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.