Photo Credit: Bat’ko
Bullshit has it that Gen Z is more conservative that millennials. Articles on the topic have been published on newspapers and magazines here and there, rightists repeat it when they have the chance but there are many questions left unanswered about these statements, what’s the definition of Gen Z? In what way are they conservative? Who did these studies? In what conditions? The questions can go on but this article isn’t about them. People are acting like this was news to them but these narratives aren’t new, in the 00’s they were riding off the popularity of South Park trying to win follower by appearing hip and edgy, a thing that became cyclical and more interesting is how in the 60’s there were “conservative folk groups” singing the opposite of protests songs The Down of Correction and The Ballad of the Green Berets are the most memorable but they were not the only ones. The Oddity Archive YouTube series had a whole episode on this topic which is worth a watch.
The thing is that this idea of a conservative youth isn’t all that new and that it has been going on for a while. Like a phoenix it dies and comes back because rightists really want to prove a point but history and culture have buried it time and time again and in mass conscience the idea that the youth is rebellious and therefore more or less liberal, maybe leftist but no teenager is ever “squared”, no teenager is ever going to wear business suits and do their school homework with glee unless they are one of those dorky an-cap teens who like to circlejerk about how mature they are while collecting legos. And on the same vein no adult is ever a rebel and if they are that’s not the word used, they get called “terrorists.” Adults are supposed to have jobs, to have debts and children, adults pay taxes and get angry when John Law gets his share of their hard earned pay, then that makes them conservative, when they have children and look back to their own past mistakes and shames plus the ideological apparatus and the spectacle feeding them ideas about a Big Other menacing them and making up moral panics, this makes them conservative because they have something to protect.
This is how history goes, but something has been missing in this debate and that is a leftist challenge to this narrative. A pessimist would dismiss the young rebels as the liberals they are and further on dive into the narratives of hopelessness about how people will never become class conscious but it should be obvious that’s not my intentions. What is that thing that Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders share? They are both old, New York Times even called Sanders “A socialist grandpa”, so where has been that narrative that reverses the roles and claims young people are fashy and adults are socialists? It can’t be all that new?
It takes me back to South Park. I liked South Park in the old days but I grew up and South Park didn’t. I remember the episodes that made me laugh and I can admit the humor that came from its immaturity. This is a criticism of libertarianism that most of us will be familiar with, it’s more of an ad hominem but you know what I am talking about, the idea of libertarians always being edgy teenagers who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, they have never had a job and so don’t know what is like to be alienated from their labor. Similarly, there are the young Trump supporters who make big deals out of taking their MAGA hats to school and claim they’re into alt right just for the memes. The idea that they are into politics only for the memes is disturbing, if it is merely farce it still shows that they’re insincere and immature. Theirs is not the politics of holding onto something but the politics of being validated and that’s because our society thinks of adolescence in a different manner than before, people understand teen rebellion as a normal part of human development and parents don’t discipline or punish their children like in previous generations. Now society understands that adolescence is the stage of life when people search for an individual identity and try to define themselves as a person, they go through some awkward phases and at the end they’re lucky if they come out as functional adults. Gone are the days of rebels without a cause riding bikes and listening to that wild rock and roll music, an image that almost seems innocent today but that is beside the point. Do teenagers have anything to rebel against today?
The edgy teens will have all sorts of reasons for playing around with pepe memes and kekistan flags, ones that can range from legitimate racism to just experimenting and discovering the world of politics, what to do with them is beyond me since we’re just opening a new chapter in this history of farce.
But where are the parents? These days having a child is a very large investment but most people don’t even have the money to buy a car or a house, living in permanent debt to an extent that planning to have children is out of the question. The social democratic welfare state that once helped smooth this process has been dismantled. In such a short time public well being has been driven by class warfare of the elites on steroids and we’re seeing the political consequences of that, class conscience is growing and if we’re lucky enough that will be a long term effect, long enough to carry over across these persons lives and be something truly historical. Because what is there left beside fighting for change? How can one have a kid with no public healthcare to pay for the birth, no maternity leave to raise it, poor public education to teach them anything and a shitty wage to give them a living? Sincere politics that defend the working class regardless of race, gender or sexuality is what we truly need right now. It’s a topic that we repeat up and down because it the best, and maybe last, moment that we have to do so.
The task of this new working class movement is to demand self management in the work place and fundamental changes to our economic system. This new movement is where grown ups come in, working mothers and fathers, grown men and women who are all united by the material fact of their class. Moms and dads can no longer save and invest on anything for anything. Their economic situation is not so far removed from their parents who weathered the Great Depression, but this time with even less hope for the future.
The conservatives and liberals have been repeating the same lies for 50 years, doing their darnest to make them accepted as truth. The immature youth, instead of rebelling against elite power, rebelled against their sensibilities, transgression made into a weapon just about as powerful as a whipped cream pie thrown underhand at a distance of 12 feet. However, for the rest of us who must deal with the world of work, of caring for our families, of the day to day monotony of all-encompassing capitalism, we must strike out at this power without edgy performances, but with sincere conviction.