Reverse History: The Young Shall Rule

Sebastian Kurz led his party to victory in the recent Austrian election. Already foreign minister, he is about to become the world’s youngest leader at 31. Emmanuel Macron became president of France at 39. At 37, he was appointed as the Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs. Guillaume Barazzone was elected to the Administrative Council for the City of Geneva in 2012 and has been a member of the Swiss National Council since 2013. Barazzone was Mayor of Geneva at 34.

Is their youth surprising? While in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, young politicians flourished soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall – David Bakradze was foreign minister of Georgia at 33; Christina Ojuland foreign minister of Estonia at 36 – the elections of Kurz, Macron and Barazzone indicate that an entirely new generation is emerging in Europe. (One cannot resist comparing their ages to the major candidates in the last U.S. presidential election: Trump was 70, Clinton 69, Sanders 75)
The assumption has always been that wisdom comes with age and that our leaders should be experienced in the ways of the world. The election of younger leaders in Austria, France and Geneva raises two possibilities: Either people are rejecting failed policies of the past and hoping for significant change or the world has changed so rapidly that voters feel that only a new generation can understand what is going on.
The latter may be true in more than politics. The New York Times reports the following: “While businesses chase evanescent market trends and grapple with a fast-moving future, millennial mentors, as many companies call them, have emerged as a hot accessory for executives. Young workers, some just out of college, are being pulled into formal corporate programs to give advice to the top ranks of their company.”
Young college graduates giving advice to their experienced bosses? Apparently so. Major companies such as Mastercard have young professionals telling their elders how to get “hip with what kids are doing these days,” according to the article. Reverse wisdom? I thought young recruits should sit at the feet of veterans to hear stories about how things have always been done and to absorb the sagesse that comes with years of experience. Mentoring, like apprenticeships, has always been from the old to the young.
Now it’s one thing for business executives to listen to new recruits tell them what is going on in the market or to have a young computer whiz explain the latest technology (Are you also embarrassed to ask your children or even grandchildren about how to use a new program?), but to have a new generation making life and death decisions about how the world is run is quite different.
John Kennedy represented a new generation when he ran for president at age 43. What is striking about the leaders in their 30s is that a generation has been skipped. Barack Obama was 48 when he was first elected president. Kurz, Macron and Barazzone are in their 30s, roughly 40 years younger than Trump, Clinton and Sanders. In fact, Macron is about the same age as Donald Trump’s oldest son, Donald Jr. Ivanka Trump is 34. Her husband, Jared Kushner, senior White House advisor and special representative of the president for numerous issues, is 36. 
I can accept that we are living in a period of accelerated time. Technological changes appear at breakneck speed. iPhone generation one was introduced in 2007. Ten years later we are at iPhone 8; that’s eight generations in ten years. I have trouble grasping the differences in each new phone; I have even more trouble accepting the use of generation in such a short time span. According to the dictionary, a generation is “the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, in which children grow up, become adults, and have children of their own.” Except in modern technology, eight generations cannot happen in ten years.
There can be no question that we are witnessing enormous changes and that young leaders are probably more “hip with what kids are doing these days” than the older generation. I deeply appreciate all help I am given by those young and ever younger about technology. Many thanks. But I am not yet convinced of the relationship between being “hip with what kids are doing these days” and the ability to govern. But then again, after years of mentoring, I am open to proposals to being mentored.


Je connais bien les Autrichiens. Kurz n`a pas été élu parce que le lait lui coule encore du nez mais parce qu`il est un national-populiste manipulateur: il a réussi a faire croire a ses électeurs que les réfugiés venaient bouffer le pain de Autrichiens et qu`en plus ils pouvaient continuer a avoir le meme niveau de vie en payant moins d`impots.

Écrit par : J.S. | 19/10/2017

Le succès des jeunes candidats signale quelque chose, dont le besoin de renouveau.
Mais les programmes de ces jeunes sont-ils vraiment très innovateurs ? On pourrait s'y attendre de la part de politiciens d'une autre génération.
S.Kurz est très explicitement conservateur.
E. Macron fait une "Révolution"(titre de son livre-programme paru en 2016) qui se veut en rupture avec ce qui précède et je ne suis pas capable de dire à ce stade, si on assiste à un réel coup de jeune ou juste un changement de cap.
Macron a eu des mentors âgés, dont Gérard Collomb.

Il serait illusoire de croire que les générations peuvent se passer les unes des autres.
Même si les jeunes entrepreneurs et autres créateurs de start-up sont admirables, il ne suffit pas d'être jeune pour bien faire. Les visages lisses des jeunes politiciens ne doivent pas cacher la difficulté à gouverner et on ne doit pas se laisser envoûter par cette sorte de jeunisme, qui est censé ringardiser des notions comme la vie privée, la protection sociale ou le respect des lois.
Les derniers déboires de Facebook ou Uber sont là pour le prouver. Ces entreprises font bouger la société, mais à un moment donné, on se rend bien compte que l'innovation à outrance et cette sorte de course au profit et le tout-numérique ne peuvent pas être la seule chose que les jeunes aient à nous proposer.
Savoir utiliser un smartphone etc c'est bien, mais qu'en est-il de l'esprit critique ? Savoir faire le tri entre le vrai et le faux, avoir des références fiables, prendre le temps de la réflexion. Ce n'est même pas donné aux non-jeunes !

Écrit par : Calendula | 21/10/2017

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