Monthly Archives: March 2015

Theories about How to Change the System

Uprisings like Egypt’s Tahrir Square inspired other protesters around the planet. The Arab Spring developed a new post-Islamist and post-ideological struggle with techniques such as protest art and social media passed on to other activists. Syrians used flash mobs to gather for ten minutes and then leave before security forces, learned from previous struggles. The Spanish indignados’ slogan “They don’t represent us” echoed the Argentina cry in 2001 “All of them must go,” referring to politicians. Arditi concluded, “So even in failure, if we measure failure by the absence of a plan for a future society, insurgencies will have had a measure of success.” As Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos observed, “The struggle is like a circle; you can start anywhere, but it never ends.” The Internet era of Web 2.0 created a template for youth of interactive horizontal organizing as modeled by the Zapatistas. John Holloway (Irish professor in Mexico) and others believe that revolution happens in local cracks in the system as the Zapatistas demonstrate.

However, others believe that more organization is needed on a national level. European leftist thinkers like Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek worry that the fetishism of horizontality condemns recent uprisings to the brief influence of a flash mob in contrast to the more lasting impact of a progressive political party like SYRIZA in Greece or in Podemos in Spain. Slavoj Zizek follows Marx in believing that revolution requires a strong central state like the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. No revolution is possible without a vanguard that devotes their lives to revolution, agrees US writer Chris Hedges. He observes that all uprisings, even supposedly leaderless ones, in fact have visionary leaders whose ideals continue past particular revolts. He gives examples of US revolutionist groups, listed in the endnote.[i] Hedges maintains that “a viable socialism” must be develop to counter “corporate tyranny.” He believes corporate power is so entrenched, “Revolt is the only option left. . . . If we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists,” a right-wing backlash like Christian fascism could occur instead.[ii] He advocates sustained civil disobedience to overthrow the plutocracy.

A middle ground between the anarchists and vanguardists is explained by American Murray Bookchin’s essays collected in The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (2015).[iii] He evolved from being a communist to anarchist to “communalist” who advocates “libertarian municipalism.” In The Third Revolution (1996) he concluded that revolutionary change couldn’t happen in the cracks with co-ops and free schools as Simon Critchley and John Holloway advocated. Nor would it happen if progressive parties like the German Greens assume power because they have to compromise their values to stay in power. He referred to the global justice and other movements as “festivals of the oppressed” that didn’t provide a plan to change inequality. His review of the history of revolutions led Bookchin to focus on the impactful examples of municipal neighborhood assemblies such as the Paris commune of 1871 or Spanish collectives in 1936. He envisioned institutionalized local assemblies linking with others in confederations that would end state power. In the 1970s he suggested that the assemblies use affinity groups, spokes-councils and prefigurative politics, later adopted in the Occupy movements. His ideas are currently being applied in Kurdish villages in Northern Syria called Rojova discussed in Chapter 5. He talked with Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan several years before Bookchin’s death in 2006. Öcalan switched from a Marxist ideology to the non-statist libertarian approach that he named Democratic Confederalism being applied today.

[i] Chris Hedges, “Why We Need Professional Revolutionists,” TruthDig, November 24, 2014.

Popular Resistance,

Fight for the Future,

Backbone Campaign,

Rising Tide North America,

United Workers,

Vermont Workers’ Center,

Veterans for Peace,

[ii] Chris Hedges, “Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America,” Truth Dig, September 19, 2014.

A video:

[iii] Federico Venturini, “Bookchin: Living legacy of an American Revolutionary,” ROAR Magazine, February 28, 2015.

Scandinavia Best Model for Happiness

The recent youth-led uprisings’ horizontal organizing was effective in ousting old dictators, but not in establish democratic governments to replace them. The young activists agree that socialist countries like China don’t provide a model to emulate and focus on local DIY self-help. But Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway provide models of how to create equality and break the power of the oligarchic 1%, while also encouraging private enterprise with mixed economies. They don’t permit poverty to exist, aim for full employment and gender equality, and education and health care is free. The Social Progress Index ranks countries, not by GDP, but quality of life factors such as health, access to education, religious freedom and personal safety.[i] In 2013 the top countries were New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. The Scandinavians were in the top ten while various African countries were in the bottom. In Denmark, Carl (15) reports that university students get paid to get an education, about the equivalent of $1,500 USD a month. However, he thinks the payment should be reduced and more spent on social welfare and defense.

