The Littleton massacreOne of the most interesting points made in a NY Times article today about the Littleton massacre is that the school was divided by class distinctions. The "preps" and the "jocks" were on top, and "nerds" and "geeks" were at the bottom. The people at the top wore Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch clothing exclusively.
The point that must be made is that high school prepares you for class society by imposing a brutal reign based on these distinctions, while not permitting you to move up the social ladder. Somebody whose parents lack money or who is not athletically gifted is condemned to remain in the lower classes until graduation. Resentments can boil high--to the point of murder nowadays.
I was a genuine geek in high school, preferring to read beat generation literature and listen to Beethoven on my record player, while the "in crowd" read nothing except classroom assignments and listened to Frankie Avalon. There was real hatred directed at anybody who was different. One day a jock came up to me in the high school corridor and asked me if I was a "fag". No, answered, why did he ask? Because word had filtered out that I was writing poetry and only fags wrote poetry.
The other symbol of class privilege was the automobile. I and my outsider friends would have to hitch home from the movies on Friday night while the rich kids tooled back and forth in their 1956 Ford Convertibles with continental kits and four on the floor. This was the scene depicted nostalgically by George Lucas in "American Graffiti". I hated this scene with such passion that I skipped my senior year of high school just to get away from it.
Apparently high school hasn't changed much over the years. It is still riddled with class distinctions and cliques. Frankly I can't think of three capitalist institutions more oppressive than the high school, the army and the prison. What would research reveal about teenage life in precapitalist societies? What reading I've done about the social life of the Blackfoot Indians tells me that teen years for them were a time when young people could learn the skills of adulthood without being pressured. If socialism is to be worth anything, the first thing it would do is abolish the oppressive institutions that make life hell for people like those in the "trenchcoat mafia."