TUE, 25 APR 1995 21:22:29 GMTIntolerance of the Young Slovenians
Two years ago the researchers of the Center for Social Psychology - Youth Studies within the Institute for Social Sciences of the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana completed a study of a represenative sample of Slovenian secondary-school pupils. The results obtained came as a true shock for Slovenia, since no one expected the young in Slovenia to be so conservative, career oriented, and even intolerant towards everything that was different or unusual. The research leaders Mirjana Ule, Ph. D. and Vlado Miheljak, M.A. have recently published a book entitled "The Future of the Young (in Transition)" containing the results and a comparative as well as a theoretical analysis of this study. According to them, this is not unfortunately a thing of the past, as the study is only two years old, and the trends established in that analysis continue even today. Namely, this year the authors are continuing this study among students (i.e. that part of the secondary-school youth population which has continued education), and judging by everything things have remained the same, although the data has not been processed yet.
By the very title the authors wished to point out that they wanted to talk both about the future of and transition in the young generation. As for its future, it is clear that it should interest every society because it is the future of that very society. People who establish some values in their young years usually retain those values as adults, although somewhat changed. Authors Ule and Miheljak claim that what young people publicly state today will be repeated by their elders already tomorrow. On the other hand, young people are strongly connected to transition. Young people are something in-between. Young people are actually between the past and the future, between progress and regression, between optimism and pessimism...
We were convinced so far that youth was revolutionary, progressive, often incomprehesible to their parents, precisely because their ideas were more progressive than those of their parents. These are samples of opinion about young people which we created based on the practice of the past twenty or even thirty years. During the 60's and the 70's we talked about rebels with reason whom their parents could not understand at all. Later, during the 70's, i.e. 80's, the young generation appears as the propagator of new ideas and new values, while the latest European reasearch into which this Slovenian one fits well, show a major reversal, towards privacy and neo-conservativism. It seems that contemporary society and parents have finally managed to put young people into generally acceptable frameworks, thereby depriving them of their youthful freshness.
Dr.Mirjana Ule points out that the 90's are years of great opportunity, especially for young people. New technologies and new ways of life open wide the doors of careers for a number of young people. Thus, on the one hand, we have a group of young people who know their way around and very soon find their way to success, while on the other, others are pushed to the margins by the post-modernist society. This second group includes all those whose prime aim in life is not the fastest possible success in their careers and equally fast profits, as well as those who would like that, but are objectively unable to do it.
Youth Shouts What Their Parents Whisper
A rather interesting phenomenon among young Slovenians is their return to the family. When researchers measured what young people found most important, "true friendship" ranked first (which is not strange because precisely true friendship is a rarity - competition is stronger), followed by "the security of my family"! Boys and girls from fifteen to nineteen worry about the security of their family! Exciting life, attractive for the present middle-aged generation in their youth, now ranks only 11th. The authors of the book "The Future of and Transition in the Young" conclude that today's youth is increasingly reverting to traditional privacy and yearning for individuality.
They reach the interesting conclusion that young people have more and more confidence in tradition and authorities, while avoiding risks, and that some of the strongest values are ownership and consumption. The researchers conclude that former conflicts between father and son have disappeared to a considerable extent, and that in the 90's the idols of the young are their parents! "Slovenian youth does not differ from other European youth", warns Ph.D.Mirjana Ule, underlining that parents, grandmothers and grandfathers in other European countries are also becoming the ideological leaders of young people. But, there is something specific for Slovenia, nevertheless.
The Slovenian society is a middle class one and this class typically invests most in children. The mentioned research shows that as much as 82 percent of the interviewed secondary school pupils have their own room, or even apartment, whereas according to the standard of living in Slovenia average families do not live in large flats. This means that parents voluntarily give up their comfort in favour of their children. Interesting enough is another fact, according to which during the 80's Slovenia was among the countries with the largest number of computers per child, at a time when Slovenian enterprises had just started introducing computers.
By heavy investments in children, who, having their own room and their own computer, prefer to stay at home rather than roam throught the streets, the parents achieved a much higher degree of dependence and even loyalty of their children. Since most parents in Slovenia are employed, these children have established even closer links with their parents' parents. This is indicated by the latest research among secondary school pupils where almost half of the interviewees assess the role of the Quisling home guard in the Second World War as positive, and the other half as negative. This division corresponds to the division of the still living older generation on this question. When asked to argument their choice, young people generally replied: "I know all about that, because my grandfather told me about it...".
An Ethnically Clean Slovenia
The question arises of who young people listen to when developing their values towards people from another national, cultural, health or even sexual milieu. Namely, Slovenian secondary school pupils are rather intolerant towards everything different or unusual. Their intolerance towards members of nations from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, living in Slovenia, is worrisome. Namely, as much as 39.3 percent of the pollees think that if the Slovenian state will not adequately protect Slovenians vis-a-vis so called non-Slovenians, the people themselves should take the matter into their hands. Approximately the same percentage of the pollees "to a certain extent understand German nationalists who exhibit their dissastisfaction with newcomers even by violence"!
The ideal of almost half of the interviewed secondary school pupils is an ethnically clean Slovenia, while they most emphatically condemn the ethnical cleansing of other peoples in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Up to 60.8 percent of the interviewees think that the Slovenian state is too lax in granting Slovenian citizenship to aliens. Even more defeating are answers to the question with whom they would want no contacts, which means neither school nor official, nor friendly ones...They could choose among Hungarians, Italians, Germans, Croats, AIDS patients, homosexuals, lesbians, refugees, settlers from the former YU republics, Serbs, mental patients, handicapped people, Bosnians, Arabs, Negroes, Moslems, Catholics, Orthodoxes, Jews, Gipsies, the rich and the poor. The mentioned categories have been deliberately mixed and follow the given order.
It is interesting that only the Germans, Italians and Catholics, as well as the poor and rich, fared well. Namely, those that young Slovenians are used to. They expressed strong reserves to the others. It is interesting that they are most intolerant towards homosexuals and lesbians. As much as two thirds of the pollees do not wish any contacts with them. HIV positive persons fared no better and a third of the pollees would have nothing to do with invalids either! Very humane! Media and political propaganda have done their job well. Since they blame the Serbs for the war in the territory in the former Yugoslavia, over 62 percent of secondary school pupils want no contacts with the Serbs. A close second are Gipsies (60.1 percent) and Moslems. The greatest surprise are Jews, who have not been even a minority for centuries in Slovenia, because their number is so small and there are no reasons for prejudice. But, it is there.
The results are shocking. They should sound an alarm in all institutions of the Slovenian society. The fact that similar and in some cases identical trends appear in other European countries too, are not and cannot be an alibi. Slovenia can thus count on young, ambitious technocratic experts, but very narrow minded ones, i.e. on what are known as specialists-idiots. But, the more developed Europe has no use for them. It also has no use for provincials whose greatest value is a cottage with a fence, where they should not be disturbed even by a Slovenian neighbour, let alone a southerner as they call members of peoples from the territory of the former SFRY. In any case, without serious work in that field, Slovenia's and, obviously, Europe's future also, will be very bleak.
Janja Klasinc, AIM