January 07, 2004
Ideals that motivate YL
A few entries back, I posted a first draft of the youthlib.com homepage. I proposed five broad topics for the purpose of categorizing my essays. I'm thinking now that I ought to add two new topics onto the end of that list... Thus:
- Youth Liberation
- Adults as Allies
- Adultism Compared to Other Oppressions
- How People "Act their Age"
- Differences within Youth Liberation
Today I've got a new idea that would fall under "Differences within Youth Liberation"...
Ideals that motivate YL
What motivates a particular activist to do YL work?
I imagine that many folk only really care about one issue. That issue might be, for example: access to contraception, censorship in schools, homophobia at school, unschooling, spanking, curfews, police harassment, or the vote. I want to call people like this "issue-based activists".
Everyone who does YL work surely has their own pet issues -- ones that they care most about, personally. For me, that issue is violence against minors. Most of all, I care about reworking the laws around spanking, child abuse, and child protection...
However, I would not say that I am an "issue-based activist". Rather, I am an "idealist". I see an underlying principle that unifies the YL movement's many various struggles. That principle is the idea that "no human being should be treated as if they are property". I see school issues, the vote, access to contraception, etc., all through this lens. Thus, my interest in YL transcends the single issue of violence against minors.
I think that different YL activists are motivated by different ideals. Here are the ones that I've identified thus far:
- No human being should be treated as if they are property.
- Everyone who will be effected by a decision, should be able to participate in the decision-making process.
- All people should be treated identically by the law.
- Interpersonally, all people should be treated as unique individuals.
- People should get to express their authentic selves.
- Minorities have got to look out for their own kind.
In previous writings, I've made a distinction between three varieties of YL: Youth Equality, Youth Power, and Youth Culture. Those are essentially three different ways of approaching political activism. Each one suggests a strategy for creating social change. The varieties of idealism that I'm listing here may be even more basic: they address beliefs that people hold about human beings in general. ...I suppose they tap into one's notions about humanism.
In my opinion, it's OK -- and perhaps even desirable -- for there to be multiple idealisms floating around in the YL movement. Different idealisms motivate people to tackle different issues. There are so many issues to tackle, I think we need people to spread out and deal with what they're passionate about.
[While I'm busy reducing people's world views to single sentences, it occurred to me to do so with Marxism. I think the heart of Marxism could be expressed thus: "Each person should contribute to society according to their ability; each person should take according to their needs." ...I haven't heard of anyone who has tried to apply old-school Marxism toward a YL analysis, but it stands as a logical possibility.]
Posted by Sven at January 7, 2004 07:18 PM