Youth and the Crisis of Civilization.

The phenomenon of youth gangs first presents information of interest on the psychology of adolescents poorly understood, and then to show that some processes even less explored, at work in contemporary society. This is especially the first aspect that caught the attention of specialists, particularly in France, while the second, beyond the apprehension of a recent sociology itself became, in 1958, the hackneyed theme of a certain journalism. The main thing is to say the risk of a revolutionary change in contemporary society, was thus avoided, or better, exorcised. Yet it is clear that the "growing pains" of youth is but a symptom of a wider growth of the company itself.

This suggests that the third and most important bands of the phenomenon of interest, and the real justification of his study - due to the fact that this is not a pure manifestation of the unknown and original, but a essentially characterized by the fact that his refusal against the company. This phenomenon, because it reveals the processes whose origin is as obscure as their consequences seem formidable, led, from its appearance, a social reaction that gave him his own face, that of a marginal phenomenon. Such is the origin of the myth of black-jackets, now predetermining any apprehension of the facts and placing any reflection on youth within a mythic structure which acts for the company instituted a sort of fog defensive. This screen prevents observers to grasp that there is a real trend of contemporary society as it seeks to repress, including a repressive handling of his symptoms.

An ill-posed problem.
The problem of the future of Western civilization is disguised as "youth problem", creativity reduced to the ability to adapt. This reduction affects not only the vision of the observers, it also determines or deflects the actions of those it affects. The myth of black-jackets and countless avatars build the theater where the actors appear this historiographical drama aborted that are "bands" and the challenge, since its emergence, is transformed into juvenile delinquency, and the revolutionary potential are reduced to identify with robbers.

This is because the phenomenon itself to observation, blurred, deflected and reinterpreted in advance, that its study is necessary. "All science is the science of hiding," said Bachelard. Now, about the tapes, the company is hiding something of herself, and the cache is the phenomenon itself. As the observer, as a member of the society which he undertook to update the "hide", he is obliged, if he does not want to echo the reigning ideologies, to conduct a "reduction "advance of the phenomenon to understand the various components, to undertake its decoding, to trace the dialectic, in its successive coagulations, constitutes it.

Ethnology offers here a temporary means to make the necessary distance to such an apprehension. Cultural relativism, which ethnology has made a principle, takes away from Western civilization's privilege to the absolute subject of the universe. Nothing is more characteristic or more relative to the characteristics of each particular company that its standards of conduct and its proclaimed values. To the extent that Western civilization claims to universality, his definition of normal and abnormal must be scientifically based. But this is not the case: there is, however, that the motivations involved in the establishment of delinquency (subcategory of crime) is completely opposed to those by which the scientific project is justified in its universality. This is why a discipline such as criminology is not a science: it only take over the definitions arbitrarily raised by the company. The laws thereof do not coincide with the necessity which brought to light is the goal of science. Therefore, the science of society inevitably stands out as subversion to bridge the gap between the proclaimed values ​​to which it subscribes and a practice that denies them.

Sociological in perspective
In agreeing the proposed universality of Western civilization against the established order and the forces that hold biased, science societies express the subversive movement of young people themselves. Allow this movement to achieve full explanation of its essence, despite the forces of negation, neutralization and recovery by which society tries to postpone the due date assigned to them, that is the goal of asociological perspective.

Unlike anthropology erecting vulgar type of man in his model of humanity, ethnology indeed refuses to endorse the universalist claims of Western civilization. Against imperialism civilizing amount of external and internal resistances, whose ethnological reflection, open to the multiplicity of possible attempts to gather the meaning. Thus, by turning away from a "objectivity" complicit in the repression and enemy of what can happen, she opens the realization of a true universality, not that of the single and negation, but that multiple and dialogue.

