History As Process: How Youth Can Make New Tools

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Peter LENCO, Aion Research Insight, Canada
Young people today face a more uncertain and difficult future than any generation in a century. The challenges include under-/unemployment, crippling debt, poor social mobility, increasing education demands, and a lack of capital, all in the context of climate change, conflict and a distracting digital world. Young people urgently need insight into today's world as well as the intellectual tools to flourish or even survive in it. This paper looks at the world and young people's place in it through a critique of globally pervasive frames of reference (here called global cosmopolitanism) that include progress, individuality, objective knowledge, capitalism and justice. It argues that it is precisely these frames that hinder insight into the problems facing young people today and moreover inhibit action; in other words, that part of the problem for young people today are these old “tools” themselves. The paper argues, drawing mostly on Gilles Deleuze, that the challenges facing young people are historical-structural and that a processual approach to history and change as well as subjectivity and action will make this visible. At the same time such an approach undermines and deligitimizes the dominant frames of reference and points to other frames (for example, freedom as knowing the forces that act on us) as well as the possibility of heterogeneous (transnational) social structures.