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Crane on rails
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Published July 6, 2005

I went again walking along the canal, around Clabecq, a now economically devastated place that used to be a very important industrial center, mainly for its steelworks.

That kind of industry has almost completely disappeared. The whole economy of the region, which was mainly based on steel production, coal extraction and to a lesser extend glass production, has been sinking. It’s a process that has begun decades ago but folks are only begining to realize it now. Those industries employed thousands of hard-working but uneducated folks who are now left with nothing but unemployment allowances.

Facts :
Seventeen percent of the 18-24 years old do not even have a high school degree here in Wallonia. Most walloons don’t know a word of any other language than french, even though Belgium is the center -geographically and politically- of Europe.
That leads to twenty, even thirty percent of unemployment depending on the area.

Jobs are available in finance, marketing, human ressources, accounting, … but they all require a higher education of course. I know it might sound obvious but I’ve personnally realized it only a couple of months ago and I know that MANY people still don’t.

That means it is vital to go to school, get a degree and train ones brain to work hard. There’s no future for the big uneducated masses anymore (mind you, I’m not saying it’s good, I’m merely making an observation).

Unfortunatelly, there’s a whole culture that considers people who work with their brain as lazy profiteers, and working in a crap factory job with one’s hands is the only way to be respectable. The same culture that, if no job found, strangely considers respectable to live on unemployment allowances given by the state and funded by those intellectuals who have a job.

I got news for you. Nineteenth century is over, my fellow walloons. It’s time to fuckin’ wake up, get over five generations of proletarian habits, send your damn kids to school, help them make their homework and encourage them to study *hard*. Education is free in Belgium. Take advantage of that while it’s still the case.

It hurts me to have to say all this because I’ve always been quite an old-school socialist myself, actually. And to avoid misunderstanding : I’m not saying discrepancies between workers and the rulling class have been abolished, pretty far from there. But the working class has evolved and we gotta accept it as it is. We gotta adapt.