Vigour and Visions of Youth

Paul Goodman concludes "Counter-Forces for a Decent Society" the second of his 1966 Massey lectures (collected under the title the Moral Ambiguity of America) with a description of the radical youth of the time. It is a description extended to all youth of the time. And perhaps of all time since then.

So, describing American radical youth, and to a degree many other American youth, we have noticed their solidarity based on community rather than ideology, their style of direct and frank confrontation and personal contact, their democratic inclusiveness and aristocratic confidence careless of status, caste, or getting ahead, their selectivity and somewhat defiance of the affluent standard of living, their striving to be authentic and committed to their causes rather than merely belonging, their determination to have a say and their refusal to be pushed around or processed as standard items, their extreme distrust of top-down direction, their disposition to anarchist organization and direct action, their disillusion with the system of institutions and their belief that they can carry on major social functions in improvised parallel enterprises. Some of these traits, in my opinion, are natural to all unspoiled young people, but all of them are certainly in contradiction to the dominant organization of American society.
And I reflect on how old I was when that was broadcast on CBC radio. And how many young people have come of age since then.

And so for day 707