The Kids Are Alright

By Belén YudessFebruary 4, 2024

The Kids Are Alright
In the wake of recent reconsideration of David Graeber’s later work, current intern Belén Yudess pulls up an article he co-authored for LARB.

Teenagers marching in N-95 masks to demand racial justice, high school students asserting the importance of abortion and queer rights in their graduation speeches, and university walkouts in solidarity with Palestine—the beginning of this decade has demonstrated the power youth organizers hold. For decades, younger generations have taken a stand against blatant inequality and worked with other activists to incite change. Every movement takes inspiration from its predecessors, a notion that grounds David Graeber and Yuk Hui’s analysis of Hong Kong’s 2011 “Occupy Central” movement. Their 2014 article explains how the youth involved in Occupy Wall Street “spearheaded a global revolution in their wholesale rejection of the liberal economic and political system their elders had spent the last 30 years imposing on the rest of the world.”

In the current US political climate, the term “insurrection” has become intertwined with far-right extremism. Yet Graeber and Hui offer a window on a time when “insurrections almost simultaneously across the globe seized power nowhere, but nonetheless changed everything.” Occupy Central took a stand against a system that empowered the upper class to use their wealth to wield political power, leaving Hong Kong’s middle and lower classes unemployed, unhoused, and unheard. But, as Graeber and Hui observe, the resilience of the 99 percent was ready to challenge this system. As they explain, “[d]uring the first days [of the occupation], more and more people from all classes joined the movement: truck drivers blocked roads; mini-bus drivers gave students free rides; citizens brought them food and drink.” Graeber and Hui remind us that for every capitalist attempting to silence democracy, there are hundreds of organizers ready to amplify it.

LARB Contributor

Belén Yudess is a LARB publishing/literary arts education intern. She is currently a student at Scripps College studying English with a creative writing emphasis, Spanish, and humanities.


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