Jun 032012

Punk is dead,’ asserts Chris Dillow today.

In this, music reflects a wider social fact—that today’s young people are much less gobby than we were. Last summer’s riots, for example, contained less political motive than their 1981 equivalents. And much as I love them, today’s “voices of their generation” are pretty tame…This is not because of a lack of cause. Today’s youngsters have the same grievances as my generation – youth unemployment and police harassment—and then some.

So why are young folk so passive?

He presents a number of possibilities: today’s oldsters are more tolerant, today’s youth are the captive slaves of mega-materialist capitalism, etc.

At no point does he consider that today’s youth are passive because that’s how Chris Dillow’s generation taught them to be.

I’ve written about this before…

But we live in a curiously dishonest world, wherein baby-boomers hold all of the power and then complain that the youth are disaffected and disengaged, unlike themselves when they were ‘the youth.’ In fact, most of the policies advocated by the baby-boomers in power seem deliberately designed to keep ‘the youth’ dependent on them, which is a perfect recipe for further disaffection and disengagement.

Let us consider recent proposals in Britain dealing with ‘the youth.’

(a) Compulsory education or training to age 18. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run) education system until legal adulthood.

(b) Sending more of the population to university. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run and operated) education system until well into adulthood.

(c) Government-provided work and training for graduates who can’t find jobs. This keeps ‘the youth’ (who are now into their twenties) dependent on the state (run by baby-boomers) for sustenance and the acquisition of skills.

(d) Parent training courses. This sends the message to ‘the youth’ who have dared to reproduce that despite their biological fitness for the job, they are mentally and emotionally unfit to raise offspring without guidance from the state (i.e. baby-boomers, those proven experts in child-rearing).

All of these policies could not make more perfectly clear the belief of baby boomers that ‘the youth’ of today are unfit to make decisions for themselves, support themselves, or support other humans; and yet still the baby boomers complain that ‘the youth’ don’t take responsibility for themselves and agitate for their own benefit.

…more than once:

Mind you, our ex-hippy [ex-punk?] overlords seem particularly distraught that the voice of the new generation is a weak one. A couple of days ago, I wrote that it was a key feature of the baby-boom generation to strangle the life out of today’s youth and then demand to know why it wasn’t trying to breathe.

And lo, what should be in the newspaper on Monday but the results of a poll showing that today’s youth are ‘more boring’ than their parents.

Having been told from birth to shun smoking, drinking, sex, drugs, and pretty much anything else that could be interpreted as either exciting or ‘interesting,’ the yoof turn out to be rather hard-line Puritans. Quelle surprise. And for this, the baby-boomers have the nerve to complain that their kids are no fucking fun.

If you want angry, empowered youth, then don’t spend the first 25 years of their lives teaching them that the bland, unquestioning, isolating conformity which suits your desire to retain cultural and social dominance is for their own good.

Your methods of upbringing are what created today’s 23-year-olds who fret over whether they can afford to buy a house in Barnes. Your parental indulgence is why others of your children still live in your council house with three kids of their own, no spouse, and no job.

You didn’t teach them to see the value in standing up for their future because you didn’t want them to do that—because it might hurt yours. You’ve told them all of their lives that somebody else would sort out their problems, take their part, and make the world right for them; you’ve taught them that dependence has no cost and entitlements have no price and one’s desires are automatically others’ debts to pay—why should they not believe you now? You have no right to complain. You promised them the earth; they’re just waiting patiently for you to provide it for them.

  16 Responses to “Youth are too passive, says oldster”

  1. He really thinks today’s youth is ‘less gobby’? I wish!

    It seems to me that today’s youth are far more likely to challenge their elders, to be full of (unearned) self-importance and so unable to cope with setback and without the constant praise for minor accomplishments that they’ve known all their lives.

  2. “don’t spend the first 25 years of their lives teaching them that the bland, unquestioning, isolating conformity which suits your desire to retain cultural and social dominance is for their own good.

