Global Youth: The
paper will examine the growing divisions in world politics created by
global capitalism as it applies to youth in both "first" and
"third" world areas. It is important, I argue, that we rethink
the categories used to describe youth in the global marketplace since
the conceptual containers by which we have previously understood their
subjectivity, role in the economy and polity, and relationship to the
generations that mediate access to power and wealth in the world economy
have shifted almost imperceptibly. The "great divide" does not
gesture toward apprehending the haves and have-nots that political economy
uses to describe winners and losers in a competitive market, but rather
provides a starting point for understanding how youth are valued or devalued
as a resource in a shrinking marketplace. For example, youth in eastern
Europe have vanished from the world radar screen while scholars debate
whether or not these areas should now be designated as "third world,"
while youth in sub-Saharan Africa are examples to be avoided, except when
referencing the good life provided to youth in the "first" world.
This paper will examine how youth are mobilized in political discourse
on economic and social matters to obscure newly emerging patterns of wealth
and depravity unlike those captured under traditional IPE (International
Political Economy) categories.
The Commodification of Youth
are officially commodities under the global proliferation of libidinal
desires unleashed by our post-industrial, post-fordist conception of production.
Hardt and Negri (2000) have claimed that we should view production as
bio-political, deconstructing the boundary between public and private
life and inorganic property
in order to apprehend the "non-place of world production where labor
is exploited" (359). But this labor is not a reified category. The
majority of world workers are now young people aged 14-18, mostly in the
global South and East—that is, primarily outside the global North, with
the exception of zones of exploitation created for immigrant and poor
workers in the Northern cities. Some scholars and development practitioners
have written about global youth as an affective category; its own zone
of depravity where adult bad conscience swoons. For example, it is almost
impossible to get a grant to revive public schools or after-school care
and activities in Chicago without mentioning how the money will go towards
understanding school violence, whether there is any or not. Further, there
is widespread acknowledgment that young people should now have a voice
in any given progressive global enterprise from the United Nation's youth
programs to campaigns against domestic violence and sexual assault. Everyone
wants young people "involved" in social processes aimed at restoring
responsibility, with little or no rationale for their inclusion. Is it
because they follow the media and advertising and have found the youth
market profitable? Or, is it because youth truly need representation in
world affairs as they are the ones primarily affected by the worst aspects
of them from child soldiering, to prostitution, to forced labor? Adults
are represented in the media as agents of inclusion, making sure that
youth are represented in this or that global forum, but it is unclear
that youth voices will be included in policy-relevant solutions.
for some reason, have carried great political currency in any given time
period in history, but now it seems as if they are even more valuable
in a strictly political economic manner. They have always been necessary
for thinking about the "nation" or the "future," but
in a global frame youth take on new significance that is not directly
linked to progress or temporal shifts in cultures (youth as rebels pushing
the culture forward, resisting), or even for providing the behaviors necessary
to decide by contrast what the adult is, but now youth are socio-economic
categories to be studied for the success of their inclusion or productivity
in fixing major global issues. Or, is it, as Hannah Arendt (1959/2000)
once noted, that adults secretly transfer the emotional and political
labor necessary to realize their own political fantasies onto children.
As she wrote concerning the crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas:
Why the occlusion of boundaries and devolution of responsibilities to
young people? Symptomatically then, by looking at how global youth are
contained, described, and exported or imported on the global market we
can see how [adult] libidinal and economic desire is structured and transfer
the analysis back to a coherent description of the unwritten policy that
structures "we" enshrined in the "pharisaical capitalist
mindset" that Marx described. In other words, we can see how "youth"
is a category through which the economic future of nation-states, armies,
and corporations is deployed for profit in a shrinking global marketplace.
