Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Mysteries of Obedient Youth

 

I turn 52 in a couple of weeks. So I remember my teenage years, back in the ’80s. They were magical. Horrifying and terrifying at times. But magical. The idea that I had my own mind, and that I could think for myself – I was intoxicated with my newfound independence, even if it was only in my own mind. Questioning my parents, and my teachers, and all other old people (defined as anyone above, say, 24 years old) – it went from unthinkable to a natural reflex in a matter of months. And like other forms of intoxication that I discovered later, it was overwhelmingly addictive. I was hopelessly hooked, and I didn’t even know it. I questioned everything.

Well, that’s not quite right. I didn’t exactly question everything, as much as I simply disregarded everything. Adults in my life thought they were right. Which no longer mattered, because I knew I was right. I wasn’t engaging in debate, but rather in rebellion, and it gave me as much pleasure as it gave my parents pain. Which was ok, because I didn’t care. The arrogant rebellion of the teenage years was the greatest drug I’ve ever tried. I still miss it. As a matter of fact, I miss it, because I can’t find it. Anywhere in today’s society. I wonder where it’s gone?

The oblivious obedience of today’s youth mystify me. I just don’t understand. They believe what they see on CNN? Are you kidding? I didn’t believe what my own parents told me. And I knew they loved me and cared for me. And I still questioned them.

How a teenager can just meekly accept everything his teachers and media are feeding him is, well, simply astonishing to me. That kid has never been 50 years old, but I’ve been a teenager. And I just can’t relate.

There is, of course, a strong impulse for teenagers to seek the approval of their peers. But even that doesn’t explain the remarkable obedience of modern young adults. I just can’t relate.

It’s odd that the modern radicals are the conservatives. In order to be a conservative college student, you must be the independent thinker who questions everything she hears. That is not the stereotypical conservative. But it is the modern conservative.

This phenomenon, even though it leads to brutal ostracism of those independent enough to become conservatives, may lead to a strengthening of the conservative movement. Anyone who can sit in a college class with 100 of her peers and clearly understand that they all would hate her if they knew what she really thought – that is a strong person, who becomes stronger by being forced to clearly think through her personal philosophy. Every day, every day, every day.

A liberal college kid can hit 22 years old without ever having her world views questioned, even mildly. A conservative college kid is forced to reckon with direct challenges and nasty disputes every day. Every day, every day, every day. That tends to create a very mature and confident young person.

Someone who knows exactly what they think, and they know exactly why they think it. They didn’t just absorb their philosophy from those around them, in a subconscious effort to avoid conflict and get along with their peers. They’ve spent years working through the painful process of figuring all this stuff out on their own, swimming against the tide the whole way. The result is a confident, thoughtful, mature person. An individual to be reckoned with.

Decades ago, the whole point of going to college was to engage in the chaotic exchange of ideas to challenge your own presumptions, thus creating entire classes full of confident, thoughtful, mature people. But in today’s age of universally enforced wokeful conformity, colleges produce only a few of these. And they are the conservative students. Because they’re the only ones who spend their college years questioning and thinking.

If the leadership of modern universities were capable of independent thought, this would concern them. But they’re not. So it doesn’t.

But those confident, mature, conservative students are not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about young leftists.

I see these mind-numbed zombies who wander around and simply regurgitate whatever they’re fed, and I try to relate. But I can’t. My experience, in my glorious terrifying teenage years, was a polar opposite to such conformity. I didn’t always understand everything that adults said. But I knew that it was wrong. So whatever. I’d shrug my shoulders and do whatever the heck I wanted to. Whatever.

Looking at the obedience of young adults now – it’s surreal. Like an odd, unbelievable sci-fi movie. C’mon – that could never happen…

But it’s happening. Every day, every day, every day.

And I can’t relate.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat: So I remember my teenage years, back in the 80’s. They were magical. Horrifying and terrifying at times. But magical. The idea that I had my own mind, and that I could think for myself – I was intoxicated with my newfound independence, even if it was only in my own mind.

