A blog post

The new youth movement

Posted on the 24 March, 2019 at 7:07 pm Written by in Research

STREIK: Rundt 20 000 elever er ventet å streike for klimaet over hele landet fredag. Her fra en elevstreik i Bergen sist torsdag, der skoleelever og studenter demonstrerte på Torgallmenningen. Foto: Marit Hommedal / NTB scanpix

20 000 pupils – or more – have protested in Norway, against the lack of climate awareness on the behalf of the politicians. The protest is spreading all over the world.

Not strange – the youth are the ones who will face the costs of the actions – or inactions – we do now.

The movement, now, is much focused on the young against the old. A well known division, “age”, comes into sociological play. “Hope I die before I get old”, like the Who put it, back in the radical 1960ies.  Even in gender-equal  – supposedly – Norway – we get voices like way back then. “Why don’t these youths go back to school”. Demonstrating for the environment is not a legal ground for being absent, in most of the schools.

Norway seems to react like a dinosaur slightly before the catastrophy hits. It is sad to see.

Yet this is the very fare that provides the food for a new opposition, a new youth rebellion, going beyond the one in the 1960s. Now, like then, the adult world and the establishment create barriers, obstacles, and try to brush off the new insight. Later they will try to co-opt it, make it into the system in “harmless” ways – to judge from historical experience of the last youth revolt. Now it is maybe happening again. Yet these errors can be avoided. The situation is different, there is more focus, and the pupil revolt is supported by scientific evidence. The 68-ers said the whole system was bad. Now, the approach is more limited – the system is bad, if it does not correct the environment crisis.

There are plus and minuses to the “critical” approach back then – and the environmental approach now. The usual end of the story – youthful rebellions through the times – is that the youth revolt does not hold out. It has maybe some victories but mainly cultural, society is not much changed, and may even go back to worse practices due to the “humiliation” of the childish critique of the youth and its counter culture.

However, now the clock is ticking, and the expertise is on the side 0f the youth – so who knows?