Psychologist Lists 8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back

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Written by: EV

 

Clinical psychologist and author, Bruce E. Levine, has compiled an in depth list of reasons why young Americans don’t fight for their rights. His article has, of course, caused a little controversy. One journalist went as far as claiming Levine believes youthful resistance should focus on his own agenda, however it would seem most agree with Levine’s analysis, and even the skeptics admit the article is worth reading for the points listed and consideration.

According to Levine, young people have traditionally energized democratic movements, yet these efforts have been diminishing due to the ruling elite having created societal institutions that subdue young Americans, and break their spirit of resistance to domination. Young Americans—more so than older Americans—have basically resigned themselves to the idea that corporatocracy (a term used to describe an economic and political system that is controlled by corporations or corporate interests) can completely screw them over, and they feel helpless to do anything about it. mindjack-screenshots-oxcgn-3

Image: MindJack (Game about Mind Hacking)

In a 2010 Gallup poll, Americans were asked, “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” 76% of 18 to 34-year-olds said ‘no’. Despite the fact that these individuals don’t believe they’ll receive their social security benefits, few have demanded it be shored up by fairly taxing the wealthy. They accept that they will have more money deducted for social security even though they don’t believe they’ll one day receive those benefits.

How exactly has American society subdued young Americans?

1. Student-Loan Debt. During the 1970’s, tuition at many U.S. public universities was affordable. It was possible to receive a bachelor’s degree having accumulated no debt. Those days are dead and over. Large student debt, and the fear it creates, has become a pacifying force. Today, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges are in debt, and that includes over 62 percent of public university graduates.

These debts come at a time in one’s life when it should be easy to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities. Instead, young people are burdened with the stress of the cost of buckling authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt. This has resulted in a vicious cycle where student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely students will accept their debt as a natural part of life.

 

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance.Erich Fromm, who was a widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote in 1955, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, which happened to be the same year Ronald Reagan was elected president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as “oppositional defiant disorder”, or ODD.

“Symptoms” of ODD include; often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules, often argues with adults, and often deliberately does things to annoy other people. That pretty much describes the majority of all children. Those who are actually diagnosed with ODD receive heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs, such as Zyprexa and Risperdal, which are now the highest grossing class of medication in the U.S. ($16 billion in 2010). According to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, many children who supposedly have ODD are being given antipsychotic drugs when they have a nonpsychotic diagnoses.

 

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. John Taylor Gatto, after receiving the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990, upset many who were in attendance at the ceremony by stating, “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.”

Regardless of the subject matter, the main objective in most classrooms is to socialize students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation. School teaches us that politely asserting our concerns is “moral and mature”. It demands our compliance and teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.

 

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”Thanks to corporatocracy, our already authoritarian school system has become even more authoritarian. Educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind”, and “Race to the Top”, have essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear. This is contradictory to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators. In doing so, it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. Were our school system actually democratic and less authoritarian, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests, but by asking students, parents, and communities if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities.

 

5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously. Today society has been led to believe that disliking school means disliking education in general. Many Americans are under the delusion that if you lack a college degree, you are a “loser”. In actuality, this is not the case. Gore Vidal and George Carlin, two of America’s most astute and articulate critics of the corporatocracy, never went to college. Carlin himself dropped out of school in the ninth grade. You don’t need a degree to have a voice or an opinion, and you don’t need to attend a school to read a book. Throughout history we have seen many examples of those deemed “the common man” fighting for what they believe in without schooling, and succeeding in their endeavors.

 

6. The Normalization of Surveillance.We are living in an era of surveillance, and in the case of our nation’s youths, they’re being born into it. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been in the world’s spotlight for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, while at the same time employer surveillance has become increasingly common as well. Young Americans are starting to accept corporatocracy surveillance because it’s become routine in their lives. From a young age people are being heavily monitored. Parents scan websites and browsing history, and like employers, they monitor their children’s Facebook pages. Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other people go as far as placing cameras throughout their house. Many children and teenagers have lost their confidence due to the fact they are constantly being watched. How can young Americans be expected to pull off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities when, as youths, they didn’t even have the confidence to throw a house-party when their parents were out of town?

