Skip

“All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.”
August 12, 2011 1:16 AM   Subscribe


 
The first argument is that making people poor makes them less likely to resist? Yeah...thats how all the revolutions start...it starts with the rich.

It just gets dumber and dumber...although nobody who has a shiny pickup would want to join in on the revolution...I mean it would get scratched.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:30 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Syria is seeing a real revolution against a real dictatorship being crushed by real guns, real tanks and real shells landing in people's back gardens. This article is about a non existent revolution against a democracy not being crushed at all unless it's by an avalanche of new ipads. What utter bollocks.
posted by joannemullen at 1:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [37 favorites]


Bruce E. Levine needs a not-so-serious hug.
posted by mannequito at 1:37 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Article uses rather annoying jargon (corporatacracy?) and compares the protests of the 60's, when A) the baby boomers had massive demographic advantages, and B) were under the threat of getting drafted, with the youth of today.

Yes yes, the baby boomers were better than us in every damn way, including their more awesome protests, their better use of drugs and their better jobs. We know, we know.
posted by zabuni at 1:40 AM on August 12, 2011 [56 favorites]


The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance.

Ridiculous. "The ruling elite" ended the draft in 1973 and once they did that there was nothing left for the youth to protest. Brilliant strategy really. By relying on a professional army, they "ruling elite" could count on the natural selfishness and apathy of college-age students to no longer protest the wars the "ruling elite" wanted to wage.

So far as I can see, it was worked.
posted by three blind mice at 1:42 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Huge masses of kids aren't in the streets protesting against my personal hobby injustice. Must be a conspiracy. A corporatacracy conspiracy. Yeah.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Those are all good points but I think there is a deeper malaise at work. Most of the people my age (I'm 28) exhibit a profound and overpowering cynicism about our country that would have impressed the most radical Black Panther of the 1970's.

If you go to people my age and start telling them that the government is torturing people, their response will likely be a knowing nod and a comment along the lines of "yes, well, what do you expect? This is the Pentagon we're talking about." There is a general feeling, among my peers, I think, that the time for changing all of this (if there ever was a time) has long since passed.

I often wonder how much the failure of the counter-culture movement of the 60's and 70's has contributed to this. A generation of young people became dissatisfied with the stifling middle-class social control of their parents generation, rebelled and ... did what, exactly? The hippie counterculture revolution stalled out on greed, coke, alcoholism, homelessness and, eventually, AIDS. Youth Revolution became Regan Revolution and the rest is history.

I feel like there's a similar pattern in the Civil Rights arena for black Americans. Rosa Parks, Marching on Washington, passage of the Civil Rights Act (triumph!) followed by the assasination of MLK, crack cocaine, AIDS (again), Rodney King, schools in America are now more segregated since the 50's, etc. It seems like there were huge strides in followed by steady, incremental (and seemingly irreversable) losses, which were in turn followed by a kind of stasis where Civil Rights and the plight of black Americans exists in a kind of political no-man's-land.

Basically, it seems (to our young eyes, anyway) that there once was a time when the youth of America rose up and with a single voice demanded sweeping social change, only for that change to be dashed on the rocks of reality.

The war may have contributed to this as well. I have a friend in his mid 20's who recently returned from his second tour in Iraq. He is badly mentally damaged (freaks out at loud noises, uncontrollable temper). Someone like him should be the heart and soul of a young veteran's anti-war movement. Instead he spends his days drinking and talking shit about "filthy lying Arabs" and women. His mind, energy and spirit of youthful rebellion blead to death somewhere in Iraq.

That is all.
posted by Avenger at 1:49 AM on August 12, 2011 [178 favorites]


The nub of the article doesn't seem to be "why do young people conform?", but rather "why don't young people conform to my own obsolete dogma?". A pity, really: he has a few good points regarding debt, consumerism and overmedication, but it gets all drowned out in "GRAR capitalism". It's particularly pathetic when, a few lines after decrying student debt, he seems to denounce that too many people graduate from high school.
posted by Skeptic at 1:55 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. Despite the frosty reception from the typical Metafilter authoritarians and wordlier-than-thou types, I think it is interesting and makes several important points. I like that they put "student debt" as number one: I think that reflects something very true, which is that modern student debt essentially turns you into an indentured servant.

This is one of the reasons why it is utterly wicked and depraved that the government of the UK has been introducing ever escalating university fees. A generation that did not have to pay for their education has decided that every generation after them should pay instead - there really is no other word for this than disgusting.

As for the comments above:

hal_c_on: it is just an historical fact that the people who rebel are those who are strong enough to do so. Take the American Revolution: the Americans had the highest standard of living in the world at the time and had inherited generations of British political thought that encouraged liberty. They were rebelling because they could - they were in a powerful enough position to keep control of the land they had already grabbed, because they didn't need the British to protect them any more. The French Revolution and the Russian Revolution only became revolutions when a weak central authority started making concessions in a desperate attempt to preserve its power (which was increasingly seen as illegitimate).

Despite what a very large number of Mel Gibson movies may have suggested, rebels are always people who have the power to rebel, not just heroic idealists. One of the abominable things about slavery is that it deprives people of the self-respect and resources to launch a successful revolt.

joannemullen: what a pathetic and nasty comment, and what a blinkered and stereotypical view of other people. How dare you try to exploit the bravery of the Syrians to present yourself as something other than a reactionary - or condemn today's young people because they operate in a context where they can afford an ipad but not a house.

zabuni: the baby boomers weren't better. At all. They were a generation who inherited massive advantages, consumed them, turned adult, largely turned authoritarian (with a few noble exceptions) and have since done their best to mess up a lot of things - housing market, drugs consumption, education - for the next few generations down - all the while preening themselves on how rebellious and brave they are. This article is about the huge advantages that let them get away with that behaviour.
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [126 favorites]


lucien_reeve I'd suggest you take a few deep breaths yourself and calm down. And, joannemullen has a very good point: before complaining about "authoritarianism", please make sure to sample a real authoritarian regime.
posted by Skeptic at 2:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, yeah, for one decade (at best) the baby boomers showed the youth how to do it.

Then, they:
1. Built massive, sprawling subdivisions we can't afford
2. Elected Reagan
3. Produced W
4. Increased the cost of college to the point that anyone who decided to go to college accepted as fate the crushing loans to enjoy that opportunity
5. Ruined the world economy by making corporate greed more prevalent, accepted and destructive
6. Remember SUVs?
7. I'm not a debt hawk, but our country has some serious fiscal issues to fix. Now.
8. Oh yeah! Let's not forget that global warming is happily denied by many baby boomers, too

Don't lecture my generation on not 'standing up' to yours. We've already shown we're more likely to get involved in social justice or helping the community than the boomers.

Maybe the reason we're not out on the streets is because we're rubbing our temples and trying to find a solution to the many, many problems we are going to have to fix.
posted by glaucon at 2:11 AM on August 12, 2011 [69 favorites]


lucien_reeve I'd suggest you take a few deep breaths yourself and calm down. And, joannemullen has a very good point: before complaining about "authoritarianism", please make sure to sample a real authoritarian regime.

It's a matter of degree. Just because it's extremely bad somewhere else doesn't mean it can't be bad here.
posted by JHarris at 2:21 AM on August 12, 2011 [29 favorites]


This thread seems to be devolving into an ageist free-for-all (on both sides of the coin)..

"the natural selfishness and apathy of college-age students"

"Then, they: (meaning baby-boomers)
1. Built massive, sprawling subdivisions we can't afford...."
and so on...

"and have since done their best to mess up a lot of things" (again, baby boomers)

Nice work, metafilter..... You wouldn't tolerate that if this thread were about race, religion, or kittens, but it's just fine to make sweeping generalities around age....

Personally, I don't think there is a governmental entity strong enough or smart enough to "crush youth resistance", perhaps the author should look for other causes....
posted by tomswift at 2:21 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's a matter of degree. Just because it's extremely bad somewhere else doesn't mean it can't be bad here.

It's a matter of language and its correct use. Calling somebody "authoritarian", just because he happens to disagree with you on the usefulness and/or opportunity of "rebellion" (and this, moreover, regardless of which form that "rebellion" is supposed to take), is merely a device to tar him with the same brush as Augusto Pinochet or Bashir Al Assad. It's blatantly dishonest and frankly intolerant.
posted by Skeptic at 2:27 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't think it's as simple as "the ruling elite" crushing popular political action through a well-planned agenda of promoting authoritarian thinking. He's mostly right, these things all contribute to complacency. There are some others, like the increasing availability of sex before marriage pacifying hormone-soaked young men like me. Or the increasing ability of the law enforcement apparatus to remove people from polite, middle class, society in an instant of resistance at a routine traffic stop ("Don't want to let me search your car for drugs based on zero evidence? Looks like my breathalyzer is broken and you're about to fail a field sobriety test. Get out of the car or I will have to call for backup on the assumption that you re threatening me with a concealed weapon. Also, I smell pot."). My Dad was convicted of marijuana conviction in the 1970s and recently finished his 30th year as a relatively high-level civil servant. Could that happen today? Probably not.

But the major reason is the skewing distribution of wealth. Hal_c_on is right that revolution relies on poor, disenfranchised young people with no family responsibilities. But the decreasing wages of the poorest Americans has been supplemented for several decades by cheap credit and draconian bankruptcy laws compounded by a de-facto corporate "irresponsible citizen registry" in the form of the credit bureaus. This will continue in a downward spiral, perhaps for decades, until the credit snake eats itself all the way back to its head and the system collapses. Then we will have millions of people who are poor, not only on paper, but in terms of real, actual goods.

We're heading there already. Millions of homeless in a country with millions of empty homes. People on unemployment and social security sharing their meagre money with relatives whose benefits have run out or been denied. Follow the curve of wealth redistribution we've followed the last thirty years and you see that, if things continue on the current course, one person will have ALL the money, and the rest of us will starve. Follow the curve of prison population forward and ALL of us will be incarcerated. Follow the curve of minorty education forward and ALL black and latino students will drop out of high school. And yet we have this rhetoric in the media and government that we are in a recovery, that we are working hard toward improving our schools, that we are on the precipice of a new American rennaissance, with good, white collar jobs for every American who wants to work. These curves obviously can't continue on their current course forever, so something will change. Complex, industrial societies are stable until they aren't. This isn't rural Africa, with problems of chronic instability and war, this is the modern West, where things are OK until they're a disaster. In 1750 did the colonists believe a war with Britain was inevitable? Was it even a semi-common notion? I suspect not, not among ordinary subjects, who saluted the Union Jack just as our nation's school children are coerced to salute Old Glory every morning and "pledge allegiance."


Also: Can we please not devolve into an argument over which generation is better than all the others. It's childish and crazy. I blame Tom Brokaw for the title of his book The Greatest Generation, which has entered the lexicon and made us forget that there were pimps and murderers and American bundists and fascist pricks born during or soon after The Great War. Please guys, every generation have their clean-cut, aching-to-be-told-what-to-do, jack-off Young Americans for Freedom types, whether they masturbate to pictures of Reagan, Nixon, Taft, or coins stamped with a likeness of King George.
posted by LiteOpera at 2:27 AM on August 12, 2011 [31 favorites]


The Baby Boomers will go down in history as the generation with the best marketing ever; they point out historical events that happened only in their lifetimes, but when you ask where the love is, they go on to claim that they didnt start the fire, that it was already burning when the world was turning. I really can't take it anymore.
posted by the cydonian at 2:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can we please not devolve into an argument over which generation is better than all the others.

It's not only childish and crazy, it misses the point. "Youth" are the same always, it is only circumstances which change. Clearly, the youth of today are in different circumstances than the youth of my generation. (Thank you Vietnam veterans!)

I have no doubt that if the draft were re-instated today there would be massive protests on American college campuses (and much better music being written). But as it is there is and has been no anti-war movement AT ALL. The biggest rallies held on the Mall in the last decade were corporate affairs headlined by TV personalities. There thus seems to be some truth to the hypothesis in the article that the "ruling elite" has contained the youth movement in a way that it does not exist despite the fact that many of the social injustices of the 1960s remain.

Surely the "baby-boomers" made a mess of things - not the least of which was how they messed up their kids who have yet to show us how to really screw things up.
posted by three blind mice at 2:44 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Surely the "baby-boomers" made a mess of things - not the least of which was how they messed up their kids who have yet to show us how to really screw things up."

nice statement.... my six kids, all of whom are grown, successful, contributing members of our society wonder where you got your information from. And, thanks for the insightful comment on my parenting skills.
posted by tomswift at 2:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


7B x 6 = 42B. Hm.

We tend to be passionate about things (and companies, which is the weirdest of all), not ideas or people these days. Hard to foment a revolution on that.
posted by maxwelton at 2:55 AM on August 12, 2011


lucien_reeve I'd suggest you take a few deep breaths yourself and calm down

lucien_reeve seems perfectly calm to me.
posted by sidereal at 3:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [32 favorites]


You know why people don't riot? Because they have good parents, an education, job prospects and a decent standard of living. Take those things away from them and it's not a question of will they riot, but when.
posted by londonmark at 3:14 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


tomswift: nice statement.... my six kids, all of whom are grown, successful, contributing members of our society wonder where you got your information from. And, thanks for the insightful comment on my parenting skills.

Cool off. It is possible to speak to generalities without addressing specifics. There are always exceptions. No one is disparaging you or your parenting skills.

Now can we please get back to this awesome, insightful commentary? This conversation should be about institutional problems, not blame.
posted by troll at 3:20 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


nice statement.... my six kids, all of whom are grown, successful, contributing members of our society wonder where you got your information from. And, thanks for the insightful comment on my parenting skills.

A: "Americans are overweight."
B: "Hey! You calling me fat? I'm American, and I'm not fat!"
A: "...?"
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [43 favorites]


This article is about a non existent revolution against a democracy not being crushed at all...

The existence of worse things makes bad things good.
posted by DU at 3:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


The United States is a very large country. In order for youth protests to really gain visibility all over the country, they all need to be against the same thing. It's pretty difficult to organize an entire country full of youth to protest against just a single one of the vast army of injustices we currently deal with. They did it against the draft because it affected everyone more'o'less equally (top 1% excepted); whereas our overlords have now learned to be careful to marginalize a group of people before exploiting them.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:02 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


When has youth in the US rebelled except in the 1960s when there was conscription for an unpopular war on the other side of the world?

Really, young people in the US have things pretty good. You can argue that young people in some other developed countries have it better, but it's certainly not clear cut.

The article is more about why young people don't agree with the politics of alternet rather than why they don't rebel.
posted by sien at 4:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The article lost me when discussing Oppositional Defiance Order as being a tool of the man.

It is clear evidence that the person who wrote the article has absolutely no idea what they are really talking about.
posted by zizzle at 4:08 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice work, metafilter..... You wouldn't tolerate that if this thread were about race, religion, or kittens, but it's just fine to make sweeping generalities around age....

I guess it's just as fine to make sweeping generalities about Metafilter users.

It's a matter of language and its correct use. Calling somebody "authoritarian", just because he happens to disagree with you on the usefulness and/or opportunity of "rebellion" (and this, moreover, regardless of which form that "rebellion" is supposed to take), is merely a device to tar him with the same brush as Augusto Pinochet or Bashir Al Assad. It's blatantly dishonest and frankly intolerant.

From dictionary.reference.com:

1. favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom: authoritarian principles; authoritarian attitudes.

Could easily be used in referring to some U.S. political systems as well as totalitarian regimes. Whether it's accurate or not is a matter of opinion, but it was an opinion piece.

2. of or pertaining to a governmental or political system, principle, or practice in which individual freedom is held as completely subordinate to the power or authority of the state, centered either in one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people.

This obviously refers to dictatorships, of which the U.S. is not. But one might argue that there are disturbing signs that the Constitutional is optional for some people, people who might believe it to be "just a piece of paper."

3. exercising complete or almost complete control over the will of another or of others: an authoritarian parent.

I don't think the U.S. is not here yet, but some would say we're getting there.

I don't see how the use of the word is dishonest or intolerant.
posted by JHarris at 4:11 AM on August 12, 2011


Damn typos. I mean, I don't think the U.S. is here yet. You see what I mean. (I hope.)
posted by JHarris at 4:12 AM on August 12, 2011


You know why people don't riot? Because they have good parents, an education, job prospects and a decent standard of living. Take those things away from them and it's not a question of will they riot, but when.

Actually the evidence from the London riots only partially supports this. 17% of the caught rioter/looters were employed. In several cases they were people who had post secondary education and very good jobs. The guardian have a datadump of the court data if you want to do some digging.

As for the parenting attributions ...well that is probably just speculation (and is likely tautological at that).
posted by srboisvert at 4:20 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


and is likely tautological at that

That's known as the 'no true hoodie' fallacy.
posted by pompomtom at 4:30 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

No, the right match hasn't found the right kindling yet. Everyone of the eight reasons could be flipped on their head and give as a reason to riot and protest.

Student loan debt? If you have low prospects of paying it back because there's few jobs and and fewer well paying ones, you what you got? Nothing to lose because it seems you have no way to gain anything other than by taking

Overmedicating? Frighteningly easy to stop taking the meds or be unable to because your student loan chews up most of the cash at your low paying job with no benefits.

Schooling for compliance? Most kids realize that school is full of bullshit 'cause they live almost every day. The high school kid who wants to be a teacher will quickly discover that path leads to student loans for a seemingly important job that few respect and you get shitty pay for. When the future you want has little chance of working out, then you have nothing to lose by fighting.

I mention all of this 'cause my college going daughter, upon hearing that rioting was occurring in the UK, said if things didn't change in America, there would be riots here. When I asked her why she thought that, her reply was 'cause ever since she's been growing up and becoming more aware, America seems to be getting worst. School is a joke, prospect for jobs are few, wars keep happening, going to the doctor requires money from a job she doesn't have, birth control is fucking expensive, etc, etc.

All of that kindling needs is the right match.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [37 favorites]


Basically, it seems (to our young eyes, anyway) that there once was a time when the youth of America rose up and with a single voice demanded sweeping social change, only for that change to be dashed on the rocks of reality.

Actually, much of that change was effected. The youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s were fueled by, what, The war in Vietnam, environmental destruction, civil rights, and poverty (and colonialism, and socialism, etc. etc. etc.)

