The blaming of young people as ‘lazy, deviants, drug abusers, materialists, selfish, directionless, apolitical and other stereotypes continue to dominate public narratives. The objectives of these borderless narratives are designed to weaken young people’s ability to challenge and transform the society in which they live. The blame culture and negative portrayals are control mechanisms of old and established social, political, cultural and economic order to tame the youth power. It is a mechanism to create hopelessness and domesticate youth to normalise the crisis faced by the young people. Each generation of young people face their own problems of their times, but some problems are inherited from their predecessors. However, the challenges faced by the youth today are neither created by the young people nor promoted by them. The issues of inequality based on gender, class, race, sexuality, religious and regional backgrounds are not created by the young people. The denial of accessibility and availability of opportunities for a dignified living condition is not created by the young people.
From the ‘Greatest generation’ to the ‘Silent generation’, the old people categorised the young as baby boomers and the baby boomers categorised the young as Generation-X. The meaningless categorisation continues. The young people are categorised today as ‘Generation Z-ers, millennials, iGeneration, or post-millennials’ without any rhyme or reason. These fancy terms are designed to describe young people as ‘useless and youthful idiots’ to hide the prevalent predicaments created and established by the previous generations. The young people don’t need categorisation. The young people are defined by their idealism and commitment to the greater causes of life and their contributions in the making of the world, states, societies, families and communities all over the world. All the challenges faced by the youth today are inherited from the social, economic, political, religious, and cultural conditions established by reactionary geriatrics called ‘authority’ represented by various institutions, processes and traditions in local, national, regional and international level.
The pre-pandemic World Youth Report (2018) published by the United Nations outlines the complex challenges faced by the 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16% of the global population. The issues of inequality, unemployment, poverty, hunger, migration, conflict and lack of access to quality education, health, housing, air and water continue grow in an enormous scale during the last two years of the Coronavirus led pandemic. A recent report by the Swiss bank UBS found that the number of billionaires and their wealth increased to $10.2 trillion amidst the deaths and destitutions of the pandemic. Such an unequal life experience created by capitalism is neither sustainable nor healthy for the present and future of people and planet.
The capitalism as a political, economic, social and cultural system has failed to promote an egalitarian society focusing on people’s wellbeing. In order to avoid its internal contradictions, capitalism is promoting war, regional and religious conflicts to sustain itself. It also works as patron of the right-wing and reactionary politics around to globe to promote itself as only alternative and outsource its problems as social and political instabilities. The young people are the net victims of capitalism and its geriatric culture which is intolerant of the beauties of youthful creativity and deviations.
The capitalist priests in the World Economic Forum believe that young people are only facing three biggest challenges. It considers that young people staying with parents, declining life expectancy among working age and lack of home ownership among young are three major problems. It does not outline the conditions that caused these problems. The capitalist confession is an amoral religious strategy of the capitalism as a system, where accountability is outsources to an unknown power called ‘god’.
The world is facing five major challenges today i.e., modern wars, climate change, religious conflicts, reactionary and authoritarian politics, capitalist alienation. These challenges are not created by the young people but annihilating for them. The young people are victims of a capitalist system that manufactures such challenges to hide its own problems. The capitalist ruling classes are putting guns, globalised market led consumerism, god, nationalist and religious glory on the shoulders of the young people to dismantle the creative power and common experiences that unites the youth all over the world. The young people are being branded merely as anonymise social media handles or a self-seeking number in the Excel spreadsheets of either government agencies or corporate shop floors. The young people are losing their identity as idealist and creative communities due to the capitalist conditions in which they experience their lives. The commodification of life experience by the capitalist culture of consumerism is destroying the diverse world of youths and their power to change the course of history.
All the progressive and democratic upheavals of history are the products of young people and their sacrifices. The idealist young people have led the struggle against colonialism, imperialism, apartheid and defeated feudalism, fascism and dictatorships. The young people can face the challenges of war, capitalism, religious fundamentalism, reactionary politics, global pandemic and climate crisis and rise above as a borderless community. The youthful feelings of love is more common than the territorial, cultural and religious differences.
The struggle for peace, equality, freedom and climate actions are common battles that the youth of the world can win. The young people don’t need the perverted geriatric analysis based on blame culture that domesticates young people within a narrow silo of market, religion and nation states. The future of the world depends on the future of the young people and their ability to dismantle the old hangovers within new bottles of power. The young people will find their deviant ways to subvert all obstacles on their way of establishing a diverse, progressive and peaceful world devoid of hunger, homelessness, inequalities and exploitations. Therefore, it is important to dream and work in defence of youthful deviations.
Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK