Hmmm. I agree with a…

A Twitter thread by @radicalhag

Hmmm. I agree with a lot of this in that I value reason, empiricism and the scientific method. I also think our political classes have left a void (which Nature abhors). I’m not sure why young people should share these values when we’ve failed to show their worth.

The divide is extremely obvious in Africa, where I live. People here aren’t the beautiful genderless pre-colonial beings of post-modern fantasy. They’re poor, practical and would like a better life. The advent of democracy hasn’t done enough for them. You can’t eat a vote.

Why would they care more about abstract democratic values and the search for truth than about their current suffering? It’s not a reasonable ask. They’ll follow someone who promises a solution to the daily misery they live in. So would we all in their shoes.

Why would black kids in the US treat the Constitution as anything but a bit of old toilet paper? The state it ratifies enslaved their ancestors and uses its police to murder their family members in the street. What reason do they have to value a system which excludes them?

In the UK we’ve got the spectacle of pompous and irrelevant old men denying climate change and basing their wealth on fossil fuel – destroying any hope of a future on this planet, basically – but nevertheless huffing and puffing because Extinction Rebellion dug up a lawn.

There will be no lawns in the future those old men have inflicted on these kids, and the kids know it. They’re being asked to value someone else’s history, a history which hasn’t done a damn thing for them, more than their own futures. Why on earth should they?

Women have by and large taken the patriarchal bargain and forgotten our Carole Pateman, but now the bill is coming due. Why on earth should we value a state which didn’t include us in its formation and seeks to remove all our rights? (Again). We owe it nothing.

Those of us who’re older have seen the benefit of debate, of science, of doing things carefully. We know that it’s easy to destroy, but very hard work to build. We understand the dangers of totalitarianism. We know that ‘Who guards the guards’ is always a crucial question.

But what we often overlook is that the systems which benefited us have been eviscerated by neoliberalism. Society has failed the next generation. They want to replace it with something better. That their judgement is off doesn’t make the aspiration wrong.

That they’ve opted for a distorted and authoritarian identity politics rather than democratic class action is as much a reflection of the failure of their academic and political institutions as it is of their ideology. What tools do they have to assess ideologies, tools? None.

Sure, there are some very bad actors amongst them. There will always be people drawn to violence, power and destruction for its own sake. But that doesn’t nullify what they’re fighting for.

If we want to retain democratic ideals and scientific rigour (which, while imperfect, are probably our best option), then we need to use them *against* ossified systems of power, and we need to modify them to deal with species-level crises for which we have no protocols.

We need them to work for people, animals and the environment again, and not just be conduits for funneling money to the super-rich.

What the kids are doing with their anger may be misguided, but their instincts are spot-on.