The draft and the Vietnam war ended in 1973. The post-1964 civil rights movement was largely successful in removing bars to education and employment and voting for blacks. The Great Society did a lot to reduce poverty. The creation of the EPA in 1970 addressed many environmental concerns. In my (conceited) view, the ruling elite did nothing but give ground to the youth movement of the 1960s and 70s. I mean it was Richard fucking Nixon who signed the law creating the EPA.

And then in the 1980s it became hip to be square and it's been a flat line since then.

If I suggest that today's youth movement can count Obamacare and the extension of the Bush tax cuts as its major triumphs I might be accused of making poor comparisons.

I agree with Brandon Blather that all kindling needs is a match, but there again seems something to the hypothesis that the "ruling elite" has cleaned the house of matches: Give 'em student loans and Lady Gaga, don't draft 'em, and you can forget about 'em.
posted by three blind mice at 4:51 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


lucien_reeve seems perfectly calm to me.

Yes, because accusing joannemullen of a "blinkered and stereotypical view of other people" right after complaining about "typical Metafilter authoritarians and wordlier-than-thou types", and calling her comment "nasty and pathetic" is a fair and balanced contribution to a calm debate.
posted by Skeptic at 4:54 AM on August 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


No mention of floride? Clean it up, Bruce!
posted by nathancaswell at 4:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skeptic wrote...

Thank you for posting this. Despite the frosty reception from the typical Metafilter authoritarians and wordlier-than-thou types, I think it is interesting and makes several important points. I like that they put "student debt" as number one: I think that reflects something very true, which is that modern student debt essentially turns you into an indentured servant.


While I don't agree with the article on the whole, this is very much in line with my impression of America. I've often only-half-jokingly described it as a corporate serfdom.

(Background: I'm half American, half British. England is very much my home, but I have a bunch of friends and a lot of family in the states).

Between the student loans giving everyone a huge chunk of debt and the medical insurance system making it extremely scary to not have a job (and potentially extremely scary to even move jobs if there's something actually wrong with you - though I gather this is changing), the balance of power between employers and employees looks massively skewed to me.

Obviously this is anecdata, but most people I know of a similar age and background to me in the states work much longer hours and get way less holiday. There's also far less scope for negotiation and flexibility in how they work. This isn't a "Rah! Big corps are evil!" either - a lot of these people are working for small companies.

I hope this is an exaggerated impression, and bob knows looking the other way you can say just as many bad things about my chosen country, but it makes me very uncomfortable.
posted by DRMacIver at 5:04 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Alternet is so frustrating because they have really bad writers making really good points. It's also kind of an echo chamber, which makes the writing worse and the grains of truth less salient.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:10 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Apologies. Screwed up the attribution on that. The comment that was in response to was by lucien_reeve, not skeptic (note to self: look below, not above the post)
posted by DRMacIver at 5:11 AM on August 12, 2011


We can add one more reason to the list - if the kindling ever gets warm enough, there's always the internet within which the fire the can be concentrated and contained.
posted by infini at 5:11 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was born in 1973, and I've been hearing variations on this shit since I was old enough to understand the conversations. Lemme lay it out for everyone: "protesting in the streets" is not the same thing as "changing the world for the better."

The smugger Boomers of my childhood chose not to acknowledge this. Now, this smugness was confined to a very small percentage of the population. (My mother, a Boomer, used to joke about how the rhetoric of "we protested the war for you ungrateful, selfish kids!" matched what she heard growing up, "we fought the war for you ungrateful, selfish kids!" Mom was always gifted with perspective.)

As several commenters have pointed out, the mass protests of the sixties started and ended with the draft. Remove that one giant cause, one tied with self-preservation, and the mammoth movement fragments and shrinks drastically. Also, it's hardly fair to credit the Boomer generation with the civil rights movement, since it preceded them by a good decade-plus. They helped carry it farther, but so did subsequent generations.

However, rather than rail against the annoying, twittish segment of Boomers that fantasize that they are responsible for all forward progress because they marched in the streets against a war they were in danger of being sucked into, I'd rather rail against the idea that progress has stopped or that the kids today don't care. The mechanisms of control have adapted, but so have the mechanisms of rebellion. If progress were truly dead, then why are DOMA and DADT dying? Why are big-ass corporations at least pretending to care about the environment? Why are there big-ass protests in Wisconsin over union busting?

Real progress is slow, unphotogenic, and usually performed without street theater.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:14 AM on August 12, 2011 [47 favorites]


I think the fact that people today have endless crap media content and other electronic distractions has a great deal more to do with youth apathy than the "ruling elite" working to keep them down. Student loans weren't created to keep youth down, they were created to help better monetize education; less government help and more private sector lending is good for those with power, but keeping people in debt is just a happy byproduct of a shit system, not the reason for it. If the economy keeps tanking as much as it has we'll see how much that apathy melts.
Avenger: "If you go to people my age and start telling them that the government is torturing people, their response will likely be a knowing nod and a comment along the lines of "yes, well, what do you expect? This is the Pentagon we're talking about.""
This is one of the bigger areas where Obama has failed; they may have stopped torturing but the continued infringement on civil rights in the name of "security", besides doing too much damage to people, continues the mistrust of government in so many young (and not-so-young) people that ends up going hand-in-hand with the tea partiers. Not to lump disparate views, but I worry about all the anti-government vitriol I hear everywhere these days. Obviously there is going to be a litany of complaints and missteps that can be legitimately made from any side when it comes to something as vast as the US government, but it ends up overshadowing all of the things the government does that are so good for everyone. It's not wrong to want to change the government for the better in all the places it needs it, I just don't want the huge anti-government sentiment to help those who want to destroy it, because it's ultimately the only thing that can protect us from the ruling elite. I understand how ironic it is that the those in power and those in government are closely tied so often.


JHarris: "This obviously refers to dictatorships, of which the U.S. is not. But one might argue that there are disturbing signs that the Constitutional is optional for some people, people who might believe it to be "just a piece of paper.""
No offense to JHarris at all, because I understand the sentiment, but this is what I'm talking about. I don't want to sound like I'm against criticism of the government. I suppose it wouldn't be so mistrusted if it didn't fuck up so often. I just fear the consequences of too much backlash from all directions.
posted by Red Loop at 5:16 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interestingly enough, the single largest populist movement today is 1) completely ignored by the author, and 2) actually somewhat immune from the factors the author identifies.

I think the reason he ignores it is that the Tea Party is active on the Right, not the Left. The Tea Party has pretty significant youth participation, believe it or not. But apparently "youth resistance" doesn't count if it doesn't involve street protests in favor of lefty goals. Assuming that he's right about the poll indicating that most most 18-34 types don't believe they'll ever receive Social Security benefits, Levine thinks that if there were a resistance movement, it would involve protesting to reform the system to expand or protect those benefits. Apparently reforming the system so that Social Security goes away entirely and they stop having to pay those taxes hasn't occurred to him as a legitimate form of resistance.

Let's go through the numbers:

1) Student debt. A lot of Tea Party types have been critical of college for years. This can make them sound pretty anti-intellectual at times (probably because they are pretty anti-intellectual at times) but there's been a strong and growing chunk of the homeschooling movement--and you'll find a lot of homeschoolers and homeschooled kids in the Tea Party--which has always viewed college as optional and emphasized getting in and out of there with as little debt as possible.

2) The psychologiziation and medication of "noncompliance." The Right has never been as interested in psychological explanations for behavior as the Left, and while there's certainly a debate to be had about whether spanking or Ritalin is the appropriate response to a child who won't behave, at least the former gives the child credit for his agency and takes him to task for it. The latter takes it away.

3) Schools that educate for compliance and not for democracy. This has been one of the biggest criticisms of the public school system from the Right for decades, and is one of the main reasons a lot of conservative parents have been keeping their kids out of public schools. Most private schools aren't prep schools. They're parochial and/or simply private religious schools, and most of those families aren't particularly rich. They just don't like what the public schools are selling. This goes double for homeschooling families.

4) NCLB and Race to the Top. See 3). If they aren't in public school, this sort of nonsense doesn't affect them as much.

5) Linkage of education and schooling. Again, see 3).

6) Normalization of surveillance. Yeah, okay, this one's probably bad for everybody.

7) Television. Remember, we're talking about the segment of society most likely to shriek about the morality and appropriateness of television programming.

8) Fundamentalist religion and consumerism. First of all, the argument is just sloppy. But second, I think the inclusion of this fits my thesis exactly: the phenomenon he's describing are excellent reasons why we don't see more Left-leaning resistance, but are actually an excellent explanation for why we are seeing more Right-leaning resistance.

In short, Levine has probably identified some great reasons why kids of Lefty parents tend not to be all that rebellious. Since he probably spends most of his time around that demographic, it isn't surprising that he views the world this way. But if the willingness to force a sovereign default to get what they want doesn't constitute a "resistance movement," then for the life of me I don't know what does. Still, because it doesn't involve torches and pitchforks and the resisters want less government, not more, Levine doesn't seem to think they count. I mean, really now, if you're going to criticize the Tea Party for being radical and destructive, don't you have to give them at least some credit for being, you know, radical and destructive?

Whether or not any of this is a good thing is left as an exercise for the reader. But my conclusion is that Levine is sort-of right, only not in the way he means to be, and that the truth is probably even worse for him than he thinks.
posted by valkyryn at 5:17 AM on August 12, 2011 [62 favorites]


JHarris I don't see how the use of the word [authoritarian] is dishonest or intolerant.

When used to refer to the US, as in the article, it is merely hyperbolic to the point of matching the rhetoric of Glenn Beck. But when used to refer to "typical Metafilter authoritarians", it really goes too far.
posted by Skeptic at 5:22 AM on August 12, 2011


it's your problem to learn to live with
destroy us, or make us saints
we don't care, it's not our fault that we were born too late
a screaming headache on the brow of the state
killing time is appropriate
to make a mess and fuck all the rest, we say, we say



so what.
posted by Sailormom at 5:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I take the AA approach. We (not only the young) don't fight back because we haven't hit bottom.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:28 AM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


he single largest populist movement today is 1) completely ignored by the author, and 2) actually somewhat immune from the factors the author identifies.

I don't think the tea party counts because it's completely artificially generated: conceived, funded, and carried out by the billionaires who are also pushing us into debt, selling us shit that's bad for us, etc.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:36 AM on August 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


That article is vapid and preening twaddle.

I mean really, "The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt." I mean really, his thesis is that these kids were willing to face down the possibility of torture and death from the Mukhabarat or the Basij, but the possibility of their student loans going into default would have been enough to keep them cowed?

The lesson of the '60s is that in a late capitalist state, the children of the middle class can't be a revolutionary class because they're too easy to co-opt back into the system. The real potential revolutionary class in this country is totally different, and the reasons for them not rebelling are because they're in prison, or in the military, or if they're medicated, it's with self-administered oxycontin or meth or heroin and not medically prescribed Zyprexa or Risperdal.

When their revolution does come, which sooner or later it likely will, it's not going to have much use for people like Bruce Levine and his bleating about corporatocracy, and it's probably not going to produce a state that him or I or most of the people that read MetaFilter are going to like very much.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:38 AM on August 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


I don't think the tea party counts because it's completely artificially generated: conceived, funded, and carried out by the billionaires who are also pushing us into debt, selling us shit that's bad for us, etc.

I mean, if that makes you feel better, you go on believing that. Probably not that hard to believe if you live in Brooklyn.

Out here in the hinterlands, the dissent is a little more palpable.
posted by valkyryn at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Irony: at school I was taught that the USA is a fascist state; it was 2002 (maybe 2003) and I was in Switzerland.
posted by - at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


When their revolution does come, which sooner or later it likely will, it's not going to have much use for people like Bruce Levine and his bleating about corporatocracy, and it's probably not going to produce a state that him or I or most of the people that read MetaFilter are going to like very much.

This. The "revolution," such as it was, of the 1960s was leftward. Signs suggest that the next one--both here and in Europe--will be rightward.

Hang on to your butts.
posted by valkyryn at 5:49 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Irony: at school I was taught that the USA is a fascist state; it was 2002 (maybe 2003) and I was in Switzerland.

Cite please. Calling the US fascist is really fucking stupid and can't be more wrong.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:56 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Alternet is such total bullshit. Time to leave the 1960s rhetoric where it belongs, in the toilet.
posted by midnightscout at 5:58 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


joannemullen: what a pathetic and nasty comment, and what a blinkered and stereotypical view of other people. How dare you try to exploit the bravery of the Syrians to present yourself as something other than a reactionary - or condemn today's young people because they operate in a context where they can afford an ipad but not a house.

Jeez. Talk about stereotypical and blinkered. Look in the mirror a minute. I'm not one to usually agree with joannemullen, but you're engaging in a close-to-perfect textbook ad hominem here. Taking by implication all of her other comments in unrelated threads as a cudgel to beat her over the head with (how DARE she "present herself" as anything other than a "reactionary"!) because she doesn't agree with the logic of this post is a crap move and one that you (and all the others here sneering at her) would howl against loud and long if it were applied to you.
posted by blucevalo at 6:00 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is sort of heavy on inside baseball, but Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P. gave a speech last year to a provincial chapter (regional meeting) of the Dominican Order on the boom in vocations (entrances) being experienced by the Eastern U.S. province of the Order. The cultural stuff is largely in "Session II":
There is something new afoot among the young men being who are today being drawn to the priesthood and religious life, and thus to the Dominican Order. I have noticed it over the past few years, but it seems more pronounced or at least more evident to me in the people born in the mid- to late 80s and early 90s. My sense is that these 20- and 30-somethings have been radicalized by their experience before entering the Order in a way that we were not. I am not certain how they would articulate their experience for themselves. It is as if they had gone to the edge of an abyss and pulled back from it. Whereas we tended to experience modernity (and then post-modernity) as a kind of adventure that never or rarely touched the core of our faith, these 20- to 30- somethings have experienced the moral relativism and eclectic religiosity of the ambient culture-and possibly of their own personal experience- and recognized it as a chaotic but radical alternative to Christianity with which no compromise is possible.
Which is to say with valkryn that the link in the FPP ignores the idea that radical youth resistance might be there, but just look different than the author expects (or probably desires.)
posted by Jahaza at 6:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


The whole "people elsewhere have it worse than you, so shut up and be happy" retort always baffles me. What a closed-minded and dismissive way to shut down any discussion about the problems at hand.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:25 AM on August 12, 2011 [21 favorites]


To rebel, you have to believe in your heart that there's something in humanity worth fighting for. I submit that the current American youth have seen the process of rebellion turned to authoritarianism worse than anything they ever rebelled againt in their own parents generation, and collectively decided "fuck it." The current uprisings in the Arab world and elsewhere are just one generation behind.
posted by rusty at 6:29 AM on August 12, 2011


We can add one more reason to the list - if the kindling ever gets warm enough, there's always the internet within which the fire the can be concentrated and contained.

I'm convinced that TV has been subtly rewiring us to be more passive. It can't be good to short-circuit the brain's normal functioning by presenting it with what appears to be real sensory input, only of a kind that requires us to learn to suppress our natural, instinctual physical responses.

When we watch TV, we're basically practicing not reacting to events that would normally require us to react.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm convinced that TV has been subtly rewiring us to be more passive.

As noticed in 1977
posted by localroger at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Tea Party has pretty significant youth participation, believe it or not.

Hmm, that seems a bit wishy washy, and I'm not sure I actually do believe you - with a reasonable metric of "pretty significant". Do you have any evidence to back that up?

Don't get me wrong, I understand your broader point about the Tea Party representing a populist movement a la Huey Long of the new millenium on arguably the other side of the political fence. But I don't think it's a demonstration of the number of youth demonstrating and their intensity etc.

It's quite simple, the reason why more young baby boomers were out protesting is because there was heaps of em. Orders of magnitude more than any subsequent cohort. This widens the wedge considerably more than is given credit for.

I'm not confident to say either way - and certainly not for American where I don't live - but other factors to consider in this include:

The decline of both the quality and quantity of media diversity.
The rise of Public Relations and the increasing sophistication of marketing -
The insertion of the above into lobbying, political campaigns etc.
The amount of household and other personal debt and its effect on working hours etc
The number of people enrolling and finishing university.
The dramatic rise in living standards and public health.
The end of the cold war.
The internet and alternative communication platforms.

"Young people" aren't an ingredient for social change on their own; you need lots of them and comparatively we don't have lots.

This is, it didn't feel so long ago to me that I was in protests with tens of thousands of other people about the decision to go to war in Iraq - co-ordinated globally with millions of people participating. I think - sans something like the draft - that was a pretty significant.
posted by smoke at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


The whole "people elsewhere have it worse than you, so shut up and be happy" retort always baffles me.

There's that retort, and there's, on the other hand, the one that says:

"Regardless of your actual grievances, you are not improving your argument by comparing yourself to people who really have it worse than you."
posted by Skeptic at 6:33 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


As near as I can tell, the author's thought processes worked something like this:

(1) There is not as much youth protest now as there was in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
(2) I do not like this.
(3) This difference must be due to other social changes I do not like, because post hoc proves propter hoc and correlation is causality.

Other equally well-supported claims might be that youth protest was stopped, by some mechanism I haven't rationalized yet, by the widespread acceptance of homosexuality, or by the increasing prevalence of interracial relationships, or perhaps by emanations from cellular telephones. Or perhaps it was all the work of the dreaded x86 instruction set.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


To rebel, you have to believe in your heart that there's something in humanity worth fighting for. I submit that the current American youth have seen the process of rebellion turned to authoritarianism worse than anything they ever rebelled againt in their own parents generation, and collectively decided "fuck it." The current uprisings in the Arab world and elsewhere are just one generation behind.

Yeah, that's called nihilism. It's been known to lead to even worse forms of authoritarianism. And often starts presenting acutely in a culture in the immediate lead up to some form of revolution. Read some Dostoevsky, for example. In his take on pre-revolutionary Russia, there's always a great deal of discussion and concern within the sitting rooms of polite society about all the young nihilists suddenly appearing on the scene.

I worry we're headed down a very dangerous path in the US.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:36 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


> I don't think the tea party counts because it's completely artificially generated

Self-hypnosis, or something in the water? The more progressives come to believe that about the TP, the less effective they become in opposing it.
posted by jfuller at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Regardless of your actual grievances, you are not improving your argument by comparing yourself to people who really have it worse than you."

