Youth wings are worse than cancer, folks

by Laura Vilaça

Youth wings get on my nerves. They really do. I see them as kindergartens of corruption, breweries of mass stupidity, things that could actually be cool but have gone sour with time. Don’t get me wrong: I fully sustain that young people should get involved in politics. However, don’t shit me: youth wings are not the way to become a politically engaged, fully informed citizen. They are the cancer of society and the root of a set of structural problems that bug more than crabs.

Give this young man a suit and some wings and he's ready for action.

Give this young man a suit and some wings and he’s ready for action.

But what are ‘youth wings’? If you surf the internet looking for the definition and you don’t find anything close to it within 5 minutes, you know there’s something wrong with the thing. The fact that the only available explanation of these organizations comes from a sourceless Wikipedia article should be the necessary warning of the crap that lies within the concept itself. I also tried to look for “Youth Wings for Dummies”, hoping that the franchise that explains everything would have an A-B-C to youth wings. Surprisingly enough – or maybe not -, the only guide to build a party youth I found was an e-book organized by a Danish group of youngsters who really like to get together and talk about politics, villains and ponies.

In my own conception, youth wings are the junior league of political parties.  They claim that they are grounded on promoting civic formation, defense of youth rights and promotion of the party ideology. They are usually well organized and relatively closed to exterior activity, being known by tight group work and a constant struggle to defend the party ideology. All bullshit, dear reader.

The dress code of youth wing members, specially of those more inclined to the 'left'

The dress code of youth wing members, specially of those more inclined to the ‘left’

Youth wings have very little of good and a lot of bad. It’s a source of ‘politics’ – and, in this case, politics between quotation marks, because we’re not talking about real Politics here; we’re talking about a network of connections, games of influence, gossip, controversy and all that goes along with it. The youngsters who join these associations are paving their way into a good career, arranged by the powerful contacts they make as politicians in training. This premature circle of corruption breaks all the beauty of the citizenship youth wings claim to build, ironically inverting the sense of their work and instead teaching dirty business to fresh flesh.

There is no real informing about politics or an incitation of new ideas to help society improve. Youth wings often serve as megaphones for the parties to say things they cannot as an official political party, thus leaving to the unexperienced and eager members of the youth wing the role of a mouthpiece. This sense of obedience to the strict lines drawn by the party also limits free thought and critical evaluation, traits that should be present in every young person who is a part of societal life.

"It's super cool, mom, they let me use a megaphone!"

“It’s super cool, mom, they let me use a megaphone!”

In this sense, what youth wings are mainly achieving is to build a stock of sheep. Yes, folks, sheep. Sheep who will most likely remain loyal voters till the end of their life, who will try to attract others to the party and who, in most cases, will be on their way to a brilliant and powerful career, making them future fruitful connections.

Finally, to end this striking tale, a suggestion: why not, instead of this mind-shaping crap, actually make an effort to inform and educate by, let’s say, creating a course on ‘introduction to politics’ or something of the sort in high school? Why not allow young people to get to know all political wings, their history and impact, their figures and ideals, before they join a party that limits their free thought and will? Why has this never been done before and young people are increasingly more allured and encouraged to join a youth wing? And the answer is: because tamed sheep are way easier to play with.

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