1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Discuss politics - join our community by registering for free here! HOP - the political discussion forum

Youth Liberation

Discussion in 'Other Policies' started by Agnapostate, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    California
    If possible, I'd like commentary on the nature of an ideology that advocates civil rights and liberties for youth that are capable of handling them, and effectively promotes replacing age restrictions with some other standard of competence measurement. The nature of these "youth rights," which are a component of a broader platform of youth liberation, can be effectively summarized in the educator John Holt's (Escape From Childhood, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974) proposal, in which he declared:

    Now, the most obvious and ever present objection would be the incompetence and immaturity of adolescents and their inability to exercise such rights and responsibilities, let along younger children. But to put this in perspective, I typically quote Joshua Meyrowitz (The Adultlike Child and the Childlike Adult: Socialization in an Electronic Age, Daedalus, Vol. 113, No. 3, Anticipations (Summer, 1984), pp. 19-48) in an attempt to illustrate the nature of "childhood" as having somewhat fluid boundaries that are widely varying among time and place in both chronological terms (set age restrictions), and the precise nature of limited rights granted to those considered "children."

    It's the modern conception of childhood itself that forms the basis behind the popular perception that children and adolescents are incapable of competently exercising the rights and responsibilities that adults currently possess, by creating a popular negative image of them based on several misconceptions. As the psychologist Richard Farson (Birthrights, New York: Macmillan, 1974) notes:

    However, we know for a fact that the concept of childhood has undergone dramatic structuring and restructuring over the past few centuries, with many of our current stereotypes about modern youth being based on the consequences of previous infantilization of them. For example, the modern Western institution of adolescence is an example of an artificial extension of childhood that has only existed since the period of the Industrial Revolution or so. The point is driven home by Frank Fussell and Elizabeth Furstenberg in The Transition to Adulthood During the Twentieth Century: Race, Nativity, and Gender.

    Moreover, the education author (and former New York City Teacher of the Year) John Taylor Gatto (The Underground History of American Education, New York: Odysseus Group, 2001) elaborates on this matter, writing the following:

    Gatto's statement notably incorporates acknowledgment of the reality that the establishment of adolescence wasn't necessarily based on the purest motives, and some had an interest in gaining from the infantilization of youth, most obviously those who gained from the elimination of able-bodied youth from the workforce and effective imprisonment in school elaborated on by Fussell and Furstenberg (sorry about the crooked graph.)

    [​IMG]

    The most recent major elaboration on this effective infantilization of youth that has occurred has come from the American psychologist Robert Epstein (The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, New York: Quill Driver Books, 2007). As he writes:

    He includes this accompanying image to further illustrate the reality that the establishment of adolescence over the past century and a half involved the establishment of new age restrictions on adolescents that had not previously existed in American society:

    [​IMG]

    Now, this alone obviously can't justify the elimination of adolescence or any other component of modern childhood as a phase of the life cycle, especially in light of claims that age restrictions served as protections for youth in a turbulent world that they lacked sufficient competence to deal with. These summaries offered thus far are intended to serve as explanations rather than justifications, and intended to offer a descriptive observation rather than a prescriptive recommendation. It's thus necessary to highlight a crucial difference between *is* and *ought*. And some authors (notably Neil Postman) who concede that childhood and adolescence are effectively inventions (to some extent) of the past few centuries note this not to claim that they necessitate abolition or elimination, but to claim that they're beneficial establishments of life phases that properly train and condition youth for adult life.

    However, recent authors have disputed this, and have focused on some of the same dramatic restructuring of childhood that Holt proposed, this time with a specific focus on adolescence. As Epstein puts it:

     
  2. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    California
    In recent years, this proposal has gained sufficient influence to merit endorsement from former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (not the best source on a progressive socialist forum, of course, but I merely wanted to illustrate the increasing popularity of this idea), who advocates the same general program of policy changes in a BusinessWeek piece entitled Let's End Adolescence:

    That noted, I should also state that I disagree with the assessment of only adolescent youth being capable of exercising rights, or the prospect of rights being extended only to adolescent youth. Along with my opposition to minimum age restrictions, I envision a state of affairs wherein some persons who have not reached adolescence would obtain and exercise the rights and responsibilities that self-determination entails. The aforementiond Richard Farson notes:

    However, the abolition of age restrictions isn't intended to create a societal environment of toddlers owning submachine guns or some similar absurdity. As Farson writes, "[n]obody believes that one year old children will vote, but that does not mean we must deprive them of the right to vote. How many elderly people in our society are (almost) senile? Do we take away their right to vote?" Hence, the purpose of the abolition of age restrictions isn't intended to foster an environment of toddlers driving, voting, and working, but to recognize the fact that age is an arbitrary measurement of competence that will fail to permit some persons below almost any age restriction to become independent.

    Now, returning to my somewhat nuanced response to the question of the general competence of youth to make informed and rational decisions (and thus manage their own welfare) overall, I'd contend that youth, particularly adolescent youth, are more equipped to deal with the turbulence and difficulties of "adult life" to a greater extent than is commonly perceived. I typically refer to the empirical research that has been conducted into the capacities of adolescents to offer informed and rational consent to medical treatment, since this could be reasonably extrapolated into a functioning analysis of their capacities to make similarly informed and rational decisions about their own welfare. For instance, I frequently refer to Weithorn and Campbell's The Competency of Children and Adolescents to Make Informed Treatment Decisions:

    I'd thus agree with their analysis that "[t]he ages of eighteen or twenty-one as the 'cutoffs' below which individuals are presumed to be incompetent to make determinations about their own welfare do not reflect the psychological capacities of most adolescents."

