I was in Munich in the spring of 1992, only a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell and East and West were reunited into one Germany.
We paused for lunch at an outdoor cafe in the shade of the Cathedral, and happened to share a table with a German lady whose profession was as a specialized translator and tour guide, primarily for business and organizational groups that had a particular interest not just in seeing the landmark sights, but even more in understanding the changes taking place in the economy and society.
First she recommended a special beer that was still brewed by monks in a monastery not far away, beer that (as I recall) was sold only here at this Cathedral cafe and at the monastery.
Then the conversation moved to the changes in the former East Germany, and her concerns of a very significant cadre of angry, disaffected young people roaming and terrorizing. I hadn't heard about that aspect of life in the new Germany, as most of the media focus was on the positive sides of the unification, or on the financial sacrifices resulting as two very different economies struggled to merge.
That image--- of roaming bands of angry, rootless youths drifting and destroying --- stuck with me, and became the model for the fans of the fictional rock group Twisted Messiah in what would become my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.
In fiction, I saw Twisted Messiah evolving from just another entertainment group into a world-wide political force, pulling together an "army" of disaffected young people in every nation . . .angry young with no aims, just a craving for excitment and destruction. And I saw Twisted Messiah (and the powers behind) seeing it as the potential for a non-governmental quasi-political force.
By last summer, The Grail Conspiracies was finished and out in the world. Then life began following the book's plot, beginning with the riots in England. I posted here in this blog: ("Twisted Messiah" fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England! )
"Last week across England it was as if the fictional Twisted Messiah's underground "army" had come to life in their "pre-celebrations". Fact can be at least as strange as fiction, and fiction can "pre-intuit" the facts that may come. One of the characters in The Grail Conspiracies even characterizes people like these: "those who choose to lose.""
In that same blog post I quoted some words from an article by Max Hastings, former editor of two different respected London newspapers, and author of a string of books on World War II and other political topics:
"The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call 'lives': they simply exist." And a bit later: "They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime.
Another from that Max Hastings article: "So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.
"They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.
"They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game. "
Later in the summer came the various "Occupy" events. Initially, they were mostly peaceful sit-ins, and they did raise some valid points. (A wide variety of unformed points, some have said.) But then . . .
Now the word among the pundits of left, center, and right is that the Occupy movement has the potential of becoming a very significant force, but currently lacks direction and leadership.
Is Occupy waiting for a leader with a direction in mind? Let's hope that leader is not on the model of Twisted Messiah.
Apropos the above: In Germany, a new film is causing much controversy. The title is HIDDEN HATRED and explores the world of young people in Neo-Nazi type groups. From an article on the young people as portrayed in the film, in the German news magazine SPIEGEL:
"Disillusioned and disconnected, many young people are searching for simple answers, and find them and a sense of belonging in the far-right scene," [said the director of the film in an interview].
My comment: yes, exactly so. But I think whether they go for the far-right, far-left, or far-out-whatever, is up for grabs. The answer may be different in different countries and different cultures. But, again, I hope the leader (s) is/are not in the mold of Twisted Messiah.