 

7. Television. In our current age of technology, American children now have access not only to televisions and computers, but to cell phones, iPods, and other technologies capable of accessing the media. On average, children spend around 8 hours a day on such devices. Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the primary issue is the fact that television itself has become a pacifying agent. For example, private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards.

Fear-based television works beautifully in an authoritarian society to keep people afraid and distrustful of one another. It isolates people from one another to prevent them from joining together to create resistance to authorities. Regardless of the programing, watching television also slows down brainwaves making critical thinking difficult. Although playing video games isn’t as mind-numbing as simply viewing television, such games have become the only real form of potency boys and young men experience, and “virtual potency” is no threat to the ruling elite.

 

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.Young Americans are offered “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism, however all varieties of fundamentalism—the demand for a strict, literal interpretation of certain doctrines—narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. Some progressives call fundamentalist religion the “Opiate of the masses.”

Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance. It creates people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities. This is the precise mind-set the ruling elite is striving for. A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies. Once society legitimizes the lies and manipulation, people cease to trust one another and form democratic movements.

In conclusion, Levine states that these are not the only aspects of our culture that subdue young Americans and crush their resistance to domination. The food-industry has helped to create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity, and the prison-industrial complex serves to keep young anti-authoritarians “in line”.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.”

__________________________________________________________________________

Sources:

Arclein. Terra Forming Terra. Apr 10, 2014. (http://globalwarming-arclein.blogspot.com/2014/04/young-americans-dont-fight-back.html)

Levine, Bruce. True Activist. Dec 8, 2014. (http://www.trueactivist.com/8-reasons-young-americans-dont-fight-back-how-the-us-crushed-youth-resistance/)


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36 COMMENTS

  1. Ok, I admit it, you’ve really got me this time, Anonymous, television got me Judging the wrong people and whenever I told my mother anything about my decision of what I think is right, she thinks it’s wrong and even though I tried to show her that it’s actually right, she always gives me this huge boring and stupid lecture on “how I’m not thinking right”, and that she has three degrees in college and uses that to give me another reason on why I should avoid things that I like, and makes me like the things that she likes and tries to. Make me like everybody else. I can even attend your movements because if I were to sneak out, she’ll find out and if you guys get involved, there will be a lot of hell going on between you two. I’m not soo dependent on anybody, not even to my own family.. And I take my school seriously, those grades aren’t going to get high by theirselves.
    I know that if I truly be myself, I would break my family’s heart, if they only know the me that you know. I’m so sorry for this, but I had to tell you .

    • Don’t feel sorry for it. Feel good about it! Even though right now you feel ‘in the wrong place’ or ‘the strange one’ : You are great! And the day will come when the others will realize that 😉 Trust me.
      Parting ways with your family might be a relieving chouce for you. Think about it.
      greeting from Germany 🙂

  2. This is 100% accurate. Out of these, I think some could be expanded even further. Surveillance, or even the concept of starts earlier than some people think. For example, around Christmas time, how many people have that “Elf on a shelf”? To kids, this is an “entity” that watches them to make sure they are not naughty so they can get a lot of presents Christmas morning. This “entity” reports back to Santa every night and comes back before the children wake up. Kids don’t realize this, but parents do, and they condone it. A friend of mine purchased one of these elves. He told me, that once he explained to his kids who this elf is, and had them watch a video about it, they listened and obeyed what they were told. He also stated that he could walk into another room, and hear them start fighting. He let it go for a minute and one of his kids said, “The elf is watching, we won’t get any presents if we don’t stop.” and they did. These kids are being manipulated in such a way that they are being motivated by fear. Fast forward to people that are 18+ years old. They are still motivated by fear, but now, it isn’t because of “not getting presents from Santa”, but by fear of the government because they know someone is always watching. Whether it is online, out in public and in some cases, in the privacy of their own home. It is extremely saddening to see this sense of compliance among our nations youth. They have no idea what being truly democratic is. With no fear from their government, no clue on how to stand up for themselves. /end_rant

    • It seems to me that young actually perpetuate this surveillance themselves. Younger people that work for me are forever on their iphones, etc. Even as they try to work. Sorry, you can only do one or the other. That Iphone in your hand an texts you send are being tracked, just as this post is.