    Next, I'd note that the deliberate infantilization of youth plays a role in hobbling their intellectual development, and thus, their ability to defend against the very conditions that it's presumed they need to be "protected" from. As John Darling (A.S. Neill on Democratic Authority: A Lesson from Summerhill?, Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1992), pp. 45-57) notes:

    The very perception of children and adolescents being incompetent and irresponsible, and unable to exercise those rights that all the combined facets of individual self-determination entail, plays a role in conditioning them to be incompetent and irresponsible to some extent, in alignment with societal predictions and expectations, on which policies that infantilize modern youth are formed. Darling also notes this:

    However, it's important to note that I don't advocate forcible or coercive integration of youth into "adult society" against their will, thereby "robbing them of their childhood." While I regard our current state of affairs as undesirable, neither is it the case that I support tossing youth into the water and simply hoping they don't sink. For example, I don't support setting an age of majority of 10 or 12 and forcing people to "cope" from that point on any more than I support the artificial extension of childhood that characterizes our current state of affairs. Instead, I'd agree with the voluntary nature of the aforementioned John Holt's plan. He used an insightful analogy to illustrate this:

    So, this proposal as a whole seems excessively radical at first mention, but when we consider the fact that many modern conceptions and boundaries of childhood are artificially set social constructs, the fact that the aforementioned empirical literature indicates that adolescent youth and some children possess the ability to make informed and rational decisions about their own welfare, and the aforementioned fact that "the abolition of age restrictions isn't intended to create a societal environment of toddlers owning submachine guns or some similar absurdity," it's not so far-fetched, in my view.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  3. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,921
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The whole thing is an impossible wistful ideal that is too complicated to be implemented.
    The reason they do not have more freedom is that as a group they demonstrate that they do not deserve it. They are the most destructive group on earth. What abandoned factory, house, etc. does not have all its windows destroyed by rocks if they are not boarded up? Who is doing it? 72 year olds in wheel chairs?
    It is the custom where I live to put white crosses along the roads where people have been killed in cars. The countryside is littered with white crosses. Almost all represent youths. Youths who might have passed your test for responsibility.
    They need more laws restricting their behavior, and more vigorous enforcement.
     
  4. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    California
    Can you refer to reliable empirical research that evidences this alleged epidemic of reckless irresponsibility? I've found that such assertions are often more dependent on media exaggerations than reality.
     
  5. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,921
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Can you refer to any review of the methodology by researchers and the conclusion by psychologists of the cited research?

    Or, at least list the location of a factory that has been abandoned for three or so years and that still has its windows intact?

    Also, it seems to beg the question: If there were a test for adulthood instead of the automatic system that is arbitrarily set at 18, what happens in the event that a kid never is able to pass the test? Cannot vote? Cannot enter into contracts?
     
  6. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,477
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I think that the process would impossibly complex to administer. Dahermit's question about adults who can never pass the test and become legal adults is valid. This idea would require testing a huge number of people repeatedly on a vast array of subjects and then professional assessment of the test results. There would have to be an appeals process, court intervention when an impasse is reached, differing experts arguing about test results and their meanings, an endless legal battle that would only enrich lawyers.

    There would also have to be a concomitant process by which the parents were relieved of responsibility for the emancipating minor. Right now parents have legal responsibilities to the children and for the children's behavior.

    Would this be an all or nothing process? Would a child of 12 who was demonstrably capable of voting competenly be allowed to vote but still be barred from driving? Or would a child have to pass all the tests and achieve total emancipation before receiving any of the perks of adulthood?
     
  7. Dante the Marxist

    Dante the Marxist New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Montana
    The factorys and homes are abondoned. They deserve to be destroyed if nobody does anything. The car accidents happen as much with adults as children. Maybe not in your area, but overall.

    Do you think it is fair for sentient humans to have thier lives controled down to what they eat, what they wear, sometimes what they read, what faith to follow, etc.? If we can mix education with productive work, then kids would be doing the same as adults, while being educated. They would then be obligated to the same rights.

    Great idea, in my opinion.
     
  8. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,921
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Factories and homes that could and likely be sold if they were not destroyed. They are owned by someone, even if empty. Why is it ok to destroy the investment that they represent to the owners be it a bank, company, or individual just because some over-induldged pair of jerks are "bored"?

    Not so. That is why the under 25 insurance rates are so high.

    13 year olds getting married. Entering into contracts. Yup. Great idea.
     
  9. Dante the Marxist

    Dante the Marxist New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Montana
    They should have done something with those things before they were known as "80 year old factory that has been out of use for 50 years and is now a giant toy".

    Having your own home as private property is understandable. But a factory, or a office building? Those are public-purpose buildings, and should be owned by the public, for the public.

    They are so high because nobody trusts a responsible teen to drive a car.

    Whats wrong with that? Human beings, falling in love, making thier own decisions, voting, and having jobs. Only a person who hates love, free decision making, voting, and jobs could be opposed to this.
     
Loading...

Share This Page