Sweden was called the “rock star of the recovery” after the Great Recession, until the Riksbank raised interest rates, creating deflation and stagnation.[ii] Swedish professors acknowledge that because of neoliberal policies, “even the Swedish welfare state “shed its skin” in an “epoch shift.”[iii] Without adequate social support, unemployed immigrant youth have rioted in Sweden, as well as progressive Denmark, Holland, Germany, and France igniting opposition from right-wing nationalist political parties with increasing numbers of supporters. Although university is free in Sweden, graduates still accumulate debt to pay for living costs as most don’t live with their parents, and youth unemployment is higher than the UK’s. Aging populations present economic challenges along with increasing inequality.

A British critic married to a Dane, Michael Booth says of the homogeneous Nordic countries, “These societies function well for those who conform to the collective median, but they aren’t much fun for tall poppies. Schools rein in higher achievers for the sake of the less gifted; ‘elite’ is a dirty word; displays of success, ambition or wealth are frowned upon.”[iv] He ironically named his book The Almost Perfect People: Behind the Myth of Scandinavian Utopia (2014). Despite their imperfections he concludes they provide the best model of governments that lead happy citizens, “enviably rich, peaceful, harmonious, and progressive.”[v] One of the key contributions to happiness is a feeling of autonomy and ability to rise up the economic ladder. He explained the historical background that led to this egalitarianism, mutual trust, social cohesion, economic and gender equality, rationalism, and modesty. As agrarian populations, they learned to work together and essential to social mobility is excellent free education and social welfare programs.

In the 1930s, labor movements organized general strikes and boycotts and Social Democrats were elected to lead parliament for three decades before Conservatives returned to the ruling coalition in Sweden and Norway.[vi] Many European youth would like to experience the Scandinavian model—despite high youth unemployment in countries like Sweden (23% in 2013). However, the recession doesn’t allow replication of the nanny state of cradle to grave security, as the Scandinavian model is “based notably on high employment rates and huge state-financed aid for students.”[vii]


[ii] Paul Krugman, “Sweden Turns Japanese,” New York Times, April 20, 2014.

[iii] Philip Lalander and Ove Sernhede, “Social Mobilization or Street Crimes,” Educare, 2011.;jsessionid=68FA047C639675D4F8D8622D0AFA23D4?sequence=2

[iv] Michael Booth, “Dark Lands: The Grim Truth Behind the ‘Scandinavian Miracle,’” The Guardian, January 27, 2014.

[v] Michael Booth. The Almost Perfect People. Picador, 2014, pp. 367-369.

[vi] George Lakey, “How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 percent,’” Waging Nonviolence, January 25, 2012. r

[vii] Matias Garrido, “Young Europeans would Like to be Scandinavian,”, January 28, 2009.

Lorenza Antonucci, “Is Sweden Perfection?” Inequalities, March 2, 2011.

US Government Training Youth Activists Globally

Anti-Communist US Government Training of Youth Activists

The US government funds pro-conservative democracy organizations, leading to charges that the CIA uses youth groups to foment rebellions such as the 2004 coup in Haiti, the 2009 coup in Honduras, the Solidarity Movement in Poland in 1917, well-known ongoing efforts to overthrow the Castro brothers in Cuba and the Arab Spring. The American democracy promotion campaign dates back to the 1980s, when Poland’s Solidarity movement was a beneficiary. A New York Times article lists some of the groups funded by the government-funded International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House: the April 6 Youth Movement, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and individuals such as Entsar Qadhi, a Yemeni young woman activist. WikiLeaks diplomatic cables revealed that Middle Eastern leaders vehemently protested the work of these groups to destabilize their governments, especially Mubarak and his son Gamel. For example, a 2006 cable from an official in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested to American Embassy officials about the US government’s “arrogant tactics in promoting reform in Egypt.”[i] A New York Times article quoted Stephen McInerney, director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, an advocacy and research group. Commenting on the Arab Spring, he said, “We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking. That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.”

Washington Times reporter Charles Hanley maintained that, “the USAID grants, from an $800 million budget for developing ‘political competition’ and ‘civil society’ in 67 nations, that have proved vital to activists in a half-dozen Arab lands, from Morocco to Yemen.”[ii] For example, the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in New York City in 2008 was organized by the US State Department, Google, Facebook, MTV, etc.. Young activists were trained to use social networking to promote democracy. Hanley reported that since 2005 an estimated 10,000 Egyptians participated in USAID programs sponsored by 30 Egyptian and international organizations.

Professor Julia Buxton reported that US interests that oppose socialism decided to use students as their new tool, focusing on students in private universities as the leaders of “democracy promotion.”[iii] She stated that a large amount of the $45 million annual funding to opposition groups went to “youth outreach” programs such as Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (JAVU) mobilized after 2010. The 2014 student movement joined with López and Machado in the Salida/exit campaign in “frenzied” Twitter activity using photos of police violence from other countries as if they were in Venezuela.

It’s well known that the CIA manipulated regime change around the world; perhaps the best known is the Pinochet coup in Chile[iv] and recent USAID efforts to destabilize Cuba with a Twitter-like program. The most recent accusation is that the CIA was involved in an attempted coup against Venezuelan socialist President Madero in 2015. Author Frances Stonor Saunders charged in Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Lectures that the CIA funded the non-communist left since the late 1960. through pass-through organizations: the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the US Institute of Peace, the Ford Foundation, The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, CANVAS (Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). WikkiLeaks showed that CANVAS was working for Stratfor to destabilize Venezuela.

Gene Sharp’s advice about how to use non-violent tactics is widely used to train activists globally. His Albert Einstein Institution is housed in Sharp’s Boston home, with a small annual budget, and only one assistant–evidence given by those who dismiss changes of working for the CIA in an ongoing debate about his funding.[v] Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institute states on the website, “From Dictatorship to Democracy was first published in Burma in 1993. It has since been translated into at least 34 other languages and was used by the campaigns of Serbia’s Otpor, Georgia’s Kmara, Ukraine’s Pora, Kyrgyzstan’s KelKel and Belarus’ Zubr.” Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments also used his writings during the breakup of the USSR. Lithuanian Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius was quoted on the website; “I would rather have this book [Civilian Based Defense] than the nuclear bomb. The Albert Einstein Institution is housed in Sharp’s Boston home, with a small annual budget, and only one assistant– evidence given by those who dismiss changes of working for the CIA.[vi] However, his board of directors has links to the US military or pass-through foundations and he has received funding from CIA-linked foundations and the Defense Department, according to Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, author of a free ebook 21st Century Revolution.[vii] She next traced CIA involvement in the Arab Spring, pointing to evidence in L’Arabesque Americaine by Ahmed Bensaada, 2011.[viii]

The next wave of social activism surfaced in the late 1990s including queer rights, indigenous rights, China’s Tiananmen Square protests for democracy, global justice, food rights, and alternative media that became part of the Global Left. The thousands of global justice protesters at IMF, WTO, G8 summits and World Social Forums are listed in an article titled “Turtles, Puppets and Pink Ladies.”[ix] The World Social Forum was formed in 2001 to counter the World Economic Forum representing the 1% that meets annually in Devos, Switzerland. The former provides networking for left-wing organizations against what’s been called “turbo-capitalism,” “casino capitalism,” and McWorld. Many of the WSF participants are students and educators.

A Spanish observer believes that The 15M movement’s use of media to inform and work with other nationalities is, “forging a new internationalist movement, as far-reaching as the workers movement of the late 19th century, but endowed with an historically unmatched set of tools and connectivity.”[x] The youth uprisings are international in the similarity of their goals and horizontal organizing, their sharing of information and support on social media, and also face-to-face assistance. “Global revolution” is a term used by Occupy Wall Street, a Spanish university, etc. Egyptian revolutionary leaders studied organizing techniques in Serbia and the US. The Egyptians “woke us up,” said one Greek demonstrator, and Spanish M-15 occupations inspired discussions about how to do the same in Greece, resulting in the occupation of Syntagma Square ten days later. Some say protests started in Athens when Spanish students organized a sit-in in front of their embassy.

