There is something intriscally despicable about the constant GroundHog Day that New Year’s Day is: the necessity for new resolutions, new expectations, and the miserable hope of a clean slate.  As I stood in the middle of a friend’s living room when the clock struck midnight, I watched people drink directly from the bottle and collectively raising middle fingers as a parting gesture to 2008. Everyone in the world is glad the year’s over; its enduring, seemingly never-ending bitter presents are forcing us to hold onto the symbolism of New Year’s Day and hope for better. Truth is, we all walked home with a growing hungover under a freezing weather, as broke as we were the day before, as desperate as we were the day before, with a bleak week staring ahead.

We’re young, but we’re way more cynical than our parents ever were. We’re, most of us, recent graduates, entry-level professionals, with a career to build and savings to start, a life to kick, basically – but with absolutely no means to do so. 2008 saw our chances at an equal start ripped away from our hands thanks to a $500 billion Ponzi scheme. We quickly became familiar with economics, with terms that belong to another age. My lovely co-blogger recently emailed me the list of all the companies benefiting from the controversial bailout – and she appropriately mentioned that our names weren’t listed. Us, recent or future taxpayers, society’s glue and ground, working bees, are not bailed out. We’re not shown the end of the tunnel. We’re being crammed into it and told to sit on our ideals of socialism and freedom. I remember that out of sync Fox News reporter trying to make his way through an anti-war protest at the Denver Democratic National Convention and being coldly greeted until he snapped out and yelled “Why do you hate freedom?”

Hey, we do not hate freedom. We love freedom. We cherish freedom. We just don’t know what it looks like anymore.  We’re being spoonfed so many lies and find it so hard to wade through the very Palin-ian “blizzard of words” we end up sitting our asses down waiting for the storm to pass. I find it’s a waste of energy, a waste of extremely resourceful potential to nail a youth that’s more than capable to uncomfortable chairs, staring at grey walls for most of their fruitful years.  Let’s face it – we are the ones who should have been bailed out. With our five-digits student loan debts, the moral restriction of not being independant, the constant humiliation of unemployement, this situation we’re in is infantilizing and paralyzing. Here in Europe, graduates are being told to leave for greener pastures, where their knowledge and skills would be perhaps more appreciated. But everywhere we look, it’s crumbling to dust.

It’s not a time to whine, it’s a time to take over. The question is not about what the next twelve months might have in store for us – it’s what we are in a perfectly legitimate right to expect from them. It’s about letting go of the passivity of fate. Existing starts with no longer having to fear. There has been such a shellshock in the last six months, with way too much information to absorb, every piece of news worsening the one before. The great ideas that made socialism – solidarity, accountability, ideology, information, freedom – are those we want our lives to be built on from now on. This has been made clear on November 4th. Socialism is a collective process that can only be properly achieved if everyone participates to the project. Representative democracy does not mean laying all your power in the hands of the one you’ve just elected – it just means you’re allowing them to speak for you. It also means you have to stay alert to act the moment they stop speaking your mind and start speaking only theirs. If every action is, by principle, doomed to failure, it is a collective responsability we have, as an informed and educated population, to make sure it doesn’t.

I am not going to wish anything for 2009. The damage caused by the year before is way too tremendous to ever be fixed overnight. The ashes of 2008 will keep on burning for at least a couple years. I just nourish the – perhaps impossible – hope that 2009 brings about a certain conscience, a certain awareness of a situation that needs to be fixed, and it starts by knowing your rights, and retrieve the freedom you’ve been deprived of. Jean-Paul Sartre once said that freedom is not about what you do, but what you do with what’s been done to you. I think we’ve had our backs bent for a while now. It’s time for hardcore responsability.

It can start with making sure Bush and Cheney are being held accountable for the crimes committed in the name of an unlawful war. Reversing roles is paramount. Our names printed on that bail-out list will be next. It’s time to get what we’ve worked for. We, who have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin, who can name at least two mainstream newspapers we read everyday, who know about domestic terrorism, are calling for a different version of the Bush doctrine: the re-implementation of responsible democracy. We have the right to call for a pre-emptive measure (impeachment) if we believe that a foreign party (the government) is attacking our fundamental liberties.

It’s nothing new.

May this year bring you all the achievements you’ve worked towards.


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