We're all aware that the US is not Syria. We know Syria has it worse. There is nothing wrong with drawing comparisons where similarities are found, though. "You're not living in Syria" is just shorthand for "You have nothing to complain about, and should be grateful you even have what you got."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:39 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


And of course the 8 reasons young Americans will crush the opposition:

1. Unparalleled tools for organization- My god, why this doesn't have more play is beyond me. The opportunity for a massive, focused action has never been greater... look at what Anonymous accomplishes with just a BBS and a low orbit cannon.

2. Mass education- related to the above, but it is the most educated generation ever. And the ease of learning about damn near anything, fact checking, and being able to broadcast that information to almost anyone is nearly perverse.

3. Meritocracy/lessening of social constraints- much of the class/racial/gender division is less effecting than previous times. There is so much more space to forge new alliances.

4. Jadedness- The same tired appeals to patriotism, advertising jingles, etc. don't have the same effect. It's nice to call bullshit, and even better to be aware of it.

5. Better drugs- MDMA. Enough said.

6. Normalization of surveillance- this cuts both ways, as the LA Riots can attest to.

7. Consumerism- One of the nice side effects of mass consumerism is the basics of life are dirt cheap. It has never been easier to get by.

8. Youth- it sucks getting older. The energy needed to accomplish even the most basic activities only increases. In a war of attrition, the old simply burn out.

Of course this raises the question of exactly what the youngsters are up to these days...
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:40 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


saulgoodman: Oh, indeed. We're primed and ready for the Great Big Crackdown, when the Obama administration can be portrayed as dangerously leftist. And those of us who aren't keen on authoritarianism will mostly shrug and say "Well, hey, it's not like you assholes didn't have lots of historical examples of how this was gonna turn out. Enjoy your labor camps."
posted by rusty at 6:43 AM on August 12, 2011


I think the student loan thing is important, and if anything, is going to lead to a mass revolt.

You can't sell a generation of kids into debt slavery on the promise of vast rewards later and not expect them to fuck shit up when it doesn't happen.
posted by empath at 6:44 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think the tea party counts because it's completely artificially generated:

This is all true. But valkyryn is correct, I think, to point out that it's the "Tea Party-types" who most want a revolution in 2011. The most radical among them happily would drag the President from the White House and shoot him in the head (Lawrence Sellin beats the drum of insurrection in every column he writes, practically; Sellin isn't just a yahoo with a blog, he's an ex-Army Colonel, late of Petraeus' staff. Another regular advocate of "regime change" is ex-Major General and Fox News contributor, Paul Vallely), while the less radical would settle for an elected Christian caudillo (cf. Rick Perry), perpetual war abroad and a return to the 16th century at home.

When the Tea Partiers tell me that they want a revolution, I don't doubt them at all.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think I wrote a little too hastily, because I do agree with him that some of these factors are limiting youth resistance (though redefinded as to what constitutes resistance.) For example, I'd definitely agree that student loan debt is an obstacle to youth living radical lives. Here's an article on this from the National Catholic Register. For Catholics, this has inspired several different charities that help people pay back their student loans if they enter religious life.
posted by Jahaza at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2011


My mother, a proud protesting hippie herself (born right on the front edge of the Boomer generation) is convinced that the reason there haven't been any major protests since is because of education. "They saw what happened when we all got educated," she'll tell me. "It scared the hell out of them, so they're making it harder and harder for you guys."

She graduated from a good college. I dropped out from a trade school for lack of funds, and still have a ridiculous amount of debt. There's some truth there, at least with the two of us.

But then look at London - people there didn't even know why they were rioting, but they did it anyway. To me, that is telling. If you're fed up and confined and pissed off and can't even articulate why, then setting stuff on fire sounds like a great idea. I keep seeing all this disappointed tutting at the London rioters because they have no idea why they're out there. To me, that's the point. They've been so effectively silenced that they can't even put their dissatisfaction into words. They don't have the language for it, but they still have the anger.

I had a deep and creeping sense of political unease in late 2007 and most of 2008, which was temporarily burnt off by the euphoria of Obama's election. It's come back and brought some friends. The rhetoric is getting nastier, more vicious, and it seems like it's aimed directly at me and the people I love most.

I did the math yesterday. Guess how many people I am close to who are not some combination of female, queer, disabled, or non-Protestant-religious? Two. With that in mind it is fucking hard not to take the current rhetoric personally. Hard not to feel like there's going to be a massive, nasty backlash, and that I'm smack in the middle of the target area.

Things could blow up, or they could cool down. I can't tell from here on the bottom - I'm too busy scraping together the cash to get to the goddamn doctor to focus on all the subtle things that influence motion like this. At the same time though, if the Tea Party did get their revolution rolling -- I'd be right out there manning the goddamn barricades so they couldn't get past me to my loved ones. 'Cos that's what my hippie momma taught me is the right thing to do.
posted by cmyk at 6:55 AM on August 12, 2011 [24 favorites]


I think the writer makes some very cogent points.

I would like to add that, IMO, one of the biggest problems this country faces is the huge number of people that believe we don't have any problems. ( Authoritarianism can't even be discussed because we aren't living in an authoritarian country. I mean, lookit Syria, amirite? Really?)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:58 AM on August 12, 2011 [14 favorites]



Of course this raises the question of exactly what the youngsters are up to these days...


They're all on Facebook.
posted by Melismata at 7:00 AM on August 12, 2011


I'm convinced that TV has been subtly rewiring us to be more passive.

Let's not forget the internet, either. I'm tempted to believe that exchanging the inter-passivity of TV (where someone debates for you, or, indeed, where the audience actually laughs for you) for the inter-activity of the internet removes even more potential for participation in the Real World, much in the same way recycling allows us to continue our destructive lifestyle with a slightly less guilty conscious. I'm only tempted, though.
posted by klue at 7:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's called nihilism. It's been known to lead to even worse forms of authoritarianism.

Nihilists! Fuck me.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Right has never been as interested in psychological explanations for behavior as the Left

Since when? The right seems inordinately interested in psychological explanations as to why I "choose" to have sex with a member of my own gender. And the right always has been inordinately interested in those explanations -- when they've not been pounding the Bible as the source of the explanation.

you'll find a lot of homeschoolers and homeschooled kids in the Tea Party--which has always viewed college as optional and emphasized getting in and out of there with as little debt as possible.

You'll find that most homeschoolers' primary objection to higher education is not that it saddles students with student loan debt. I have yet to see a David Horowitz book cover that screams, STUDENT LOAN DEBT -- THE NEW LEFTIST HELL or whatever shit it is that he's peddling these days.

This has been one of the biggest criticisms of the public school system from the Right for decades, and is one of the main reasons a lot of conservative parents have been keeping their kids out of public schools.

The main reasons over the last few decades that a lot of white conservative parents have been keeping their kids out of public schools have much more to do with the lack of desire for their kids to have to mingle with the scum from the lower classes and the non-white ethnicities (not to mention the godless secularism of the teachers and administrators) than it has to do with the compliance-enforcing and the authoritarianism of the public school system.

NCLB and Race to the Top. See 3). If they aren't in public school, this sort of nonsense doesn't affect them as much.

NCLB started out essentially as a sinecure for Bush cronies and family, including Sandy Kress, Harold McGraw, Bill Bennett, and Neil Bush. Argue all you want that NCLB has had unintended consequences, but you can't argue that it wasn't generated by conservatives.

Remember, we're talking about the segment of society most likely to shriek about the morality and appropriateness of television programming.

Bruce Levine's argument has nothing to do with the morality and appropriateness of TV programming. Your argument does. There is no screaming at all from the right about Fox, which has taken fear-based programming (which is what Levine was talking about) to new heights.

I mean, really now, if you're going to criticize the Tea Party for being radical and destructive, don't you have to give them at least some credit for being, you know, radical and destructive?

I'll give them credit for being good nihilists.
posted by blucevalo at 7:05 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hat tip to valkyryn for the Tea Party analysis. Great stuff.
posted by falameufilho at 7:07 AM on August 12, 2011


Reading stuff like this make me feel terrible. I don't even know if I want to keep informed any more. I just want to find a job with a retirement fund and vacation days.
posted by rebent at 7:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


And so, rebent nailed it with fewer words than the author.
posted by klue at 7:14 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I mean, say what you like about the tenets of neoliberalism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:15 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The real question about the Tea Party is whether it is indeed a populist movement or if it is a movement established and manipulated by corporate interests. Considering the funding sources and banner bearers(Rand Paul - are you kidding me?) I would tend towards the latter.
posted by JJ86 at 7:17 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Since when? The right seems inordinately interested in psychological explanations as to why I "choose" to have sex with a member of my own gender. And the right always has been inordinately interested in those explanations -- when they've not been pounding the Bible as the source of the explanation.

The why has always seemed to me to be subordinate to condemnation, essentially as a control mechanism. (Gay is WRONG, comply with nuclear/Judeo-Christian standard family!) Where the why does impinge it seems to this outside observer to be used more as a tool to provide another reason for compliance, for example, as with the debate over nature vs nurture in defining sexuality.
posted by biffa at 7:23 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Real progress is slow, unphotogenic, and usually performed without street theater.

This a million times. Back in Peru, when I was young and naive, I joined a lefty organization of youths at university (this was 2006). Once elected president of the student federation, both left and right sabotaged us, attacked us and planted people to incriminate us in terrorism. The day after we won the elections, I got a letter at home from the Shining Path, congratulating me (comrade, they called me) which really freaked me out. During protests for laboral equality and indigenous rights, the president of our university actually paid students to come and throw rocks at the police, so they would discredit us. I was called a "red"(which is liked being called a witch in Salem a couple of centuries ago), lost a million friends, was chocked by tear gas, and had friends getting excited by the protests and doing stupid things that landed them in prison (one burnt an american flag in front of the embassy, another picked up a gas bomb and threw it back to the policemen). All of us were convinced we were fighting for the benefit of our indigenous people, our poor people and our laborers.

We achieved shit. In fact, the only thing I achieved was cynicism, and memories of a really shitty couple of years. I would trade stupid, naive, uncontrolled passion for method, discipline and steady will, any day. I am 27 now, and looking back I see that half of the people that protested with me just had an excess of energy to burn.
posted by Tarumba at 7:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


You'll find that most homeschoolers' primary objection to higher education is not that it saddles students with student loan debt. I have yet to see a David Horowitz book cover that screams, STUDENT LOAN DEBT -- THE NEW LEFTIST HELL or whatever shit it is that he's peddling these days.

You're not paying attention then. Here's Michael Barone writing in the Washington Examiner (syndicated to National Review Online) about the "Higher Education Bubble".

Here's a National Review Online article by Stephen Spruiell: "Today Student Loans, Tomorrow Health Care: In student lending, 'public option' is turning into 'single payer.'"

From the Pope Center: "The True Student-Loan Racket"

But this isn't something new. It's been a topic of conservative conversation for decades. Here's an article from 1988 from the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education's The Freeman criticizing government backed student loans for driving up higher education costs.
posted by Jahaza at 7:26 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The missing Spruiell link
posted by Jahaza at 7:27 AM on August 12, 2011


The real question about the Tea Party is whether it is indeed a populist movement or if it is a movement established and manipulated by corporate interests. Considering the funding sources and banner bearers(Rand Paul - are you kidding me?) I would tend towards the latter.

I think it is both. I think that the combination of media influences (Glenn Beck and his ilk) and funding sources are tapping into a dissatisfaction that is palpably there, as valkyryn points out. Maybe the big difference between the Tea Partiers now and the hippies before is the source of their messages, as cynical as that is.
posted by dubitable at 7:27 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the tea party counts because it's completely artificially generated: conceived, funded, and carried out by the billionaires who are also pushing us into debt, selling us shit that's bad for us, etc.

Please understand that the tea party is just a mushroom popping its ugly head up out of the ground. The mat of fungus it springs up from is acres wide. Right wing revolutionary thought is as old as the hippy generation. It is its negative face, and it has never gone away. The powers that be are harvesting its poisonous sap now, but I know hoards of people who have nothing to do with the TP, but have generations deep hatred for "educated eggheads" "moochers at the goverment teat" "public school brainwashing" and all rational ideas of working together to help those worse off on a national scale. Quite irrational, considering it's the basic tennant of their religion, but they counter with: "charity begins at home" or some such selective rationalization. Russ Limbo got huge fast because he knew his audience. Looooooooong before the tea party came about
posted by Redhush at 7:32 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The size of protests has increased over the years (though it's hard to get comparative statistics on this on the fly). King's march on Washington had 20,000 participants; the Million Man march had at least half a million. Even voter turnout for the 2008 presidential election was at a 40 year high. The Battle for Seattle (and G9 protest in Toronto) brought a number of issues into focus. And indeed, the Tea Partiers are engaged, if nothing else.

It's not that young people don't protest. It's that needed change does not come about from this, which is frustrating to say the least (it's not as if it comes about any other way either).
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:35 AM on August 12, 2011


The real question about the Tea Party is whether it is indeed a populist movement or if it is a movement established and manipulated by corporate interests.

Again, a common critique. The assumption seems to be that if there is corporate money involved anywhere, the movement can't be legitimate and does not represent the will of any significant section of the American populace. I'm pretty tempted to say that this doesn't actually matter. "Legitimacy" analyses have always struck me as goalpost-moving, no-true-Scotsman sort of thing to do.

What I can tell you for true is that out here here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is such a dump that the last news story of any significance was its emerald ash border infestation, the Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with, and there really doesn't seem to be much in the way of external funding. The district is about as red as they come, so no one really spends much money here. This is the district which was home to disgraced representative Mark Souder, and which elected an even more conservative politician to replace him.

Again, no national party even bothers to spend much money here. Elections are pretty much a foregone conclusion. The district certainly isn't representative of the country at large, but if your theory is that the Tea Party is all astroturf... you're just wrong. We don't need corporate funding to elect Tea Party candidates, thank you very much.

So you have to ask yourself: what's worse? That corporate interests can manipulate the system to shocking degree? Or that they don't even need to? Frankly, I think a lot of liberals comfort themselves with the former, because the latter is simply to horrible for them to imagine.
posted by valkyryn at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


But this isn't something new. It's been a topic of conservative conversation for decades. Here's an article from 1988 from the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education's The Freeman criticizing government backed student loans for driving up higher education costs.

You want to see where higher education costs are coming from and where it's going? I''ll show you. It's going here, for example. Here's some related discussion of where a lot of higher education costs came from in at least one case.

Right wing revolutionary thought is as old as the hippy generation.

Oh you're understating the problem here. It's much, much older. It's essentially just the philosophy of the dark ages.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


All the way down to the irrational fascination with dead cats.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:41 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that you can't be truly populist and supported by corporate money. You can't be only a little pregnant. FWIW, almost 2/3 of Marlin Stutzman's campaign money comes from PACs.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 7:46 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh god, super long comment as I try not to study:
I'm a young person in the US who's been involved in a fair amount of different political action. I've marched in the streets with hundreds and thousands of people, and what I have to show for it from the last one is a couple of busted rotator cuffs and a tremor when I see police. I don't know what we accomplished. Nonviolent mass demonstration got me felony charges (which I beat!), cost me a shit-ton of money, and a fair amount of physical therapy. lame.

News media shitty coverage doesn't help-- one of the things I appreciate most about independent media outlets is that it gives you a view of resistance that actually happens. Otherwise, it's easy to feel so isolated in struggle, to feel like no one is trying to do anything and nothing is happening. Staying in contact with other groups working to create change helps.

kids these days do struggle and fight against injustices, and work towards change. sometimes it looks peculiar to older folks used to the mass demonstration tactics-- instead I see trying to embrace the re-appropriation of dual power. creating alternate venues of education, diverting the enormous quantity of waste in the US to feed people, to build houses, to create projects. trying to create different models of housing. trying to fight the sad fight against environmental destruction. figuring out small scale power generation. i guess that's what resistance looks like to me... what I consider the most important fight, the fight to live. The bigger stuff, on state/federal levels, just feels too ineffectual as one person.

but still, the problem is that the big stuff, the state/federal stuff, the shit rolls down onto the rest of us. lack of funding for contraception, health care, restrictions of rights, these still have to be dealt with.

how do you live a radical life if you have so many student loans? if you don't go to college or even trade school, how do you get a job? how do you get health insurance? I've seen friends of mine bankrupted from health emergencies in their early 20s.

I do face a lifetime of indentured servitude, as someone put it, to pay back triple-figure student loans. maybe I didn't make the best choices, but almost any mainstream path in higher education leads to a whole shit ton of debt. I hate the number of people in my parents' generation who blame me for choosing to go to a school that involves taking out a shit ton of debt. I'm glad you could work part-time and pay for your college education and be debt-free, but you can go fuck yourself. With bachelor's and increasingly, advance degrees part and parcel of getting decent jobs, can you blame us for trying to get through school fast?

anyway. radical political involvement carries much more serious consequences these days, I think. I'm going into healthcare-- if I do some student loan resistance by choosing not to pay them back (e.g., war tax resistors), I lose my license to practice. there's a sense of being trapped that I feel from a lot of younger folks I know. I got fired from a job for briefly discussing employee organization at a workplace with some co-workers-- good fucking luck proving you got fired for that reason, have fun getting a new job. shit, I know people who've been canned for having opposing political views to their boss.. nothing like being in an at-will state.

I want to see rioting over student loans, dammit. Student loans and the desperate struggle to get decent health insurance are the chains that I see taking most of my friends out of any type of political involvement-- you don't have much time to organize if you're working overtime every week, assuming you're lucky enough to find any job (most folks I know have sent in so many job applications -- there are ads for dishwashing jobs, no joke, which require 2 years experience).

anyway; I'm not sure what I'm trying to get at. You win some, and you lose a lot getting there. It's hard to feel empowered, to feel like you can actually effect change in society. without being a multimillionaire lobbyist. and then, what's the point of influencing that type of change in a screwed up system?

I will say that I don't much care for a lot of social media, and the false sense of change or power that it provides; hey, sign this online petition! to change something! email your senator! because that will really help!