      STOP!!, social media is a scourge and the youth of the world are the willing victims. Write a letter, go talk face to face, stop the inane babble. I realize it can be/is entertainment at times, just watch what you are saying.

  3. Student loans and having to survive is pretty much what stopped me dead in my tracks. When most of the jobs you get pay low enough to start and you lose about 1/3 of it before you’ve even bought groceries, it tends to shift priorities.

    What makes me the *most* mad about this isn’t the fact that student loans are hefty or that not all industries are always hiring. It’s the fact that schools are so absurdly expensive, *and* the fact that people seem to just assume that since anyone can get a degree that everyone should to even be considered for a position. If you are facing off against a college graduate when you haven’t graduated, you don’t get the job, even if their degree means jack for the position, unless they REALLY blew it. It’s a waste of money unless you actually need it for the position, yet that’s the way things are. This normalization of self-handicapping.

    While on that topic, since it’s so expensive, only the rich will really be able to justify attending for things NOT related to work and getting a better paying job/position. In my opinion it’s killing culture because unless you want to be a joke and attach yourself to massive debts for a “worthless” (in terms of return of investment) arts degree, you’ll go for something more “sensible”. It puts the emphasis on only studying what is worth money, and I can tell you that if you spend your life chasing money, unless you hit it big or get a lucky break, you will be wasting your life with nothing to show for it. You are either chasing massive bank or you’re screwing yourself, and honestly, people chasing massive bank is part of the reason why we have these problems in the first place.

    Education has become this big mandatory thing priced like a luxury. In the private sector, you take advantage of paying customers if you know they NEED what you have, because that’s how making money works. Why the FUCK isn’t education a protected right? Why the hell aren’t we finding ways to make learning more effective and cheaper? It’s obviously possible for Germany, and apparently it’s even possible in Canada and other wealthy nations. What the FUCK.

    Whether it was on purpose or not, the fact remains that an education is one of those things that is the most important yet the most over-priced as far as a general requirement for life goes. It is so expensive to keep your head above water that unless you had someone giving you a map, figuring it out yourself is a massive achievement, and it leaves very little time to make any other kinds of changes in the form of activism, which can require a LOT of time to make ANY changes. By the time you finally get yourself out, they’ve convinced a good chunk of people that if they want change that they should “vote”, because otherwise they risk all the scaffolding they just finished putting up after massive years of struggling to keep them stable.

    Don’t get me started on how broken the VOTING system is, much less the parties themselves…

    • There are so many things I wish I could be but I have to work in the factory because it pays the most out of what I can get. I’m 19 a recent cancer survivor and every dream I ever had was crushed due to the fact that the rich just screw over the poor at any moment they can college is so expensive and things keep getting worse. We as a nation need to stand up we are the future so let’s shape it how we want!

    • I just want to thank you, James, for your reply to this article. The article is very well articulated and still leaves room for discussion. There isn’t anything you or it stated that I am challenged to disagree with. Well said. 🙂 I can only say that a state of activism is all that I seem I can make time for given the points made on your behalf, and behalf of this well-written e-zine by the idea that is ANONYMOUS.

    • I think this is a well-written article, James, and your reply is right on the mark. The article is interesting and leaves room for discussion. There is little to disagree with between the two. Well said! 🙂

      • This is to James who wanted to know why education isn’t a protected right.
        The world doesn’t need 6 billion people with BA degrees in philosophy or history or whatever.

        Education has traditionally, for thousands of years, been a perq of the elite. It gives the privileged class something to keep themselves busy, and feel superior about.

        The world needs brainless beasts of burden, mindless bureaucrats who know how to follow orders without thinking about why and what they are doing, trained technicians who have very compartmentalized understanding of their technology, and workers without a lot of curiosity about the world they live in.

        We need a whole spectrum of skills and educational level. The ruling elite knows this. Back when the US was advancing, in the 50s, 60s, and somewhat into the 70s, education had tracking systems, so that the top 10 or 20% were given advanced education, to think creatively, the middle 60% were trained to follow orders and have some functional understanding of the world, and the bottom 20% or so were shunted into institutions and programs to keep them from doing too much damage to themselves or others.

