What you see below is an excerpt from the introduction of a new book on Youth Liberation coming out this month. The book itself is just a collection of writings from Ann Arbor Youth Liberation, particularly the News Service Freedom, Peace and Solidarity and their manual for Youth Organizing. The book is going to be available in some of Ann Arbor’s bookstores but were not quite sure at this point which ones. It is only one of the books on the subject of Liberation struggle put out by Times Change Press, an anarchist publishing company which is coming out with a whole line of books related to this and other issues in the revolutionary movement.
Schools and families are the places where we (young people) begin to feel that we have to struggle for our freedom. We want to learn what we need to make a good life on this earth, so we were sent to school. In school we found out that what was worth learning had been decided before we got there. It was laid out in neat chunks called grades – for twelve years in a row. Knowledge was broken down into pieces called subjects and we took them year after year. But we wanted to know what the real world was like, and what does it mean to live a good life.
Questions like this got lousy answers. Just more subjects and tests and grades. We learned to stand in lines, to sit still and shut up, and to obey adults with authority. We learned to be bored and we hated school.
But we couldn’t get out. Laws say that we have to take our bodies into these buildings and police are hired to enforce them. Some of us tried to change things but we had no power. If we tried harder, like by publishing an independent newspaper, we quickly learned that we did not have the right to free thinking, or freedom of speech, or freedom of the press or freedom of assembly, or anything else.
In our families we hoped for love and care and friendship and cooperation. Some of us had a happier time than others, but we all ended up in another system of absolute authority, with the young people at the bottom. We could only be as free as our parents allowed us to be. They punished us for refusing to obey. And, just like school, the police would come after us if we tried to get away. Our lives are considered the property of various adults. We do not recognize their right to control us. We call this control Adult Chauvinism and we will fight it.
We quickly began to learn that these schools and families are part of a whole system that is sick. Racism is bitterly damaging the lives of black, brown, red, yellow and white people. Sexism forces women into competition for men, into boring roles as servants of men, and into objects for the sexual use of men. We know the free and open sexual relationships are beautiful – but we are taught that most are immoral. Society is divided into classes; the upper classes get the wealth and privileges while most of us spend our lives as exploited workers. American Imperialism is attempting to milk the wealth of the world at gunpoint and will destroy a country rather than “lose it.” We are fed an idiot culture through the TV tube and our own new culture – from music and marijuana to free clinics and food cooperatives – is endlessly harassed.
And we now learn that this whole system is being run so badly that the earth and its people are heading towards disaster. There are more possibilities of ecological disaster then we can keep track of. It is oppressive to think that you have a very small chance of dying a natural death, yet studies have shown that most American young people believe they will die before their time. And what kind of country is this where the second largest cause of death among young people is suicide? We formed Youth Liberation because we refuse to disappear or give up.
Through our platform we try to look at the whole range of problems that face us. If we don’t have a clear picture of our overall strategy and situation, small defeats can take on too much significance. Our basic goal can be stated in a few words – We want the power to control our own destiny. We want self-determination over our lives. This is not only our right, youth self-determination is necessary if human beings are going to survive on this planet.
The simple fact is that our generation is different from any other generation in history. We have lived our whole lives with the possibility of species suicide. We are the first products of a truly mass-based education system. For the first time in history effective contraception enables us to separate sex from having babies. We are the first generation to live in a time of instate global communications. We are the first generation to take subsistence living almost for granted and thus be able to seek the real meaning and potential for existence. We understand this world as the old people who created and control it never could.
In this time when great change happens at such rapid speed it would seem reasonable that young people should be sincerely communicated with by older people. Cultural changes and adaptions made by young people should be respected. Since our outlook of young people has been completely shaped by the new world we live in, our perceptions and experience should be seriously considered as a guide and path into the future.
We will succeed in our struggle only thru unity. But this will be difficult for many reasons. We don’t have free access to communication or information since we spend all our time in institutions run and controlled by adults. Racism and tracking are used to divide different races and classes of youth so that they hate each other instead of the people in power. Many young people see that apathy can get them short term rewards, like a boring but steady job. And many of us just want to forget what is happening – so we dose up on death culture dope or Jesus, TV, booze or dropout and forget about trying to be free.
Youth Liberation believes that the hopeless can be organized to become fighters. We believe that when the youth mass begins to recognize that our political and physical survival is at stake, the difference between us will prove to be less important than our common goals. Large numbers of young people can be recruited to the struggle because we treat our people with dignity, respect and full equality. We place our hope in children . . . .
YOUTH LIBERATION FRONT