26 December 2010

The Remergence of Ideology in the Young: technology and resistance.

My generation, those born just before or just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and those generations after; those whose’ experience of the world is wholly formed through the internet and the absence of fear of annihilation, those whose education has been wholly Post-Modern. We were supposed to be the truly relativist generation, and we are; a true product of our upbringing. However that seems to be changing, the relativist point of view is subsiding into a marsh of idealism, a resurgence of dreams and action. Its impossible to sit at the computer and watch videos of the young literally fighting for the right to return to free-of-charge education and not see an ideology or belief in the hearts and minds of this so called generation-X.
If one is to watch this little speech, from some 15 year old toff (most have probably seen it, but bear with me) you can see a real passion burning. Watch it (again) now, but pay special attention at 4:05 minutes in:

For those that missed it he says:
“Hundreds of people joined a facebook group, school students joined a facebook group in solidarity with RMT members on strike. …”
This is an important sentence if we are to understand the reemergence of idealism within the young. What he says here is something quite profound. He accepts the equality of the virtual support of the RMT to be equal to the physical support of joining the picket lines. The speaker recognises no inferiority in communication and mobilization through online resources; particularly one website normally slandered by older generations as a waste of time and minds. This may seem like a tiny point, however I would argue it was fundamental to understanding our and future generations outlook on the world; a natural equality between virtual and physical realities. This inherent understanding of new mediums of communication harbours a newness, an ability to fight through channels and systems never before imagined or understood.
Despite this, in the face of the hike in university tuition fees, we see the young’s move out of relativism returning to an old paradigm of idealism; a socialist one.
The problem with socialist protest is it takes positive freedom to heart; its belief in “right” at the expense of others and their beliefs. It understands sacrifices must be made in order to achieve victory. And in so being it is, and has always been, a first and unknown step towards Totalitarianism. Those born in previous generations, those who badge themselves as socialists or otherwise; those who the young resistance look up to and have turned to, stemming from their own lack of experience in ideology, are the failed revolutionaries of old. Those the young are turning to for guidance are those whose’ methodologies for change essentially predate the first world war.
Our generation understands this new world in away those older generation can not comprehend, and can never fully relate to. As we have seen from our young speaker above we have the potential to open new modes of communication and resistance. Yet to date we have continued to take to the street like our fathers and mothers did to fight the poll tax. Yes they won that fight, but nothing since. We must shake off the shackles of old forms of resistance and look into ourselves to understand what can be done now. We must not let ourselves be haunted by the methodolgies of the past.
As Billy Bragg notes:
This is the first generation to have the opportunity to create a form of socialism that is not tainted by totalitarianism. Those of us who fought the Tories in the dying days of the last century should listen and learn.”
When Marx wrote Capital everything was so expensive as to out price the majority of society. Now, now we must grapple with the rise of Free. The companies of the internet have turned to and embraced free and it doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to envisage the spread of this phenomenon. The world has changed; we are new, to respond in any way other than a new one is but futile.
Perhaps its time to understand that media representations of violence, and of images of the young dressed as the old, turns away many, and instead perhaps we should try and win friends and not enemies. To win the hearts and minds of all classes and all creeds, to not alienate any group, and let them ride with us. Free at the point of entry needn’t be a cause for only the few or for the righteous, it should be a priority for the rich and the poor, it represent our collective future. No one must be left behind. Everyone has the potential to believe, no casualties are acceptable.

We are the generation that can make this happen. 

Not our answer.



  1. have you read Orwell's 'England, your England' (part of his series of essays entitled 'Lion and Unicorn')? I think you should. Interesting not for it's insight into youth radicalism or ideology, but the essence of English idealism and ideology.
    e. x

  2. That kid is clearly a Gen Zedder.
    And yous a Gen Y.
    None o' this X nonsense.