Chile sent leaders to assist the Mexican students who organized Yo Soy 132. Egyptians and Serbians came to New York to help Occupy Wall Street leaders and Egyptians supported Wisconsin demonstrators against Governor Scott Walker before that. To support Turkey, Tasksim solidarity camps formed in Athens, Berlin and New York. Other than USAID “democracy training” programs for young people around the world, the most international outreach is CANVAS and it has monetary ties to US agencies and companies. This training center is led by Serbian Otpor revolutionaries who ousted President Slobodan Milošević in 2000.

Regional differences do occur as seen in repeated phrases used by activists specific to regions:

MENA and other Islamic countries: Allahu Akbar (God is Great), and Insha’ Allah (God willing) in the region with the most focus on religion.

North America: “We’re the 99%,” indicating the focus on economic inequality.

Europe: “It’s the system,” and “Enough!” an outcry against neoliberal capitalism.

Latin America: Horizontallsm and we’re creating a new human in a new society.

Russia: Putin is a tiger. (A positive for some, a negative for activists.)

China: Human rights

Africa: African solutions for African problems.

[i] Ron Nixon, “U.S. Groups Helped nurture Arab Uprisings,” New York Times, April 14, 2011.

[ii] Charles Hanley, “US Training Quietly Nurtured Young Arab Democrats,” The Washington Post, March 13, 2011.

[iii] Julia Buxton, “Venezuela: The Real Significance of the Student Protests,” Latin American Bureau, February 20, 2014.–-student-protests

[iv] Peeter Kornbluh, “CIA Acknowleddges Ties to Pinochet’s Repression,” The National Security Archive, September 19, 2000.

[v] Stephen Zunes, “Attacks on Gene Sharp and Albert Einstein Institute Unwarranted,” Huff Post Politics, February 21, 2015.

[vi] Stephen Zunes, “Attacks on Gene Sharp and Albert Einstein Institute Unwarranted,” Huff Post Politics, February 21, 2015.

[vii] Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “Why the CIA Funds Nonviolence Training,” Dissent Voice, March 13, 2012.

[viii] Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “The CIA Role in the Arab Spring,” blog, January 18, 2014.

[ix] Agnieszka Paczynska, “Turtles, Puppets and Pink Ladies: The Global Justice Movement in a Post-9/11 World,” Center for Global Studies, August 1, 2008.

[x] Michel Bauwens, “Spain’s Micro-Utopias: The 15M Movement and its Prototypes, P2P Foundation, May 25, 2013.

Comparing North American Youth with the Rest of the World

Regional Differences


To look at regional differences, the top responses are listed when more than 10% of the region named that category. The regions are: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Western Europe and Australia and New Zealand (W. Eur), former USSR (USSR), Indian subcontinent includes Pakistan (India), East Asia (E Asia), Latin and Central America (L Amer), North America (NA, 1740 responses) and total without NA (W for World, 2408 responses). Asterisk * indicates differences in NA and W responses. Percentages are small because there were many answers.

Because North Americans (NA) gave many (1740) responses, compared to 2408 from other regions, which I’ll call World, we will look at differences between the two groups in their answers to the 12 questions. The exact percentages are listed below.

Question 1: World is more than twice as likely to ask about death and the afterlife and their personal success.

2) World is more bothered by school and NA is more bothered by their friends and more stressed.

3) NA wants adults to be more understanding and less strict and know-it-all. World faults adults for bad behavior and habits.

4) World is more likely to say they should work harder at school and NA is more focused on changing their appearance than World.

5) NA is more likely to mention playing sports for fun and World is more likely to mention hanging out with friends. Watching TV was only mentioned by a few young people; they are more likely to mention reading and writing.

6) NA is more likely to feel loved by their families and girl or boyfriend. World feels more loved in difficult times than NA. Both regions are more likely to mention feeling loved by their mothers than their fathers.