Now we can begin to understand the kind of exploitative attitude (for
exploitation is always hidden beneath rhetoric, ideology, and policy)
in the adult population at large that supports this deployment. As Hardt
and Negri (2000) also claim in the quote above, and I think rightly so,
we must not think in terms of nations or worlds any longer when thinking
of youth for they are not circulated in that fashion in the global marketplace;
they are not contained to a model of development. There is no governance
structure there to hold them in cultural or societal containers as they
test boundaries and push history forward; this is an old way of thinking
that is part of modernity, not postmodernity. For, underneath all the
blustering about children's needs, the blessed category of the "girl
child" in United Nations policy, putting children first, etc., there
is an enormous mocking of these claims in reality. This is a progress
narrative that the global economy can no longer fulfill, and has no interest
in doing so. In an effort to move past my previous efforts to rethink
resistance by students in schools, I want to look primarily at the way
in which youth are captured beyond the nation-state under globalization.
the fervor (in report after report) surrounding non-compliance by States
on conventions such as the Rights of the Child (1989) (which originated
with the League of Nations following the horrors and mass orphanhood created
by World War I, or even CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women (1979), which includes the girl child in its articles as
a specific category (which is important), it seems as if a reader cannot
capture the essence of the current problem. Many scholars have criticized
development discourse for its false promises (Escobar, 1995), as a tool
of hegemony, and even altered the conception of it to seek out "freedom"
(Sen, 1999). I will not rehearse their criticisms here, but will simply
add that in denouncing development, and in pronouncing the end of the
nation-state, IR (International Relations) and IPE have not revised
categories for thinking about progressive politics; that is, if the nation-state
is at its end, what are youth to look forward to in the future? When are
their concerns taken under consideration? Is it only when they conform
to adult desires to contain youth for exploitative purposes? What does
it mean to think about resistance to globalization for a young person
saturated with a unified media culture (if they belong to the famed "global
middle class" that tunes in to MTV and participates in McWorld) as
opposed to the young person with no access to this particular brand of
education or popular culture? Or, better yet, the young person who only
has access to this popular culture without the financial means to pay
for it? I am not suggesting that progressive narratives of development
be completely thrown out; however, the economic and political reality
of the global present urges practitioners and theorists to think about
youth in a novel way that matches the challenges they face, not the dreams
adults have for them nor the designs capital has put to them. As Mary
Kaldor (1999) has rightly noted, part of the discourse that exacerbates
ethnic conflict is motivated by the foreclosure of "forward-looking
projects" especially for young people when the government can no
longer rule or contain warring factions of adults bent on rectifying past
injustices through force and capture of resources and populations, not
territories. We are in Michel Foucault's territory now, looking at how
populations are created and controlled through demographic discourse;
youth is a key term in this global structure. Maintaining the basic conditions
necessary for youth to believe they have a future may be important for
preventing further nihilism and reasons for joining paramilitary groups,
but what can be said when there are no resources to build them, or maintain
them? Kaldor (1999) further explains that violence is a global phenomenon
under the "new war" which collapses the distinction between
worlds or states:
The "great divide"
can perhaps be best captured when we look at how structures within
different normative and economic environments contain or fail to contain
"youth." So, it is
not really so great a divide if you think of it outside of development
discourse; that is, if one can begin to the see failing infrastructures
within the global North, the loss of confidence in education there and
the breakdown of public schooling, if not publicity itself. George Carlin
(2001), in his political satire Napalm and Silly Putty, suggests
that U.S. society is obsessed with children, and with finding endless
structures in which to place their children. Carlin points out that most
of the justification for excess structure is motivated by the parents'
need to think their children are unique and special. He tells the audience:
We might add that following publicized
school shootings and kidnappings, this attitude is increasingly the result
of unfounded fears about increasing numbers of child sexual predators
(Kincaid 1998; Morrione 2002). It may even be that the obsession with
pedophilia marks a profound ambivalence that adult populations have toward
youth—in other areas they are more than willing to exploit them: labor,
advertising, education, heteronormative sexuality, and military service.