A lot of kids I meet who are in high school or still in undergrad have told me that they're not sure they want to get involved in anything, as they feel the stakes are so high with so little gain. When friends of mine spend a week in jail for sitting in a road... hard not to feel like maybe it's not worth it.

old-school mass demonstrations: do these tactics even work anymore here? if there are mass protests, but no general strikes, no other actions, what does it achieve when we mass protest but the status quo continues while we're in the streets for a few hours?

what can we brainstorm that won't be crushed, appropriated, or otherwise neutralized? I don't really believe in mass demonstrations anymore, and it annoys me when my parents' generation thinks that's the route to protest. there's other tactics similar, I think-- tree sits on the west coast have been around so long, the cops know pretty well how to pick people out of them. there needs to be new tactics, at least, we can't rely on the old tactics anymore.

tl;dr. i would be curious to hear from other early-mid-twenties folks as to their experience in their communities with resistance.
posted by circle_b at 7:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [32 favorites]


Dumb article. Wrong on many counts, wildly hyperbolic on others. It's really just a screed against everything the author doesn't like tied in to a thin and wholly manufactured thesis about youth dissent.

The only time the youth rallied in America is when a policy affected them directly. It wasn't about the Vietnam war...it was about the draft...protested by the potential draftees. The youth of today are not as invested in politics and policy. They don't need to be...they have no skin in the game. Tax reform? Debt ceilings? Health Insurance? Libya? Who's going to put their ass on the line fighting over those issues? Even the protests that do exist, like at G-8 and WTO meetings, aren't exactly driven by nuanced informed opinion. They're more for the lulz.
posted by rocket88 at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The real question about the Tea Party is whether it is indeed a populist movement or if it is a movement established and manipulated by corporate interests.

That's a false dichotomy. It can be both at once. It's easier for established interests to manipulate unstructured, but wide-spread activism than it it to manufacture it by astroturf.
posted by bonehead at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


A generation that did not have to pay for their education has decided that every generation after them should pay instead - there really is no other word for this than disgusting.

Not just this, but as university fees have increased, the chancellor of one institution asked why the concern, as parents had to pay school fees anyway. That would be the 7% or so of UK 18yr olds who are educated privately.

Health insurance sounds like a horrifically scary thing. I was reading something on the green earlier where someone split their leg open but wouldn't head to the ER because they could not afford to do so. To someone from the UK this seems really bizarre - you know that how ever much you earn, if you're sick you get to go to the hospital. I don't think I could feel comfortable living somewhere where losing my job came with the stress of not being able to afford to get sick.
posted by mippy at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


these 20- to 30- somethings have experienced the moral relativism and eclectic religiosity of the ambient culture-and possibly of their own personal experience- and recognized it as a chaotic but radical alternative to Christianity with which no compromise is possible

Huh. For the Emperor?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just wait till October.
posted by Tennyson D'San at 8:01 AM on August 12, 2011


It seems to me that the rich and powerful have been very successful here employing the diversionary tactic of getting the rest of us at each others throats based, not on power or its abuse, but on what year we were born.

Congratulations, generation warriors of all ages.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Typically you see youth rebellions when the demographics have a small number of old people in power at the top of the pyramid and a large number of alienated youth at the bottom. Prior to birth control and modern medicine this was not uncommon. Today people are living longer than ever while having fewer children - and indeed populations are rapidly aging - there are more old people at the top than young people on the bottom.
posted by stbalbach at 8:07 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comments here are very interesting. When people of the future look back at what happened to the U.S., and ask why the citizenry didn't act to stop its decline, threads like this should prove invaluable.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


2 countries. Both democracies. A huge widening gap between the Haves ad Have Nots in both.
But in one nation, one guy, using social media, has started a huge peaceful demonstration demanding change; in the other, nothing. Which is which and why?

HOW THEY DID IT HERE

NOTE THAT the super wealthy own the media in both nations.
posted by Postroad at 8:26 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do face a lifetime of indentured servitude, as someone put it, to pay back triple-figure student loans. maybe I didn't make the best choices, but almost any mainstream path in higher education leads to a whole shit ton of debt. I hate the number of people in my parents' generation who blame me for choosing to go to a school that involves taking out a shit ton of debt.

The article claims the average undergraduate comes out of college with like 25k in debt, not much more than a new car. Where is all this debt slavery talk coming from? You can pay that off in two years at a decent job. Hardly a shit ton of debt or a lifetime of servitude; by my math that leaves 6 years for twenty somethings to live off the grid and fight the man, if they so choose.

But I don't want to make this about the poor math skills of 18 year olds. I think part of the problem here is the representativeness heuristic. I don't know anybody with triple figure student debt, and it seems like most lawyers don't know anybody without it. Since intuition doesn't consult surveys or census data, it's likely to be wrong in an era where you spend perhaps a decade in education in a lawyer track or engineering track. When you're surrounded by so many people taking on debt you feel forced to join them to keep pace, it's no wonder people blame the system.

TL;DR: There's more to life than expensive liberal arts colleges and law schools.
posted by pwnguin at 8:35 AM on August 12, 2011


Orders of magnitude more than any subsequent cohort.

No. Not even close
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:41 AM on August 12, 2011


This is really not a corporate-ageist issue, it's an issue that young people (I am 31) are not involved in the historic industries in the United States and so not involved in a great deal of the major Democratic initiatives of the last 80 years. What we are left with is a small minority trying to do everything they can to involve more than money in the election of people who could dramatically change the course of the American system. Our national dependency on service work, the loss of skilled manufacturing, and the military industrial complex have put us into a deep malaise.

I resent the suggestion that young people are not involved in politics. However I do find that the dependence on electronics is a powerful detractor from being as involved as we should. When I run for office I plan to say that what is on the internet about me is my life and I do not regret that many of my best friendships and relationships are online because that is the nature of my life in the technological age. What we do to defeat the dependence is complex. It might involve filial ties, I think. But that's a half-answer.

The truth is that the social production of everyday life is so complicated now that coming back to the kinds of democratic institutions this article poses is impossible without community industry leading the revival. What that means or represents I still do not know. I'm working on it!
posted by parmanparman at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2011


You can pay that off in two years at a decent job.

It is to make a hollow laughter.
posted by winna at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


As a young progressive, I am losing my will for resistance. For me it's not student loan debt or poverty; those things are crushing, but really they just make me madder. It's cynicism.

I am incredibly disappointed with what we were able to accomplish working within the system, to the point where I am almost ready to abandon the system entirely (which is an argument that's been had in a hundred other threads, no reason to rehash it here). But even that's not the most crushing thing.

Here's the worst thing. Everyone in America already knows everything, or could learn it in an instant if they had any interest at all. And the vast majority of people still don't give a fuck.

So what are we supposed to do? The generation before us has had twenty years to heed calls for environmental change, why would they listen now? The whole country has understood and acknowledged that torture is apparently something we do now, and decided to just ... get over it and move on? From the War in Iraq to the thievery on Wall Street, no one seems to be able to really, actually care.

Is it possible for protest to make 'the masses' care about something they've already decided not to care about? This is a sincere question. Because "raising awareness" is no longer necessary. People are suffering from awareness oversaturation.

It seems to me that anyone who's decided that "environmental apocalypse" is not something they're overly concerned about, isn't going to change their minds.

So as things seem, increasingly, to be getting worse, I am turning my concern to the handful of people who I love deeply and believe it is my responsibility to care for: and I am focusing on doing my best to ensure that we will have the resources to weather whatever coming storms there are.

Which basically means I am becoming more self-centered and selfish, more concerned about family and tribe and nothing else; which means I am choosing to become exactly like the people who made me so frustrated and cynical in the first place. And this helps me feel compassionate towards them again, so I believe that change IS possible, but then once more it ends in frustration... And I continue to beanplate.
posted by crackingdes at 8:44 AM on August 12, 2011 [26 favorites]


And the vast majority of people still don't give a fuck.

Or, for whatever reason, actively disagree with progressive policy goals. Apathy is one thing. Antagonism is something else entirely.
posted by valkyryn at 8:47 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, valkyryn, exactly. From my currently really jaded perspective in the midwest, it kinda seems that half the people don't care all that much, and the other half actively believe that environmentalism is harmful to people, that homosexuality and atheism are undermining America's greatness, that minorities are lazy and thus deserve to be poor, that if people were more religious our problems would be solved, and that winning wars is the measure of our foreign policy success. I have a concrete disagreement with those people about both values and method. Protesting isn't going to change their minds. I am not sure if anything will change their minds. And I don't intend to change mine. I don't know what kind of political action is appropriate in this environment, but I don't think it's protest. The problem is I really don't have a clue of what should happen instead.
posted by crackingdes at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Which basically means I am becoming more self-centered and selfish, more concerned about family and tribe and nothing else; which means I am choosing to become exactly like the people who made me so frustrated and cynical in the first place. And this helps me feel compassionate towards them again, so I believe that change IS possible, but then once more it ends in frustration... And I continue to beanplate.

Not at all. This is the most honest thing I have read in this thread. I see things this way also and alot of fear and doubt and old baggage and labels just fall away, perhaps these things were diversions, whatever the reason, the course of events seems to have you evaluating what is most important and i find that really refeshing and your right, it restores a sense of compassion and understanding without the guilt.
well said crackingdes.
posted by clavdivs at 8:56 AM on August 12, 2011


You can pay that off in two years at a decent job.

Of which there are so many in such profligate abundance these days.
posted by blucevalo at 8:56 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or, for whatever reason, actively disagree with progressive policy goals.

Obviously, both can be true, right? Some people can not give a fuck and others can dislike progressive policies and the 1960's and the 1860's and the Enlightenment and the Renaissance ...
posted by octobersurprise at 8:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can pay that off in two years at a decent job.

Not when you have been taught all your life to maintain your level of consumption by delaying your debt payments. Interest payments getting too high? Here, we'll raise your credit card max.
posted by Ardiril at 8:58 AM on August 12, 2011


Why?

I think the explanation is simple. Impatience. People expect stuff to happen rapidly. You can say it's because of growing up in a consumerist society, or information overload, or mass instantaneous communication, or just the fact our cars and planes go too darn fast.

Play the long game, do what you can, and don't get burned out. If it takes 25 years it, it takes 25 years. If it takes 100 years, start thinking about continuity and handing-off to the next few generations.
posted by FJT at 9:02 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The article claims the average undergraduate comes out of college with like 25k in debt, not much more than a new car. Where is all this debt slavery talk coming from? You can pay that off in two years at a decent job.

You operate under a lot of assumption. From a study in May 2011 that showed up in the NYT, median salary for a college grad is $27K. Only 56% of those grads obtained a job.

If you are making $27,000 a year, you are probably only getting $18-20K after tax, if you've done well maneuvering yourself to avoid getting reamed by the IRS. Let's say you are getting $20K after all taxes. To pay off in two years means you drop $12.5K in student loans and live off of $7500 per year. That's just over $625 a month to pay rent, bills, food, clothing, etc.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:05 AM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


You're not paying attention then.

I'm not paying attention because whatever scraps of conversation there are (such as those you linked) about student loan debt in right/libertarian discourse are drowned out by the wailing and the gnashing of teeth about what a commie secular automaton-creating scam the higher educational system is.
posted by blucevalo at 9:05 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would someone please add "firstworldproblems" to the tags list?
posted by Ardiril at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its called aping the apathy of their parents.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a zany mix-up! All those heavily-indebted recent college graduates totally spaced on getting decent jobs!

Well, it sure is a good thing we figured that one out - what a relief that's gonna be when we tell them.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:11 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Would someone please add "firstworldproblems" to the tags list?

Of course the inability to maintain the basic standard of living in one's own culture is a petty annoyance. We should go to these people who can't afford to buy groceries and tell them it could be worse - they could be starving Somali peasants. That will perk them right up as they go through their days in a hunger-induced haze!
posted by winna at 9:17 AM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Let's all just move to Poland and grow potatoes on our działka.
posted by LiteOpera at 9:18 AM on August 12, 2011


Would someone please add "firstworldproblems" to the tags list?

The US is a second world country. Or I guess in the more modern parlance, an undeveloping country.
posted by byanyothername at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


What a terrible getoffamylawn rant of an article. Reason #5 in particular is hilarious:

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class.


Yeah, those high school dropouts are so much more politically active and aware than college graduates, as proven by those farmers 100 years ago who managed to get a nation-shaking 8% of the vote in a presidential election and propose an idea for banking reform that was never implemented.
posted by straight at 9:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


We should go to these people who can't afford to buy groceries

You mean those of us, like me, whose only income is disability from Social Security?
posted by Ardiril at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2011


Baby, if anybody is sucking hind tit in this country, it's me. But, I do have a tit.
posted by Ardiril at 9:28 AM on August 12, 2011


We don't need corporate funding to elect Tea Party candidates, thank you very much.

Speaking of conservative Hoosiers, this morning The Indy Star reports on emails suggesting that anti-same-sex marriage Republican Rep. Phillip Hinkle offered a young man $80 plus tip "for a really good time." Hinkle's lawyer, defense attorney Peter Nugent, said "I'm trying to get to the bottom of everything involved."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


You mean those of us, like me, whose only income is disability from Social Security?

Obviously yes, if you think that it's appropriate to dismiss the situation of yourself and people like you (and me, for that matter) with that whole 'first world problem' phrasing which trivializes the issue.

Personally I would never label the question of food and shelter insecurity with such a tiresomely sneering epithet, having experienced it myself first-hand, but it appears we differ on that point.
posted by winna at 9:42 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The issue is trivial. Hey, have you ever been homeless? Well, such as 'homeless' is here in the US? If so, join me in the club.
posted by Ardiril at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2011


drowned out by the wailing and the gnashing of teeth about what a commie secular automaton-creating scam the higher educational system is.

My point was not that conservatives tend to be against student indebtedness per se, but that there are parallel things which are important to them which have resulted in conservative-minded youths being less likely to have lots of student debt. The "wailing and gnashing of teeth" you reference would certainly seem to support such a theory, yes?
posted by valkyryn at 9:52 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hinkle's lawyer, defense attorney Peter Nugent, said "I'm trying to get to the bottom of everything involved."

That's what Hinkle was trying to do too.
posted by blucevalo at 9:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The US is a second world country. Or I guess in the more modern parlance, an undeveloping country.

I've been kicking around the term "zeroth world country" to describe our fairly unique position in the world. Here's the full arc:

Fourth World: Hunter-gatherer, primal, tribal societies.
Third World: Agrarianism.
Second World: Beginning Industrialism.
First World: Abundance Industrialism. (Turn up the oil/gas/energy spiggot to 11! What, no more here at home? Go prey on the Second/Third/Fourth World...)
Zeroth World: Scarcity Industrialism. (It becomes clear that the resources industrialism relies on are running out and can't be replaced. Second/Third/Fourth world resource conflicts getting expensive...)
Negative First World: Salvage Society.
Negative Second World: Ecotechnic Society.
Negative Third: Fuck Yeah Organic Space Exploration!!!

That said, our position right now really is unique, as we're perched between the First and Zeroth worlds. It's not surprising at all to see so much focus on generational differences in this thread... The old and young are often in wholly different worlds!
posted by symbollocks at 10:01 AM on August 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


"Or, for whatever reason, actively disagree with progressive policy goals. Apathy is one thing. Antagonism is something else entirely."

Well, no. Public polling shows again and again that a majority of American people want liberal (term used broadly) policy goals. However, they disagree on tactics as well as running away from the term "liberal."
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Public polling shows again and again that a majority of American people want liberal (term used broadly) policy goals.

Public polling shows again and again that the majority of American people don't know what the f*ck they want. They want all the benefits in the world. They don't want to pay any taxes. This, I suggest, does not represent a policy position at all.
posted by valkyryn at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


People manipulate polls too much--both in the implementation and the subsequent reporting--for polls to provide any sort of useful basis for discussion anymore.

But for what little it's worth, polls consistently show most of the US public does support tax increases on upper income brackets.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


In 2007 the train was going 100MPH to the right. Young people got all pissed off and showed it by coming out in droves to elect a President they believed would help turn the train around.

But you can't just throw a speeding train in reverse and have it happen. Over the last few years, that train has slowed down a hell of a lot, and while you can argue is still slowly sliding to the right, it's showing signs of finally reversing direction.

So why aren't young people rioting in the streets? Because they feel like they accomplished their goal. No longer speeding to the right.

Are they right, did they accomplish enough? Maybe, maybe not. Who cares, you know why they're not rioting? Because enough of them still have jobs, enough still have plasma TVs and XBOXes, and enough of them still walk to Trader Joe's and Wholefoods that they don't need to riot to get what they want. These are young people we're talking about. Let unemployment and poverty levels get higher and you'll see rioting. Let the "authoritarian" government shut down facebook and twitter in the US and you'll see rioting. There are a lot of sad, bad things going on in this country, but it's not to the point where the youth are going to throw away what little future they have by fighting the system rather than fighting within the system.

(I'm 28 fwiw, so maybe "they" should be "we", idk, and obviously these are just one man's opinion. I don't speak for a generation)
posted by jermsplan at 10:38 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


They want all the benefits in the world. They don't want to pay any taxes.

They also want to use the mechanisms of government to punish those who they feel have transgressed, and punish them soundly. America is a 5 year old who wants to take a blowtorch to a beehive after a single sting.
posted by chimaera at 10:40 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm 26 and I am, all things being equal, pretty lucky. I have a good job with health insurance, a modest-but-acceptable salary and no student debt. Most of my friends are, knock on wood, also relatively prosperous. But we're still nowhere near as well-off as our parents were.

I think what Avenger said about cynicism is spot-on. I associate with a pretty well-informed bunch and we are all, every last one of us, profoundly cynical about the direction of America. We basically consider it a matter of course that this is nation in decline, that it's only a matter of time before whatever tatters remain of the social safety net remain will be destroyed, that "middle-class" will keep being defined downward until there is no real middle-class anymore.

We do not think there is anything we can do. We just don't know what to do. To have come into political consciousness in the past decade is to have seen everything that you thought America was about thrown back in your face covered in blood and spittle. America tortures people, it spies on its own citizens, it has low social mobility, it blames all its problems on its most vulnerable and powerless.

The dirty little secret, I think, is that the 'system' our parents rebelled against so romantically actually worked pretty well. They got cheap education and good infrastructure and economic opportunity. Even the minorities who were cast out of it were eventually, with great effort, brought into the fold. The problem, in the past three decades, is that that system needed maintenance, and instead of maintaining it, instead of updating it, we have actively sought to dismantle it, so that now it is a shell of its former self.