7) Both regions are more likely to mention altruistic reasons for living (NA, 42%, W. 31%) than personal goals for success or happiness (NA, 26.5%, W 23%). More don’t know their purpose in NA but NA is also slightly likely to mention worshiping God.

8) World is more likely to rank their schools as excellent, but otherwise the regions were similar in their ranking. 9) The criteria for how they ranked their schools are also similar, but with World more likely to mention good academics and a bad environment, and NA more likely to criticize too many school rules.

10) The most popular career choice is medical professional, more so in NA. World is more likely to say they want to help in their future careers (16% vs. 4%). Less than one percent of all the respondents said they wanted to be rich or a housewife.

11) NA is more concerned about the economy and taxes, peace and the environment, while World is more concerned about youth issues like education, poverty, and corruption.

12) NA is more likely to cope with stress by changing attitude, while World is more likely than NA to turn to spirituality and entertainment.



Question 1. What would you ask the wisest person?

Most likely to ask about the meaning of life: NA (32%), W. Eur (30.5%), and India (23%), followed by 22% in C. Asia, MENA, and E. Asia

Personal success: E Asia (22%), SSA (21%), W Eur (20%).

Science: L Amer (17%), SSA (12%)


*Death: W 20.5%, NA 10%

*Personal success: W 23%, NA 9%,

About the wise person: World 21%, NA 19%,

Meaning of life: NA 22%, W 22%


  1. What bothers you often?

School: USSR (37%), N Amer (24%), E Asia (23%)

Human nature: L Amer (37%), India (20%), SSA (17%)

Friends: USSR, India, C Asia each 10%

Worry about future: E Asia (10%)


*School W 23%, NA 13%,

*Friends: NA 13%, W 8%

*Stress: NA 10%, W 4%

Human nature: 11%, W 10%


  1. Change about adults

Too bossy: L Amer (26%), MENA (25%), C Asia (15%), SSA (12%

More understanding: MENA (17%), SSA (13%), C Asia (10.5%)

Arrogance: NA (16%), MENA (13.5%), USSR (12.5%), India (12%)

Negative traits: India (15%), NA (16%)

Bad behaviors: India (13%)

Nothing: W Eur (13%)


*Too bossy: NA, 25%, W, 9%

*More understanding: NA, 17%, W 7%

*Bad habits and behavior: W, 16%, NA, 3%

Arrogance: NA, 13.5%, W, 11%

Nothing: NA, 9%, W, 4%


  1. Change about self

Nothing: W Eur (32%), L Amer (20%), MENA (13%), India (12%)

Appearance: MENA (22%), L Amer (21%), SSA (16.5%), C Asia (13%), USSR (11.5%)

Work harder in school: USSR (17.5%), E Asia and NA (15%), C Asia (12%)


*Work harder at school: W, 13%, NA, 4%

*Appearance: NA, 22%, W, 9%

Personality traits: W, 50%, NA, 43%

Nothing: NA, 13%, W 9%


  1. Do for fun

Hang out with friends: L Amer (41%), W Eur (31%), SSA (28%), India (24.5%), E Asia (22%), NA (19%), C Asia (18%), MENA (15%)

Sports: MENA (28%), USSR and C Asia (21%), L Amer (17%), India           (13%)

Music: USSR(22%), NA (21%), C Asia (14%), MENA and W Eur (11%), India (10%)

Electronic games, Internet: SSA and India (12%), NA (11%), MENA (10%)


*Sports: NA, 28%, W, 15%

Friends: W, 20%, NA, 15%,

Music, Dancing: W, 17%, NA, 11%

Electronic play: NA, 10%, W, 8%

Movies: NA, 6%, W 2.5%

Reading & writing: NA, 6%, W, 6%

TV: W, 4%, NA, 0.6%


  1. Feel loved

Always: W Eur (24%), SSA (13%)

Difficult times: USSR (36%), India (21%), C Asia (19%), NA (13%), SSA (12%), MENA (11%)

Family: L Amer (15.5%)

Birthday and holidays: NA (16%), USSR and MENA (14%)

Friends: India (12%)

Mother: L Amer (14%), India and NA (10%)

