Henry Giroux on Freechild

The following is from an article by Peter Babiak called “Manufactured Cynicism: A Review Interview of Against the New Authoritarianism.” It was printed in SubTerrain Magazine 5: 44 (2006) on pages 43-45.

Interviewer: Youth culture—perhaps even the broader mainstream culture—seems to have abdicated responsibility in the form of a big “whatever”. It’s not quite apathy, but rather a feeling that their thinking doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things, that ideas will not change anything so why bother trying?Giroux: If you mean commercial youth culture, you are probably right, but there is an oppositional youth culture that is rarely given a lot of play in the dominant media and that is doing all kinds of engaged political work, extending from the movement for environmental justice to getting corporations out of the public schools. For instance, the Free Child Project organizes and interfaces with youth groups all over North America and “seeks to advocate, inform, and celebrate social change led by and with young people around the world, particularly those who have been historically denied the right to participate.” Adam Fletcher started this group and it is only one of thousands of youth groups engaged in a range of political projects attempting to eliminate human suffering, massive inequality, and the destruction of the planet. Hence, I think that the perception that young people are docile, politically apathetic, and removed from any sense of ethical responsibility is quite false, although very useful to political conservatives, who, when they are not demonizing and criminalizing the behavior of youth, appear to delight in suggesting that they are morally irresponsible and political indifferent.

The response that Giroux provides here does two things: One, it situates the continued dissing of youth activism by neoliberal progressives within the conservative paradigm where their politics really are, and; Two, it clearly identifies the breadth of action out there by name-checking Freechild and acknowledging our role within the diaspora of youth activism. Thanks Henry – that’s awesome.

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