[Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky (C) All Rights Reserved 2017]
Many have chosen to focus on the grand questions: economic development, social justice, poverty, war. But in light of the insights offered by Foucault and of the 1968 generation (‘the personal IS the political,’ was the battle cry among rebellious youth in Germany), perhaps it is time to begin to focus more on how the ills of society are reflected not (only) in lower incomes, and not only on the pure materialist-scientific realms but instead on what kind of people post-modernity (analyzed quite well by David Haevey) has created.
The youth is the product of post-modernity and neo-liberal capitalism since it was produced within it, rather than in some kind of dry and remote labratory. Indeed, what many of the so-called ‘rebels’ and ‘dissidents’ within society, such as the leftists, anarchists and liberal elite, have often called for is to fully extend the ills of capitalist, isolated, post-modern secular society even further, rather than realizing that society is rotten altogether. For example, many feminist liberals have fully supported the process by which women have been cut off their femininity, intuition and motherhood and made into heartless robots working in the corporate sector as some kind of ‘progress.’ Of course such a life style choice is what works for a certain segment of the population. But the feminist liberals have not stopped there but seek to convert in their crusade not only traditional and conservative communities within their own country, mocking any alternative as ridiculous in a self righteous indignation (The Guardian is a clear example), but also seek to expand worldwide seeking greater lebensraum for feminism.
Anarchists, as another example, seek to break down all borders, allowing in the process for the flourishing of radical Islam, an over-supply of potential rapists, and cheap labour in general. Of course that is not to say that placing borders and tarrifs is the solution or a viable economic plan, but it does mean countries have the right to guard their own values and maintain a level of homogeneity in their society. Israel, for example, has the right to maintain its Jewish character. Or rather, it may or may not have an abstract ‘right,’ but it is understandable why a majority of Israelis would want to.
Then come the atheist communists, who over-rationalize everything according to 19ty century positivist German logic which Marx was a product of, and are blind to see practical realities and to the wisdom to be found in traditions. For example, they ultimately fall into the liberal-individualist-secular trap and view all people as individuals rather than also as products of their community (or the lack of). In this vein, they try to show that communism is ‘cool’ since it also supports transgender, feminist or refugee rights, missing the point altogether.
From the time I spent people-gazing in Barcelona in the hot and busy tourist season, there are certain conclusions I reached about our youth and its predicament. Conversations with locals only confirmed my observations.
a. many of the youth today in western societies suffer from parental neglect due to their parents’ overworking and/or separation. They are directionless and confused and therefore look for easy pleasures (losing themselves in music, smoking, drinking), expressing their uniqueness via tatoos, and self-expression via fashion. But what they lack are
– meaningful relationships with their friends where they know they will be loved no matter what, even if they are not ‘cool,’
– any kind of reward or pleasure that comes from hard-work and discipline, such as reading, working on relationships, not escaping from difficulties even etc.
-real social interactions. Most middle class youth today are totally glued to their smartphones and cannot live the moment by meaningful conversations with their friends in the here-and-now. This results in extreme narcissism which, of course, is the byproduct of secular, rational capitalist society, where the one and only goal is self fulfillment and personal pleasure.
– strong masculine or feminine identities. Many of the young women long for strong males who know what they want but many young males are confused and not assertive. As one Moroccan friend put it (it sounds better in Arabic) “the women are masculine and the men are feminine.” A western young woman was close to tears after she told me how she and her female friend spent three days with guys they liked but then they disappeared without saying goodbye. In a society where people are eager to please but avoid awakwardness at all costs, where people are isolated and sucked into individualist existence, this is an inevitable outcome.
b. people fear commitment and sacrifice. Therefore the sad scene of many in the 40s and 50s who wear hipster t-shirts, have beards and wear jeans, but never married and don’t have kids. They drink and smoke instead. It also explains the sad sight of many single mothers raising their children on their own. Similarly many so-called young professional women spent decades working on their career but are living alone and long for human touch. Of course, liberals will argue that people should be free to live as they want, and there is a grain of truth in that. Coercion alone is not a solution. But by this logic, people should also be free to destroy their lives if that’s what they want, while we also know, of course, that not only that people who are uneducated don’t know what’s best for them, but also that people tend to chose the easy and comfortable option which is not necessarily the good one. For example, drugs and drinking versus excercise and studying. If being human means striving for more, transcending and improving, becoming a victim to one’s addictions is not the best humans should aspire to. Without discpline people can never reach higher heights.
c. a-sexualization of society.
The imperatives of neoliberal secular capitalism mean a workspace where for example human warmth between individuals is out of the question, physical attraction and the joy of flirting common in Latin American cultures is seen as a menance to profit, and short term pleasure is an obstacle to the only goal: future profit. It is therefore only ironic that the leftists who fight against the so-called ‘objectification’ of women in the ultra-feminist jargon work and strive for so-called equality in the workspace, inevitably are working to create more capitalism and rob women of their femininity and desire to appeal to the other sex. As argued earlier, they cannot escape the logic of the environment we live in but seek instead to bring it to its radical conclusion even further. In our capitalist, secular, self-centered society it is therefore no surprise that The Independent came out with a recent story on how in the next 30 year people will no longer conceive children the natural way through intimate relations but via a lab, where they also will, of course, ensure that their children have no imperfections or diseases. That current society is moving towards eugenics practiced by dark regimes is not a deviation considering the fact that our current society is obsessed with the desire to control all outcomes and does not believe in spontaneity, in flowing with life or in the power and vitality of anything above and beyond our logical minds. Of course, life doesn’t work as planned, it has a deeper logic and mystery of its own, but we have chosen to isolate ourselves from it and remain confined in our narrow egos.
Addressing our social and mental ills can only come from a different mindset, as Albert Einstein roughly argued. For now we are stuck in a single prism that arrogantly believes it can achieve perfect control, has forgotten what real interactions, a joy of life or anything real means, and has created isolated, mechanical, asexual humans addicted to technology. Most of the leftists of today,in their blindness and arrogantvself-importance, only wish to speed the process of destruction. The tunnel-vision we are stuck in leaves no alternatives.