Though I know the cliché has lost its cache, I am, in fact, old enough to remember when youthful rebellion was organic, autonomous, and anti-establishment. Such is no longer the case amongst today’s woke youth, who have been indoctrinated to serve as tools of the leftist establishment.
Woke youth’s “rebellion” is not organic. This is not to say that woke youth’s rebellious streak isn’t innate. But their youthful “outrage” is conditioned; and their rebellious acts are channeled at progressivism’s opponents by the Left’s civil religion and its high priests—namely, the deep state, the Democratic Party power-brokers, woke corporations, and the dinosaur media and social media.
Encapsulated by the DIE cult (“diversity, inclusion, and equity”), the Left’s civil religion has been inculcated into woke youth from birth—in some cases, by their leftist parents, and/or by leftist institutions, such as public K-12 schools and those of “higher learning.” Ultimately, their “rebellious” streak continues to be honed by public and private institutions and, of course, corporate and social media. It is this external, controlling impact of these leftist entities that prevents woke youth from committing organic acts of rebellion. And it is by design.
Because it is inculcated by the leftist establishment to serve its civil religion, woke youth’s “rebellion” is not organic and, ergo, it is incapable of being autonomous. The leftist establishment provides the targets, the rules of engagement, the propaganda and justifications, and the rewards for rebellious woke youth. Thus, woke youth have about as much autonomy over their rebellious acts as an “at will” employee.
It is stunning how woke youth refuse to understand an elementary fact that is, however, not lost upon the objects of their rebellion—namely, that the Left are now the American establishment. In many ways, this has long been the case and it is the more so the harder the Left continues to deny it. Bluntly, they must. To concede they are the current establishment will destroy the Left’s most cherished, core myth: that they speak—and rebel—for the downtrodden and dispossessed. If one recognizes the Left is speaking, not for the poor, but to do the bidding of Bill Gates, Big Tech, the deep state, et al.—how outré! One knows this is the case, however, because their acts of rebellion garner not rebukes, but praise in the pages of the Washington Post and social media posts across cyberspace. Where is the “noble” rebellion in that?
Perhaps, the most bitter irony of all is this: Unlike their rebellious Baby Boomer predecessors—the vast majority of whom protested to end a war, ensure equality under the law, and/or expand liberty and the freedom of conscience—today’s woke youth has been put in the service of subordinating the individual to the collective, one ruled by the leftist establishment.
Take the example of Antifa—please. Their acts of “rebellion” are claimed to be for causes the vast majority of the leftist establishment approve; the acts themselves, far from being sincerely and vocally denounced, the leftist establishment often publicly excuses and/or quietly celebrates. The media has glorified and transformed these miscreants into the latest violent organization for vicariously living lefties to buttress their radical chic credentials. Leftist local and state governmental officials abuse their prosecutorial discretion and/or seek and implement bail “reforms” to facilitate those arrested escaping the consequences of their crimes. In an instance of their psychological strategy for information and concept dominance, public and private woke institutions, including universities and the Biden Justice Department, seek to differentiate state-disapproved rioting from state-sanctioned rebellion, so as to rationalize and justify arson, looting, and general mayhem that advances the Left’s agenda. The only thing Antifa is missing is a woke corporate sponsorship. (Though it is early days . . . )
And it isn’t just Antifa. Indoctrinated by the Left with equal parts dogma and paranoia, and directed to tilt at Right-wing windmills to “fundamentally transform America,” all these woke youths have accomplished is to fundamentally transform themselves into blunt instruments shoved into the arsenal of the leftist establishment.
Better that woke youth channels what is left of their true rebellious instincts into something more enlightening than tossing a Molotov cocktail—like, say reading a history book their leftist establishment overlords would ban as “harmful disinformation” if they could. (Again, it’s early days . . . )
In The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, Frank Dikötter records another instance of a leftist establishment-sanctioned rebellion:
Mao went straight to the students, seeing in the young his most reliable allies. They were impressionable, easy to manipulate, and eager to fight. Most of all, they craved a more active role. ‘We have to depend on them to start a rebellion, a revolution. Otherwise, we may not be able to overthrow those demons and monsters,’ [Mao] confided to his doctor.
On 1 August, [Mao] sent a personal note of support to a group of youngsters at a middle school attached to Tsinghua University. ‘To Rebel is Justified!’ the Chairman told them. Two months earlier, these students had established their own organization, called the Red Guards.
Food for thought, as rebellious woke youth momentarily put aside their Astroturf outrage and state-sanctioned rebelliousness to send Joe Biden a thank you note for canceling portions of their student debt.