And now? I think the recession has really ratcheted up our cynicism to new heights. I mean Bush was bad, but everyone figured that out eventually, and then the whole economy blew up due to deregulation and greed. After a brief period when it seemed like something might be done about this, we are now back to...deregulation and greed. We have learned nothing, and the old silly shibboleths are back in full force. I think many people my age have come to the conclusion that our political discourse just makes no sense. I mean, what the hell do you say to someone who thinks that we can balance a fucking budget without raising taxes?

Oh, and lest we forget about the true roots of the Tea Party, it rose largely in opposition to health care reform, because that reform sought to cut costs. Remember the 'death panels?' That was how the Tea Party caught on, and now these people have the gall to rail about deficits. There probably are some young people in the Tea Party, but I thoroughly reject the notion that it has very many of them. This is what the Tea Party is: it is the most privileged generation in American history blowing up one more time, hoping to hold on to their privilege until the bitter end. They figure if they throw enough of a tantrum, we can give them their entitlements while not raising their taxes and disinvesting in everything else just a little bit longer, just enough so that they can cling on until most of them die off. And then when the bill comes due, when our roads are crumbling and investment bankers are the only ones with any money left in this country, we'll all be scavenging for their table scraps. But by then it will be too late. The Tea Party's slogan really should be "I want mine, and fuck you."
posted by breakin' the law at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2011 [39 favorites]


The US is a second world country. Or I guess in the more modern parlance, an undeveloping country.

I've been kicking around the term "zeroth world country" to describe our fairly unique position in the world. Here's the full arc:



No, here's the ful arc:
WP: The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO (First World), or communism and the Soviet Union (Second World).

This definition provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions.
French demographer, anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy. . . coined the term (in 1952) to refer]to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War.

His usage was a reference to the Third Estate, the commoners of France who, before and during the French Revolution, opposed priests and nobles, who composed the First Estate and Second Estate, respectively. Sauvy wrote, "Like the third estate, the Third World is nothing, and wants to be something." He conveyed the concept of political non-alignment with either the capitalist or communist bloc.
To review:
1st World: Capitalist "West"
2nd World: Communist "East"
3rd World: Non-aligned, and by extention, assumed to be economically backward.

It's not a ranking. It's also obsolete.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:45 AM on August 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


But for what little it's worth, polls consistently show most of the US public does support tax increases on upper income brackets.

I mean, that's great and all, but it won't actually pay for the programs they also support in overwhelming numbers. I still maintain that the stated preferences of the American populace are incoherent.

posted by valkyryn at 10:46 AM on August 12, 2011


I mean, that's great and all, but it won't actually pay for the programs they also support in overwhelming numbers.

It could, though. There are plenty of balanced budget proposals out there that, in the most literal sense, do pay for all the programs we want and then some (never mind predicting future economic impacts).

These days, 'penny-wise, pound-foolish' thinking and a certain basic lack of wisdom are our only real cultural/economic/political problems.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:51 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Daryl Copeland's ACTE model goes beyond the North/South, capitalist/communist distinctions and looks at material wealth and opportunities:
To support this reallocation, Copeland breaks away from a First World/Third World interpretation to one which he characterizes as ACTE – the advancing, contingent, tertiary, and excluded worlds.

The A world is made up of the advanced nations, along with the economically advantaged elite in less-developed countries. The ‘‘contingent’’ world includes the emerging developed states. ‘‘Tertiary ’’-world countries are mainly the dependent, underdeveloped ‘‘Third World,’’ with the addition of the ‘‘the uninsured poor in the United States (such as those who suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.)’’ and pockets of poverty in other states.

The ‘‘excluded ’’ world comprises those groups largely isolated from development, mostly in sub-Saharan states, Amazonia and Central Asia. This interpretation of the world sets up the role development can play increasing security in both the A and CTE worlds by reducing the currently widening economic gaps between these worlds. Copeland argues that ‘‘we must make a substantial effort to identify the critical points at which A-world knowledge, C-world skills, and T- and E-world needs intersect’’ (Fisher, Journal of American Studies, 2010.)
posted by HLD at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to add my voice to those posters who are cynical, apathetic, etc. I've always been taught that you shouldn't worry about the things that on can't change, and the political system seems to be precisely one of those things. So I don't even fret about the things going on the national political scale... Whether they affect me or not, it's simply not an effective use of my time to try to change them, when instead I should be making sure that I'm able to handle whatever the hell will happen next.
posted by subversiveasset at 10:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes yes, the baby boomers were better than us in every damn way, including their more awesome protests, their better use of drugs and their better jobs. We know, we know.
posted by zabuni at 9:40 AM on August 12


And the music. Don't forget the music. Oh, and the awesome HIV-and-condom-free sex!

Come on, don't be downhearted. You guys are better looking and more fitness-conscious than we were. Except for those hideous tattoos and piercings. That shit is well past its sell-by.
posted by Decani at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2011


Does the author of the article want another Kent State?
posted by luckynerd at 11:16 AM on August 12, 2011


And the music. Don't forget the music. Oh, and the awesome HIV-and-condom-free sex!

I remember that!

Damn. Now I'm even more bummed. Thanks. :(
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:20 AM on August 12, 2011


Maybe I am an outlier but...

Many of the youngish people I know (I'm 28) have non-profit/public sector etc. jobs. Is there any good data about the growth of social justice programs and jobs, and charity etc.?

It may just be that activism isn't relegated to the street anymore...
posted by rosswald at 11:28 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean really, his thesis is that these kids were willing to face down the possibility of torture and death from the Mukhabarat or the Basij, but the possibility of their student loans going into default would have been enough to keep them cowed?

Yeah. This is about as far as I got in reading the article when it popped up around bedtime last night. I thought about formulating a response but thought, nah, I'll leave it until morning. And now that it is morning I notice lots of good back and forth here, often as not on a smarter, wiser level than the initial article. Go Metafilter Go!

I am incredibly disappointed with what we were able to accomplish working within the system, to the point where I am almost ready to abandon the system entirely [...]

But even that's not the most crushing thing.

Here's the worst thing. Everyone in America already knows everything, or could learn it in an instant if they had any interest at all. And the vast majority of people still don't give a fuck.


The thing I take issue with in this comment is the use of the word SYSTEM. And it's a big issue, fundamental, I think.

I remember back in the 80s when, as a young man, I discovered the likes Marshall McLuhan and Noam Chomsky and watched Videodrome any number of times on acid, it occurred to me that SYSTEM was the wrong word. SYSTEM was an old word, SYSTEM was old-world. The SYSTEM was what sucked us into World Wars One and Two and, arguably, took a mortal hit with the dropping of two atom bombs on Japan in August 1945 (almost exactly 66 years ago). The SYSTEM was ultimately three-dimensional and not up to post-atomic nth-dimensional human reality.

What replaced it was the PROGRAM. Just a word, it's true, but a word which tends to grow in power (for me at least) the more it's used. Because where SYSTEM suggests an organized structure of control that is imposed more or less by force and/or coercion, PROGRAM suggests a script, a complexity of coding that seeks to not force us into anything, but to lure us, to massage us, to suck us dry. It's as simple as the best and the brightest ending up in advertising, or convoluted money-marketing, or making big dumb 3D movies.

Chomsky calls it the Manufacturing of Consent.
Debord called it the Society of the Spectacle.
Allen Ginsberg called it the Hydrogen Jukebox.

Put any name to it you like, the dissolution of the PROGRAM will not be effected by the disaffected hipsters, deadbeats, slackers of now putting on black bandanas and taking to the barricades; certainly not in any obvious reality-based way that rides on agit-prop tactics that were already tired and spent in 1965 and probably had more positive influence on TV ratings than they ever did on political change.

What will help dissolve the PROGRAM?

I don't know exactly. I'm still working on it, in it, all around it. And so are very many in this community. Keep on communicating y'all.

And oh yeah, because nobody's said it yet: "REVOLUTION IS THE OPIATE OF THE INTELLECTUALS!"

Graffiti-scrawl seen in the background of a shot in Lindsey Anderson's O Lucky Man, one of the best darned movies ever made.
posted by philip-random at 11:28 AM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


subversiveasset: I've always been taught that you shouldn't worry about the things that on can't change, and the political system seems to be precisely one of those things. So I don't even fret about the things going on the national political scale... Whether they affect me or not, it's simply not an effective use of my time to try to change them...

I sincerely commend you on your self-awareness and honesty, but I hope you can see that is a loathsome and privileged position for a human being to take. The U.S. government affects far more than just the citizens of the U.S. Your rationalization of your own apathy might make you feel better, but it's cold comfort indeed to the rest of us who have to live with the consequences.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to add my voice to those posters who are cynical, apathetic, etc. I've always been taught that you shouldn't worry about the things that on can't change, and the political system seems to be precisely one of those things. So I don't even fret about the things going on the national political scale... Whether they affect me or not, it's simply not an effective use of my time to try to change them, when instead I should be making sure that I'm able to handle whatever the hell will happen next.

I'm trying to come around to this view, but boy is it difficult. I often get angry, anxious and upset when I read about what is going on in the world, and there have been days when I'll just walk around the city - I live in New York - looking at the throbbing prosperity all around and think to myself "how much longer can this last? What's going to happen when everything comes crumbling down?"

I've realized that I have to stop thinking about this so much and just relax and enjoy myself. I really wish that I could be like you, but I'd have to break a lifelong habit of reading the news a lot and actually giving a shit. Seriously - people who are like this - how do you do it?
posted by breakin' the law at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a grouchy disillusioned 29-year-old, here's my take: I think the apathy is learned.

You write letters, or emails, you get a generic form reply. You make calls, you get some intern who is more interested in the text they're sending than whatever you say. If you try to protest you'll get maced, tear-gassed, arrested -- and protests haven't been a viable form of protesting in decades anyway. Nobody pays attention. You vote, it gets deleted or erased. You try to feed the homeless, you get busted by the cops.

What you learn is: unless you're a multinational corporation or have more money than god, nobody gives a damn listening to what you're trying to say. And the corporations and extremely wealthy people do not give a damn what happens to you.
posted by cmyk at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


In 1955, Erich Fromm, the then widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”

I find this interesting, because it falls into the same pattern anti-psychiatric rhetoric one might see coming from Scientologists. It turns out that there are some individuals whose brains clearly show (in fMRI studies) a deficiency relative to rewards gained from cooperative social action - to the point where they are completely disruptive, in addition to often showing serious co-morbidity (anxiety, overt aggression, depression). In other words there is a big difference between a kid with ODD and a kid who is just being a pain in the butt from time-to-time.

There is some merit to this article, but I don't think we are experiencing a conspiracy against youth resistance. What we are experiencing is the end result of a culture of individualism that is washing empathic qualities from the bones of our citizens - including our youth. I've pointed out in a prior post the studies that show an increasing lack of empathy among young people; this is a continuing and growing trend.

Think about it: we're less than 100 years away from the massive social experiment that uproots extended family; we've gone from extended families to mom-dad-kids (and often, mom or dad are missing these days). We've managed to uproot the structures within which our species evolved.

Another reason for the crushing of youth resistance is the "self-esteem" movements that have come out of the kind of "let's-blame-our-increasingly-authoritarian-culture" rhetoric we've seen in the AlterNet piece. There's good evidence starting to appear that indicates the self esteem movement has led parents to believe that praising your kid's every little effort to the rafters is counterproductive. This has been going on for the last 30-40 years, leading to entire generations of youth prematurely giving up on challenges when immediate praise in not forthcoming. Overpraise actually stunts the ability to take risks. Protesting and/or working steadily - sometimes in isolation - are risky propositions. Connect the dots...

One could write a book about this, but the other reason we see no protests coming from youth is the proliferation of isolation brought about by entertainment media. It turns out that our brains love the constant stimulation of new challenges - including novel access to the answers to questions that our ever-active brains generate (as a sense of wonder). Thus, an artifact of our very sophisticated gaming and other technologies is that they are taking us into ever more internal, disconnected worlds that don't hve anything to do with *overt* cooperative action. This is not an irreversible trend, because we could crate games that encourage social action. I think it's just a matter of time.

Anyway, I think most of the AlterNet piece is biting around the edges of the core of the problem. We have gotten fat, lazy, and irresponsible. We have weakened the glue that holds cultures together; we have focused on the assumption of rights without instilling the tenets of responsibility, and so on.

When one is being well fed and able to have more than enough to keep our ever-wandering minds busy, one can become very complacent. If one who has been brought up in a culture like this has one's expected desires thwarted due to structural constraint (in America's case, lack of opportunity for youth), a seething sense of frustration can begin to be felt, but one is only left with the seething; the shaking of one's fist in the wind, because there has been no tradition of cooperative action learned in the family (what's left of it), or in smaller, formative cultural groups. We have become anesthetized by our accidental good fortune.

Overall, I'm optimistic, because of our great diversity (another topic), but we're gong to pay dearly for the excesses of the last several decades. Frustration of our youth; their seeming inability to take cooperative action, is only the beginning. The latter problem will resolve itself once we see more critical mass with this problem. Lack of opportunity (with concomitant underemployment) will eventually reach a boiling point. When we reach that boiling point, things will start to get interesting.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:49 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


it occurred to me that SYSTEM was the wrong word.
What replaced it was the PROGRAM.
Chomsky calls it the Manufacturing of Consent.
Debord called it the Society of the Spectacle.
Allen Ginsberg called it the Hydrogen Jukebox.


Chief Bromden got it right, back in 1962. The proper term is The Combine.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:58 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've realized that I have to stop thinking about this so much and just relax and enjoy myself. I really wish that I could be like you, but I'd have to break a lifelong habit of reading the news a lot and actually giving a shit. Seriously - people who are like this - how do you do it?

Well, I concentrate on individual acts of charity, where I can see how my actions make a difference. I used to focus on politics, until I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall and it felt so much better to stop. Also, I'm having brain chemistry issues right now, and if I look at the big picture, it only makes them worse.

I'm with crackingdes; at this point I'm just creating plans for me and mine to pull together as a tribe. (It's worth noting, though, that "me and mine" pretty much includes anyone who's interested in joining us. The more the better!) I don't expect armageddon, but it's easier to survive hard times as a group who can pool resources.
posted by cereselle at 12:00 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, do I hate it when these threads turn into generational sniping! Lots of fellow Boomers I know are astounded at the energy and insight of the 20-somethings we see. So many of them have a better idea of how to change the world than we did.

Let me take the blame-the-media angle for a minute. The counterculture in the 60's was about more than stopping a war we didn't want to go to. And it was so fascinating that it was extensively covered in magazines like Life and Time. The coverage effectively spread the protest to flyover country.

But the media learned! What happened during the Punk rebellion? It was more or less ignored, and certainly not glamorized. They realized they had been stirring the pot, and things exploded (literally with the Weathermen, the two 1968 assassinations, and in other ways, for years). For decades now the media has been telling us everything is OK. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.
Hey, now there's Spotify and smarter phones and a new app every day!
posted by kozad at 12:07 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've realized that I have to stop thinking about this so much and just relax and enjoy myself. I really wish that I could be like you, but I'd have to break a lifelong habit of reading the news a lot and actually giving a shit. Seriously - people who are like this - how do you do it?

It's a good thing to stay informed, but always realize that the "news" is a business. It's a business that rests on the edifice of advertising revenue and a metric called "circulation". The "news" is meant to get your attention, so that you will be exposed to what the advertisers (who support the news) want you to know about their products. Look at the 11 o'clock news, for example. "If it bleeds, it leads". Why do we think that is? Simple. It gets your wired attention. We're wired to pay attention to those things that might harm us. The news triggers that impulse. Try looking at the news with a more dispassionate eye.

You want to live well without the news? Consider that "politics" starts at your front door. When you walk out that door in the morning do the best you can to be kind to yourself, and others. Don't compromise your values in doing this, and don't give up your tendency to righteous anger when you see something that's wrong. Work in a way that scales with your time, energy, etc. to effect social change - even if that's something as simple as smiling at an isolated senior on your block, or growing a small garden in your back yard (or in your kitchen window if you don't have a back yard). Visit your local City Council meetings and see what they're up to. Keep it local; keep it close to home. If you're not inclined to social engagement, don't get isolated around negative "news" issues. In cases like this, you always have three choices: you can change others (hard to do); you can leave your environment (but when does that stop, because the "news" is ever present?); or, you can change your reactions to the news - that way lies liberation. It's your reaction to the news that causes discomfort; those reactions, if they make you feel depressed, instead of moved towards righteous action, are the ones you have to watch out for. If you feel depressed after watching the news, and you can't seem to get away from that feeling, I suggest you start looking into the cognitive distortions that are causing you to feel that way, using methods that are proven to be useful in very well controlled studies - and cheap to access.. It's good to feel energized to action if one doesn't like what one is experiencing; it's not good to feel depressed and defeated.

Try to stop projecting today's bad "news" (because one can't avoid it, entirely) into the future at large. Why? Because when you do that, you are creating your own cognitive distortion about the future; this makes you (via your brain) feel worse. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. The "news" will make you depressed, if you are the sort of person who has a strong empathic sense.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:09 PM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Chief Bromden got it right, back in 1962. The proper term is The Combine.

Ken Kesey, who wrote One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (among others), was another key figure in my young mind's thinking. The key incident that comes to mind in terms of this discussion was a big deal address he gave at a big deal anti-war rally in San Francisco. Not having the book in front of me, I'm guessing it was 1966.

As Tom Wolfe tells it in The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, Kesey, as a "leader" of the burgeoning hippie-scene, was chosen by the rally's organizers (ultra serious student revolutionary types) to be the last speaker before the rally would take to the streets and likely go face to face with the riot police (they called them pigs at the time). Anyway, long-story-made-short, Kesey (thwacked on acid) stomped onto the stage, witnessed the mass in front of him and instantly flashed on Hitler's Nuremburg rally, and so, in between atonal blurts on a harmonica (doing an absurd Bob Dylan thing), he said as much, basically telling the crowd that from where he was standing, he didn't see a revolutionary force that would set the world free, he just saw a mob, hungry for stupid, self-indulgent riot.

Things dissipated from that point. The big deal march wasn't that big. No confrontation with the pigs ensued. Mr. Kesey was not invited to speak at any more anti-War rallies.
posted by philip-random at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


stinkycheese,

I understand at an intellectual level what you're saying. And I recognize that I have some massive privilege not only with respect to non-US citizens but with respect to many Americans as well... I mean, with 4 out of my 5 years of university paid for completely with scholarships, I'm not drowning in debt. So I'm avoiding a lot of bullets as far as consequences go.

