Stillborn Babies of the Lost Generation

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This essay reconsiders the possibilities of the Freeter Movement (Lost Generation Movement) of the late 2000s. Until that time, irregular employment and poverty had been largely seen as issues of individual responsibility. The Freeter and Lost Generation Movements attempted to rethink modes of labor and living from within the entanglements of individual and social responsibility, existence and structure, and activity and passivity.

As the movement wore on, issues such as economic inequality and poverty were reduced to matters of macro-level growth policies and liberal notions of redistribution. Yet, the Lost Generation Movement was also a movement of resistance that provided an alternative against the violence of global capitalism.

The Lost Generation Movement was a labor movement, but it was also a movement for existence. In other words, it was a movement that unconditionally affirmed the “life” of the disabled, the homeless, the socially withdrawn, and the perverse. Furthermore, it was a movement extending the category of the “human” to encompass the nonhuman, liberating the potential of “life” in disability and nonability.

Movements accumulate over time, and they are not necessarily what is present before us. Following Jacques Derrida’s theory in his Spectres of Marx, we might say that movements are not present, but rather spectral. Strata of movements past, present, and future may overlap and become mixed. There may be anachronic errors in time, and stillborn babies might be miraculously reborn. It simply cannot be said that the Freeter Movement is over.

The Freeter Movement of the late 2000s was a movement of “life” for the purpose of resisting global capitalism, and perhaps within it were embryos of a new theory of revolution in a post-minority age. This essay is an attempt to reconsider these possibilities of the Lost Generation Movement in a positive way.