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Delegitimizing social discourse? Portraying youth voice as unreliable, reckless, unworthy

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 

The geriatric ideology of feudalism, patriarchy, nationalism, religious culture, market led consumerism, monetised society and capitalism continues to propagate the notion that contemporary youths and students are deviants, lazy, unproductive, and useless idiots. They are depicted as being addicted to the digital world, lacking direction and commitment to their own lives, as well as to the state and society.
They are also portrayed as lacking a moral compass and any sense of idealism. These propagandas persist in shaping mainstream public discourse without facing scrutiny, serving the interests of the geriatric ruling and non-ruling elites by maintaining their hegemonic power over the masses without challenge.
There are consistent efforts by gerontological elites, both in minor forms within families and major forms at local, regional, national, and international levels, to undermine the progressive commitments of students and youths. These elites seek to suppress their idealism for radical social, political, and cultural transformation on a global scale. However, these geriatric, elitist and ruling class propagandas against students and youths are far from truth.
Throughout history, the dynamism and fervour of students and young people have consistently positioned them as vanguards in the fight against entrenched systems of oppression. From the shackles of feudalism to the chains of colonialism and imperialism, students and youths have steadfastly confronted and challenged structures and processes that perpetuate inequality and exploitation.
Their unwavering commitment to justice and equality has propelled them into the forefront of countless movements aimed at dismantling systems of power that perpetuate injustice. Whether rallying against the subjugation of colonial rule, resisting the rise of fascist regimes, or challenging the insidious grip of capitalism, students and youths have fearlessly stood on the front lines, often at great personal risk.
Their collective struggle, etched in the annals of progressive history, serves as a testament to the profound impact of youthful idealism and activism in shaping the course of social and political transformation. Through their sacrifices, resilience, and unwavering dedication, students and youths have not only inspired change in their own time but have also paved the way for future generations to continue the fight for a more just and equitable world.
Contemporary struggles for peace, environmental preservation, justice, equality, advancement of science, and promotion of secularism remain primarily driven by students and youths worldwide. The transnational character of today's students and youths is defined by the anti-war movements spanning from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Ukraine to the ongoing struggles in Palestine against Israeli genocide and occupation.
The youths and students cannot be held responsible for climate change, warfare, commodification, and the alienation of life in society today. Instead, they are victims of patriarchy, feudalism, capitalism, and imperialist systems that perpetuate exploitation, inequality, unemployment, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and widespread suffering on a global scale.
University and college campuses are teeming with anti-war protests, climate action groups, and various socially committed organizations dedicated to creating a better world. They are actively engaged in striving for a future that is sustainable, egalitarian, and just.
Labelling students and young people as deviants, amoral, and fickle undermines their dedication to fostering progressive social change. Such derogatory categorisations not only disparage their potential but also serve to weaken their resolve in challenging the entrenched power structures maintained by older generations.
These hegemonic systems perpetuate exploitation, hierarchy, and inequality across society, politics, the economy, and culture, ultimately benefiting only a select few while marginalising the masses.
By dismissing the agency and commitment of the youth, these derogatory labels perpetuate a cycle of disempowerment, hindering the collective efforts toward meaningful societal transformation. Embracing the diverse perspectives and passionate activism of young people is essential for dismantling oppressive systems and forging a more just and equitable future for all.
Contemporary struggles for peace, environment, justice, equality and secularism remain primarily driven by students and youths 
Students and youths serve as catalysts for social and political transformation, wielding their energy, passion, and idealism to challenge the status quo and push for positive change. Therefore, it is not just important but imperative to champion and defend the rights and voices of students and youths in our society. They represent the vanguard of progress, tirelessly advocating for justice, equality, and human rights.
By empowering and supporting them, we invest in a better tomorrow, one where the aspirations of the younger generation are nurtured and realised. Upholding their rights and amplifying their voices ensures that our societies evolve toward greater inclusivity, equity, and opportunity for all. In essence, by safeguarding the agency and dignity of students and youths, we pave the way for a brighter and more promising future for generations to come.
The initial stride towards actualising these aspirations necessitates the cessation of the incessant propagation of false, derogatory, and defamatory narratives directed at students and youths by the entrenched geriatric power structures. These unfounded attacks not only malign the character and intentions of the younger generation but also serve to suppress their influence and hinder their efforts towards positive change.
It is imperative to dismantle the pervasive narrative constructed by the geriatric ideology of power, which seeks to delegitimize the voices and actions of youth by portraying them as unreliable, reckless, and unworthy of meaningful participation in societal discourse.
By challenging and debunking these baseless stereotypes, we can foster an environment where the agency and contributions of students and youths are valued and respected. This entails promoting narratives that highlight the resilience, creativity, and potential for leadership within the younger demographic.
Embracing the diversity of perspectives and experiences offered by students and youths enriches our collective understanding of social issues and strengthens our capacity for innovative problem-solving. In essence, by rejecting the false narratives perpetuated by geriatric power structures and instead affirming the agency and potential of the younger generation, we lay the groundwork for a more inclusive and equitable society.
This shift in perspective not only paves the way for meaningful collaboration across generations but also ensures that the voices of students and youths are integral to shaping the future direction of our communities and institutions for a better future.
*London Metropolitan University, UK



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