8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

My good sister, Stephanie E., with whom I am reading Paulo Freire‘s Pedagogy of the Oppressed sent me this article yesterday on FB. It details what the situation that Henry Giroux has been talking about in such texts as Youth in a Suspect Society and Youth in Revolt.

Of all the lists I have put up here at Reason & Existenz, Bruce E. Levine’s catalog here linked is one that I find both most disturbing and most helpful. It is worth reading the whole article to see how the author details the eight reasons. I give you the actual list below, but I highly encourage each and every one of you to take a look.

As Millennials go forward into an unfolding future and as Builders, Boomers, and Gen-X continue to make decisions that determine that future, only in knowing of such factors can we overcome them.

Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination.

Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it. A 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” Among 18- to 34-years-olds, 76 percent of them said no. Yet despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy; most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.

1. Student-Loan Debt.
2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance.

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy.
4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously.
6. The Normalization of Surveillance.
7. Television.

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.

via 8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance.


  1. This is something I absolutely don’t get about Americans. Even though I find European disgustingly apathetic and incredibly stupid in many ways regarding many things. Just few days I was discussing the thing about social security with my American friends here and I kind of am horrified that for some operation they force u to pay 40 000 dollars?????? For like what????? Its such a disgusting business, were those some pharma lobbyists working on this behind the scenes ?! West is looking so down on Eastern Europe and Russia in general. Come here break your legs and they will take care of you without charging you insane prices that no one normal can afford, is a piece of cloth or vaccine worth 10 000 dollars?Wth…. I was dying from pain last year in London when I got the kidney infection and who cared? Even their painkillers had no effect…Their emergency was closed I had to immediately take the airplane to come back to Central Europe and to be cured and I did collapse in fact with high fever. But I paid 10 Euros and get healthy soon all in a nice new hospital. Why do you think George Michael was running from UK to Austria to cure his bronchitis?! He would probably die in his home in UK. Last month my 3D printed tooth that looks super real was made by a private dentist that doesn’t belong to any Social security scheme here but operates fully on its own made me pay 200 euros. In the Western country such as Italy just braces cost like 10 000 euros and that was 10 years ago. Apart that the difference in the cost of living is just 15 percent between West and the Center. How is that possible? The truth is that the West is simply totally arrogant and just pure snob where class division is super normal. I would recommend everyone to look at Austria and the way that country works. It is one of the most beautiful in this world and everything works perfectly and people are happy. Everything is beautiful and clean and in order. UK France Italy and the rest are so much in love with themselves yet their whole system is ridiculous. No wonder more and more Americans are moving here to the Central Europe.

  2. The industrialization and capitalism of medicine in the United States has been a shameful process. [Small correction: Social Security is the fund that pays retirees a pension. You were probably thinking of Medicare and how it dos not cover all costs for an operation. Shameful indeed.]

  3. Hmmm. Interesting. I always thought that the lack of activism had to do with the lack of dictatorships. In Latin America, and other countries where despotic regimes have committed all sorts of terrible acts against the society and the dissident, you see a sensitivity that manifests itself in a rising against any injustice perceived as despotic toward the citizen. I always thought that Americans lacked an anger and drive that I think I gained from living in a society that had undergone the brutal oppression and silencing by the military authorities in power. In other words, Americans are spoiled, self-indulgent, and tend toward a hedonism and inactivity that in other parts of the world means death, and perhaps the rising of another regime. Off course, this comment is purely an observation based on my 12 year experience of living in this society, and 16 years of living in Colombia. I don’t claim to have read the cannon of scholarly articles on the subject, so if this discussion is based on those, count me out. Thanks for posting this, Keith!

    1. I think your insight is to point. The symptoms of being spoiled actually point to the deeper underlying factors, like these eight. Soft authoritarian societies (like many nations in North America, Europe, and Japan) actually hide their authoritarian strains beneath the oppression of wealth and the confusion of freedom with being free to consume whatever you want.

  4. A fantastic yet depressing post. The success of past generations in the USA has led to a sense of entitlement and spoiled youths…and this lack of fire is what rulers love to see as they can build their power base and pocket books as the young population struggles to see what the next new killer-app will be, and where they can make the most $$ with the least amount of effort.

      1. Yes, as a Gen-X’er I agree…blame always rolls down hill so I am happy my generation can push it onto someone else (the definition of bowing down these days…pass-on all responsibility).

  5. Ha yet indeed Im confused with that social security thing… I always thought it meant like State through taxes is instead taking care of its population making them secure that if something happens there is always someone to help and in fact you are always helped in EU but not in UK – and the connection to US is very obvious there. So yep in fact we are pretty secure here in Europe. People simply care of each other here, even families do…. I don’t know but I think Capitalism had ruined families because when people think money and their individuality and needs are the most important things then he will think he can be rude and stupid to other people because he can already take care of itself and he doesn’t need to invest in relationships. I have noticed in London people are incredible opportunists. This economic crisis is indeed a blessing it should teach people how to accept others, how to take care of others and how to collaborate. If they won’t learn this….. they are going to suffer.

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