The Youth are Taking Their Planet Back

The opinions in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Her Campus. 

As the worldwide school walkout for climate change last Friday illustrates, the youth of this generation are dissatisfied with previous generations' politics and are ready to make a change. Over the course of American history, we have revered property rights over common ownership and have valued the power of private, profit-driven companies over social programs designed for the common good. This trend has also been reflected in American foreign policy, where we have provided development aid on the condition that the country privatize industries.

From strip-mining in eastern Kentucky to Gulf oil spills and California wildfires, the earth has paid for – and is paying for – the sins of capitalism. Ownership is intangible, signified by a piece of paper but truly existing only in the collective mind. It is an idea that allows one person a set of usage rights over a piece of land. Previous philosophers have suggested that a man’s ability to grow crops on virgin land gave him the right to claim it as his own, but this is a rather arbitrary rationality for ownership. For land to be considered unclaimed, the previous occupants must first be removed, and the first person to own the land would have a significant advantage over future generations.

The problem with this type of ownership is that it artificially divides the earth into little plots and favors the wants of those of the present and disregards the needs of future generations. It is assumed that nothing happening on that particular piece of land affects the adjacent lands, but nature observes no such boundaries. Current land owners have little incentive to preserve resources such as groundwater or old-growth forests in their pristine conditions for future generations. It's more convenient to use it right now. 

The privileged have always had an impressive talent for swaying the public spirit in their favor. Today is no exception. Technocrats emphasize their climb from the bottom, while minimizing the positions of others left behind. The American people have been duped into believing that capitalism is their friend, and that trickle-down economics works. Fortunately, the younger generation sees through the lies and understands that capitalism no longer serves our best interests. The youth have stepped up, and they are demanding back their planet.