Juvenile delinquency and Mass Culture
During the fifties appeared in Europe a new form of sociability: the gang of youths. The latter had several characteristics, which first appear negative. Strictly localized in the age scale, affected solely because the juvenile population, this new form of sociability had adherents in all classes of society and even swept the geographical and political boundaries. This contrast between a child focus and indeterminacy in terms of class and political boundaries was strictly sociological dimension of the phenomenon. It also marked the paradox: establishing a new structure in the less structured systems (the age scale). Breaking it introduced deserted structures (classes, boundaries) within which occurred the contradictions of this traditional society. A sociologically informed mind would have immediately sensed a mutation far exceeding, its importance, the appearance of a "new form of crime" juvenile delinquency in groups.

The reasons for the suppression
Several reasons help explain why, rather than use these signs to explore the future of Western society made them suffer, "in theory and in practice", a reduction in criminology. Social conservatism, in this society experiencing a tremendous technology boom, is the substitute of a "control" that modern civilization is unable to exercise on its own development. However, these new forms of sociability, in the manner of an uncontrollable explosion, not only threatened public order, but threatened the very future of civilization. They took the company off guard by their contents no less by their method of structural integration.

Eastern Europe after the war had known great bands whose members, of various ages but "low origin" practiced vol. The novelty of those that appeared in 1955 and reported to the public attention was manifested not only by the age of their members (less than twenty years) and the diversity of their social origin, but also by the type their activities: they do not appropriated, like their predecessors in need, the good of others; they destroyed altogether. Such free inconceivable in terms of classical criminology. Could no longer invoke the hard times to explain the crime syndicates, it was necessary to make the "affluent society" is responsible for the rebellion in which young people, more and more, displayed vis-à-vis it. Halbstarken Kravalle-German, English teddy-boys, skunafolke Swedish, Polish hooligans, stiljagy Russian anderupen Danish nozem Dutch, Italian vitelloni: everywhere they thought they discovered a single face, and everywhere they are repressed in the same way. Soon the phenomenon and its repression became world: the black-jackets had their French counterparts in Africa (tsotsies), Latin America (patotes), Asia and the USA (hells angels).

Failure of the official interpretation.
According to official assessments, it was just a new form of crime. After declining from 1948 to 1954, juvenile delinquency rises abruptly. The proportion of young offenders compared to the overall juvenile population and that of juvenile delinquency in the group over individual crime suffered a corresponding increase. From the moment the police and judicial repression is exercised systematically, the "big bands delinquency absurd and groundless' diminished, and" small groups whose composition varies continuously and that seemed to move more clearly towards achieving goals interested 'developed.A total of repression seemed to have reached his goal: to exorcise the unknown and bring the new form of sociability disturbing (it was said rather asocial), controllable forms of juvenile crime classic. It is this success that the wave "hippy" and political movements among young people, barely more than a decade after the onset of black-jackets, were to show the character useless ..

While on one side showed the company established its repressive face to curb the "new forms of crime", on the other hand it showed its face "consummatory" by providing an outlet for marketable aspects of deviance. Those who promoted the revolt of youth in youth culture mass noticed in fact that youth gangs were other common features that the "rebellion without a cause": they were fervent admirers of a new music born in the U.S.States, the "rock and roll", and they imitated in their clothes and in their attitudes singers who had started the trend. Their revolt, therefore asocial way, was it not rather the expression of new needs of adolescence, that society in its present form was unable to meet? From this reasoning, proponents of mass youth culture known as the "pop music" reached a double success: they were enriched by opening the entertainment industry to a new market, and they went down the rate of crime by providing youth with alternative activities according to their tastes that they had been wrong simply to display a little too loudly.

Recovery through recreation complementing the company opens with police repression, the disturbing symptoms disappeared, and the industrial society, youth culture rejuvenated by mass, more resolutely engaged in an era of abundance where all were involved whatever their age, class and ethnicity.

In fact, backing its due date, the company had only aggravated the conflict between its rigid structure and the forces of change that worked secretly. A survey conducted in 1966 at the band in the Paris region shows the close interdependence exists between the appearance of bands and processes at work in the global society.

A more sociological description just
Behind a facade of political neutrality, we find at work in the bands dominant structural constraints of society. Their specific culture is based mainly on the division of society into classes, division masked by the finding that a little hasty "all youth" are organized in bands. Actually the class stratification operates at two levels: real and symbolic.