But your message doesn't for a moment convince me that I have a shred more political efficacy to change consequences of American actions for anyone. So, sorry for my continued rationalizations, but they aren't meant to be comforting to anyone, much less me. I'm not saying I feel good about not caring. I'm saying I don't care because it's a waste energy for everyone. The choices aren't "feel good" vs "feel terrible. " It's "feel nothing about your powerlessness" or "feel terrible about your powerlessness."what's the compelling argument for anyone to feel the latter, given numbness is a valid possibility?

For what it's worth, on select issues (it may sound petty, but race and gay issues are some of the only political issues that I haven't completely given up...), and I feel the latter. With these issues, I don't feel as if I have any more power, and in fact, I feel like I'm repeatedly running into a brick wall, but it's as if it's my sisphyphean fate to do so. Is that what you would have me feel on every issue?
posted by subversiveasset at 12:21 PM on August 12, 2011


withdrawing in disgust should not be confused with apathy
posted by philip-random at 12:25 PM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


@Avenger The hippie counterculture revolution stalled out on greed, coke, alcoholism, homelessness and, eventually, AIDS.

Or so the story goes. Wanna see a total disinfo campaign at work? The mass media's bullshit about "the hippies", which you are echoing faithfully, went on for a long time. So did 'documentaries' like Making Sense of the Sixties.

Inter-generational name-calling and blaming are just one more tool in the arsenal.
posted by Twang at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


> The U.S. government affects far more than just the citizens of the U.S.

Someone finally said it. This is why the U.S. is authoritarian and maybe fascist. If you choose to believe that Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent notion of a populace coddled into submission not by conspiracy but by happy coincidental alignment of goals by GM, Exxon and the Pentagon, then at least look at the U.S. (and it's multinationals) treatment of the rest of the world.

"complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" Maybe the U.S. cares about some notion of freedom for its own citizens, but the dictatorships of Syria, Egypt, and pre-revolution Iran were certainly aided by a U.S. desire for "stability."

I visited Lafayette Square on the night of Jan 17, 1991 not because I thought the war would lead to a new draft or because Meese was a Pig, but because I thought a citizen of a belligerent country ought to say he doesn't support that action. Sadly, one lonely drummer and about 20 others were the only ones that agreed.
posted by morganw at 12:37 PM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Inter-generational name-calling and blaming are just one more tool in the arsenal.

Remind me again which generation is hell-bent on dismantling the public university system?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2011


From my perspective (a 36-year-old Canadian), our generation has been shit on by the baby boomers. It's incredibly frustrating. I repeatedly remind my parents of the following:

1. In both my wife's and my professions, my parents' generation needed an undergrad degree. Now, an undergrad and a masters is required to do the same job. That's 3 years and $100,000 behind.

2. Housing costs are such that it is now impossible for me to work and my wife to stay at home when considering ownership of a house similar to what my parents owned. My parents' first house, when new, they bought while my father taught at a school with a B.A. and my mom stayed home with me. My wife and I - physiotherapist and planner who make roughly the same or a bit more than teachers - couldn't afford that very same house as a working couple with no kids. Now that we have a kid, we have to both work to afford a worse house than my parents had AND now have to pay child care costs on top of that.

Our parents' generation was the first generation to really see housing as an investment. I guess they didn't really care to see that their kids would be the ones to pay.

3. We cannot rely on a pension.

Add that up, and it's just a matter of time. Tell me where to throw the rocks, please.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


To some degree, isn't "inter-generational name-calling and blaming" exactly what youth protest is?

Young people who are poor and unemployed don't have any power but the power to make noise. We know our fellow twenty and thirty somethings aren't in a position to make concrete changes.

The most powerful thing we could do is to take our parents' generation to task and say, "You still control politics, business, and the media. You're still an enormous voting bloc. You still have more money than us. Now fix what you broke."
posted by crackingdes at 12:55 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or so the story goes. Wanna see a total disinfo campaign at work? The mass media's bullshit about "the hippies", which you are echoing faithfully, went on for a long time.

Yes, if there were one to see. Lets' see, how about the disinfo campaign fomented by baby-boomers in the same mass media that blames the "Gen Yers" and the "post-millennials" (or whatever catchphrase they're being called now) for their selfishness and greed and narcissism being the cause of all today's social and economic woes? That'd be a good place to start.
posted by blucevalo at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the upper-classes are all like, "You whiny 90% of other Americans--you don't even have any problems yet." Meanwhile, what's really got most of us so upset is that we don't have any slack left on our end of the economic system (due at least in part to the relentless push toward "efficiency"). and we see ourselves headed inexorably for financial failure in the medium to long term due to forces over which we haven't got even a modicum of control, and whenever we make the mistake of complaining about our lot, we're told "no one should expect the world to help them succeed." Yet at the same time, the merest suggestion of imposing stricter regulations on the financial world or higher taxes on large corporations sitting on massive, historically unprecedented cash reserves is immediately met with protests about how the government has no right to interfere with our job creator's ability to succeed. We don't just have a double standard when it comes to economic opportunity, we've got a million of 'em.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2011


sorry, that was in reply to jimmythefish's comment.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:01 PM on August 12, 2011


does anyone here understand that the baby boomers were not a revolutionary generation? - the majority of them were and are conservative to moderate - only a small minority of them were rebels and protesters

guess what? - most of the people who were drafted WENT - most of the people who were told to get a good job and a good education DID - or at least tried to - most of the people who benefited from the privilege of being white and middle class did everything they could within the law to keep that privilege

the system? - it decided that giving in on a few issues was wiser than continued chaos and that instead of repressing rebellion, one could market it and make it profitable and safe - they learned to keep the iron fist tactics of the old days for the underclass and minorities who were being too much trouble and used passive/aggressive tactics on everyone else - those still inclined to rebel learned that direct rebellion just gets your head broken and your freedom taken, but passive/aggressive resistance works fine

here's how the system works for most of us - they tell us what to do and then sneak away so they don't have to be bothered to see if we're really doing it - we say, "yessir", and sneak away and just pretend to do it

no one wants to spoil their day of self-indulgence and "doing just enough" by pressing the issue because the consequences of that can be serious

they pretend to be god and we pretend to worship them

well, where are the revolutionaries, damnit? - why is the younger generation putting up with this bullshit? - why aren't the radical elders - and some sympathetic mainstream people - leading them to victory for the PEEPLE, man?

for starters, they see plainly that the tactics the radical baby boomers used didn't work that well in the long run - riots just ruined neighborhoods and cities - bombs just got you in prison - and mass protests? - when the people in control realized that they didn't need to bust people's heads to stop their effectiveness, but to just stop covering them much in the media, that was that - (how's that for a passive/aggressive tactic?)

second of all, society has become a charade, a kabuki play with very few true believers putting forth 100% effort into their role - and very few people want to get their heads busted for something that few believe is real anyway

third of all, most of us are too comfortable and the rest of us are too busy and desperate trying to survive

fourth of all and the most important reason of all - it's all going to hell anyway - we may not know how to change things and squabble uselessly with each other over what to do - but those who rule don't know how to sustain things either and argue as much as we do - we live in a fin de siecle era and know it - economic and world conflict is coming and hard times will be upon us soon - and so we do our best to "kick the can down the road" and enjoy life while we can, because after us, the deluge ... and who wants to be the one to do something that in 20 years will be seen as quixotic, quaint and quite irrelevant in the context of 2031's history?

i suppose some will call me cynical and nihilistic - but, i, and i think most people, are just patient and resigned, as were a lot of people in the 20s and 30s

but in the 50s, it got better, after we went through hell

i can only hope that after the next round of hell, things will get better and we'll actually be able to have the kind of society we won't want to rebel against
posted by pyramid termite at 1:12 PM on August 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


and whenever we make the mistake of complaining about our lot, we're told "no one should expect the world to help them succeed." Yet at the same time, the merest suggestion of imposing stricter regulations on the financial world or higher taxes on large corporations sitting on massive, historically unprecedented cash reserves is immediately met with protests about how the government has no right to interfere with our job creator's ability to succeed.

To me, it's only generational on the level that more 50-somethings are in the filthy rich upper bracket than 20 and 30 somethings. But age really has nothing to do with it. It's the filthy rich (who seem to live by only one credo: "Anything goes as long as we keep getting richer") versus EVERYBODY ELSE. Again, this gets back to my notion of the PROGRAM. This is how it's scripted. And part of the script is the tragic and absurdist comedy inherent in the various losers in the scenario (ie: the multitudes of poor and just-struggling-get-by) turning on each other via divisive and scripted inventions of racial, generational and/or cultural difference.

Or basically a variation on what Twang just said above.
posted by philip-random at 1:15 PM on August 12, 2011


pyramid termite, you're being cynical and nihilistic.
posted by philip-random at 1:17 PM on August 12, 2011


i like ken kesey, too
posted by pyramid termite at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Remind me again which generation is hell-bent on dismantling the public university system?

Jesus on trailer hitch, we've already covered this.

No 'generation' did anything to any other 'generation' as a bloc.

None.

Ever.

Talk about your media-fueled social constructs: Lost Generation, Greatest Generation. Ken-L-Ration, Baby-boomer, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Moon Zero Two. Do you really want to fall for something that transparently devisive and false?

Do you really want to be -- you know -- a sucker?
 
posted by Herodios at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a good thing to stay informed, but always realize that the "news" is a business.

Perhaps I should have mentioned this when I first posed the question, but I work in journalism, so I'm quite aware of the fact that news is a business that exists to drive circulation and advertising and all that comes with it (sensationalism, emphasizing disasters, etc). I work in a a fairly small corner of the business, but still - I know how it is.

That said, I'm sure my career makes it all the more difficult for me to not internalize things - though for a pretty long time, I didn't. I've been an active new consumer since I was a teenager, and the only time I can remember feeling this consistently disgusted with the world was the Iraq War (9/11 was scary, too, but in a totally different way). And that was still easier, at least personally, because it was a specific thing that lots of people were against. Our problems today seem more of the slow-burn variety - persistent unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, income inequality, etc - a bunch of things that have actually been around for awhile but, just now, seem to be coming to a head. And the response of our policy elites has been to diligently ignore all of these issues, with the possible exception of the national debt. And to proffer half-assed, stupid solutions that require no sacrifice or thought on the part of anyone to the one problem they have paid attention to. It's incredibly frustrating.

On the larger point, though, I think you're right: I need to pull back from this big, complicated stuff that is way beyond my corner of the world, concentrate more on my community and stop gnashing my teeth. Of course I never got much involved with any of this because I'm not much of a joiner, but that's my own fault.
posted by breakin' the law at 1:33 PM on August 12, 2011


There's an idea in sociology I'm irregularly drawn back into reviewing called Techno-serfdom. A sort of modern corp feudalism, that seems to have organically developed. Though I am no fine scholar, I sometimes wish I'd devoted more time to developing the idea - though I seem to be some 10+ years too late.

Oh well, I guess I can always describe, if I can't predict.
posted by LD Feral at 1:36 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


for starters, they see plainly that the tactics the radical baby boomers used didn't work that well in the long run

But that ignores a lot of prior US history, like the Virginia coal miner strikes and all the social unrest that followed the dust-bowl era. Such tactics may not have seemed to work all that well for the baby boomers, by whatever metric you might suggest, but they worked to achieve various political aims for many previous generations of Americans, and they continue to work elsewhere around the world. What the 60s seemed to have left behind as a legacy was the "symbolic protest" form of activism (you know--a bunch of well-meaning but obviously harmless people assembled in a random location that has nothing to do with whatever practical political issue they might be concerned with, perfunctorily waving signs that have something vaguely to do with improving things for humanity or punishing somebody for something).

Part of the problem is the struggle to improve all of humanity's living conditions and to ensure our species' long term survival will never be over until it's finally lost (or we somehow become an infinitely sustainable, enlightened species, which despite all the hype during the earlier part of the last century, isn't looking too likely anymore). No single tactic or approach to political activism will ever just work to solve all our problems forever. Solving our problems will always be an open-ended struggle against forces, external and internal to humanity, that don't make life easy. And no problem can ever be taken for granted as solved in perpetuity (especially after we disable the very mechanisms we set up to solve the problem in the first place). Maybe we've been disconnected from the visceral realities of just how hard simple survival can be for so long that we've forgotten how to keep fighting in the face of overwhelming odds, and maybe we've also forgotten that in the end, giving up is not really an option except as a form of death.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:44 PM on August 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Maybe we've been disconnected from the visceral realities of just how hard simple survival can be for so long that we've forgotten how to keep fighting in the face of overwhelming odds, and maybe we've also forgotten that in the end, giving up is not really an option except as a form of death.

The word that comes to mind is resilience. Kind of how the North won the Vietnam war while losing pretty much every battle.
posted by philip-random at 1:50 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman beat me to it, but it needs emphasizing.

If you believe that protest doesn't effect change in the good ol' USA, then you don't know your labor history. Organized, bloody, violent protests got the American worker on his feet and ushered in the largest, most powerful middle-class the world has ever seen. It wasn't votes and laws and patience, it was face-to-face confrontation.

40 years of concerted efforts on our political masters' parts to destroy those gains has led to where we are now. The money and the power have been vacuumed to the top and the economic engine that we fucking require to have an economy that lifts all boats is going away.

And the truly masterful stroke in all this- the sad, awful, masterful stroke- is that they've gotten half the working population to carry their water for them and turned us to sniping amongst ourselves.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:22 PM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Protesting? Really? That's so uncool, though.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2011


If you believe that protest doesn't effect change in the good ol' USA, then you don't know your labor history.

but i do - and those "protests" were more than protests, they were often armed insurrections - workers and pinkerton agents shot at one another - and instead of occupying a building for a day or two - or a week at most, these conflicts raged for months

also they were directed at places of key economic activity where the owners and managers had no real interest, at first, in appearing moderate or enlightened, unlike the genteel and liberal campuses of the 60s, where shooting a bunch of students would have been considered bad for business

how many people got killed in the 68 chicago convention conflict? none, i believe

how many people got killed in the haymarket riot? according to wikipedia, 8 police and 4 workers

kent and jackson state were outliers - and equivalent conflicts in the labor unrest of the late 19th century weren't

it was more than face-to-face confrontation, it was outright class war - and in spite of the rhetoric of the time, the 60s protests weren't at that level

and look at how many decades of that kind of thing it took until working people got what they have (and are losing) today

i might add that the powers that be have become much more sophisticated in their handling of such things - see the above FPP about BART turning off cell phone nodes in their stations to defuse a protest for an example
posted by pyramid termite at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2011


Interestingly enough, the single largest populist movement today is 1) completely ignored by the author, and 2) actually somewhat immune from the factors the author identifies.

The Tea Party has pretty significant youth participation, believe it or not.


Several polls are now out, assessing the demographics of the Tea Party Movement that largely agree the majority of its members are Republican, largely white, above the mean in age and income and voted for John McCain.

By far the populist anger of the youth is on the liberal side, it just doesn't have one label to put on it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:06 PM on August 12, 2011


As for why no protest?

The Iraq war protests made it pretty clear they don't work. They have to be sustained, and in general people can't afford to miss any days at work. These are people with no vacation time of course, and to whom a sick day is also a fiction if you actually want to pay the bills. The anger is there though, for sure.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:11 PM on August 12, 2011


It wasn't votes and laws and patience, it was face-to-face confrontation.

I'd actually say that it was both.

What the 60s seemed to have left behind as a legacy was the "symbolic protest" form of activism (you know--a bunch of well-meaning but obviously harmless people assembled in a random location that has nothing to do with whatever practical political issue they might be concerned with, perfunctorily waving signs that have something vaguely to do with improving things for humanity or punishing somebody for something).

This. There actually was a small-but-significant contingent of kids when I was in college who did protest stuff. But, even though I often - though not always - agreed with their aims, they looked kind of silly to me. It was like they were play-acting the 60s: "hey, we're in college now, let's get all radical and protest shit!"

Like the anti-globalization protest movement that shows up at all the WTO meetings. What, exactly, are you for when you are "anti-globalization?" Protectionism? That worked real well in the 30s, gotta say. There are certainly plenty of legitimate beefs to be had with the current system of global trade, but being vaguely "anti-globalization" does not really solve any of them.

I think one oft-overlooked negative impact of the late-60s campus protest movement is that it kind of cheapened the act of protest. In order for a protest to be effective you need to 1) have a fairly specific goal in mind - better pay for workers, say, or allowing minorities to sit wherever they'd like on a bus, and 2) have a sizable portion of the non-protesting population behind you. A bunch of middle-class kids going out there and waving signs against who-knows-what does not really accomplish anything.
posted by breakin' the law at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's that I took my antidepressants* late today but there's a lot ringing really true in this thread and it's making me tear up.

I feel cynical and helpless and without a whole lot of agency and I watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games for escapism and comfort and most of my country** alienates the hell out of me; my loyalties lie with my city, my state and the Tribe of "internet people". I protested the war in Iraq too, when I was a high school freshman. I have friends the same age as me who were in anti-war protests that were tear gassed. (For those of you who don't want to do the math, that's 14-15 when those protests were going on.) I spent most of my intellectually developing years with Bush as president.

I'm 23 now and it's like America aligned to give me righteous anger at the age when that is most powerful and peaking with optimism with electing Obama and now I've just crashed. A friend of mine bought a "dare to hope, prepare to be disappointed" shirt and now he doesn't wear it anymore because it's too sad.

*which I only have because I'm on my parents' health insurance and which I would almost certainly be dead without
**I'm American

posted by NoraReed at 5:17 PM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's just a laundry list of excuses that don't add up to anything. Why do people stay in rotten relationships or put up with crummy bosses? Because they think they can't do any better or they talk themselves into believing they are still getting something out of it until the day they snap out of it -- and then it all breaks loose -- then all those reasons listed above don't serve as any confine or barrier, meaning they never really did in the first place...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:26 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to come around to this view, but boy is it difficult. I often get angry, anxious and upset when I read about what is going on in the world, and there have been days when I'll just walk around the city - I live in New York - looking at the throbbing prosperity all around and think to myself "how much longer can this last? What's going to happen when everything comes crumbling down?"