Carlin's annoyance with "the children" is coming from a positive
place: he wants them to be able to test boundaries and become grownup
adults who can take care of themselves, and learn to live without an excessive
further bemoans the fact that these structures are "useless,"
but I think that they serve a very material purpose for the societies
that use them by allowing parents to work (for one thing), but also because
they take the body and the sovereign individual out of the disciplinary
relationship: children are now disciplined by environments or constructions
of discipline that come from outside their communities or families. This
is a change in the means of reproduction; no longer tied to the nation-state
and the family as the model, they allow people to produce without destroying
the fantasy of security, home, and progress. At the same time, we witness
the resurgence in family values rhetoric uniformly across the globe as
right-wing groups in the U.S. find fault with globalizing trends that
are said to demolish the family and a settled way of life, while other
cultures experience dissatisfaction with global inequities and the effect
of transnational capital on their cultures (Buss and Herman 2003). As Ronnie
Lipschutz (2000) has argued, the main problem "after authority,"
is "the disjunction between contemporary social change and people's
expectations about their individual and collective futures" (157-158).
For Lipschutz the "insecurity dilemma" created by the end of
a type of authority associated with the national security State that is
sovereign has been replaced by the individual replete with fears of other
anonymous individuals no longer marked or predictable through national
codes or loyalties. Among the most feared in the U.S. are young men, specifically
"alienated" young men. According to more modern writers on power
like Hannah Arendt (1959) or Francisco José Moreno (2000), authority is
the responsible party has to resort to force; when hegemony ceases to
be effective and there is a subsequent Habermasian "legitimation
crisis." While these fears of young men have been thoroughly exaggerated
through media slander that I have detailed elsewhere, there is a point
to connecting the end of authority with youth socialization and a transforming
economy. What youth are looking for in the social and cultural environment
created by the global economy, and are unable to find, is confrontation.
What these writers have unearthed, in my mind anyway, is that there is
something satisfying and tangible about confronting an adversary to the
adolescent; indeed, all of our modern theories of power are based—at least
partially—on the motive of confrontation or means of confrontation.
this can be juxtaposed to the research on child soldiering in areas of
the globe where youth are further down the lines of production that Hardt
and Negri (2000) have described. It is widely acknowledged that children
who choose to join military groups are doing so because they have lost
their social structure, been driven away from it, or it has been destroyed.
Students in poorer school districts are targeted by JROTC personnel and
the military is disproportionately represented by minority and lower-income
young men who have joined for college tuition or a stable career (Berlowitz
and Lang, 2003). As some
critics of child soldiering have noted, in more moralistic terms, the
youth that find themselves in active military service are looking for
authority structures. Frank Faulkner (2001) observes:
goes on to explain that it becomes even more difficult to restore these
traumatized children to normalcy as their families reject them once they
find them in military service, the society condemns them as the cause
of the widespread misery, and they are locked forever in a structure of
authority that is demeaning and anti-social. As Kaldor (1999) points out,
the other aspect to the child soldier phenomenon in the new wars is that
the lines of authority in extant military groups is not hierarchical but
vertical and diffused; relying less on discipline and control through
face-to-face interaction. He states:
Youth worldwide relate mainly to their
peers. With the help of information technologies, the rapid devolution
of authority, and the increase in democratic sentiment1
(but not the practice of democracy) the lines of authority have eroded.
When this happens, there is no point in looking at youth as "adolescents"
or people who are growing into maturity since when there is no hierarchy
there is no forward-looking sense of development. Anthropologists who
study youth cultures now define them in opposition to all progressively
modern temporal inflections. Mary Bucholtz (2002) argues:
Adolescence focuses on "bodies" and "minds" whereas youth focuses on "experience." The bodies change but the experiences are locked in the present tense of the youth "worlds." If we want to know how to detect youth then we have to look at their worlds, places not dissimilar from those of adults, but primarily occupied by other peers. The world of global youth is beginning to sound much like a marketplace: identities are malleable, as in postmodernity. Furthermore, the bodies and minds of adolescents are on trajectories, yet for youth they are "no more" changing or flexible than for any other age group. Youth is a cultural term and adolescence a psycho-somatic one. Our bodies and minds develop but our identities shift. Why use the category "youth" if there is not distinguishable difference between their worlds of culture and those of other age categories? Youth are defined here in their isolation from adult groups; adults have access to youth culture, but youth are conceptually contained in with their own kind.
