Generation Gap

Two great belief systems are clashing here. The older liberals tend to be individualistic and meritocratic. A citizen’s job is to be activist, compassionate and egalitarian. Boomers generally think they earned their success through effort and talent.

The younger militants tend to have been influenced by the cultural Marxism that is now the lingua franca in the elite academy. Group identity is what matters. Society is a clash of oppressed and oppressor groups. People who are successful usually got that way through some form of group privilege and a legacy of oppression.

I don’t know, I’m not seeing that at all. All of the young people I know are exactly like these “old liberals” described here. And in contrast, I know many 40, 50, 60 and even 70-year-olds who are exactly like the “younger militants” described here. If the young people do parrot these platitudes about “oppressor groups,” that’s because they want to impress some adult who desperately needs to hear it.

That’s my experience.

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5 thoughts on “Generation Gap”

  1. Trying to generalize about generations, especially when undertaken by vapid US journalists, usually leads to b.s. Here are some generalizations from me to criticize.

    1/ People who were children in the 1930s, old enough to remember this period, and whose families lost money / security during this period, are irrational about money to this day, especially because after the Depression came the war which had rationing. They are said to have suffered but they benefited greatly from the postwar boom. If you graduated college late 1940s and worked 1950-1970, for instance, as a white man especially, you in fact did quite well. Yet you do not recognize this, and have scary dreams about the earlier financial trauma

    2/ The counterculture was created by people born during the depression and war, not by people born in the 50s like me, despite participation from some born earlier 50s

    3/ There are two distinct periods to the “baby boom” — people old enough to have been part of the counterculture, and people who were still kids then; people old enough to have been drafted and people not; etc. Whether it even works to call it a generation is a real question. Old enough to have been a freedom rider, or to be draft eligible, or to be an adult in 1967 and 1968 isn’t really that much older than me — I turned 18 at the end of 1974 — but it seems like a whole other Lebenswelt and Gestalt.

    4/ People born ca. 1965-1990 are more conservative than I. Especially those born in the 70s. Imagine starting school with Reaganite teachers. I started with freedom riding war critics and they started with the backlash. These are the ones who believe in meritocracy … not any of those I discuss above believe in it the way this group does

    5/ People born after 1990 seem a lot more generous and just better adjusted overall than those discussed in item 4.

    Do you see how I am saying a lot more than these pundits are, yet still overgeneralizing?

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    1. It’s definitely a lot more interesting. I can’t comment on points 1-4 for obvious reasons, but point 5 makes sense. The younger people are definitely more generous and kind. But mental health issues are exploding. I don’t know if you notice it with your students but it’s growing almost exponentially worse from what I’m seeing year by year.

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  2. 4/ People born ca. 1965-1990 are more conservative than I. Especially those born in the 70s. Imagine starting school with Reaganite teachers. I started with freedom riding war critics and they started with the backlash. These are the ones who believe in meritocracy … not any of those I discuss above believe in it the way this group does
    I got a good dose of D.A.R.E., and heard a lot about poor Guatemalans who carried desks to school on their backs. I think a lot of my socialization was a throwback to an earlier time due to my parents’ immigration and families of origin, which influenced their choice of schooling for me and my brother. My schools constantly put me through standardized testing and the memories make me cringe.

    However, it’s received wisdom that Social Security will run out of money and nobody my age should expect to rely on it. Bernie sounded like he was from another planet describing how things used to be. Really, you could work a part time job and go to college? People didn’t go to college?

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    1. Well, due to working in Louisiana I will not qualify for social security. Bernie is older than I by quite a bit, I believe, but even I seem like I am from another planet. Univ. of Calif. tuition was $600/year for most of the time I went there.

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      1. It was $1,200 a year at McGill when I went there. Still doable if it weren’t for the damn textbooks. I was fine because in my courses we just bought literature in Spanish, and I still use those books 20 years later. But my sister had to buy those ridiculous overpriced business textbooks at $200 a pop. Multiply that by 5 courses, and that’s more than tuition. Total waste of money.

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