Thursday, November 12, 2009

Resistance is futile

Resistance is futile.

How do we live with/in futility? Meaning, sense and use in futility.

One of the characteristic markers of my generation, the Y generation as we’ve been defined and marketed to, is cynicism and selfishness.

I have to say, I feel ‘my’ aggregate generation would give the baby boomer generation a good run for their hard-earned lucky money, on these two markers also. I might even venture to say, we may well have learnt these traits from that booming generation.

bell hooks challenges my generation on what she notices as cynicism employed as a defence mechanism and coping strategy.

I think our generation might be reeling from the baby boomer aftermath of quick attempt at social justice.

Markers are generally generalisations, and in the colonial settler society I live within, those generalisations mean white and western for the most part. So there was a white western middle class, or socially mobile bunch of young people, who thought that wars were icky, and we should have peace and free love along with a whole bunch of -ologies and -isms. When those proved difficult and tedious, the most privileged in those movements swapped their peace signs for mobile phones and mortgages, writing off “revolution” as either “done” (like Feminism) or not pragmatic/feasible/realistic/possible (economic justice).

What irks me about this over publicised wave of public and “general” feeling is that is it a minority’s feeling that dominates and shapes general public future generations. What irks me, is that it invisibilises all the non-dominant and non-privileged, and also, non-western-white-middle-class-university educated socially mobile people, who have been struggling for social justice across all strata, long before, and long after this “60’s and 70’s revolutionary” period.

So yes, I think ‘my’ generation is reeling from the experiences of a group of people with loud voices, who gave it a go for a while, and now think “resistance is futile, this is the way the world is, we gave it a go and it didn’t work out”. These momentous viewpoints drown out resistances from groupings, communities and societies that didn’t, and still don’t have the luxury to choose to mainstream and go with the neo-liberal flow. Those who did not, and still do not benefit significantly, consistently or meaningfully from the law reforms. Who might these be? No they’re not simply the young women on campus with short hair, who spell womyn, wimmin untraditionally. Nor are they just the older long haired guy in the army jacket trying to sell you the Socialist newsletter. They are people affected by and living in destitution, stateless citizen-less peoples (refugees and sometimes migrants), indigenous peoples, and peoples in majority world (known here as the-unlucky-poor-them Third World).

These are some of the voices drowned out and silenced, or just neglected by (baby boom) mainstream media (unless it’s doing a social feature piece), who resist by surviving, loving, continuing, struggling, fighting, challenging, and resisting. Resisting futility.

So maybe after all the times I’ve been told;

“There will always be rape and sexual abuse”

“People like their own kind, and so are naturally racist”

“Naturally the strong will dominate over the weak”

“Colonisation has always happened”

“You’ll grow out of it, I’ve been there and done that, you’ll see”

“There’s no point, the problems are too big, inequality is too big, the big corporations are too powerful”

I could concede that maybe resistance is futile. But only futile, if (like the Baby Boomer generalised generation) you think that World Peace, on the beauty pageant stage of the “First World”, can happen in a few short decades when you decided you’d have a go at it in between your university papers.

Maybe living through a rhetoric of futility, or a affluent-white-western-minority-world- Baby-Boomer noisy-rhetoric definition of futility, is simply that. Living through that noisy rhetoric that resistance is futile.

And we live with and within futility all the time. The futility – the waste, the pointlessness, the emptiness, hollowness, of neo-liberalism and rampant capitalism that reduces and confines people and the earth to profits and resources for profits.

And yet we and so many others continue to hope, to struggle, to live, to continue, to act, to love, to endure, to grow, to connect; despite, and because of, the sometimes overwhelming myriad of oppressions and inequalities many of us cannot simply opt out of.


  1. I really enjoyed this thinkpiece. i do think though that the "baby boomer" generation referred is perhaps, in actuality Gen-Xers, who since the late eighties, suddenly disappeared from social critique.