Climate change, pollution, racism and an economic system built on debt: Millennials need to sort out my generation's mess – Jim Duffy

In a world awash with bad philosophy, the young generation is our main source of hope, writes Jim Duffy.

Protesters demand urgent action on climate change, one of a number of pressing problems facing the world, at a rally held before the coronavirus outbreak began (Picture: Chris Etchells)

Paul Weller and the Jam performed a song called Life from a Window. Not a bad wee tune. It’s one of those songs about slowing down and taking a good look at things. Taking the time to consider our own lives, those of our families, what is going on in the world and where we fit. I found myself having a ‘ponder’ week.

I started flicking through a whole load of stuff and up popped the philosophers. You know the ones I mean, Plato, Descartes, Foucault and Aristotle but also George Orwell, who wrote some very interesting stuff. So, having had a gander at what they all had to say, I thought I’d give it a go. After all, in today’s world we are told we can be anything we want right? So, here is my Life from a Window.

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Looking at fiat economies – and by that I mean countries that function and operate with their own currencies – I see a basket case of blind faith. When I was young I remember the local bank manager in Kilbirnie where I grew up. Mr Latter was a gem of a bloke. How do I know this? Well, my old man was not the best at handling money in his business and Mr Latter, I heard, guided and steered him a few times. But, in the 1970s, banks were local and just really getting their acts together after two big wars. Alas and sadly, the Mr Latters of their day have gone. And we should all be worried.

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The local versus global in finance is actually killing off the banking industry. And it is an industry. Gold is no longer the asset banks use to trade. No, it is debt. Mr Latter has been replaced, first by call centres and very soon artificial intelligence bots that cost nothing. Soon banks will be very robotic in how they interact with us and the fiat currencies they trade worthless. Now, because I’m saying that it doesn’t really have any true gravitas. But if Plato had said it, we would all be listening to this wise man. And that is the problem, there is too much white noise and opinion these days. And white noise muddies our thinking and our perspective.

Trust me when I say that the whole financial system is pegged to the US dollar. And right now dollars are being printed as if there is no tomorrow. Let me evidence this for you. In 1970, the US national debt was $343 billion. Today it sits at $26.1 trillion. US unemployment is rising faster than anytime in history and the big banks are cutting staff globally as they struggle to turn a decent profit.

I’m no John Maynard Keynes or Max Weber, but the view from this window looks very unnerving.

Next up from my window is the human condition. More specifically, how we have unlearned how to listen. And here I plead guilty. Social media, mass communications, big tech and powerful individuals (be careful, I’ve been reading about Trotsky and Cabet) can shape our opinions and perspectives on life. I often hear people say “oh she’s a Guardian reader” or “he gets his news from the Daily Mail”. I watch as celebrities and famous people vent on social media, but fail to expound any powerful argument. It is truly worrying. And it is happing daily.

Who can “shout” the loudest, while throwing out wild arguments with no grounds or substance then jump-starts an army of Facebook and Twitter warriors, who now thrive on malcontent and vitriol.

And each week and month and year is getting even more colourful and dishonest. Here is where I think we could do better if we listened more intently and widely to a broader church of media outlets. It is as quick as we can react, type and get a reply or view out there. And the worst bit is friends, family and colleagues can see it all. And this causes them to take a side.

You can see there is a lot going on outside my window. But, I’m closing my ears to the white noise and keeping focused.

So where does the hope come from? Where is the light to shine in my window and help me make sense of what could be? The good news is there is light and as always it is called... youth. They are referred to as millennials, Generation Y and Z. But, these younger folks have the energy and wisdom to change the world to a better version of the one we have created, allowed and permitted.

Oh yes, it feels much brighter already. They won’t stand for global pollution of the seas with micro-plastics. They won’t let airlines pollute the skies with soot from thousands of jet engines every day. They won’t allow billionaires to have statues erected because they gave money to governments or universities. They won’t discriminate or classify a person because of the name they have. They won’t accept big oil pumping the world dry so corporate America or Russia can produce oligarchs. No, they will look at the world from their own windows and see a very different vista.

And now I feel a bit better having travelled down my philosophy week. From Bloody Sunday inquiries to Grenfell inquiries to Black Lives Matter inquiries, this generation has not learned enough or taken the time to reflect on what is right. Sadly, it is always hindsight. But, the next lot have the chance to do a better job.

By the way, in the hour it has taken me to write this piece, the US national debt has jumped $300 million. They need to act fast…

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