the White House, while you stay in this ‘joke of a country’, profiting of it, and criticising from your comfortable environment. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

    Sure, Slovenija has its faults, and my take on democracy is that it’s not working anywhere, so why single out Slovenija anyway? But the failure of democracy is also in large part facilitated by the American brand of capitalism and politics; there just is no denying this. And what we all are going through is the undoing of both systems. Through our living in the lap of luxury, being fat and malcontent, most people fail to see that we’re in throes akin to the Fall of the Roman Empire. It would take me too long to go into it, but the evidence is out there for all to see.

    And kids letting loose without so much as a valid reason is just some more evidence of that, in my book. But this could just as well have hapened anywhere in Europe – or America, so please spare me the sanctimonious attitude by which you declare Slovenija – and by a larger extent Europe, as the country is ‘floating in a European dinghy, which can’t hold forever’, according to you – democratically bankrupt. You seem to forget – except when referencing Tito, of course – that Slovenija is a relative new country, and working out the kinks of the old system will most likely need a new generation of politicians that, ironically, didn’t grow up in Yugoslavia. Inspite of yesterday’s behaviour, one would assume that not all of this teenage generation were present and some did have their heads screwed on right, busying themselves with what’s important : building their future. Let’s hope for Slovene politics that it will be those people who end up representing the country and will shape it further to the increased benefit of all its inhabitants, even if it will never be perfect. No government is and never will be. But it doesn’t make Slovenija a joke. Yesterday’s demonstration, though, was, albeit a rather lame one.

  14. @ARF – Also, my inability to profit much from this country (and watching other foreigners have such a dismal time trying to make their way in these inhospitable environment) is part of the reason why I am so averse to the place. Being new is no excuse, there is a whole bunch of valuable lessons other countries have learned the hard way that Slovenia the country could learn and profit from, but it doesn’t due to a mix of naivete, racism, ignorance, and conservativeness….among other things. I don’t hate this country, I just think it is on the totally wrong path and as a foreigner I am too politically disenfranchised to even begin to really tackle any of it outside the occasional argument on a blog. I’d do best to get back on turf where I can make some difference. Working on it…

  15. Actually, your assessment in the comment preceding mine is quite accurate. It is a good description of the typical situation of foreigners and people considered foreigners for certain reasons (wrong person in the wrong place). And I couldn’t agree more – you should really move on. Life’s better to some of us in other places.

    Unfortunately, your plight (and mine also) cannot be used as a reference system to describe most of other things going on in Slovenia. There are (logically) other situations and patterns that have to be considered and described from different points of view and within other systems. Which is why I’d be quite careful to compare my experiences as a student to those of today’s youth.

    Been there, done that – going away can be a really, really good solution. Just like you say.

  16. @ Camille – I of course sympathise with your frustration, if that’s what was being vented here. And if you’re convinced that leaving Slovenija is the way to go, by all means do. You should do what makes you happy (or, at least, happier).

    However, the things you sum up are rampant all over the world these days. In the past decade, there has been a significant move to the political right and hence conservatism and every negative aspect that goes with it. Slovenija’s no different than any other country in this respect, believe me. As you may know, I live in a country that’s on the verge of being split up in much the same way as Yugoslavia was, with the added concern that its capital – which is a national political battleground in itself – is the seat of the European Union. You don’t want to know how much conservatism, racism and ignorance is going on in the middle of Europe. And, telling you this as a bona fide Anglophile, you don’t even want to cross the Channel either, because it’s even much, much worse in the U.K (whose track record in these areas was never that great to begin with). And those are just a few examples.

    The one major issue I have with Slovenija is that the country doesn’t seem to harbour any international ambition. Most if not all websites – a reliable benchmark to measure this – I know of businesses, search engines or cultural events and places, are solely made up in Slovene and have no English mirror pages. Even a left wing, open cultural initiative as Metelkova, which could seriously benefit from international attention and cooperation to achieve its goals, is left sorely wanting in this area. And this while I’ve found most Slovenes I encountered, no matter on which side of the political fence they stood – to be very welcoming and inviting. If Slovenija wants to be a credible European and international partner, then that kind of protectionism – or, in the worst case, navel gazing – has to end. Inspite of all its shortcomings and its size, Slovenija has much to offer the world and it could benefit a lot from what the rest of the world has to offer, and I don’t mean they should allow a cultural and economic invasion. But a bit of international ambition and openness could go a long way towards securing the country’s future without sacrificing its identity (which is a sore point for me, personally, as a Fleming living in Belgium). The irony is that most people I discuss this with understand this, but there just doesn’t seem to be any momentum to break out. Maybe it’ll happen someday, but it will still rely on the generation that sought to rebel without a cause yesterday, which is why I expressed the hope that there were at least some teenagers who had their heads screwed on right, etc…

