Agustin Lahe has a degree in Political Science from the Catholic University of Córdoba, Argentina. Founder and director of Fundación Centro de Estudios LIBRE, he is a columnist in various media and author of books myths of the seventies (2011), When history is a farce (2013), The Black Book of the New Left (2016), co-authored with Nicolas Marquez, and The Culture Battle Consider a New Right (2022). We recently talked about his latest book, Idiot Generation: A Critique of Adolescent Centrism.
Idiot generation points to the path taken in many western societies, sick of ‘walkism’, towards the ‘adolescent society’. Besides being idiocy, can we talk about a lost generation?
The idiot generation is lost in its inability to look beyond its own narcissistic navel. This intolerable narcissism, often disguised as “woke” politics and progressive posturing, breeds absolute closure. We see this in a variety of phenomena, such as the “safe spaces” of certain universities, the characterization of any idea that does not conform to progressive hegemony as “hate speech”, the dominance of self-perception as a measure of reality, and the consequent end of truth as a discourse that we project onto a reality located outside of us (hence the idea that we live in a “post-truth” society).
This hatred of diversity of thought, belief, ideas and political positions has forever ruined the generation of idiots as they are seduced into believing that diversity is progressing simply because we can dye our hair green, feel like we’re in the wrong body, or sleep with someone of the same gender (and celebrate it for a whole month every year).
In a society based on “youth-centrism”, what place do old age and childhood have?
Absolutely none. On the one hand, youth-centrism is based on a general rule that we could summarize as “new is good, old is bad.” Old age is presented to adolescent-oriented society as inherently bad, in many different but similar senses: old is unfashionable; the old is morally obsolete, due to the acceleration of social change; the old is technologically obsolete, in a society marked by exponential technological change; the old, in its proximity to death, recalls the finitude of life in a society where death is tantamount to the absolute end.
Regarding childhood, many sociologists and political scientists in recent decades have denounced a kind of infantilizing process. But the baby is too innocent and pure to be confused with the adolescent-oriented idiot who dominates our cultural and political environment. The baby, as its etymology itself shows, has no voice. The child is deprived: it cannot define itself, nor even pretends to do so. On the contrary, the adolescent-oriented idiot claims complete self-determination, but leaves it incomplete or crippled because the component of individual responsibility is always missing.
The current craze for encouraging children to explore gender and sexuality (which is becoming more radical every day) stems from the particular disdain the adolescent idiot has for the idea of a phase of life in which the individual of the human species lives under the rule of family authority. Remember all those feminist theorists of the 1970s, for example, who wanted to destroy all family power over children.
The Eternal Adolescent would represent, as you rightly note in your book, the Nietzschean ideal of the “superman” or “new man.” Is Greta Thunberg the best example of adolescent society, and social networks its “heavenly kingdom”?
She is a very relevant example because of the scale of her mediatization. What Greta reveals is something that is actually beyond her, namely that our culture tends to believe that the teenage girl will be the savior of the climate apocalypse. Greta herself is a very uninteresting character. Look at her when she was finally questioned in the street by journalists with whom she had not previously arranged her interview: the poor girl could not answer any of the intelligent questions that were put to her.
What is interesting in any case is to see how the elites use the image of adolescence embodied in Greta to direct the masses towards certain expectations, themes, slogans, emotions, etc. All this is not done by the power of social networks alone, because Greta is not, strictly speaking, a network character: she is a character constructed by the major multimedia corporations.
There is a video from a few years ago where a young 5’6″ white man poses as a 5’8″ Asian woman and the majority of students accept his take on reality. Having changed our gender at will, is it time to change our age? Does the Cult of Adolescence Open the Door to Trans-Ageism?
The dissolution of gender as a principle of reality certainly opens the door to the dissolution of every other feature of identity, whatever it may be. Think of it this way: if the reality of sex can collapse under the pressure of gender ideology, even though it is so rooted in the materiality of physiological, anatomical, and genetic realities, then what is to prevent any other category of identity from collapsing? Indeed, while age depends on the passage of time, there is something about age that seems much less rooted in materiality than sex. Thus there is even less preventing the reality of age from disintegrating than there is preventing the disintegration of gender.