    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw that read, “Hire a teenager while they still know everything.”

    I was in high school from 1970-1973, and college from 1973 to 1977. As a typical teenager, I thought I knew everything but I still craved knowledge. I know that sounds contradictory, but that’s the way it was for me.

    Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I realize compared to the wealth of knowledge in the world, I know nothing. Still, I know more than the average Democrat. I submit knowing nothing is better than knowing something that’s wrong . . .

    • #1
    • November 20, 2020, at 6:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Stad (View Comment):
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw that read, “Hire a teenager while they still know everything.”

    I often wish I could have practiced medicine as a teenager, for the same reason.

    • #2
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:14 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Henry Racette Contributor

    I’m going to have to think about this one. Trying to reconcile what I think of as the inherent radicalism of youth with the obvious lock-step conformity you describe, I end up with this: perhaps the difference is that college teachers have transformed from being surrogate parents — and so part of the zeitgeist these young people enthusiastically rejected — to being, in effect, part of their peer group. The establishment is in transition, with essentially every institution except the family now on the side of the occupy-something crowd. That leaves the young person bent on breaking away from the structure of family and blazing his own path with an easy choice: defy mom and dad and all their stuffy restrictive expectations, and still be a part of this great secure group of like-minded peers and enablers.

    Radicalism without independence. Defiance with security. It’s a sweet deal.

    Good post, Doc.

    • #3
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:24 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  4. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge

    Somehow the college youth went from “question authority” to “comply and repeat”. I guess it is a fad. Maybe questioning was a fad at the time.

    • #4
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:28 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. JoelB Member

    I think that the young have a tendency to be taken in by simplistic explanations and a desire to achieve utopia of some kind. This is due mainly to limited life experience. The utopian dream seems to be bred into today’s educational curriculum.

    • #5
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:34 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Radicalism without independence. Defiance with security. It’s a sweet deal.

    Very true.

    • #6
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:35 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    The “Question Authority” crowd now yearns for authority. 

    • #7
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:39 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw that read, “Hire a teenager while they still know everything.”

    I often wish I could have practiced medicine as a teenager, for the same reason.

    I take it you’re a Doogie Howser fan. Hehe . . .

    • #8
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Stad Thatcher

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    Somehow the college youth went from “question authority” to “comply and repeat”.

    It happened once those who used to question authority became authority . . .

    • #9
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:44 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dr. Bastiat: Decades ago, the whole point of going to college was to engage in the chaotic exchange of ideas to challenge your own presumptions, thus creating entire classes full of confident, thoughtful, mature people. But in today’s age of universally enforced wokeful conformity, colleges produce only a few of these.

    I had a high school Social Studies teacher who loved to debate. She was what you would have called a stereotypical New York liberal. This was the early 80’s and she was not a fan of Ronald Reagan. In fact, she never said Reagan’s name without adding, “who only cares about big business.”

    So, you might think I was getting Left-wing indoctrination all the way back then. The truth is, my teacher was a true educator. As I said above, she loved to debate. Since she would always take the liberal side, if any of us students wanted to get involved we would have to take up the conservative positions. She wasn’t concerned if you disagreed with her, only that you could defend and explain you position. While the other classes were memorizing facts and dates, we were learning critical thinking and that helped prepare me for college.

    But today we hear about college “safe-zones” and people who not only don’t want a free exchange of ideas but outwardly ban differing opinions. That won’t end well.

    • #10
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:47 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Henry Racette Contributor

    Follow up to my last comment, still thinking about it.

    I’ve always assumed that youth rebel against “the establishment.” But maybe that’s wrong. Maybe they merely rebel against their own childhood — that being all they know. And so back to the family-versus-the-world thing: when everyone in the culture is openly rebelling against parental authority and the nuclear family, anywhere the newly free youth turns will put him square in the middle of his big happy rebellious peer group.