  17. Jeez camille, ok, you’re radical, but reading your blog and comments I doubt any country will make difference to you. You can move around the globe as long as you want but you cant escape your own issues and prejudgments, they travel with you. And you act very negative just about everywhere, so I’m not really suprised you get the kind of resposne you are reaping now.

  18. Nice policia in Ljubljana, most cities the teargas would hang thick al over the place and police beating all young people they see. Comes the cost off replace all windows with bulletprof glas-

  19. first time commenter.

    I just wanted to point out that the limit for malo delo is set at 672 hours per year. (yes, i understand that 178 per month was sarcastic. right?) at 5 euros an hour that totals at 3360 euros per year. subtract 14% fee of the temping agency and 29% tax, you’re left with … very little indeed. i don’t disagree with the idea of malo delo, but i think that, it being precarious work, it is too taxed and the hours are too limited.

    many students work so they can put themselves through university. actually, like some of my colleagues back in the day — and i was a student in the first half of the 1990s, when the great collapse of the steel industry and such occured — there might be students who support their entire families with their work. why complicate their lives with such limitations? it may not be that drastic: some subjects require fieldwork; good luck getting grants for that. either pay yourself or don’t go. your education might not suffer because of that, but your knowledge and enthusiasm certainly will.

    students do have several legitimate reasons for revolting. that said, i believe that in this case they were manipulated by študentske organizacije and servisi. not to mentioned three quarters of them were totally uninformed. not to mention half of them were drunk.

    i am, in fact, quite partial to an occasional stone thrown in the direction of the parliament, nad not just “because it’s there”. what else would you throw it at? (ok, a bank might be a possibility.) i would, however, much prefer if the said occasional stone were of, um, figurative nature.(if for no other reason, then because i am also very partial to the statues on the parliament façade.)

    what makes me very very sad, is that this kind of mobilisation only ever occurs when their wallets are in danger. in other words, when the bologna reform turned university into a post-secondary course in whateverology, they kept their trap shut. so yeah, fuck you, kids.

  20. Dr. Arf — I agree with everything you’ve said. As an internationally-minded foreigner here in this country, I’ve banged the drum, so to speak, about these issues since the day I got here and have seen very little progress. Frankly there’s nothing to be done if the natives themselves by and large don’t care. I look forward to the day that progress starts to be made in that area, but I fear what will become of my life if i stay here and wait around for it.

  21. @camille, You have some major issues.

    No comment, really…

    I think the only place you will ever be happy at is your imaginary bubble.
    So stay there, STFU and don’t shit on OUR country if you live in a biggest shithole on the planet. Yes, I have been in the States, and I have all the right to say that it is far from the country where all the dreams are supposed to come true. While the States are never going to gain that title again, Slovenia has all the abilities to do so. Imma check up on you 25 years from now, when you’ll be begging to come back to Slovenia…

    Plus, if you know nothing about what is really going on behind the stage, don’t play a host to a show you were never even invited to.

  22. @ohgee “don’t shit on OUR country if you live in a biggest shithole on the planet.”

    I live in Radovljica. it’s not THAT bad.
    if you’d read (and understood) my above comments you ‘d know that insulting america does not hurt my feelings one bit. my ancestors were brought there as slaves, so don ‘t come to me crying about how you visited america once and didn’t have as much on your vacation as you expected. whatever. yawn.

    also your xenophobia (“you were never even invited”) just illustrates my point about slovenia. good luck on this country becoming the place where “dreams are supposed to come true”. i truly do hope you succeed. i am always open to being proven wrong.

  23. OMG. how can anyone from the states even dare to argue about Democracy in Slovenia?? Your democracy is apparently to have rights to mess with other people’s business around the Globe.. How democratic was when you bombed the children hospital in Belgrade. I bet CNN and New yourk Times don’t report such things. I’m glad they raped your asses in nam’ We have a splendid phrase in Slovenia saying “najprej počisti pred svojim pragom”.