After all I said up-thread, I still suffer, too. And I still wish I could change the world. I see things weekly that break my heart, and still a part of me wants to protest and make people see that there are untouchables in India, that we have showers while people in Africa suffer for water, and a million more things. In the end, it's easier to pretend you're cynical. It's a strategy to be able to function like an adult, rather than stay crying in bed.

I think in the end I'm just weak.
posted by Tarumba at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2011


A sort of modern corp feudalism

Modern corporations would never go for feudalism— feudalism involves obligations in both directions (e.g., continued employment, pensions). That's a big liability.

Like the anti-globalization protest movement that shows up at all the WTO meetings. What, exactly, are you for when you are "anti-globalization?"

The WTO protests I've seen have had a mishmash of many groups with concrete and distinct, but temporarily aligned, goals. The news can't report that, because it can only report things that fit into a narrative. The closest narrative it can find is the nebulous goal of "anti-globalization", so that's what it reports.
posted by hattifattener at 5:38 PM on August 12, 2011


so, patron system it is then, right
posted by clavdivs at 6:21 PM on August 12, 2011


Peonage, maybe?
posted by hattifattener at 8:46 PM on August 12, 2011


While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite.

Tell that to Anon and LulzSec.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:12 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to throw out another reason why "youth today" is ineffectual: They're just not tied to the working class in any real way.

This isn't to say that there aren't a lot of working class youth out there, but a lot of the college kids tend to be from middle class or upper middle class backgrounds and tend to seize on symbolism without ever bothering to engage with the people who they need to make an issue truly popular. There's also a disconnect because a lot of people who have a huge stake in economic leftism are also tied to socially conservative views, and so not only does the rhetoric feel alienated from their day to day, they're also openly suspicious of people with different cultural values (which is compounded by the open disdain that many leftists have for things important to the working class — see any atheism thread).

So, one of the big first steps that organizers need to take is to not expect the masses to necessarily come out for their protests, but rather to work on going to the masses where the masses are.

Something else that bothers me is that a lot of people — and this isn't just the Gen Y/Gen Z folks, but as digital natives it is endemic — confuse virtual action with real action. Signing a petition or liking something on Facebook isn't action, it's a pose. Maybe action starts with a pose, but it's literally the absolute least you can do. Often this is because the problems they'd like remedied are really abstract ones, and the personal efficacy is very small, even if you demonstrate that it's popular. The anti-Iraq War rallies had bigger attendance than any against the Vietnam War, but frankly the president didn't give a shit and ending the war was too nebulous.

Couple other points regarding political efficacy:

The best possible place for people like Nora to get involved and not get too cynical (some of that is necessary for getting older, sorry) is to do local work, generally with nonprofits. Local nonprofits can definitely affect real change in people's lives, even though they're chronically underfunded and skint. One of the nice things about "kids these days" is that they're really savvy to using networks to organize, and you can capitalize on that. Those nonprofits and local organizing can be used to also make sure that real progressive candidates get into the infrastructure in ways that allow them to advance over the long term — even Obama was once a community organizer, and almost all candidates for congress have won several lower level elections — that's often more effective in bringing real change to your neighborhood than whomever the president happens to be.

It's also important to emphasize that a lot of this is the long game. The Tea Party didn't just spring up, and Fox News very much did not just spring up recently. There was a concerted push starting from the late '60s and intensifying with every decade past that to build a multi-level conservative message machine, from funding right wing think tanks to grooming specific candidates. The left, as contrasted with the moderate liberals who I tend to think make up the default state for American political preferences, have failed to shape a coherent narrative and have frankly been outflanked by activist conservatives. Those conservatives are still reacting against the New Deal and Great Society programs of 80 and 50 years ago, and the conservative victories of today are because of 40 years of concerted work. Getting discouraged now because of the reactionary politics of the right and the disappointing failures of reasonable moderation that the Dems advance is only going to lead to more victories for the right. Instead, we need to broaden the battlefield, make sure that locals are progressive and that they keep moving up, and work to fund clear progressive narratives that emphasize how much better everyone's lives are when equality, dignity and community are emphasized over the false idols of capitalist individualism and consumer nihilism. We just have to realize that this isn't going to be an Arab Spring (and even the Arab Spring isn't an Arab Spring, really), but that it's going to take 40 years and it will be worth it.

Honestly, we can win. On social issues, the backlash won't be sustainable. Every day, a bigot dies. On economic issues, we have a much harder fight, but that's where the demographic changes are on our side: "minority" votes are increasing, and because race is so often a proxy for class in America, it's much easier to find a sympathetic audience for a "public good" view of social programs. The trick is realizing that, ignoring a lot of the bullshit and working as hard as you can — not how hard someone else can, because people have different amounts they can do — as hard as you can to make sure that we win sooner rather than later.
posted by klangklangston at 9:55 PM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Also, we need a new ACORN.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't... ah, fuck it.
posted by homunculus at 10:23 PM on August 12, 2011


We have weakened the glue that holds cultures together; we have focused on the assumption of rights without instilling the tenets of responsibility, and so on.

A thousand times this. I wanted to write something on this point, but now I don't have to. It's hard to find the motivation to change the world when we're disconnected from anyone else in it.
posted by LiteOpera at 10:31 PM on August 12, 2011


It's also important to emphasize that a lot of this is the long game.

Maybe it's because I was a little kid while it was all going down (born in 1959, didn't hit teendom until 1972) but I've always had a soft-spot for the 60s thing, the hippies in particular. They were always the coolest teens (and young adults), the most far out and FUN, and usually kind too. But if I had to pinpoint a fatal weakness in their so-called revolution (and many called it that back in the day), it's a lack of resilience. They had all the right speeches, all the right drugs, all the right bands, all the right songs ... but the SHIFT they were trying to pull off was never going to happen in a few years, it was a life's work, maybe more than one life's work.

Collectively, they weren't up to it. They became yuppies and risible (the loudest ones anyway).
posted by philip-random at 11:51 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also a disconnect because a lot of people who have a huge stake in economic leftism are also tied to socially conservative views, and so not only does the rhetoric feel alienated from their day to day, they're also openly suspicious of people with different cultural values (which is compounded by the open disdain that many leftists have for things important to the working class — see any atheism thread).

This what I was alluding to when I said half the working class is carrying water for the powerful. A vocal portion of the very conservative political class has worked very hard to conflate politics and religion, to the point that many people believe they are one and the same. It's easier (and more predictable) to pull on spiritual strings than political ones. It also has this effect: the more the left connects conservative religion with conservative politics, the greater the suspicions become. I think that's by design.

I've grown up with Pat Robertson and CNN as a neighbor, so maybe I'm particularly testy about this. I'm hoping that Rick Perry jumping into the presidential race will shine some light on this area for more people.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:43 AM on August 13, 2011


We just have to realize that this isn't going to be an Arab Spring (and even the Arab Spring isn't an Arab Spring, really), but that it's going to take 40 years and it will be worth it.

This this this.

I've finally gotten to the bottom of this thread, and a wonderful thread it is. My two cents to the people of the "I can't change anything, I'm powerless, so why waste my energy I'll just focus on being good to my tribe and kind to my fellow man" persuasion.

I'm really sorry but hogwash. First of all, being kind to your fellow man is good as far as it goes, but it will do nothing to address the injustices growing within the system.

Also, how do you know that you have no power? How do you judge how much power you do in actuality have? Are you really so addicted to video-game like achievements and ringing bells that you can't work without them? Has progress become defined by congratulatory electronic bleeping? Does my generation really need a steady drip of rewards to motivate it to do something? Grow the the F up. You do what's necessary with the full knowledge that you might be wasting your energy, or you might not be. You may see the fruits of your labors in five years, or maybe you won't see them in your lifetime, or maybe your labors will have no fruit. It doesn't matter, you still do. All progress was made possible by the labors of obscure people who weren't deterred by a lack of visible success or driven to despair when after a few years of effort, they still weren't getting their way. I'm 28 and freely admit that I'm simply too young to justify being jaded.

Participate in whatever way you can, and forget about results.
posted by tempythethird at 6:08 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, thanks for being a condescending jerk, TempyTheThird. I feel like I am being called out by your language about video games and powerlessness, so I will respond to you in kind.

At any time, for any reason, I can be sent to jail. Have I done anyting against the "law"? Nope. But that's just how it goes. Maybe there is justice, and maybe I could be exonerated of whatever charges they use to silence me, but that will leave me with more debt than I already owe for "school".

Do you trust the system to protect people who want to change it? Because I sure don't. You can fight against corrupt police through a corrupt court system if you want. I say, move the heck out of Arizona!

Watch this, I can do it too: You people have spent so much of your time playing sports that you think that you can somehow win. You think if you try hard enough, winning is something that can happen. There's just a lot of work involved, and you have all your teammates together, and you have the power of love, that you will win and the MonStars will lose.

Well, that's not how the world works. It's not the achievements that have silenced me. (Seriously, way to be a huge fuck by suggesting that they have some sort of bearing on anything, anywhere. You might as well say that people can't watch movies any more because there are no commercials?) It's the sheer bloody rampage that the hero commits against the rest of the population in the game. For every hero who wins the game, there's a million citizens who are downtrodden, murdered, stolen from, etc.

Who is doing this heroing? It's not me. I don't steel and down-trod other people. It's the people on top who do that. They are the people who have won. And you want me to take my peasant-ass up to his castle and try to slay his dragon? There's a name for people who do that: Bad Guy. We have already lost, the heros won, and now they have everything, and I'm just trying to not be dragon food.

You think this era is any different than the rest of history? When has a peasant ever had power? Greek republics? Roman Empire? Europe? Any of the many Asian empires? Why do you think that suddenly because we have Twitter we can make laws that benefit us?

But, feel free to keep blaming us that the system hasn't been changed yet. Keep doing those vote drives, keep community activating. Keep striving and trying. It's always nice to watch a show.
posted by rebent at 6:45 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's also a disconnect because a lot of people who have a huge stake in economic leftism are also tied to socially conservative views, and so not only does the rhetoric feel alienated from their day to day, they're also openly suspicious of people with different cultural values (which is compounded by the open disdain that many leftists have for things important to the working class — see any atheism thread).

One of my problems here, and I'm not accusing you of this Klang you just made me think of it, is that often times more is expected of the left and the youth than other groups.

Atheists...in the real world they face a lot of disdain right back at them and they are a small minority. Why don't we ask the social conservatives to put their disdain aside instead of the disdain atheists might feel at...for instance...being completely electable in the political process they are trying to engage in?

Very similar issues pop up that cause this rift, like gay rights. It's really hard to ask someone to put that aside when they care about the rights of gay people. Maybe the social conservative bigotry among the economic left has to be tackled before these sides can be tied in any way. You can't wait for all of them to die, because a lot of their children will believe the same things.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:57 AM on August 13, 2011


*unelectable
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:58 AM on August 13, 2011


Rebent, if I thought the situation was as bleak as you think it is, I suppose I'd feel the same way that you do, but I don't. I see long grueling multi-decade efforts that produced women's suffrage, universal civil rights, labor laws, and recently expanding universal rights for gay people. I see the invention of a middle class and a new expectation of universal dignity, which is more or less new to civilization - as are universal medicine, education, sanitation, not to mention representative government, and etc. You think nothing ever changes, but I would bet that if I was born into some random situation anywhere on the planet 200 years ago, my lot would most likely be much worse than it is today.

Slow deliberate grueling progress produced all of the above, and there's no reason to despair now. But I suppose you wouldn't agree that there has been any progress in the first place.

At any time, for any reason, I can be sent to jail. Have I done anyting against the "law"?

Really? I know plenty of activists who work tirelessly and have never been arrested. The ACLU seems to be doing what it does and none of its staff ends up in jail.

And you want me to take my peasant-ass up to his castle and try to slay his dragon? There's a name for people who do that: Bad Guy. We have already lost, the heros won, and now they have everything, and I'm just trying to not be dragon food.

Ok, you lost me.
posted by tempythethird at 7:33 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cower Around The Machine.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2011


What a depressing thread! Maybe the worst aspect of it is the generation blaming motif which appears to be one of the few forms of discrimination still socially permitted. I didn't choose my generation! I was born that way.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:04 AM on August 13, 2011


And you want me to take my peasant-ass up to his castle and try to slay his dragon? There's a name for people who do that: Bad Guy. We have already lost, the heros won, and now they have everything, and I'm just trying to not be dragon food.

Congrats, rebent - I haven't even put the coffee on yet but you've already won the internet for today with a comment so deep with multiplicity, so riddled with paradox, so rich in curved metaphor that ...? ...? ...

There's really no way for me to finish that sentence ... without coffee.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Atheists...in the real world they face a lot of disdain right back at them and they are a small minority. Why don't we ask the social conservatives to put their disdain aside instead of the disdain atheists might feel at...for instance...being completely electable in the political process they are trying to engage in?

Very similar issues pop up that cause this rift, like gay rights. It's really hard to ask someone to put that aside when they care about the rights of gay people. Maybe the social conservative bigotry among the economic left has to be tackled before these sides can be tied in any way. You can't wait for all of them to die, because a lot of their children will believe the same things.
"

Well, honestly, they are being asked to give up that disdain and hatred, and it's working. The poll numbers on gay marriage, for instance, are getting much, much better as time goes on. We're winning the youth there by leaps and bounds, and that's helping to turn a lot of the older folks too. Back when EQCA was still planning a real ballot fight for 2012 (and I'm disappointed that they're letting that atrophy), one of the things they were doing was sending gay folks, especially black gay folks, to African American churches where they'd be introduced to the congregation by the pastor. It wasn't a guarantee to change those prejudices that motivate the discriminatory voting, but since familiarity is, like, the number one predictor of civil rights support, it was an effective strategy to at the very least blunt some of the anti-gay voting.

So while plenty of their kids — too many — still do believe the same thing, that's changing pretty rapidly.

And while I don't want to get into a tone argument, one thing that does come out and is a huge loser for the secular left is that contempt for the religious and a lack of the ecumenical mien that allows people of different creeds to connect. There's no doubt that most Catholics, and especially the clergy, feel that Baptists are just as wrong about God as atheists think Baptists are, but the communication there is shaped by shared goals and shared values. And here's the thing that I think is really important — I think that lefty atheists (since there are plenty of right-wing atheists too, e.g. Randroids) are much better served when the focus is off of whether people are morons for believing in a bearded sky god, and instead on the importance of helping everyone possible here on earth live a life of equality, dignity and prosperity. Nearly all the canvassers I worked with were atheists, and while some of them struggled to deal with religious people, even supporters, a great deal many more of them were able to shift the conversational grounding away from the motivation for good works to the works themselves. (And, frankly, while I don't believe in the Bible, having a Bible Lit class in high school helped me personally sway more than a few minds by knowing enough scripture to argue for love and justice in a language that would be understood.)

So, ultimately, we are working on that and we're winning it. I tend to think that a much larger proportion of the US is functional atheists than is generally reflected in polling, and I also tend to think that atheists would be better served by taking a page out of the Mormon playbook ("Hey, I'm a normal guy who works at a soup kitchen and doesn't believe in God! Also, I surf!"). But that's within the context of effective political communication, rather than trying to tell people not to be upset over the shovelfuls of bullshit that they have to put up with for being atheists.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


"At any time, for any reason, I can be sent to jail. Have I done anyting against the "law"? Nope. But that's just how it goes. Maybe there is justice, and maybe I could be exonerated of whatever charges they use to silence me, but that will leave me with more debt than I already owe for "school"."

But is this likely to happen? Not really. For all of the bullshit that the US government pulls, it's not doing purges. There are certainly more people in prison than should be there, but in general, the US is a state of laws that function pretty well.

Do you trust the system to protect people who want to change it? Because I sure don't. You can fight against corrupt police through a corrupt court system if you want. I say, move the heck out of Arizona!

Well, no. People shouldn't have to move out of Arizona. That's the beauty of a federal system. And generally, the unjust laws that exist within the US aren't unassailable. Arizona's first swipe at "Show us your papers" was struck down; there are now more places where you can legally smoke pot than any time since the '30s; even broader, we've gone from Jim Crow to affirmative action in the space of about 50 years.

Watch this, I can do it too: You people have spent so much of your time playing sports that you think that you can somehow win. You think if you try hard enough, winning is something that can happen. There's just a lot of work involved, and you have all your teammates together, and you have the power of love, that you will win and the MonStars will lose.

You people? But yeah, we have had pretty significant victories through organizing. Everything from ending the draft to a five day work week to Title IX.

Well, that's not how the world works. It's not the achievements that have silenced me. (Seriously, way to be a huge fuck by suggesting that they have some sort of bearing on anything, anywhere. You might as well say that people can't watch movies any more because there are no commercials?) It's the sheer bloody rampage that the hero commits against the rest of the population in the game. For every hero who wins the game, there's a million citizens who are downtrodden, murdered, stolen from, etc.

Yes, there aren't many video games based on collective action. Well, except MMORPGs. Maybe you should play some of those, or write a broad class-based cooperative game. I'd play it.

Who is doing this heroing? It's not me. I don't steel and down-trod other people. It's the people on top who do that. They are the people who have won. And you want me to take my peasant-ass up to his castle and try to slay his dragon? There's a name for people who do that: Bad Guy. We have already lost, the heros won, and now they have everything, and I'm just trying to not be dragon food.

This is just kind of incoherent. I'm sorry that you don't feel like you have any personal agency. Maybe it's time to stop playing video games and choose something you care about and work for it. If you start small, you'll see quicker victories.

You think this era is any different than the rest of history? When has a peasant ever had power? Greek republics? Roman Empire? Europe? Any of the many Asian empires? Why do you think that suddenly because we have Twitter we can make laws that benefit us?

When have "peasants" ever had power? You mean, aside from voting for representatives, likely. How about during the Seattle general strike? Or Matewan. Or the Civil Rights movement. Each "peasant" doesn't have much power, but there're a fuckton more of us than them, and by organizing together, we have more power. (And, frankly, there's a whole line of political thought that argues for the primacy of popular power and repudiates the defeatist "Great Men" mode by pointing out that hierarchies are only effective through mass consent, i.e. we have the power now and we're not using it.)

But, feel free to keep blaming us that the system hasn't been changed yet. Keep doing those vote drives, keep community activating. Keep striving and trying. It's always nice to watch a show.