My birth: W Eur (12%)


*Family: NA, 35.5%, W, 24% (more love from mother than father (NA 10% vs. 2%, W 5% vs. 1%)

*Difficult times: W, 21%, NA, 11%

*Boy/girlfriend: NA, 10%, W, 3%

Friends: W, 7%, NA, 5%


  1. Life purpose

Good works: E Asia (44%), NA (38%), India (36%), W Eur (34%), C Asia (30%), SSA (21%), E Eur (19%), L Amer (16%)

Worship God: India (36%), SSA (30%), C Asia (15%), MENA and W. Eur (10%)

Don’t know: L Amer (27%), MENA (13%), W Eur (11%)

Help family: E Eur (19%), NA (12%)

Be happy: L Amer (12%)

Do my best: L Amer (12%), W Eur (11%)


Good works: NA, 42%, W. 31%

*Don’t know: NA, 17%, W, 9%

*Help parents and country: W, 16%, NA, 4%

Personal goals: NA, 26.5%, W 23%

Religion: W, 15%, NA 10%


  1. Rate school

91-100: W Eur and USSR (34%), SSA (31%), C Asia (25%), NA (24%), India and C Asia (20%), MENA (16%)

81-90: USSR (23%), E Asia and India (21%), MENA (20%), W Eur (15%), L Amer (12%)

71-80: MENA (22%), E Asia and W Eur (21%), C Asia (19%), India (18%), USSR (16.5%)

61-70: L Amer (18.5%), India (13%)

51-60: India (12%), MENA (10%)

41-50: L Amer (22%), MENA (13%), C Asia (11%), W Eur (10%)



91-100: W, 28%, NA, 16%

81-90: NA, 20%, W 20%

71-80: NA, 22%, W, 18%

61-70: W, 10%, NA, 6%

51-60: NA, 10 %, W, 6%

41-50: NA, 13%,W, 11%


  1. Reason for school rating

Good teachers: W Eur (28%), India (25%), E Asia (23%), L Amer (22%), C Asia and SSA (18%), USSR (15%)

Bad teachers: L Amer (29%), SSA (12%)

Good academics: India (21%), E Asia (19%), SSA (14.5%), USSR (13.5%), C Asia (12%), NA (10%)

Bad academics: SSA (18%), W Eur (14%)

Good students: W Eur (14%)

Good activities: L Amer (13%)

Good environment: E Asia (13%)

Bad environment: L Amer (12%), SSA (11%), W Eur (10%)

Good environment: E Asia (13%)


*Good academics: W, 14%, NA, 6%

*Bad environment: W, 18%, NA 9%

*Too many rules: NA, 8%, W, 2%



Good teachers: NA, 20%, W, 18%

Good environment: W, 9%, NA, 9%

Bad students: NA, 8%, W, 6%


  1. Career goal

Do good: E Asia (23%), India (11%)

Craft, blue collar: L Amer (24%), MENA (12%)

Medical: MENA (20%), India (17%), NA (16%), SSA (13%), E Asia (11%), W Eur (10%)

Teacher: USSR (19%), W Eur (13%)

Business: NA (14.5%), SSA (14%), W Eur (11%), E and C Asia (10%)


*Medical professional: NA, 20%, W, 13%

*Do good, social work: W, 16%, NA, 4%

Business: W, 10%, NA, 4%

Blue collar, craft: NA, 12%, W, 6%

Entertainer & athlete: NA, 14%, W, 9%

Teacher: W, 10.5%, NA, 5%,


Be rich: NA, 0.5%, W, 0.1%

Housewife: NA, 0.5%, W, 0.1%


  1. Change about government

Corruption: USSR (28%), C Asia (20%), India (19%), E Asia (14%), NA and C Asia (11%)

Youth issues like education: NA (23%), L Amer (16%), SSA (11%)

Improve economy: W Europe (19%), USSR and C Asia (12%)

Children’s rights: W Eur (16.5%), L Amer (11%)

Peace: MENA (15%), India (11.5%)

Poverty: USSR (16%), SSA and E and C Asia (12%), NA (11.5%), India and W Europe (10%)

