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Occupy Europe: How a generation went from indifferent to indignant

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In some 40 in-depth interviews with under-30 youth in Spain, Greece, Britain, and France, the single point of agreement was the youths' distrust of leaders. This is Europe's first generation since World War II to have fewer prospects than their parents, and for now, they blame the politicians. The most common word they used to describe their lives: complicated.

Yes, they want jobs. Of course. An emblematic banner of Spanish youth on Puerta del Sol read loudly to under-30s across Europe: "Without jobs, without housing, without a future, without fear."

One Spanish protest included a "physicists without jobs" group. Guillermo Ubieto, age 27, graduated with an advanced degree in international relations. "But there was no work. It's the problem of Spain," Mr. Ubieto says. "We are the best-educated generation in Spanish history, bar none. They told us study, push yourselves, you can have a good future. We haven't earned anything. We can't get a job.... Now we are saying something."

Yet the Puerta del Sol protest was about a lot more than jobs. Something more fundamental was at work. It was time to stop accepting the verdict of a diminished life. But the issues being raised seem bigger than any solutions. As the indignados see it, their extremity has forced questions about what it means to be human; what values and truths to accept; how people should be treated; how democracy should work; the role of free markets, money, the social contract, community.

"We are here to claim dignity ... [and] a new society that gives more priority to life than economic interest," states their informational flier.

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