2.9 Markets that focus on youth culture are extremely profitable, and scholars have begun discussing the creation of a global "middle class" that has been created by common access to the internet, popular culture and global stores. There is widespread agreement in the literature studying global youth that they are negatively affected by contact with adult cultures, but there is no acknowledgement that the overall political culture of societies is affected one way or another by the adult appropriation of youth culture. Youth and adults pass by one another unnoticed in the global marketplace of culture, except where the predator or bad cultural object sends the youth down a noticeably wrong path. So, what does youth resistance resemble for persons whose identities "shift" but do not evolve, especially in the workplace?
2.10 Despite efforts to produce a compliant workforce, resistance, or more properly, subversion, is widespread among youth in the workplace. Under conditions of underemployment and the lack of possibility of advancement, young American workers assert their autonomy through frequent job changing and rejection of the ideal of work as stimulating. Such solutions, however, are individual coping tactics rather than collective action (Willis, 1998), in contrast to young people's challenges to workplace conditions elsewhere in the world (Mills, 1999). Kathryn Borman (1988, 1991) documents another tactic, "playing on the job," that allows adolescents to endure the tedium of routine work tasks. This practice recalls Paul Willis' (1998) description of "having a laff" as a form of youthful resistance to school.
is resistance but it mirrors the activity of the market. Kids change jobs,
work several at one time, and foreclose the possibility of moving up.
Perhaps it is that young people are victims of super exploitation and
so must represent themselves as they cannot count on their parents or
governments to do so; indeed, I think of Zillah Eistenstein’s (1998) insight
that governments everywhere have to appear "real" because in
a Baudrillardian sense they are simulating governance (Bush on No Child
Left Behind—a far cry from It Takes a Village). These are all
examples from the North, but they demonstrate the lack of development
in other spaces too. Youth are shifting positions, and with the idea of
the working class defunct in a post-Fordist economy, they cannot count
on a secured wage or a secured future. In these spaces of the "developed"
world, structures come into play to contain the breakdown (or forestall
the realization) of civil society and progress. They are consumer oriented,
and focus on the identities constructed through popular culture. Further
over on the lines of production, there is no attempt made to hide or subtly
coerce youth into structures.
basis of exploitation is that it is hidden, but this would not
seem to be the case with global youth today as parents are forced to give
up their children to sex traders and prostitution rings, or abandon them
to migrate elsewhere in search of work. Or, if that doesn’t happen, they
are turned into commodities when they are snatched up by rebel movements
and exchanged for wars. A further baseline for understanding exploitation
is that it is derived from surplus; capitalists suck more labor
out of workers in order to generate excess capital that they do not share
in the form of equitable or living wages. The rich get richer and the
poor get poorer but no one knows why it is happening this way, believing
instead that capitalists worked very hard to earn their money (and therefore
deserve every penny) or that there simply isn't enough to go around for
everyone (basically the surplus is obscured from view by the ruling classes).
In Marx's day this formulation would have been sufficient to demonstrate
exploitation, but in today's global marketplace the problem is that few
seem to care about this in a critical way, and now capital operates with
very little criticism of its contradictions. Instead, parents and most
of the public have decided that standards for education (which operate
the same way signifiers float in the media) will determine the future
of youth and their prospects in a competitive job pool. This is because
the widespread commodification of structures to replace modern authority
after sovereignty constitutes a rapidly proliferating form of reification
in the minds of people. If one can buy microcosmic forms of authority
and discipline that replace the body and mind, then the fact of exploitation
is obscured under the detailed descriptions of poor behaviors these technologies
are designed to control or eradicate. Moreover, it helps if students in
"developed" countries can see and hear how good they have it
when compared to others. They do not then notice the normative manipulation
of their future by security structures. My favorite is the example of
Japanese students becoming afflicted with "school refusal syndrome,"
or of teenagers ravaged by "character disorders" in the United
States. Or, of the recent survey of 17 million teenagers in OECD (Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development), plus Brazil, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
and the Russian Federation, who say they are overwhelmingly "bored"
in school with rates at 67 percent in Germany, and 66 percent in Greece
and Spain, to name a few (Education Today, 2003).
