The Sufferings of Young Wahid

Matt Yglesias doesn’t go far enough in questioning the President’s prescription of more education as a way to prevent terrorism. Make a whole generation jump through educational hoops to earn the credentials to do highly productive work, but leave them without the economic opportunities to realize the value of their talent and credentials (or without the native talent to justify those credentials), and all you’ve produced is a really discontented group of people. A group of young, mostly male people, who’ve been told they are on some kind of track to a different life, and who are then denied their promised reward, but who cannot now return to their old world without a crippling loss of status. Is it any surprise this is the sort of person who historically has been most susceptible to radical ideologies? Liah Greenfeld traces the rise of the radical right in 19th century Germany to the surplus of highly educated young men who could not find productive work commensurate with their status as university graduates. Any reader of Dostoevsky can come to the same conclusion about Russian nihilism and anarchism. Now, Saudi Arabia is a wildly different society from 19th century Germany or Russia, in too many ways to count – but it does strike me that on this one measure, the shoe fits pretty well.