Alternet wrings their hands, saying all is hopeless with our youth

8 reasons young Americans don’t fight back: How the US crushed youth resistance

The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance.

To say that American youth is broken is defeatism. Alternet says we are narcotized by too much television. What, they don’t have TV in Britain?  But of course they do, and while the eruption of inchoate rage  there now is something no one really predicted, they certainly aren’t passive. Another reason cited by Alternet is that US schools teach compliance. Now I could be wrong here, but I’m guessing schools in the Middle East do that too, and probably at a much more extreme level. Yet their youth is in the streets, literally risking their lives. Finally, Alternet also says religious fundamentalism is a reason why American youth is subdued and scared. Again, the Middle East uprisings show that to be nonsensical. Middle East youth are often fighting against fundamentalists who control governments and who routinely kill and torture the opposition. We have nothing like that here. Yet this is supposedly a reason why youth here is incapable of fighting back.

I think the real problem is that youth in the US, like adults, aren’t sure yet how to fight back. And that conditions here haven’t gotten bad enough yet.

The author of the article, Bruce Levine, is a psychologist with some highly important things to say, like this speech about the pysychopathologizing of rebellion via the often bogus diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder. His talk is funny and insightful. And hey, I was unquestionably ODD in my youth, and proud of it. As Alan Watts once said, “authority will be respected when authority is respectable.”

But I do not think that American youth are broken and it does them and us a disservice to say so.


  1. So then what’s wrong with/different about my generation, as compared to our counterparts across the world? I personally liked Levine’s article, and his recent book, too.

    • He seems perceptive, intelligent, and certainly sympathetic to change, so I’m a bit baffled by the slant of the article too.

      And your generation here is no different for any other

      • Really? At least where I live, I see much less resistance to ANYTHING than I’ve seen elsewhere (through travelling and in the news, mostly) and so much more apathy/passivity coming from people my age.

  2. Although maybe it’s more accurate to say that our acts of resistance tend to be less committed and less collective when they do occur. I guess I don’t really have statistics backing that up, but it’s what I’ve seen from my experience and the media.

  3. I think #2: “Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance” is the big killer, and nails it on the head.

    I’ve been dating a “Gen Y” for a few years now, and have been able to observe lots of people in that age range. They’re petrified of acting out too much for fear of being medicated. One interesting bit that most of them agreed on was that close to 80% of their graduating class was on some type of drug, generally a Ritalin derivative, many from middle school or earlier. If a student becomes “disruptive” or problematic, especially in rural or suburban schools, they’re put on something that effectively stuns them. The bright ones figured out that rebellion meant becoming a drugged zombie. Better to lay low and try to not get caught up in things. The not-as-bright… became drugged zombies.

    Most US schools today have an entire system (if not a staff member or two) devoted to administering drugs to students, because they don’t want the kids having them in the school without supervision. We’re talking about drugs that can literally change the chemical balance of the brain permanently, that have only been around for 5 to 10 years. They’re using high school and middle school kids as guinea pigs. In some states they were literally doing so.

    Think being forced against your will to take mind altering drugs doesn’t set back social movements? Tell me why it took so long for LGBT movements to do anything in the US. Did gay people not exist until the 1970s? No… But when you could be legally carted off and involuntarily subjected to untested drugs, shock treatments, castration and/or lobotomies, it had a chilling effect. The AMA changed their stance on homosexuality in the early 1970s, and 40 years later we have thriving communities, despite being overly affected in the 80s by a global pandemic. From mentally deranged to married in a generation? That’s saying something.

    In a few states there have been cases where parents trying to refuse medication on behalf of their child have been dragged into family court, and/or have had their children taken from them. This is true not only of Ritalin, but also for AZT and other drugs used to “prevent” problems in children. In two states now (including NY) pregnant women are compelled by law to have an HIV test. If found positive, a court can legally force them to take AZT while pregnant (with unknown effects on the fetus), and give their children AZT for months after they’re born. If they refuse, they face jail time and having their kids taken into state custody. We’re even exporting this madness to Canada.

    The UK and Dubi don’t hand out mental suppressants like candy, as is done in the US. Nor is treatment of children forced by schools or the state as quickly or as broadly as it’s done here. Forcing someone (even kids) into taking such medication is much harder in most other countries, including the ones with ongoing riots.

    Most countries also have laws, or at least social norms, that prevent psychiatrists from taking kickbacks for prescribing tons of medication to sedate their victims clients. Not so in the US where such practices are common. Just take a look around the next time you’re in a waiting room, and you’ll see the logos of “sponsors” all over the place. From post-it notes to charts to major office equipment, anyone with their eyes open can see it.

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