Infrastructure: India (13%)

Criminal issues: SSA (10%)


*Develop the economy or change taxes: NA, 21%, W, 11%

*Youth issues like education: W, 21%, NA, 11%

*Environment: NA, 13%, W, 8%

*Peace: NA, 15%, W, 7.5%

Infrastructure: W, 6%, NA, 1%

Corruption: W, 12%,

Poverty: W, 13%, NA, 5%


  1. Cope with stress

Music: USSR (23%), L Amer (22%), SSA and NA (20%), India and C Asia (15%), E Asia (10%)

God: India (17%)

Sleep: USSR (14.5%)

Meditate: E Asia (13%), L AMer (10%)

Avoid: L Amer and W Eur (12%)

Friends: L Amer (12%)

Sports: L Amer (12%)

Positive thinking: SSA (10%)

Keep busy: W Eur (10%)


*Change attitude: NA, 27%, W, 15%

*Spirituality: W, 16.5%, NA, 7%

*Entertainment: W, 19%, NA, 8%

Take action: NA, 15%, W, 14%

Exercise: NA, 25%, W., 23%

Social support: NA, 16%, W, 13%


3/4 parliaments no legislators under 30, Norway and Denmark best

Although most countries allow citizens to vote at age 18, three-quarters of parliaments have no members in their 20s.[i] Only one country, Norway, has more than 10% members of parliament under age 30 (next highest are Denmark with 9% and Cuba with 6%) Although youth quotas could insure more equitable representation, few countries have them. Only one-third of young legislators are women, according to a survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union that created a Forum of Young Parliamentarians in 2013. The 2014 survey found that about one-third of the nearly 100 responding countries have youth parliaments.

[i] “Youth Participation in National Parliaments,” Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2014.

Click to access youth_en.pdf

Gender Differences Teen Brains

A neuroscientist, Frances Jensen explained that teenage girls’ brains are more connected across hemispheres, they have superior language abilities compared to boys—about a year and a half ahead in their development, they may be ahead in the connections between the emotional and intellectual parts of the brain, they do as well as boys on math tests and have higher average SAT scores.[1]

[1] Frances Jensen with Amy Ellis Nutt. The Teenage Brain. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 228.


What determines student activism?

What determines university students’ political mobilization in an era when about a quarter of young people of their age group are university students? Editors of a book on Student Activism in Asia (2012), researching student social movements post-war to the early 21st century, found university student activism is inconsistent with periods of activity and inactivity. Most are liberal, aiming for democracy, but some movements are right wing or religious. Even in peak periods, most students are not involved although they are often gathered together on urban campuses, they’re taught to think critically, they don’t have families to support, and they’re usually allowed some form of student government organization. Student power is based on self-identity as an activist, influenced by the university system, the government, other social movements and allies, and the national economic development.[1] As democracy spreads, universities expand, and international models fade, these forces oppose massive student movements. Like other scholars, they didn’t predict the youth-led uprisings of 2011.

The post-colonial expansion of access to universities replacing a few elite universities led to a decrease in activism as students no longer felt privileged by their special status to monitor their governments. Also, more graduates are associated with more competition for jobs and more unemployment, and therefore more caution about challenging the status quo. Some movements encouraged students in other countries and participated in international student organizations, but their activism was mainly localized. The waves identified by Weiss and Aspinall are a leftist egalitarian wave during the Cold War from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, a New Left wave protesting government emphasis on economic development starting in the late 1960s to the 1980s, and a wave for democracy in opposition to authoritarian regimes beginning in the 1980s in a period of massification of the university system. Transnationalism was made more difficult by censorship of student media. Weiss and Aspinall reported a decline in the power of student protests in the last two decades.[2] Student movements are most likely to arise when other political forces are repressed: “Authoritarian regimes and student protest are often entwined in a fateful embrace.”[3] Their research would explain student activism of 2011 and beyond as enabled by spread of social media that exposed the corruption of ruling regimes and enabled protesters to learn from their peers around the world.

[1] Weiss and Aspinall, p. 28.

[2] Weiss and Aspinall, p. 281.

[3] Weiss and Aspinall, p. 282.