In general, recruitment of bands is based on district, which bears the imprint itself on a separation of classes and places frequented predominantly youthful. The formation of a band is inseparable from the process of closing that makes her isolate of adult society and respond with symbolic behavior against the ideal image of youth that society seeks to impose, and the band is-t it within a marginal culture room, with its language (slang), clothing style, its meeting places, his "references" cultural, etc.. But at the same time creating this subculture, it must differentiate itself from other bands to assert against them, albeit in similar language, identity. The choice of a particular musical style, a dated fashion, a process assignable to such district, such ethnic (gypsy, for example) or that age, therefore allows any new band to express his special within youth culture, by the turn of marginality.

In 1966, near Paris, the opposition "thugs" and "snobs" was used to encode all kinds of distinctions: between rival gangs of the same district, between Paris and the suburbs, the present and the past, violence and theft, virility, and homosexuality, etc.. For they are mediated by symbolism juvenile-marginal ensuring their versatility, these objections do not relate less to structural antagonisms of class, which found them originally. The thugs are snobs and the translation into juvenile folklore, proletarian and bourgeois, even if in a particular case, are all proletarians: The snob, plays the role of the bourgeois and underwent treatment that the reservation to the rogue thereof.

If you cross the border between proletariat and the bourgeoisie, there is the same polarity in the bands of young bourgeois: the "dandies" oppose "beatniks." In 1966, some convergence occurs around the beatnik style, imitated by the snobs of popular bands. The "recovery agents" have used this convergence as a new way to disguise class conflict in a conflict of generations, they have tried to solve by providing advertising media to give representation. In doing so, they prepared the response of the young band, who had reacted against the standardization pop music, and showed themselves still unwilling to be "embedded" in a society they récusaient legitimacy.

The hippy movement and student revolts around the world in 1968 confirmed some of these judgments. The new period is marked by a double specifying constraints exerted on the forms of social marginal youth: a relaxation of strict juvenile components, corresponding with an increase in marginal components. Hippies and leftist factions are the extremes between which is part of the new differentiation of juvenile marginal subcultures.

The contradictions of industrial society.
Industrial society thought he could get rid of the conflict that opposed his own future by reducing the size of a generational conflict, as eternal than not, and giving themselves a veneer of rejuvenation and "modernization." Such adjustment left intact the contradictions inherent in its structure. If these contradictions were, in the fifties, crystallized in youth problem is that the youth was in the company being abundant, the proportion of the population the less integrated into society; marginal well court that the company, she was, somehow, the fault unsuspected social system.

Taken by surprise by revealing its contradictions in this flaw, the company mobilize its defensive mechanisms in this localized area, loosened its control over more traditional sectors in which it was prepared for the appearance of conflict. It is in these conditions that accentuated the politicization of youth, in the sense of a refusal of politics institutionalized, the last stage of the juvenile rebellion after which it merges with the world revolutionary process.

While she controlled the mass media, where we saw the cause of epidemic contagion bands, the company neglected the fact that contacts between people from different countries were, increasingly, directly and out of control. Before being prophets of the drug, the beatniks were globetrotters.
Moreover, in claiming to promote a mass society where the disparity between the classes would be virtually flattened, the company hid the fact that it was in the new proletarian mass juvenile under-qualified when she dispensed a paltry education. Finally exacerbation of nationalism, an crowning of authoritarian socialization, favored a youth crusade against itself on behalf of specific ideals, interposed by the revolutionary people.

The experience of these major contradictions has, in less than ten years, transformed youth, delinquent or pop music, in protest of the main industrial society and civilization.
This transformation is a "revolution" of youth to the extent that, within the meaning of a sidereal rotation, it brings it back to its starting point, after seeing alienating delinquency and adaptation to mass culture . In its new statement, she speaks less of "their" problems than it raises those of the report of world civilization with itself (class relations, internationalism, future of civilization), as the traditionally conflicting reduce the dimensions of corporatist claims.
This transformation has followed two seemingly divergent paths: the contemplative, the hippy movement was born in 1967 in California, and one activist, leftist splinter groups well known in France since May 1968.