        When the elited started moving industry and technology to Asia, the advanced training for US workers stopped, and American education became more of a training ground to teach the illiterate of the world how to be minimally qualified for low skill jobs, and developing the necessary lack of curiosity for the skilled work force that was to stay out of the political arena, and just do what they were told.

        You are wasting your time complaining about the government not educating you. We still have lots of free libraries, and used books on Amazon are very cheap. The internet can be of some use, but you will have to learn to use it properly.

        Like most people, you confuse getting educated with getting a good job. The good jobs go to the people who are well-connected. There are not many good jobs. Most people have to make their own good jobs, and they are not going to do it by hoping the instructor likes what they wrote on their test.

        • A “need” is NOT a “right”.

          And many “needs” are circumstantial, and can change from generation to generation, and from day to day.
          For a more basic understanding of what is a “right”, think of what it is you were born with, and what it is you absolutely REQUIRE to just survive. (The big house on the hill, and the high paying job to buy it, are NOT required to survive – air, water, and food are, and you have every right to have easy access to them.)

          Read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution to get more clarity on what are “rights”.

          And do not let government agents confuse you as to the difference between “rights” and “privileges”. They will, for sure, try to convince you that your “exercising your rights” is a “privilege” given to you by your government. They are wrong.

    • Must have been written by a intrusive camera wielding, corporate, education for compliance, Monsanto-munching, earth raping, scientologist.

    • Evidence-based reporting can still be used to spin or conceal information and while there may not be any supporting linked studies proving causation rather than correlation, the body of facts provided are indeed evidence. The piece itself could be formatted a bit more clearly, for example ending the list and then making the final comments in a way that separates the two, but that doesn’t mean that the article was “written poorly”. Constructive criticism of work encourages growth and development for all parties concerned and your lack of effort in your post does neither.

  4. I find it strange that absolutely no mention is made of Occupy Wall Street and similar such movements in other countries. Also there seems to be no mention of the protests that have happened in recent years and still are happening all around the world. Most of these things are headed by “young people”. So it’s not to say that this article does not make some good points (and there are other areas I could criticize from a philosophical point of view but don’t wish to do so because quite frankly people are just dicks on the internet) but I really wonder about the perspective here when none of the activism that is going on currently is mentioned. At least mention it and then if you think it’s weak then criticize it and explain your critique.

  5. Sorry. What you call: “corporatocracy” has been well known by another term for decades. “FASCISM”. I found the rest of the article to be a series of observations coupled with ineffective “aught to do’s”. Get a job parking cars. You obviously can’t think critically nor write.

    • “Corporatocracy” also has another name:

      National Socialism (aka Nazism). Look it up in any economics book that describes and defines different types of financial models.

  6. Begs the question: who are we to follow in the year of the sheep?
    The established American society hopes, in fact is counting on the actuality that the youth are subdued. Perhaps most are, or so it appears. Psychology is not an exact science neither is sociology, both are ongoing studies of non static systems. Thought can be provoked. Societies are ever changing whether gradual or abrupt, change inevitably comes. Don’t be disheartened by believing the article’s premise* the kids are all brainwashed and nothing can be done to awaken them from their mind-numbed slumber.

  7. Begs the question: who are we to follow in the year of the sheep?
    The established American society hopes , in fact is counting on the actuality that the youth are subdued. Perhaps most are, or so it appears. Psychology is not an exact science neither is sociology, both are ongoing studies of non static systems.Thought can be provoked. Societies are ever changing entities, whether gradual or abrupt, change inevitably comes. Don’t be disheartened by believing the article’s premise* that the kids are all brainwashed and nothing can be done to waken them from their mind-numbed slumber.

  8. most of the jobs you get pay low enough to start and you lose about 1/3 of it before you’ve even bought groceries, it tends to shift priorities.

  9. Frist and for moat the young men and women dont. Get into that is because they have seen what happens when u try to lead ur people you get wacked there for we have no leaders.
    The killing part about it is every ones think that know.
    Its like trying to teach someone some thing you know nothing about.
    How can u teach about a struggle without ever having to struggle. This is not a shot at anyone all im saying is wake up. Things is changing in this world and we as always the ones being attacked this shit has to stop there no different than a man no matter what color.
    All life has value

  10. This is to James who wanted to know why education isn’t a protected right.
    The world doesn’t need 6 billion people with BA degrees in philosophy or history or whatever.