is a normative void at the center of this "non-place"
that Hardt and Negri (2000) have named. This is an age of imperialism,
but it is virtual. So, after sovereignty, of course there is no government
protection of youth,
no motive to recreate public education or build it through development
programs because there is no one to hold it accountable or anything to
measure it against. Nevertheless, we persist, at least in the "West,"
in believing that the category of youth has magical properties and can
provide the kind of "common action beyond measure" (359) that
will change the relationship between youth and the future capital has
laid out for them. Hardt and Negri (2000) believe that the 1960's generation
was confronted with a labor market that they made a normative choice to
avoid; this insight is structural in that generations are confronted with
the totality of capitalist relations and its normative framework at any
given time in history and respond positively (at least from the point
of view of the Left, or progressivism). Consider how Hardt and Negri outline
The various forms of social contestation
and experimentation all centered on
a refusal to value the kind of fixed program of material production
typical of the disciplinary
regime, its mass factories, and its nuclear family structure. The
movements valued instead a more flexible dynamic of creativity and what
might be considered more immaterial forms of production. From
the standpoint of the traditional
"political" segments of the U.S. movements of the
1960's, various forms of cultural experimentation that blossomed with
a vengeance during that period
all appeared as a kind of distraction from the
"real" political and economic struggles, but what they failed
to see was that the "merely
cultural" experimentation had very profound and economic effects.
This argument makes the generation
of the 1960's the architects of the transformation of subjectivity that
preceded these new forms of capitalist discipline. In other words, as
Hardt and Negri (2000) later argue, the managers had to "catch up"
to this "transvaluation of values" (a la Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche)
and reorganize capitalist production and reproduction (because you need
people to believe in the value of production, as Louis Althusser has taught
us) along the "indexes of value of the movements—mobility, flexibility,
knowledge, communication, cooperation, the affective—would
define the transformation of capitalist production for decades" (275).
This is what Jean-Francois Lyotard (1993) primarily referred to as the
"libidinal economy" where desires once compartmentalized: economic
man, social man, political man, family man, now converge and deviate around
normative choices made according to the value of acts themselves (versus
what they get you in the form of tangible things, wages, benefits, etc.).
This is why the economic and the cultural are now "indistinguishable."
For Bill Readings (1996) this was the end of the nation-state era that
ushered in the advent of cultural studies, but it is also motivated by
a "proleptic nostalgia" that cannot confront the idea that humanism
is gone and human subjects are now "aggregates" who fit into
preordained slots of thought, no longer critical or requiring a public
space for resistance (142). These romantic visions of confrontation structure
the fantasies of adults about youth who have no sovereign object, authority
figure, or embodied imperialist to fight.
2.14 If we accept this characterization of the social movements and their affect on societies, then we also have to confront how empire was generated out of this dialectical refusal of the 1960's youth culture. The models of sovereignty were dismantled by this generation, and now, youth in the globalized economy have no standard around which to judge their relationship to capital, or how to organize their desire into a coherent subjective (or objective) movement against it. With world production comes (one hopes) a subjectivity that should have preceded it, showed it its organizational imperatives, and begged it for discipline and control (all youth movements do this). As Jacques Lacan (1969) replied to students: "What you, as revolutionaries aspire to is a master. You will have one" (127). Yet, in the new immaterial world of production, control is exercised not through bodies or minds, but externalized forces in the form of what I have elsewhere called "Virtual Security Regimes," which are containment forces organized along a Foucauldian axis where discipline and control is de-centered from the body and organized around unmarked bodies through technologies of the virtual (e.g., Net Nannies, aerial bombings, video cameras on freeways, in stores, and on street corners), non-evidential searches, excessively punitive incarcerations—they are only leveled to "make a point" to other populations, banishment of cultural objects that seemingly "motivate" only undesirable behaviors, military training or boot camps, 2 vouchered schools whose curriculums are as varied as the social itself, God, telepresence monitoring—monitoring by remote using cameras and digital technologies, test scores, Human Development Indexes, D.A.R.E. graduations, JROTC, etc. All of these means of de-authored control (so, we can now say that the death of the author has not only affected writing, journalism, and literature, but also discipline and control) serve to obscure the act of discipline as they are all for the betterment of the populations over which they are exercised. This is the normative form of control that is incorporeal; there is "no doer behind the deed." They are all "in loco parentis" and this is because the model of the nuclear family was modeled on sovereign government, so when this becomes a chimera or a signifier thrown out by sectors of both the right and the left it is only to hide the fact that they no longer exist. As Baudrillard (1994) said a long time ago, this is the "proving of the real through the imaginary, proving truth through scandal, […] pedagogy through antipedagogy" (19). What global youth share in common is that they are all political orphans. Some have better means of coping or better structures than others along the lines of production in the global economy, but none have the task of maturity before them, only the medium of virtuality and the commodification of culture and identity.
