‘Involution’ a Chinese export to Antigua?


By Makeda Mikael

An interesting article in the New Yorker, “China’s Involuted Generation” by Yi-Ling Liu describes the burnout, boredom and despair of Chinese youth in a demanding society of achievement to what end.

The word ‘INVOLUTION’ became the 2020 watchword of the young people in China who are tired and who no doubt being educated enough to see where this world of over achievement in monetary progress is dying by degrees from overwhelming despair of a world ‘locked in competition that one ultimately knows is useless.’

Progress without a purpose is the current state of world economic advancement, where our children know better than us that our ‘progress’ is killing the earth as we know it, overburdening the land with garbage and killing the fish and filling underwater spaces with plastics. Poisoning the lakes and ponds with industrial pollution and careless dumping of waste, while exciting especially the young in a cleanup program alongside the polluters.

Another outlet BBC went on to describe the response to involution by the youth who now are ‘lying flat’ another new term where young people recognizing the purposelessness of it all have decided to do nothing, just stop caring and just let it all roll over them.

These are the leaders of the future who are saying it is just not worth the bother, the world is overburdened and dying, and it is the generations who are in control who are to blame.

Lying flat is the answer to a world involving at a dangerous speed going nowhere fast, and condemning the human race to a robotic life where consideration for personal human growth is sacrificed on the platform of technology and ceaseless production.

In our own small island involution we call it ‘spinning top in mud’ and our youth are also quite aware of the uselessness of their existence which none sees or even cares.

Clearly our entire education system needs to be overhauled and linking it to the needs of our country, our region and our place in the world. Boredom is the cry of young people and we must listen, especially as they number the majority, and are the technology superiors in the community. Forcing them to ‘lie flat’ is definitely not the solution.

Arbitrary actions of a society which just follows and is not seeking its own path, and failing to respect the youth who are the future, will create a dropout society of young people, devalued by failure of leadership to see their needs and feel their pain. “Involution is a new word that helps keep an old system, and those who control it, in place.”

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  1. Well put, Ms. Mikael. I remember when my generation was the future, and now as my 50th year of existence is drawing neigh I am now completely disillusioned with it all. I was there on the eve of our independence, it was an optimistic time, now decades later I am no longer as naïve as I once was in my youth, the reality of life often does that.

    I read an opinion piece on this very news site regarding the importance of vaccination as it relates to the tourism market and the revitalization of the economy, short term goals, but what about the long term problems when thirty years from now sea levels will rise significantly and the impact it will have on the Caribbean will be nothing short of a natural disaster. I guess that will be a problem for the future generation to contend with.

    The late Clarvis Joseph summed it up best, “The youth of today are being led by old men who have no skin in the game.”

  2. Interesting article. Thought provoking. Will take it a step further and suggest we look at makin the curriculum more Afrocentric. Was surprised to learn we still teaching children the lie that Columbus discovered the west indies. Anyway what the writer describes is particular pertinent to our young males. Perhaps we should we do like in Nigeria and introduce a national youth service corp.

    • This article while it’s a good read, with “food for thought,” and is still sounding the drums on some of the dangers, of past indoctrinations through education, this message has being amongst Our culture and people for over a Century, once we look back at the works of such people as Frantz Fanon to Robert Athlyi Rogers to Marcus Garvey to Emperor Haile Selassie I and countless others, yet we failed to some degree in accepting their works, as vital enough to include them in Our educational system.

      I hope Ms. Mikael will not only use her platform to highlight these issue, but also to design, fund, implement, manage systems, that will be the catalyst for bringing many more programs of this nature to fruition!

  3. Wow! what a great article. Makeda Mikael you are becoming the female representation of the late Tim Hector with your intellectually thought provoking articles. Many times you are subjected to unwarranted criticism but don’t be dismayed. Keep up the great work.

  4. My comment was posted before I finished what I wanted to say. Anyway, the phenomenon of ‘involution’ that is affecting Chinese society and its youth, is really a world wide phenomenon. In our case in Antigua and Barbuda you describe it as our youth ‘spinning top in mud’. Looking at the problem from a Marxist perspective, I would clearly say that this is evidence of the alienation that exists in both western and eastern civilizations. Mankind really need to take a serious look at the development paradigms where the accumulation of wealth is the ultimate good.

  5. Makeda,

    May you have a long and healthy life and continue to bless us with your ideas snd thoughts
    You are right. We are totally over it and this pandemic has made it even more apparent that we are chasing the wrong things and living a life of emptiness, competing to get the bigger nicer ‘cages’.

    We have lost our humanity. And for those of us who have not been money motivated, it’s getting harder snd harder to find purpose in this grand system.

  6. So after we teach our children “to learn to earn”, we want to cry involution.
    Sadly, all environment awareness and fake altruism will get us no where. We can revamp the education system all we want, it is still going to be survival of the fittest. The braniest or handiest are still going to come out on top in their respective categories.
    We talk all we want about Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism and even invest Newisms.
    We are not going to see a betterment of our collective existence until we realize and effect the ultimate reason of our existence… and that is to bring glory and honour to our Creator.

    • Your last sentence is truly the crux of the matter!!!!

      We can turn left, right, upside down and all around, if we live life outside the will of the Creator who declared in the beginning “Let there be light….”, we are not living. We’re dead men walking.

  7. This problem is primarily spiritual, a near-total lack of a deep relationship with the Living Christ, who is the real answer. New birth. New life. A transformation from darkness to Light. Most of the churches have failed us. They have become cold and lifeless. Forms of godliness, denying the Power, is the curse of our time. A mighty revival is coming, which will transform those who long for reality. Materialism is empty.

  8. This article is very relevant. Especially because we are seeing this involution theory transferred into our society. We are all boasting about our children learning Mandarin when they could hardly compose an English sentence. Are we that thick that we do not see what is happening? Confucious Institute? Our leaders and educators want their heads examined. Nothing but pure arrogance and wannabe-ism in them. This time when we are destroyed it will be our own who are causing the destruction. Walking us all into a minefield with pomp and pride

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