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03/09/2007: "It Was More Of A Quiet Revolution..."

Music: Louis Armstrong
Mood: drinking cheap tea

So what was I saying? Ah, yes, the disengagement of younger people from the political process. Why aren't more young people engaged? It seems as if people are more interested in playing video games or watching TV than going to a city council meeting. And yes, as I wrote that last sentence I realized how boring it sounds. It doesn't have the instant gratification factor of saving the princess or watching Keanu in a trenchcoat kung-fu his way out of a hail of bullets. At least when you save the princess or shoot the zombie with the nail gun or kill the orc and get some hit points, it seems like you have accomplished something. It takes a long time and the development of some hand-eye coordination skills to actually win a video game. Why don't more people apply those same skills to writing their congressman about an issue that they feel passionate about?

Passion. That's it. It's OK to feel passionate about your favorite television show, musical group, or subculture you consider yourself affiliated with, but if you are passionate about politics, that's not so cool. Growing up, I heard all about the 1960s, and how people who were fed up with the way things were went out marching, protesting, and issuing manifestos until things began to change. Then all of a sudden, most of these people became "the man" themselves only this time they were called yuppies and those that still believed that things still needed to be changed were marginalized. The accomplishments of the '60s were still held up as the high water mark of American civilization, so much so that I got tired of hearing about it.

It is out of this blatant hypocrisy that the whole "Generation X/slacker" thing sprang. Here was a whole generation of people who grew up not only with the "beware the man" philopsophy but also saw the hypocrisy of most of those who espoused it. It seemed like the best thing to do was admit that the world sucked, but there was nothing that could reasonably be done, so why bother?

So where did all the crative evergies of these folks go? A lot of them took their fighting spirit and turned to computers and the internet. Others took the fight to achieving the widespread social equality that has spread into almost every aspect of American life. People now have a freedom of expression that did not really exist before. You won't necessairily be beaten up for having long hair or a mohawk or holding hands with someone of the same sex, and if you do, it will be a cause for concern. This is an incredible thing, something that wasn't possible even 20 years ago.

While great change has been made with computers, the internet, and social equality, what has been the downside? A lot of this change has been made on the individual level, but this same level of political expression is not currently available in politics or business. Large corporations control large portions of our lives, and politics offers us at best a choice between a puppet on the left and a puppet on the right. While it is possible to buy organic milk or a Fugazi album for $12 post paid from Dischord Records or vote for a third-party candidate, most people aren't aware of this, and if they are, don't think it makes a difference. Well, it does! If enough consumers demand a product, then these corporations will listen. When "Family Guy" was cancelled and released on DVD, so many people bought them that News Corp. brought it back to television. So many people are buying the Toyota Prius that automakers are competely rethinking the automobiles that they are offering. This is the power of the marketplace. So why don't we realize that we have this power when it comes to politics?

1 Comment

on Saturday, March 10th, MD said:

Yeah man, I know what you mean, but what do you do when something like grunge, when it becomes popular, is inevitably co-opted by the corporations. It seems that the cutting edge status of certain products depend on them being marginalized. As to the whole politics thing:The whole thing seems futile! Change the world, sure, but in what direction! A watered down liberalism or a strict, Spartan neo-fascism. Take your pick: two roads to Hell. And the third way will be destroyed-that is the Law of dialectics:no room for the middle, no space for quiet contemplation, no quiet retreat- Do or Die.

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