this short concluding section, I want to underscore some of the ways in
which youth around the globe have been parsed by governments, the media
and the entertainment networks. As Readings (1996) has argued, they have
already been interpellated by specific channels to desire in mass categories
with their own languages, styles of dress, and cultural referents designed
to further commodify desires and generate profits. However, there are
other ways that youth have been grouped. On the one hand, we have the
existence of certain labor markets for youth that are pleasing to capital
for their cultural proclivities: "When I think of Indonesia—a country
on the equator with 180 million people, a median age of 18, and a Muslim
ban on alcohol—I feel like I know what heaven looks like" (from the
former President of Coca-Cola).3
After the world publicized events of school shootings by the most
privileged of young men in the remaining years of the 1990's, we were
primed by the media to believe that young men in groups were suspect and
dangerous, an interesting conclusion given that most of these young men
acted out individualized fantasies, not collective ones. As Chris Rock
(1999) confessed in "Bigger and Blacker," he jumped out of an
elevator when two young white boys got on! The reaction to these shootings
caused schools across the U.S. to enforce zero tolerance policies, peer
reporting and surveillance, even though the F.B.I., the Secret Service,
and the American Bar Association have all rejected profiling and zero
tolerance as practical ways of predicting who are violent students in
the nearly 100,000 schools (Cornell, 2003). Later, following September
11, we get another dose of young men in schools that are to be feared
for their terrorism: students in Pakistani madrassas bordering Afghanistan.
We hear more about them in the media when they join terrorist organizations
in the poorer areas of global South or fantasize about them in the rich
suburbs of the North.
is a blanket term for people's movement throughout the world, but most
of the migrating is the outcome of U.S.-led, but certainly not exclusively
so, military proliferation (and its attendant marketing and commercial
potential) throughout the world. Labor is a category that is rapidly being
replaced by "soldier" (especially for hire), in the world. Military
employment is the primary means of upward mobility for young men
in the globalized economy and this is because of the active remilitarization
of youth and the scarcity bred by economic and political failure. As I
demonstrate throughout my first book, militarized dispositions on the
part of students in the U.S. are the result of the ready availability
of small arms and explosive materials, but also the lack of a holding
environment that could positively contain youth for developmental purposes,
to provide a view of a future for them and an appropriate adversary (Webber,
2003a, 2003b). As Donald Woods Winnicott (1986) very thoughtfully wrote
about the importance of adolescent immaturity:
I confess that I feel I am insulting
this subject by talking about it. The more easily
we verbalize, the less we are effectual. Imagine someone talking down
to adolescents and saying
to them: "The exciting part of you is your immaturity!" This
would be a gross example of failure to meet the adolescent challenge.
Perhaps this phrase 'a meeting
of the challenge' represents a return to sanity, because
understanding has become replaced by confrontation. The
word 'confrontation' is used here to mean that a grown-up person stands
up and claims the right to
have a personal point of view, one that may have the backing of
other grown-up people. (163)
is exactly what global media culture says to young people (and old people)
and through numerous, distinct, and separate types of understanding (e.g.,
antidepressants—over-prescription of them anyway, behavior modification
therapy, dress codes, security checks, small arms training, the promise
of a new life in a growth economy, marriage, etc.) but not confrontation.
