It seems appropriate somehow to think again of Bernard Stiegler’s opening comments in Taking Care of Youth and the Generations after a few days of rioting and endless irrelevant comments in the spectacle about the causes. Stiegler’s underlying proposition is that the spectacle, which he refers to as the culture industry undermines what it is to be an adult. “An adult human being is one recognized as socially adult and thus responsible. Responsibility is the adult’s defining trait; an adult who is irresponsible, stricto senso, loses both adults rights and duties…” Stiegler defines the process of becoming adult, becoming responsible through the Freudian moment, since “…Freud it has been clear that the formation of this responsibility, this becoming adult, develops from infancy through a relationship of identification with parents who educate the child. This is what Freud calls primary identification…” and which enables adulthood and responsibility to be transmitted between the generations.
This might be challenged by those who find the psychoanalytical understanding problematic, perhaps preferring an evolutionary psychology model or a neuro-psychological model,(though the idea of challenging this through such a biologically deterministic model does amuse me). However this would clearly change nothing of significance in Stieglers argument, unless you wish to use such an anti-psychoanalytical perspective to argue against the positive values assigned to adulthood and responsibility. For what Stiegler is raising is that the culture industry, the spectacle is working to subvert the process of becoming adult, becoming responsible… as follows: So that “… this process of identification is precisely what the contemporary culture industry subverts, in diverting and capturing the attention of young minds in their time of ‘brain availability’ passive in the face of demands to consume but increasingly subject to attention problems…” Typically the new stereotypes are used to subvert, short-circuit and infantilize parental authority. The culture industry derides parental stereotypes and in so doing works to place itself in their stead. It is this process which we have seen repeated in the aftermath of the riots…Even in the abbreviated version briefly outlined here I would ask how does this read as yet again we have heard mothers and fathers derided by the political elites and their priests of the spectacle ?