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January 13, 2003

Chapter 1: About This Book - part 1

NOTE: This essay is meant to introduce a book project that I've been working on: "Adultism: How Adults Oppress Teens and Children" (working title). The essay I just completed, "Adult Supremacism", is meant to fall much later in the work. It was useful for me to write on that subject while inspired, but it was just about the worst possible way to introduce new readers to my ideas. So, let me begin again -- at the beginning. ...The first section of the book (Part I) is titled "Adultism is an Oppression", and will take up five to six chapters. At my current rate, I hope to have Part I done by the end of March. Wish me luck!

"I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them."
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince" (1943)

This book is about adultism: how adults oppress teens and children. It is meant to support the United States' fledgling youth liberation movement. I hope that it will help youth activists and their adult allies better understand the overall problem that they've begun to challenge.

Unlike previous books on "children's rights", little energy will be spent arguing that youth are better quality persons than adults generally think. This is not primarily a book about youth; it is about adults -- how we imagine ourselves, and the harm that we collectively cause in the name of young people's "best interests". The bulk of the work deals with my analysis and criticisms of adulthood: the identity and the organization.

...Yet, I cannot help but begin suggesting some alternatives. I hope and imagine that following this book, I will be able to write one that deals in-depth with the practical issues of youth-led activism. This book is about the problem; that one will be about the solution.

There are many negative things to say about what "being adult" means in our society -- but there is also joy and hope in the struggle to create change. By working to unlearn adultism, adults can begin to relate with youth an a more equal, human basis; we can strive to be more whole persons, setting "ageless being" as our ideal instead of "maturity"; and we can feel pride in our effort to make Justice include all age-groups in its vision. Criticizing how things are now is an important first step. Where it leads is to imagining how things could be made better, and then to the harder work of actually changing our world.

-- to be continued --

January 13, 2003

Posted by Sven at January 13, 2003 02:52 PM