The lure of advertising and youth culture is that it says "I understand
you because you are young and exciting!" Where are the "grownup
people" in the global economy who will present an adversary for youth
cultures? How can youth rebel against depersonalized virtual structures?
Students are at the apex of the division of labor in this society as they
are forced to compete for scarce resources through a sublimated form of
grading and testing (standards are completely arbitrary when not based
on rote memorization and disciplinary ingenuity). As Andrea Perkins (2003)
noted in a talk on
child soldiering, "Children are cheap, replaceable, and easier to
train into fearless and unconditionally obedient soldiers. Also, the size
and agility or inconspicuousness makes child soldiers especially suitable
as spies or messengers for a number of government militaries or non-government
armed groups alike." As the job market dwindles, so does respect
for civility in this competitive space formerly called the democratic
public school. In the developed world, as Readings (1996) notes, "The
appeal to excellence occurs when the nation-state ceases to be the elemental
unit of capitalism" (17). An empty signifier that cannot be measured,
Readings further argues that categories such as culture also lose their
specificity under excellence as it "proceeds from a certain sense
that no knowledge can be produced," and that this is a "vision
of culture appropriate for an age of excellence" (47).
so-called "developing" societies the impetus to forge civil
societies is foreclosed by violent competition, often narrated by ethnic
language that results in refugee camps. Perhaps this "development"
distinction is not even really valid any longer and we can speak of differently
deteriorating spaces of civil society that, as Lipschutz (2000) pointed
out, are recognized or avoided in each space through structures designed
to contain youth and foreclose recognition that the future is no longer
there. Both spaces are inadequately "contained" by VSRs
(Virtual Security Regimes) in the post-Cold War world, yet the U.S. government
promises to make them the cornerstone of foreign policy. The "great
divide" is not among nation-states but generations lost in an ahistorical
void of consumer capitalism and exploitation, resource scarcity, and emotional
scarcity. As George J. Tenet (2002) has claimed in a speech, "weak
States" created an "environment conducive to terrorism,"
and demographic trends tell us that the world's poorest and most politically
unstable regions—which include parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa—will have the largest youth populations in the world over the next two decades and beyond. Most of these countries will lack the economic
institutions and resources to effectively integrate these youth into society. These
are really just the fears of a narrow class who know that eventually somewhere
down that line of production, militarized or not, youth around the globe
are going to tire of working for culture and anonymous structure, and
eventually they will desire confrontation.
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Berlowitz, Marvin J. and Nathan A Lang. "The Proliferation of JROTC: Educational Reform or Militarization?" Education as Enforcement. Ed. In Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard. New York: Routledge, 2003.
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By this I mean the idea
that one opinion is as good as any other. This is the brilliance of the
behavioral revolution in social science, of giving people the right to
express their opinions without encouraging the necessary actions or forethought
to back them. Others have pointed out that destructive technologies like
nuclear bombs have added to the leveling of hierarchies among people by
taking authority out of the hands of parents and grandparents or has led
to the increasing lack of responsible leadership and placing them in the
hands of technologies seemingly beyond human control and poised to destroy
humanity (Flower-MacCannell, 1992; Rogin, 1998).
Julie Webber is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University. She is author of Failure to Hold: The Politics of School Violence, and co-editor of the forthcoming book Expanding Curriculum Theory: Dis/Positions and Lines of Flight (with William M. Reynolds). This project is one chapter from her forthcoming book which stresses the role of Empire(s) and their narratives of "appropriate" political socialization in the construction of civil societies. Thanks to Michael Dillon, Scott Nelson, Nevi Soguk and the audience members at the Central and Eastern European International Studies Association Conference, Budapest, Hungary, June, 2003. Thanks also to Ali Riaz, Janie Leatherman, Sienna Crawford, William F. Pinar, Deems D. Morrione, and Diane Rubenstein for help and comments on the manuscript.
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