The hippy movement in the United States.
The hippies, the United States are the combined product of the situation of North America in the sixties (Vietnam War) and a pace of development of juvenile American subcultures. These are traditionally divided into an aggressive tendency, illustrated by motorcycle gangs, and a nonviolent trend, which is distinguished by the use of drugs.Although he initially situat outside these subcultures, the beatnik movement, from which the hippies are, ten years later, had in common with these two types of tape his predilection for slang, verbal abuse , small closed communities on their unique experience and a negative attitude towards society established (the American way of life). Dissemination of L.S.D. and his promotion to the rank of a species of worship, with its priests and its insiders (hipsters), in 1966 gave renewed vigor to the beatnik movement (now hippy movement) in the removal from the small community of intellectuals protest in San Francisco . The L.S.D. promised a solution to all the frustrations and announced the reign of "universal love".

The difficulties encountered by the United States in Vietnam gave an appearance of reason to the prophecies of the beatniks when announcing the end of the world and America made responsible. The religion of L.S.D. proved its validity in its expansion even as it dispensed the means of converting men to love, after denouncing the hatred and ignorance the cause of evil. At the atomic bomb, the bomb against the hippies acid (LSD). It contains the world's salvation, it provides the means chemical-magic to cross borders, constitutive of individuality negative, repressive society that imposes on the minds of men. "Expand your mind! "And you will discover the nature and love. Inspiration Hindu (revamped through Herbert Marcuse) which governs the experience of narcotic hippies also affects their practice that is how communities were formed, grouped around sages called gurus, fleeing the cities and giving up goods the affluent society in order to learn to live within nature and to demonstrate that a society can be based on love. At the same time, a whole new art image and music, inspired by the hallucinatory experience, was born.

The hippies aroused a reaction perfectly consistent with that could be expected from an industrial society. Repression, especially against the use of drugs and to shut the hippies in their "crime" was combined with the recovery in the cultural development and therefore the neutralization of marketable forms, the hippie protest. This is exactly the same reaction which had been aroused in France, black jackets, ten years earlier, and what have caused the then "splinter groups".

The leftist factions, born of a break with the traditional political organizations, aimed at a revolutionary transformation of society. Means of this transformation is the class struggle hampered by the very people who claim the lead.

The splinter groups do not take their models in reality attested or their references in classical literature, their models are immediately cursed utopian authors. This denial of established fact reflects the basic orientation of splinter groups, which aim at nothing less than a return to the root of the revolutionary project, forged by its spokespersons bureaucratic.

The revolutionary project that occupied a significant portion of youth in 1968, that he remains a few years later? The decade of 1970 saw the development of many community experience, some of which remain. The concept of class has lost much of its credit. The concept of race, however, was, despite the science, to replace that of culture. The world is in crisis; cleavages multiply; markers are increasingly blurred.There is more structure - even oppositional - common. The disappointment of the hopes which were from the East, before 1970, a revolutionary beacon did not make the West more "open" or culturally democratic.

But the oil crisis ended the myth of indefinite progress. The crisis that the West and returns through industrial civilization built on myths to its real coordinates: a separate state of society, the main beneficiary of the crisis (as the state grows, if the industry is stagnant), and a predatory technolo y, whose ideological justification is less and less credible point of view "democratic". More overwhelming than ever, Western civilization, industrial, urban and state is no less caught in the act of weakness. It seems that the people of Europe are about to realize that they are, in the words of Indian leader John Trudell, "the most oppressed peoples of the world" ("The Indians have nothing to lose 'in Libération, 30 June 1978).

In this situation, what signs around youth gather she? The phenomenon of youth gangs seem to have melted into the deeper dynamics of multiple roots movements in the longer course: associations, radio stations, squats, arts groups, political movements of immigrants, committee information, support, etc. . It is the reign of the atomization of groups pursuing specific purposes. The future of these groups remains uncertain.

By : Jean Monod
Source :

Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Powered by Blogger.