What are we going to do with all these young folk. What if they start asking questions. What if they start realising what is going on. What if they figure out, we are invoking the real big brother, as we spoon feed them the game.
We will do what we always do, distract them, always works. The adoration of idols, the self, machismo, vanity, nurture obsessive behaviour patterns, MTV, noise. We cannot allow youth to get out of control, unless it is by our own instigation. We need to let them think that they are winning the game but are in actual fact, playing our game
Each new generation thinks they have it nailed, to use one of the US colloquialisms that have become so prevalent in western culture. My youth seems so dull and boring when compared to the buzz that is around today. I look at work that I produced in the seventies (photography) and realised that I didn't produce very much, well not in the physical, material sense. Compared to the average young artist nowadays - a CV of exhibitions the length of your arm, published catalogues, web sites, media exposure and commercial galleries selling their work by the van full. (if you are to be successful, constant production is an imperative)
I mention the art world, as an example because of my own personal experience. But the buzz for output permeates through the whole of youth culture today, music, fashion, sport, media, politics - firing on all cylinders and traveling at the speed of light.
The odd thing is, as we are constantly reminded, that we are living in the world of changing ideas, new ways of looking at things, a youth culture that is demanding a new vibrant, interchanging, multimedia, crossover, fusion, multi cultural experience - In a culture where youth has become the zeitgeist in which all standards of lifestyle are being measured, the question I would like to ask is -what has changed for the young over the last three or four generations. Did the youthful revolution of the sixties work. Has youth slid back into a 1950s controlled and manufactured culture, disguised as hip.
One of the difficulties of being young is lack of retrospection. Another is understanding you will, grow old. The young rely on the experience of the old to acquire a knowledge of history and past events, that can be compared or held against present day situations for comparison. What else have they to go on. (That is not to say that you believe everything you hear. The young like the old must always study the facts and evidence, then use this to make up your own mind in judging, what you think is the truth.)
The difficulty for some older people is understanding the young to being from another planet, or in their [older generations] being unable to communicate with young people, in the context of the young persons experience. The expression" I don't understand the young anymore" used by an older generation is a sign of getting old, not growing old and shows the same disrespect and lack of understanding that the young can have for the old. We are all on the same planet and our problems do not stem much from young and old, but rather, rich and poor.
"As a sort of insurance policy, the government stunts self-confidence, individuality and creativity at the earliest age possible, knowing full well that its resurgence in adult life will then be unlikely. People must be trained for submission when they are most vulnerable to impression, which happens to be when they are young." 1
It is only through the experience. of my youth that I think, act and believe what I do today. Our youthful experiences profoundly effect what we become as mature and hopefully responsible and responsive, adults. The concerns I have in middle age for youth is not that I don't understand them. I understand them as well, and in some respects have more in common with them as I do with my contemporaries. (those who have forgotten the experience of youth)
We all have the same genes (We are not talking Levi's here) young, old, past and present, generations included, share the same basic needs. What makes us different in society terms is external influences - of dogmas, of propaganda, of fashions, that try to shape our relationship with our fellow human beings.
Young,old, male, female, black white are contrasted in the mix that works to highlight the seemingly natural, cultural differences between age, gender and colour, that is used to separate, the rich from the poor and distract people from their politics.
In retrospect, I saw my youth as less cluttered by distraction as the youth of today have to contend with, as they make their way in understanding the world and their place with in it. No I didn't produce much art in those days, I don't think it was important, well not as important as the cultural community that I was involved in, which relied more on camaraderie than funding, invention rather than production, ideas rather than output. By no means was this a perfect world, but it seemed to be a relatively easier world in which to grow, culturally, intellectually, and politically, than the nullifying experience our young have to face today.
Today's youth are no more or no less talented, able or capable than any other generation in achieving a creative, happy life. What is different today is a set of circumstances and conditions put in place that could bar them from achieving this.
What I want to look at here is some of these devices which on the surface appear to be youth driven but are in fact mechanisms of state control and have more in common with a Totalitarian society rather than the free, open, fun loving society that we are perceived to be.
So,How cool is the cool. is the question I will ask:
If we look at the recent developments in our society with any kind of critical eye, which we should always do, we should notice two important things. One is the drastic changes in our communities, workspaces, environments, education systems, health systems, housing, consumption, entertainment, socialising, communication. All are in turmoil and in flux as our societies compete to, stay ahead, meet the requirements of new global challenges, make our mark, expand our interests, take our share, deliver the goods, keep our world safe, protect our interests and so on. This is the first thing -Everything is being rearranged in our communities because change is good and we need always to change -It is important that our young learn to accept this experience as normal.
The second thing is. Those who drive these changes never change.
The bankers, the statesmen, the heads of industry, our leaders and those who drive the change, always remain in power and always stay rich. If we look at our history over say the last three hundred years or so, you can not help noticing this. Through wars, revolutions, famine, drought, catastrophe the top level remains exactly the same -in power and rich - While we at the bottom, are constantly reshaping our world to maintain this power structure at the top.
When the rich and powerful are not busy exploiting our young by destroy the young of other countries in order to make the rich richer, or keeping us frightened of other nations destroying us, they will be doing their most important work at home - for the real war is between the upper class and the domestic population.
How to keep the population at home distracted, from the fact that they are being duped and set against each other, in order to maintain the age old power base at the top is the problem of elite powers. Understanding this is the key to understanding racism, sexism, ageism sectarianism and the devices used to keep communities divided.
In this context, it is not to difficult to understand the noise and chaos that is described as "youth culture", mainly controlled by the above, age old power base. This idea is two fold. One is to give the young the idea that they are in control, the other is to suppress any progressive movement that would give the young a voice, in any real issues that affect them. The other is to appropriat the genuine dynamic of youth culture into passive commodities.
The crises for governments is not to alleviate poverty and be responsive to the needs of the young, or the many who are growing up in poverty, but rather to shift the blame onto the shoulders of the victims. These devices and tools of persuasion for this task, are not buried in mysterious texts, or only understood by the educated few, but are enmeshed in our day to day lives and activities and are there if you chose to look for them.
___Notes___Related Links see side bar______________________
(1) Liberating Youth