Well, you know what? We have changed the system, but it's never finished because we can always be better. But the Greeks had a word for snide apathetics: idiot. And you're acting like an idiot now.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really feel for kids in their 20s right now. The loathsome moniker "Lost Generation," is already being used to describe their economic opportunities and they really need something big, important.

Something that will get them out of trying to hold all the BS in this country at bay, by burying themselves in media and worshiping the pasts (and imagined futures) of various other generations that really did have big important shit happening.

It's hard enough just trying to figure oneself the hell out and figure out where to fit oneself when your just out of college and banging around for a decade or so. You know, outside of doing something incredibly huge like joining the armed forces what the fuck do these kids have to call their own other than their irony and ennui, work a crap job making minimum wage and getting high and living at home?

They need to fight and demand the world, this country, makes a real place for them and to that end maybe the youth corps is a good , if perhaps tepid step in the right direction , but when the corporatocracy, and make no mistake that is very real and very powerful, is essentially sitting on trillions in profits and not hiring or doing anything new or innovative with it other than pumping it into Randian psycho-politicians, that's a massive and deplorable thing they're perpetrating on the young, because they're not investing in their energy or their talents or imagination, because they themselves lack the imagination for anything but short gains and caution.

I hope it doesn't take a conflagration of some kind to give these kids something to call their own, like a natural disaster or a World War or some other horrible act of violence.
[Aside: People no longer talk about it so much, but one of the great missed opportunities of 911, was that the Bush Admin. and the GOP, instead of truly marshaling the amazing energy and sense of unified purpose the country felt seemed instead to need to disperse and dilute that energy, as if it was something they didn't want to really become a groundswell and a healthy expression of a nation, a society, progressing to another place, evolving, moving forward, getting over the old divisions and into a new vision of what the nation could be in it's trajectory and by extension the world. It's perfectly captured by Dubya's exhortation mere days after the attacks that what people should do was Go shopping.

That was the moment a leader, a party, with vision, not cynicism towards and instinctual distrust and dislike of many of it's people it does not identify with (one that is pronounced at all times from the Tea Party; the idiot shock troops for inchoate feelings and manipulations they either don't have the capability of, or the willingness, to understand), would've been able to mold into a great moment of a beginning for something huge and good in this nation.

It could've been a new frontier. What would Obama have been able to do with that? With that unity and sense common purpose? It's overwhelmingly really. Waste of that proportion (personal or national) just leads to despair and jadedness and damage.

This is where the nation, is now, still. In this holding pattern of squandered spirit. Languishing. Rotting.

I will forever despise the Right, then and especially now in it's even more loathesome incarnation flirting with a pathological nationalism based on hot air and American Exceptionalism (Fascism). And it has to be remembered and spoken about, not revised and sentimentalized, in any way.

That squandering was more criminal than maybe any other thing from the Dubya Aughts and it's most sickening noisome by-product.

The by-product of fear, incompetence, greed, absolute power looking to institutionalize it's power "for a generation" that would manufacture it's own "reality" and could ignore the "reality-based community." (Paraphrasing there, and I don't think I need to tell most who spoke that way, but it was Karl Rove). And thankfully their gross incompetence and over-reach did them in.

That squandering of energy and the attitude that informed it is the central root thing that informed all the other Dubya/GOP criminality that followed 911: Phony WMD's, Iraq, failure in apprehending OBL, Gitmo, Waterboarding, rampant crony corporatism and it's attendant near economic catastrophe of a great recession only held at bay by a massive shift of wealth from citizens to corporations (banks) via TARP, a debt crisis and even up to where we are now in this present static languishing in a vacuum of shameless revisionism and blamegaming. It's the rot eating up the nation, and destroying this youth in many ways. /Aside (I think that aside is probably the central point now actually, but bear with me.)]
The thing is this: Kids today, need something new and huge and inescapably exhilaratingly theirs, that they can own and see through.

When I got out of college in the early 90s the job market was a joke. It was a huge struggle to find one and to keep it. But in a few short years most of the folks in my age group (Gen x), including myself, got swept up in the excitement (and the fun for the most part), and the overwhelming sense of being needed by something greater than our puny anxieties, and that was the dot.com boom with all it's attendant heapings of imagination combined with an unreal amounts of money and tons of jobs (It was not unheard of that if you were between gigs in web world in 1999, and you put the word out there to 10 companies in one day you got 10 callbacks/request for interviews and multiple offers. That didn't last, but still, it was nice to be so needed. And youth-of-today, if the idea of that doesn't make you want to pick up a brick, nothing will). Possibilities were everywhere you turned. That was all under Clinton by the way, and all he did was raise taxes on the wealthy and single people who made over a certain amount (and it was steep, but total worth it, for everyone). So, keep that in mind, next time the Right goes on about the wealthy/"job creators." We are all potential job creators. Not just the wealthy.

Sure, eventually a lot of that was excess, but I owe that time to acquiring a not to shabby skill set and, maybe more important work experience that carried me past that time.

And these kids in their 20s/30s. That's what they need. Something huge. Something full of imaginative possibilities and tons of money pumped into it and a sense of plenty.

If corporations are going to give them the finger someone has to step in here, and something needs to be created for these folks or an irreplaceable, and utterly necessary, amount of talent and brains and potential is going to be wasted and sit idle (and not a creative productive sort of sitting idle, in most cases), and that's going to reverberate in a bad bad way for the next couple of decades. But the government is broke and broken, Obama is hamstrung by retarded fascists, and the corporatocracy just doesn't give a fuck.

Anyone, Left, Right, center, government or private, or pujblic-private or any combination therein, who get off their asses, stop acting like myopic brain dead proto-zombies gives these folks something, anything real, something as big and huge as full of the promise of being in America brings with it, will win the (damned) future.

(Of course heaven forbid the government do something for them, a new national initiative that harnesses that energy....that would be socialism!)

I guess the other thing I would suggest to folks of all ages 20 to retirement age is that, if you can at all swing it, go back to school at whatever level you're up to and continue studying something you either completely love or at least interests you and keep making connections there and other places, and keep your mind challenged and don't give in to despair or idleness.

Also youth-of-today, don't buy revisionism, lies or proto-fascism (learn to recognize it: It's usually arrogant, self-righteous, exclusionary in some way and poo-poo's away reality...) and VOTE DAMMIT! When the time comes for rocks and molotov cocktails you won't be alone, that's for damned sure...

TL; DR (sort of): Dubya and the GOP has fucked this nation and it's youth. And continues to do so. The Tea Party is FUBAR. Go back to school/college/grad school.

More above.



posted by Skygazer at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


And now having finished that coffee ...

the thing is, rebent, I can always find a voice inside me that agrees with you more or less absolutely. The games are all fixed. The bad guys have already won. It's only a masochistic sucker that sees things otherwise and tries to accomplish anything that stinks of valor, nobility, altruism. But over time (and in the wake of a few deeply negative emotional spirals), I've learned to seriously DOUBT that voice and where it wants me to go. Or more to the point. Maybe it is right, maybe things really are as hopeless and despairing as it implies -- but the strange thing is, I find that when I consciously don't heed it, when I do exactly the opposite of what it counsels, that's when my life actually feels like it's worth the trouble. That's when I meet cool new people who introduce me to cool new people, cool new books, movies, recipes, websites, ways of thinking, feeling, GIVING. That's when I fall in love.

So yeah, like klang advised ...

Maybe it's time to stop playing video games and choose something you care about and work for it. If you start small, you'll see quicker victories.

keep on rockin' in the free world
posted by philip-random at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, honestly, they are being asked to give up that disdain and hatred, and it's working. The poll numbers on gay marriage, for instance, are getting much, much better as time goes on.

Yeah, it's getting there, but the ballot measures still fail even in places like California and the President can't bring himself to publicly say he is in favor of gay marriage. Regardless, there is a difference between asking someone to give up disdain based on intolerance and disdain based on intolerance of intolerance.

There's no doubt that most Catholics, and especially the clergy, feel that Baptists are just as wrong about God as atheists think Baptists are, but the communication there is shaped by shared goals and shared values.

I definitely doubt that. But aside from that the problematic behaviors they engage in tend to be shared among all the different groups. It isn't just about beliefs.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:16 PM on August 13, 2011


"Yeah, it's getting there, but the ballot measures still fail even in places like California and the President can't bring himself to publicly say he is in favor of gay marriage. Regardless, there is a difference between asking someone to give up disdain based on intolerance and disdain based on intolerance of intolerance."

A ballot measure legalizing gay marriage would pass today in California. (I'm a proponent of the two-pronged ballot and court strategy). But you're right that the president is pretty disappointing in his public statements. I tend to find his views sincere, wrong and frustrating. But it's inarguable that he's been better than Bush on gay rights. Which is something that people tend to forget when they're railing against his disappointing record — With Democrats, they can be shamed or pushed into doing the right thing by their constituents. With Republicans, no recognition of constituency is possible, and so the window of possibility is far smaller.

(As a side note, while I agree that there is a difference re: intolerance vs. intolerance of intolerance, I don't think that all of the disdain shown by those on the left is of the second sort, which is an argument that too often gets reduced by those wanting blanket justification for jerkass behavior, and it often devolves into tu quoque sentiment.)

"I definitely doubt that. But aside from that the problematic behaviors they engage in tend to be shared among all the different groups. It isn't just about beliefs."

I know quite a few religious Catholics who will cheerfully aver that Baptists are going to hell, but are politically necessary; likewise Baptists have no real love for Catholics. The gulf is much more magnified when talking about liberal churches (Episcopalians, etc.) versus fundamentalists. But the point I was making was that atheists share many policy goals with mainline churchgoers and should recognize that it's more important to achieve those goals than to convert the churchy (especially with scorn).
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on August 13, 2011


A ballot measure legalizing gay marriage would pass today in California.

Well, okay, I'll believe it when I see it.

I don't think that all of the disdain shown by those on the left is of the second sort, which is an argument that too often gets reduced by those wanting blanket justification for jerkass behavior, and it often devolves into tu quoque sentiment.

Of course, both sides on the religious debate have those issues.

I know quite a few religious Catholics who will cheerfully aver that Baptists are going to hell, but are politically necessary; likewise Baptists have no real love for Catholics. The gulf is much more magnified when talking about liberal churches (Episcopalians, etc.) versus fundamentalists.

Well right, but if you are agreeing hell exists you are much more on the same page with each other than you are with atheists.

But the point I was making was that atheists share many policy goals with mainline churchgoers and should recognize that it's more important to achieve those goals than to convert the churchy (especially with scorn).

The problem comes from the form in which the goals are going to be pursued. Faith based charities for example are obviously a wedge here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:58 PM on August 13, 2011


"Well, okay, I'll believe it when I see it."

There are more recent polls with better numbers but I'm too lazy to find them, so here's a PDF from when we got the majority.

"Of course, both sides on the religious debate have those issues."

Oh, yeah, totally. But a lot of times, where those "sides" are drawn is problematic.

"Well right, but if you are agreeing hell exists you are much more on the same page with each other than you are with atheists. "

Not necessarily. I'm much closer in terms of political philosophy to some Liberation Catholics or to the social justice program that animated African American churches during the civil rights movement than I am to some hardline Orthodox Jews who don't necessarily believe in hell at all. I can understand that generally, you're right, in that a lot of people who believe in hell are also people who believe in a whole raft of other things I think are repugnant. But while I think that they're wrong about hell, I don't see that as a particularly pressing problem — they'll find out when they die (or won't, for that matter). I agree with churches that want to feed the hungry protect the weak. I agree with churches that realize that abortion should be protected, even if they're doctrinally against it. I agree with plenty of churches about things that should be done here and now, and those agreements are more important to me than whether or not they think that prayer works or that good deeds get them bonus points in the afterlife. I realize that beliefs aren't held in vacuums and plenty of beliefs correlate with uglier social views, but as that isn't necessarily the case, I tend to think that the actual concrete things that our mutual values lead us to are more important for practical political life than what, exactly, led us there.
posted by klangklangston at 3:42 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can understand that generally, you're right

I know, we don't need to get into specific religious dogma.

I agree with churches that want to feed the hungry protect the weak.

Sure, but George W. Bush and Barack Obama agree that the hungry and weak should be helped. The massive gulf between them is not a product of one side disagreeing on that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2011


And to the extent that they do that, I agree with them. To the extent that they don't, I disagree.
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on August 13, 2011


The problem is in defining help, is it help when they do it with religious strings attached? From a conservative, is it help if it involves taxing (stealing) from others to build a wasteful bureaucracy?

Some individuals can find a middle ground there, some can't.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:38 PM on August 13, 2011


Among forces arrayed against revolutionary consciousness among American teenagers/college kids/young adults, the sheer scale of the United States - and the constant background hum of false connectedness to this inaccessible vastness - gets too little consideration.

Fact is, Americans have more background awareness (via news media) of events elsewhere than ever before; this bites into their awareness/appreciation of events closer to home; presto-changeo, millions of people who (1) think the world is too big for them to directly affect it and (2) mistakenly think they apprehend the System, the Whole Shebang, the like Real Truth Dude because they keep up with shit like CNN and MetaFilter Alternet.

The mere idea that millions of people in 'flyover country' (ugh) are experiencing the same news stories as me, within a diametrically opposed political/cultural framework, is so big and terrifying that only massive selfishness and self-involvement could get me onto the streets despite the inaccessibility of their linked but distinct experience.

So young egotists protest and riot. I would too but I'm, y'know, busy. Or not I mean don't judge me.
posted by waxbanks at 8:02 AM on August 14, 2011


Sure, but George W. Bush and Barack Obama agree that the hungry and weak should be helped. The massive gulf between them is not a product of one side disagreeing on that.

Well, kind of. Just about anyone would say that, the idea of helping the weak and hungry is non-controversial to anyone except the most die hard Randroid. But it is easy to pay lip service to an ideal and then do nothing to further it.

The measures of strength of one's convictions are: What does one actually do to advance them? What is one willing to trade to do what one says is right? How vigorously does one oppose those who fight against that ideal?

I think Obama has been dealt a bum hand, but by these measures he's not exactly an inspiring president. Bush, however, as the architect (or at least enabler) of many of our economic problems (he basically just discarded Clinton's budged surpluses with giant tax cuts and foreign adventures), was worse. We wouldn't be talking about cutting back on social services if it weren't for his strikingly poor economic policies.
posted by JHarris at 2:06 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


We wouldn't be talking about cutting back on social services if it weren't for his strikingly poor economic policies.

Also, Bush belonged to and pandered to conservative organizations that openly and actively oppose social programs and have on a continuing basis since they were first established in the New Deal era. I don't really think it's a coincidence that the last great scion of a movement opposed to social programs as a matter of principle ended up accidentally making economic policy choices that quickly ended up putting the country in a position that supported the political case for cutting or eliminating those programs. Especially not when the Federal Reserve chairman under that President has stated on the record that the administration deliberately meant to eliminate the Clinton budget surpluses out of fear the government would take too big a stake in the financial markets if allowed to invest those surpluses. It's all right there. They wanted this to happen.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:23 PM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


And youth-of-today, if the idea of that doesn't make you want to pick up a brick, nothing will)

I'd love to pick up a brick, but if I miss any work I'll have to choose between food and rent.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey Youth-of-Today: Whattya mean, you want a job and a life and all that great stuff you're older siblings, uncle's/aunt's, parent's have like cars and houses and savings accounts, and health plans and Summer vacations where you actually get to take a plane to an interesting location.

Pfffttt....


Whine...whine...whine....isn't "shopping" on maxed out credit cards and working at the TGIF, good enough for you guys? What a bunch of babies...wannabe Socialists and homosexual bums every single last one of you. You're all lazy and spoiled and unamerican.

Oh, and don't let us catch you at the voting booth in 2012 or we'll jack up the interest rates on ALL your outstanding student loans so hard you won't know what hit you.

/This message brought to you by the Republican Party and it's proto-fascist Tea Party affiliates who dislike: The Young (obviously), Women, Blacks, Hispanics, Immigrants, Babies (age one day and up), alternative lifestylers, urban creatives, LGBT (of course), Democrats, Intellectuals, Scholars, College Students, Teens, Rock and Rollers, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and anyone who doesn't believe in Jebus or Creationism, artists, writers, union workers, anyone more complicated and with brain activity more impressive than a cantelope.


etc etc......

posted by Skygazer at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2011


The mere idea that millions of people in 'flyover country' (ugh) are experiencing the same news stories as me, within a diametrically opposed political/cultural framework, is so big and terrifying that only massive selfishness and self-involvement could get me onto the streets despite the inaccessibility of their linked but distinct experience.

I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter, but I'm not sure if what you wrote is some kind of snark, or something worse.

Could you enlighten what in the heck you're talkin' about?
posted by Skygazer at 12:36 PM on August 15, 2011


> ...modern student debt essentially turns you into an indentured servant. This is one of the reasons why it is utterly wicked and depraved that the government of the UK has been introducing ever escalating university fees.

For fucks sake, student debt in Britain does not work like this. If you never earn more than GBP 21,000, which is the median wage, you don't pay back anything, and the debt expires after 25 years. You only pay the full cost if you have a good wage after graduating. It is a sort of graduate tax. To compare that to indentured servitude is idiotic.
posted by Marlinspike at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Me and all my friends, we're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and there's no way we ever could
Now we see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it

It's not that we don't care, we just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change
posted by nicebookrack at 5:56 PM on August 16, 2011


So we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change

Hey, John Mayer and your misunderstood friends. Understand this. The world doesn't change for you. You change it. Freedom isn't granted by some old man in a suit. It's taken. And the fight ain't ever fair. That's why it's called a fight. Which gets us to your music. Kick it up about nine notches and rawk the fuck out. And stop whining.
posted by philip-random at 8:20 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]






Take the American Revolution: the Americans had the highest standard of living in the world at the time and had inherited generations of British political thought that encouraged liberty. They were rebelling because they could - they were in a powerful enough position to keep control of the land they had already grabbed, because they didn't need the British to protect them any more.

Absolutely, this is true. Unfortunately, many don't really consider it a revolution, as it was by nature, really conservative.

So it shouldn't be used as an example of a real revolution as most of the poor schmucks didn't get affected by it at all.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:49 PM on September 1, 2011


« Older What's wrong with the Maylong?   |   Make the logo smaller. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post