Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Brief Overview of changes in Post-War youth culture and the prevailing conditions.

From draft report of RaHN discussion, 12th February 2014

1950s and 60s Culture comes from a reflection/reaction to prevailing conditions. The youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s was a product of its time; a product of Post-War Keynesianism. Kids were brought up to become contented consumers of fashion at a time of guaranteed work and wages. It was part of the deal that included social spending for the welfare state etc.

1970s The 1970s had a political edge. It was oppositional, anti-systemic and expressed an overt anti-establishment view. It was against a square way of life. It included a desire to get rich a different way to the expected way. There were underground magazines, such as International Times. These had an effect on propaganda - a space to be critical.

The Notting Hill Riots It was about how to develop the family. For whites, the man goes to work the wife is the housewife and the kids are programmed to grow and become happy consumers of fashion. The Beatniks did question this but nonetheless this held true. For non-whites, economically they can't keep up with this. The Notting Hill riots break out and the event throws up a connection of youth with urban resistance. The Clash cover depicts the riots. The Clash were formerly the 101ers and squatting in the area. Suddenly the consumer ideal explodes in your face. There is crisis.

1980s London Greenpeace initiated the Stop the City anti-capitalist mass protests in the City of London 1983-4 – as well as a range of existing protest groups, loads of young punks turned up to take part. Punks at that time were moving fast through music into politics. The 1980s is a time of reconstruction. It's about how it was managed. Under Thatcher it was confrontational. It was cultural. It was about a Conservative attitude; a backlash against the permissive society as well as against bolshie workers.

Squatting/housing Squatting has been an important outlet since the early 1970s. It is now more difficult after the passing of recent laws against squatting residential properties. It was suggested that apart from a fair few mansions owned by the absent super-rich there is not so much empty residential property to squat these days. There was brief discussion about the value of housing for ever going through the roof and the difficulty people face getting somewhere to live. People talk about immigration but what about emigration. In Dublin people are fast moving out. People are looking to move away because they can’'t get a place/job here to pay their way. However, the UK and Germany are still thought of as stronger economies those living in countries such as Greece and Spain.

No Future The threat of nuclear war, though an ever present threat, used to weigh heavier in the 1960s and then the 80s when the Cold War was still in place. Now, the threat of Climate Change is an all-encompassing threat that is prominent (or repressed) in people'’s minds. This probably weighs heavier on the youth. CND has not been talked about.

In Conclusion
- In conclusion there is a natural anti-authoritarianism in youth. Energy, aggression, questioning, nothing to lose (such as a family, mortgage, a well-paid job).
- There is a need for radical news and views – like there was in punk fanzines but today in different forms. But it is noted that youth can always be attracted by dodgy ideas eg nationalism, fascism, religious fundamentalism etc.
- We can'’t always be young. Longevity in activism is important.
- For young people (and all ages) controlling free spaces is important - raves, reclaim the streets, squatting.
- Social media is a kind of space, to organise, share opinion and campaign.
- Things are less homogenous now for youth.

We didn't cover: Forest Schools/Woodcraft Folk.... Political party youth movements... Anarchist Youth Group in the 1990s (South London)

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