    >>democracy has been pretty much completely dashed living here. If it can’t work in this small and homogeneous country, it has no chance in America….<<

    You really should avoid talking about things you have no knowledge about.. it’s so typical of American people to have every small country for homogeneous.

    And unfortunately it seems to me that your negative opinion on slovenian people has something to do with the fact that you are african american. I bet the same group of children that has been throwing stones at the parliament is cracking jokes and screaming as you walk down the street but they are just children. I live near Radovljica and there’s not many african american people walking down the road in this part of the country, not even in Ljubljana. so you bring the attention, that’s just the way it is.. It’s like i would bring the attention in some god’s forsaken place in China or Africa. And slovenia IS a god’s forsaken place in Europe, deal with it! but hey, there still is two million of us, too few for you to find yourself a good company? I feel sorry for U. And, we do not live out of european budget, as the matter of fact we were better off before joining the EU. And we made a vast progress in past 19 years, we are one of the (if not the) wealthiest post socialist countries in the world! Your attitude is just ignorant and would totally suit to a texas redneck.. Your “commiefobia” is just unbelievable!

    it is so typical of you Americans to travel around the globe humiliating others who really try to make progress just to feel good about yourself. I think you actually enjoy your time in slovenia because first time in your life you can feel superior.

    How come your blog is all about how slovenia and especially slovenes sux and how racist we are.. is there really all that’s going on in your life? Is that all you have to say? not a single good word? you’re just about the most negative person! for you, not only that the glass is half full or half empty, it is dry in any case..

  24. Jan –

    Regarding America, I think my point has been lost in translation so I won’t even try arguing it any further with you in English. If you think I am a typical American, you know even less about America than you think.

    As for your acceptance of people’s racism towards me in Slovenia, well thanks for being another Slovenian person proving my point. My family IS from Africa, and from my travels there I know that while you could possibly draw attention to your self in Africa, people would not go out of their way to be rude or unkind to you. In fact, many would open their homes and doors to you and be happy you are there. Slovenians do not do this, and I understand many of the reasons why. I understand it and I accept it, but I don’t think foreigners should be expected to like it or live with it. It is humiliating and dehumanizing. Plain and simple.

    Not sure what “commiefobia” I displayed in anything I wrote…. I very much like socialized schools and healthcare and some of the rest, and don’t think that a call for more efficiency means I want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.

    As for my blog, have you really even read it? On the very first page I said many nice things about Slovenia. My blog is not a tourist website, it is my own biased view of the country, but I think the people who say my blog is just about Slovenia-bashing are people who simply don’t read it and are looking for someone/something to resent or feel victimized by. I won’t allow it, because it simply isn’t true.

  25. Wow, Camille really hit a hotspot with her comment.
    I must say I agree with many things she wrote, especially about the fact that our society produced the raging kids. I teach at one of the faculties in Ljubljana, and I must say the intellectual level of students is decreasing rapidly. I believe they should be more aware that the education is not your right (it is also our right), but mostly our privilege.

    And maybe this is where our society went wrong. And this is why Camille does not “feel sLOVEnia”. Lack of respect. And I do not mean respect in the old conservative sense. I mean respect in the sense of “allowing other people to be right, at least sometimes”.

    The comments “love it or leave it” are a prime example of this state of mind. So please, do not kill the messenger, but admit that we have quite a few unresolved issues…. and it is not getting better either.
    The argument “oh, but you have even more unresolved issues” is of course completely stupid.

    There are a few things I do not agree with Camille. Her statement: “… in my book any day is a good day to throw something at a cop, especially something heavy. Fuck the pigs. Honestly.” is incredibly naive and populistic.

  26. If i can throw my two cent in the mix; at any rally or gathering extreme voices are the loudest. As a student i think that “Malo delo” law is flawed, but do i support ŠOU or other power structures that serve no other purpose then self-indulgence? NO!
    All this demonstrations did, was reduce students to a group that is incapable of ration debate on the current problem of student labor. I would suspect the government orchestrating it, if i believe them capable of higher cognitive functions.
    On the SLO vs. USA front, why would you compare them, they are as different as they get. Things need changing here, but we need to do them at our pace and on our accord, or they wont mean anything.

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