From the civil rights era through the Vietnam war, the voice of the youth was a voice for social and economic change that made a difference. And while many of those who grew up during those tumultuous times have retained their idealism and continue to push for progressive change in America, many others have grown old and tired, bought into the system, or died.
Why hasn't their spirit of rebellion and thirst for justice and equality found its way into the hearts and voices of youth today?
Quite simply, contend many social critics, the spirit of rebellion has been co-opted by the market economy and the thirst for justice and equality has been sated by crass commercialism and medicated by a cornucopia of pharmaceutical innovation.
Bruce Levine, a clinical psychologist who has often been at odds with the mainstream of his profession, once noted eight ways young Americans resistance to domination has been subdued.
They include student-loan debt; pyschopathologizing and medicating noncompliance; schools that educate for compliance and not for democracy; "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top"; shaming young people who take education, but not schooling, seriously; the normalization of surveillance; television; and fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism.
But that's not all, noted Levine.
"The food-industrial complex has helped create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity. The prison-industrial complex keeps young anti-authoritarians 'in line.'" Americans, young and old alike, have been transformed into compliant consumers by the corporatocracy. Each market demographic has been given its own niche to occupy and told that it is unique, exceptional and stands out from the rest. But, here's the other shoe, to demonstrate how exceptional a member of a demographic group is, it must buy a certain product, look a certain way and behave in an acceptable manner.
So many of us are so busy trying to fit into whatever niche we have decided is our own that we have no time or energy to rebel, protest or even contact our legislators to register our disapproval. And those of us who attempt to not buy into the system, are still too busy just trying to make ends meet.
Why would that be any different with our youth? Unfortunately, many of them are even more susceptible to the currents of contemporary living that threaten to drown us in inanity, irrelevance and vacuity (how many people were more outraged over Miley Cyrus' twerking episode at the Video Music Awards than were outraged over Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons?).
"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," wrote Levine.
He explains in depth the eight reasons young Americans' resistance to domination has been subdued at brucelevine.org. We urge all our readers to visit his website, read what he has to say and, more importantly, talk to the youth in our lives about what he is saying.