Are Youth Apathetic? Essay

966 words - 4 pages

If you believed everything that you read in the corporate media then you would think that all young people are apathetic and that Australian youth are the most apathetic in the world. This is what two recent articles in the Sydney Morning Herald allege."Young people nowadays are simply not interested in politics", argued Ben Heraghty, in an article titled ``Youth needs to be seen, heard and inspired, politically'', which appeared in the March 13 Sydney Morning Herald. It quoted a recent study from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) which declared that Australian youth are overwhelmingly apathetic and apolitical.An earlier article, "Our youth lead in world apathy", appeared in the March 6 Sydney Morning Herald. It maintained that only 40% of 14-year-olds were prepared to participate in a protest march and that Australian students were less likely than students in other countries to support the idea that governments had a social responsibility for the development of industry, the fair redistribution of wealth and the provision of decent living standards for the unemployed.It's true: many young people are apathetic -- some don't care about the environment, workers' rights or the quality of education. But those who try to claim that most youth in this country are passive and inactive can't distinguish the forest for the trees.Historically, young people have responded the most strongly, radically and quickly to political crises. It is often young people who have led mass movements for social change and who are the most vocal demonstrators for social justice. The massive anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and `70s mobilised young people in their hundreds of thousands worldwide to put an end to the unjust war being waged by the United States -- and it succeeded.Recently in Australia, young people have led struggles against the privatisation of education, against school closures in Sydney's inner city, against the racist US war on the Third World and for refugee rights.The racist and inhumane treatment of refugees by the Liberal government, along with the exposure of its lies about refugees, has had a similar effect on an important layer of youth. Many young people are outraged at the government's policy of mandatory detention and the conditions in detention centres, and they have mobilised in the streets.The government's loss of credibility over their policy of mandatory detention has added to the growing distrust of young people towards the government and politicians. The ACER study found that of all institutions young people had the least trust for the mainstream political parties, and that around a third do not trust the courts or the police force. In an increasing number of cases, this distrust has turned into active opposition to institutions.And of course the Herald would like to forget the 20,000-strong blockade of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne on September...

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