The same exercise can be done with any other characteristic of personal identity, for example nationality. If nationality is politically defined by the state and therefore much less material (and therefore self-evident) than biological sex, why should it not also be dissolved and subject to the individual’s self-definition through the self-perception of national identity? It sounds absurd, but it’s essentially the same logic.
You devote a chapter to fashion and the adoration of the new. But fashion and the new are increasingly ephemeral. Are the discontent and consumption so typical of adolescents the incentives for the generation of idiots?
Indeed, fashion is becoming more and more ephemeral, and that is why it is so important to account for the void felt by so many teenagers. Fashion only exists in so far as it changes; it depends, so to speak, on constant self-sabotage. When everyone “goes fashionable,” fashion can no longer fulfill its promise of providing some semblance of identity.
You talk about adolescent frustration, and I think that’s true, but I’d add to that the identity issue. Dissatisfaction with what? Dissatisfaction with regard to oneself; in terms of who or what I am. Adolescence, according to Erik Erikson, is a stage characterized by the lack of a well-defined identity. The teenager “stumbles” because he doesn’t yet know who he really is. Well, I believe the exact same thing is happening in our culture, only on a sociological level.
The current idea that everyone has to “invent” their own identity creates too much social stress, too much discomfort. Perhaps we were freer and more comfortable when certain traits of identity were already taken care of beforehand.
Does the world of entertainment represent the role of the new heroes and saints of the idiot generation?
This world has, so to speak, “democratized.” The great promise of the current fame system is that anyone, without any mediating criteria, can be famous too. The democratization of fame destroyed the criteria by which one became famous (exceptional skill, genius, intelligence, heroism, holiness, etc.). The great promise of social networks and their systems based on likes and followers is just that: to be able to be famous while being ordinary like me.
This democratization of fame, however, has been followed by an intensification of our relationship with the celebrities themselves, in which we are more influenced by them than ever before. We live with them all day, every day. They are everywhere. That is why now they are called rather influencers. In a sense, we accept that they influence us: more, we want to be influenced by them, because in the adolescent-oriented culture, we all want to be famous one day, too.
The current vice president of the Spanish government, Yolanda Díaz, presented her new political project with “the aim of making people happy”. We don’t know what drug or what Soma she will use, but don’t all these good intentions hide the worst of totalitarianism?
It hides what I call in my book a “nanny state”, which is actually a kind of thing light totalitarianism. The state seeks to take over man’s whole life: his decisions, tastes, beliefs, ideas, relationships, family, even his very happiness! We have already seen this, for example in Venezuela, where Chavismo created the “Ministry of Happiness”.
What’s new about the nanny state is that it treats its subjects like adolescent idiots. It no longer robs them of their freedom in the name of “class struggle,” “spirit of the people,” “national spirit,” or whatever was used as a liberticidal excuse in the totalitarianisms of the 20th century. Rather, today it robs them of their freedom for the sake of their own happiness.
This idiotic movement comes from the top, from the elites. Is the New Right the rebellion, the answer to this totalitarianism?
In fact, this is how I end the book, offering a model of rebellion against the idiot empire and, of course, its puppet masters: the elites who use it. If there is anything that reproduces the status quo, the established order, it is globalist progressivism. Look at how comfortable all these neo-leftists feel in the forums of the global elites; how comfortable they are with the output of major entertainment corporations; how comfortable they are with the messages that showbiz stars typically offer; how comfortable they are with the fundamentals of metacapitalists; how comfortable they are with the most powerful international organizations on the planet; how comfortable they are with the “new values” of multinational companies that sell a “woke” ideology in their every advertisement; how comfortable they feel in the powerhouses of the academic institution; how comfortable they are, in short, with anything that holds political, social and economic power.
In the face of this reality, the New Right, more than just conservative, is thoroughly subversive. In fact, she dreams of undermining the dominance of these elites. We hope that this dream can, at least to some extent, become a reality.