21 Loving Children: The Political Economy of Design

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 

We are shocked when violence erupts in schoolyards or when a sixyear-

old child kills another in cold blood. But the headlines, which

sensationalize such tragedies, reveal only the tip of what appears to be

a larger problem that, given our present priorities, will only intensify.

Youthful violence is symptomatic of something much bigger evident

in diffuse anger, despair, apathy, the erosion of ideals, and rising level

of teen suicide (up three-fold since 1960). Nationwide, 17 percent of

children are on Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant. Adults

often respond with rejection and hostility, making a bad problem

worse.We hire more psychologists and sociologists to study our children

and more counselors to advise them about issues such as “anger

management.” As a result there are libraries of information about

childhood, child psychology, child health, child nutrition, child behavior,

and dysfunctional families, much of it quite beside the point.

Then in desperation we hire more police to lock children up.We are

crossing into a new pattern of relations between the generations, and

much depends on how well we understand what is happening, why it

is happening, and what is to be done about it.

The deeper causes of this situation are not apparent in the daily

headlines and news reports. Dysfunctional families, depression,

youthful violence, and the rising use of chemicals to sedate children

are symptoms of something larger. Without anyone saying as much

and without anyone intending to do so, we have unwittingly begun to

undermine the prospects of our children and, at some level, I believe

that they know it. This essay is a meditation on the larger patterns of

our time and their effects on children. My argument is that the normal

difficulties of growing up are compounded, directly and indirectly,

by the reigning set of assumptions, philosophies, ideologies,

and even mythologies by which we organize our affairs and conduct

the business of society—what was once called “political economy.”

The study of political economy began with Adam Smith and continued

on through Marx to the present in the work of scholars such as

Yale University political scientist Charles Lindblom. Due to academic

specialization and diminished public involvement in politics

and community life, the field has declined. As a result, we have increasing

difficulty in discerning larger social, economic, and political

causes of our problems and doing something constructive about

them. This essay is an attempt, in effect, to connect the dots describing

those larger patterns. The first section below reviews evidence

about the intersection of childhood and political economy from

many different perspectives. The second section is a more explicit

rendering of the political economy of contemporary global capitalism.

The third and final section sketches some of the alternative political

and economic arrangements necessary to honor our children

and protect future generations.