    Education has traditionally, for thousands of years, been a perq of the elite. It gives the privileged class something to keep themselves busy, and feel superior about.

    The world needs brainless beasts of burden, mindless bureaucrats who know how to follow orders without thinking about why and what they are doing, trained technicians who have very compartmentalized understanding of their technology, and workers without a lot of curiosity about the world they live in.

    We need a whole spectrum of skills and educational level. The ruling elite knows this. Back when the US was advancing, in the 50s, 60s, and somewhat into the 70s, education had tracking systems, so that the top 10 or 20% were given advanced education, to think creatively, the middle 60% were trained to follow orders and have some functional understanding of the world, and the bottom 20% or so were shunted into institutions and programs to keep them from doing too much damage to themselves or others.

    When the elited started moving industry and technology to Asia, the advanced training for US workers stopped, and American education became more of a training ground to teach the illiterate of the world how to be minimally qualified for low skill jobs, and developing the necessary lack of curiosity for the skilled work force that was to stay out of the political arena, and just do what they were told.

    You are wasting your time complaining about the government not educating you. We still have lots of free libraries, and used books on Amazon are very cheap. The internet can be of some use, but you will have to learn to use it properly.

    Like most people, you confuse getting educated with getting a good job. The good jobs go to the people who are well-connected. There are not many good jobs. Most people have to make their own good jobs, and they are not going to do it by hoping the instructor likes what they wrote on their test.

    (I hope this isn’t the second posting. I don’t see my original, so I’m reposting)

    • Sooo…you think that the idea of raising taxes on the rich is “good old left-wing propaganda”?

      Life isn’t a football game. It’s not about “left” vs. “right” or “Democrats” vs. “Republicans”.

      It’s about having people who can afford to do so pay more in taxes than those who really can’t afford to do so. By the way,did you know that in the ’60’s, the top tax bracket was 95%? Now, even though I’m poor, I think that was way too much, but what’s happening today is a moral travesty.

      Back when I was in school, we used a different dichotomy:

      It was called “right” vs. “wrong”…or are you one of those people who yammers on about anything the “right wing” tells you to say?

      Get a life…and some morals, too, while you’re at it.

  11. I would add the Music Industrial Complex and more broadly the Entertainment Industrial Complex. The ruling elite control these aspects of our society for the purpose of controlling the zeitgeist. The trick is to keep the number of people who recognize this from reaching critical mass. Because once we stop accepting the controlled reality they create for us with hypnotic images, messages, beats, neurolinguistic programming and binaural brainwave manipulation, their game is over.

  12. Valid issues certainly, but classic progressive thinking, “someone or something else (corporations, religion, educators, student loan debt, spy’s, psychotherapists, television, Ronald Regan, ruling elite, blah-blah…) is responsible for all my problems” and “ someone or something else (see above), designed by the ruling elite to subdue and break my spirit of resistance to domination, is screwing me over and I am helpless to do anything about it” and the solution is…wait for it…not defined, except to say the way to fix Social Security is to “shore it up by fairly taxing the wealthy”

    The only solution is freedom and personal responsibility!

  13. My generation had the chance to try and change a lot of these things, but like every other generation they all turned into corporate sellout pieces of shit. Punk Rock was born during my generation, and back in those days when we’d go to shows and do whatever the fuck we wanted, I thought back then we’d be the ones to carry that all the way to adulthood. Now I look online and see all the friends who I went to school with, and they are washed up has-beens. Two and a half children, house they’ll never pay off, and shit job they hate. I NEVER fell for that bullshit… I still live with the same freedom I had as a kid… no kids, no debt, no selling out. I’m fucking disappointed beyond belief that those friends never kept their side of the pact we made as kids…. we vowed to never be like our parents… I kept my end of the bargain… and I will ’till my death.

  14. “Corporatocracy”?

    The appropriate term is “fascism” which can be defined as the collusion of government and corporations, forming a hierarchal structure that opposes the rights of the common man.

  15. You had me until you quoted Marx. Communism and all who perpetrate that lie can go to hell. That’s where they’ll end up!

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