Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Violent Young Men

I posted previously on the sad destruction of the Mirabelle restaurant in Mayfair. It had been colonised by loutish hedgefunders, possessed of money and nothing else. Over at the Movida club, meanwhile, the City bonus slobs buy methusaleh's of Cristal champagne at £24,000 a shot and spray £4,500 jeroboams of the stuff over each other. Table bills go up to £100,000. The wise Frank Wilson, co-founder of the Failed Intellectuals Society, observed of my Mirabelle post that the problem with capitalism is capitalists. I agree. But, hitherto, I have regarded the barbarity of these people as simply an unfortunate necessity, the grim underpinnings of civilisation and culture. They work so I can think. Fair enough. After the Mirabelle, however, I find myself less tolerant. Why can't they do something with their money other than spend it? Anyway - a bit of a leap here, but bear with me - in the FT Christopher Caldwell makes an interesting demographic point about the current violence within the Palestinian territories. Its cause, he argues, is the excessive number of young men. When 15 to 29 year olds make up more than 30 per cent of the population, violence happens. This seems to be true throughout the developing world in which 900 million sons were born between 1988 and 2002. I am sceptical of all attempts to invent laws about human behaviour, but this feels convincing. It becomes even more convincing when you observe the young men in the Mirabelle or at Movida. They don't kill each other, they spray each other with champagne and they trash once decent restaurants. No big bill at Movida has ever been paid by a woman. Civilisation, it seems, rests on a society's abililty to find something stupid, pointless and not too violent for young men to do.

16 comments:

  1. Ah Brokers the new almost idle rich. In poor countries the Champagne of choice is the AK-47. A world of gainfully employed youth now there's a concept!

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  2. I would have thought that the number of young men, in itself, is not a significant factor. Rather it is their circumstances, or social milieu, that is instrumental. For example,large numbers of young men living in an area of disadvantage may exibit violent behaviour for a variety of reasons all connected to the social conditions they find themselves in. These hardly need restating here. Those from more affluent backgrounds will resort to boorish, violent behaviour for different reasons and generally in more restrained, socially acceptable ways. In essence, there is a world of difference, causally, qualitatively, and consequentially, between the loutish behaviour of the monied yobs you refer to, Bryan, and the young men in a war zone or poverty black-spot. That said, I could be missing the point. My instinct is to defend young people. I work with and on behalf of them and they get a bad press.

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  3. Could one of those loutish hedgefunders live for a thousand years? That's a sobering thought. Gave into the the hard-sell today and ordered your book. It had better be exceedingly good, Bryan, or you'll be hearing from me.

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  4. Young men have been deprived of responsibility in the modern western world and the masculine virtues diminished in importance. Why should young men behave with dignified self-restraint if they aren't valued for it?

    As for the money brokers, I can't see why you should be surprised at, or censorious about their behaviour, they are like mayflies, ephemeral creatures whose glory lasts but a moment. Better pity them - they've learned nothing, despite their money.

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  5. I'd have to agree with Shifty regarding the young people of the Palestine. Sometimes the two sides to every stry doesn't quite ring true, as for example in the case of the Jews under the Nazis. Such an analogy doesn't seem to be stretching things unduly regarding Palestinians under Israeli occupation. A letter sent by Albert Einstein in 1948 to the New York Times is quite apt still, I think.
    "Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the Freedom Party (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

    The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin�s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

    Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin's behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

    The public avowals of Begin�s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future."

    How reality went to justify Einstein's claims is quite easily verified, and the Palestinians suffered and suffer under a regime that to quote the first PM of Israel, Menachen Begin, viewed them as "two legged beasts", "deserving of collective punishment."

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  6. Isn't it time to block Andrew in the comments? He feels compelled to comment on every piece by you and, unfortunately, he is V-E-R-Y B-O-R-I-N-G.

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  7. Harsh, Recusant. I don't block, but I do on the whole favour shorter posts and comments as that, I think, is the way blogs read. Andrew is one of my loyal band and will remain unblocked. The answer to your complaint is to get more people to comment.

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  8. Recusant, I think that is more than a little rude. What Andrew has to say may be of no interest to you, but that is certainly not the case for most of the other regular contributors to Bryan's blog.

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  9. You have something there, Bryan. We have 58% girls now and it's generally accepted as being less shootings-and-muggings-in-the-street and more shop-shop-shop now.

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  10. Let's stop squabbling and get back to basics. I wanted to welcome Bryan to the socialist camp following his experiences of the real world of money (too much of it) in Mayfair.

    Wilkommen!

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  11. Chris, I am hardly likely to embrace an ineffective irrationality because of the bad behaviour of a few over-rich kids. You talk as if I have a consistent political position, which I don't, though I suspect that, to use conventional language, I am somewhat more to the left than I used to be. I'm not sure that means much, but there you go.

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  12. I'd like to say I find recusant's contibution(s) to be fascinating. He/she has added enormously to my understanding of the world in which I dwell. He also has a wonderful sense of humour and is not an idiot. I repeat, he/she is not an idiot.

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  13. Now, a few years ago while Prof Helena Cronin ran a series of lectures at LSE under DArwin Group title, I remember that she also came up with statistics to show that men are far more likely to commit violent crimes than women. I am not sure that age range was included here.

    Just a thought on Kosovo. Do you realise that similar population growth to that of Palestine occured there, but only among the Albanian population?

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  14. I suspect Andrew has his Israeli Prime Ministers mixed up. Begin did not become PM until 1977, when Israel elected the first right wing government in its history; down to then it was governed by nice socialist Zionists, i.e its 'Establishment'. Begin and the Irgun were not 'fascists', although Avraham Stern, as in Stern gang, undoubtedly was.

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