    • #11
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:52 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    So, you might think I was getting Left-wing indoctrination all the way back then. The truth is, my teacher was a true educator. As I said above, she loved to debate. Since she would always take the liberal side, if any of us students wanted to get involved we would have to take up the conservative positions. She wasn’t concerned if you disagreed with her, only that you could defend and explain you position. While the other classes were memorizing facts and dates, we were learning critical thinking and that helped prepare me for college.

    I had a professor like that for this one class I took. Although he was liberal, you got graded on how well you made your argument, not which side you were on . . .

    • #12
    • November 20, 2020, at 7:58 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    They object to fascism, but they can’t define it. If they could, they would realize that the alignment in goals of Big Government and Big Business is what they ought to be opposing, but they are being used by Big Government and Big Business to achieve those ends.

    • #13
    • November 20, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  14. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Right now, being a conservative like us is not just edgy (I was an “edgelord” as a high schooler even through the term was not in common use) but racist and nazi, which are the ultimate embodiment of evil out there. It would be like saying back in the day that rock and roll directly supported communism

    Part of the reason young conservatives are often attracted to alt-right / alt-white dudes is the left treats Ben Shapiro, Milo, and Richard Spencer as equivalent in evil racism. It all blends into the politically correct morass.

    • #14
    • November 20, 2020, at 6:09 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  15. Henry Castaigne Member

    Dr. Bastiat: o I remember my teenage years, back in the ’80s. They were magical. Horrifying and terrifying at times. But magical.

    If you mean the kind of magic that drove the Spanish Inquisition to torture and kill those who they considered magic users, I can understand you. 

    • #15
    • November 20, 2020, at 10:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I have a hypothesis to explain this, similar to Hank’s.

    Doc, you and I are practically the same age, so we probably grew up in similar circumstances. In our youth, there was still some robust support for true Christian morality.

    The faith teaches that our nature is to rebel against the law of God. When a culture still honors that law, people rebel against it. When the entire culture rebels, conformity to the culture is in accord with our natural inclination.

    • #16
    • November 20, 2020, at 11:35 PM PST
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  17. Tocqueville Coolidge

    Laura Kipnis wrote about this in her book about the Title IX Gulag Archipelago. Girls are being trained early on to be victims, discriminated against etc. It breeds this strange lack of agency and pitiful reliance on authority (“he made me go up to his room every Saturday for 6 months”. / “I studied Feminist Philosophy and I make 25 k /yr because I am a victim of the pay gap” or “I am a lawyer who took 8 years off work; why does he, who worked his ass off every day of those 8 years make more?”)

    • #17
    • November 21, 2020, at 8:37 AM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. Boss Mongo Member

    Dr. Bastiat: So I remember my teenage years, back in the ’80s. They were magical. Horrifying and terrifying at times. But magical.

    Growing up in the 80s was awesome.

    Dr. Bastiat: How a teenager can just meekly accept everything his teachers and media are feeding him is, well, simply astonishing to me. That kid has never been 50 years old, but I’ve been a teenager. And I just can’t relate.

    You ain’t met my kids.

    And from your posts on your kids, they’re pretty awesome, too.

    • #18
    • November 21, 2020, at 8:41 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  19. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Several years ago, I sat in on a university philosophy course. The professor…not your typical epidemic…was developing a critique of the whole idea of Cultural Relativism, that the only defining factor in ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ was the belief structure of your culture.

    Most of the students found this idea so far-out as to be almost disorienting. They had never imagined that there might be any other approaches to establishing one’s moral beliefs.

    (And how this fits with the fact that many of them are eager denouncers their own society, I have no idea)

    • #19
    • November 21, 2020, at 9:56 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  20. The Reticulator Member

    David Foster (View Comment):
    The professor…not your typical epidemic

    Um…Maybe that’s what you meant to say?

    • #20
    • November 21, 2020, at 6:58 PM PST
    • 1 like