    Err, I think Chris’s point is that youth don’t get seen challenging with zeal. challenge what you are taught. It should just happen. But if it did “Never trust anyone over thirty” would fit. Waiting patiently does not sit properly with “hope I die before I get old”


    • Maybe there’s something in the fact that the younger generation is more exposed to global influences than, y’know, the Who. Instead of ‘hope I die before I get old,’ it’s ‘I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.’

      I like Jay-Z as much as the next person, but he’s not really the voice of working-class Britain, is he?

  3. As a good Marxist, I agree that schools have tried to inculcate conformity:
    But this poses the question. Why are today’s young people more likely to accept this than earlier generations? Why has my generation’s effort at creating conformity succeeded when previous generations’ efforts did not? Are we really more efficient indoctinators, and if so, why and how?

    • I will have to ponder that. Maybe it’s not that your generation is better at indoctrinating (or worse), just that the indoctrination has been of a different sort.

    • Perhaps the ‘inducing conformity’ bit has been married to something else? The dumbing down of the rest of the educational process, for example?

  4. Having been told from birth to shun smoking, drinking, sex, drugs, and pretty much anything else that could be interpreted as either exciting or ‘interesting,’ the yoof turn out to be rather hard-line Puritans.

    Either this is untrue or I’ve been at parties with all the outliers. I suspect that it’s the former. (And, by the way, they’re neither as exciting or as interesting as one might believe. Only when you’ve had to listen to a hour of cries of “THE SHOWER CURTAIN IS AMAZING” from bathroom-bound mandy nuts can you grasp how tedious libertinism can be.)

    • I don’t party with a lot of young people, admittedly, but on occasions when I do see them stumbling around drunk, they don’t seem to be having much fun doing it.

  5. The problem is that punk was never as significant a social movement as the media portray it. The upper and middle class kids that liked it, that have ended up dominating the media thought it was great and have continually written about it. It’s like people talking about Greenham Common in the 80s, or Occupy today as if a few hundred crusties say anything about UK society. The skill was that Malcolm McClaren exploited it.

    The Sex Pistols had 7 Top 10 singles. Four of those were originals. Three are still remembered (Holidays in the Sun, God Save the Queen and Pretty Vacant). You could look at the output of The Prodigy, who in their early career had 2 number 1s and 7 top 10s, including controversies over Charly, Firestarter and Smack My Bitch Up and ask what was so special about The Sex Pistols.

    And disco was always bigger in terms of sales and participation, but liking disco is uncool which is why it’s brushed aside.

  6. As a boomer parent, I say teach your children to be independent, think critically, and question anything we tell you. Children taught that way will not then be indoctrinated at university by Marxist professors and will not accept socialist or right-wing bullshit, nor believe anything the government tells them. If we all had done as I say now, perhaps today we would be looking at the best generation ever, maybe a libertarian Nirvana.

  7. Can’t speak for all the issues on your side of the Atlantic, but I have always found it interesting how easy it would be to make improvements (not completely fix, but make improvements) to US problems like healthcare, infrastructure, the military, etc. Easy only in the sense that improvements are not hard to figure out, but are very difficult to put into place because of kowtowing by cowardly politicians to shortsighted interest groups.

    It’s almost like a generation of narcissistic Peter Pans never really grew up but got the keys to the country anyway…

  8. A Phrase of mine “I am not interested in world domination. What the HEL do you DO with it once achieved?”

    I think the “baby boomers” have now hit this point.

    They had great plans for how they would model the world to their own plan. NOW they have 90% achieved that, they are starting to realise that they have not given the slightest thought to “the end game”. OR, for that matter, what to do when their My little steak…(ah sorry PONY), rainbow and fairy land dreams all prove (As they have done/are doing) to be a crock of shite.

  9. Never mind passive youth; what about our passive prime minister, passive chancellor and all their vacuous mates whose only ambitions are to “decontaminate the brand” and cling to office. The country is deep in debt, the euro could collapse within months, the middle east is experiencing a series of revolutions and yet they have no real grasp of any of it.

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