Youth in the Neoliberal Age

Neoliberalism believes that we have reached the end of history, a steady-state condition of free-market capitalism that will go on replicating itself forever.
The Neoliberal Arts, Willliam Deresiewicz

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.
The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire

My provocation of Deresiewicz’s essay concerns the concept he puts forth of the role of youth in the age of neoliberalism. The role of youth in the neoliberal age, he argues, is different from what it was from the period of the romantics through modernity. Youth has historically been understood to inhabit the unique role of skeptical questioner of the world. Our current higher education system is skewing this expectation. With the mad rush to secure spots at perceived elite institutions for economic and philosophical reasons driven by post-modern neoliberal values, this historical role is being extinguished, with nothing unique or particularly notable to replace it. Young people are now simply small, less developed adults. But is this really true? And, what does this say about our concepts surrounding the role of adults in relation to their society?

| | | Next → |