Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/22/ok-boomers-wake
A great article on this topic. While I am Canadian I too was one of those baby boomers and while I was at the back end of it , I was fully cognizant of the message those protestors were promoting. I remember the times as very hopeful ones for our future with Pierre Ellliot Trudeau opening the borders to Draft dodgers and opening dialog with Cuba and China while advocating for multi-culturalism.
It all went to hell with the arrival of the neo-liberals.
Now a number of the leaders of that time were eliminated but Sanders has remained true to the cause all of these years.
The author is actually speaking to every generation, and not just the Boomers, who happen to be the only generation that collectively did protest and fight back against the establishment.
Thank you for this great article, Dave! I’ve stated things you mention here A LOT but am glad to see it written to succinctly and “right on” target. “Where Have All the Hippies Gone?” is a title I had thoughr of but not had enough confidence or experience to write. Thanks again…!
Too many neo-liberal boomers serially make the excuse that if Bernie or any other progressive is nominated they will be a harangued with the “socialist” label by the corporations, GOP, media (not just faux noise).
Recall that ALL Democrats have been labeled “socialists” during the past four decades. No matter who the Democrats nominate, the nominee will be labeled as a “socialist” 24/7.
“Before the endgame, the gods have placed the middle game,” say chess players. And between Monterey Pop and the present, some huckster put the Reagan administration, and the Clinton.
“Tune in, turn on, and drop out” mostly worked for a few weeks or a summer, but sixties and seventies explorers eventually became the 1980s workforce, and the usual impediments of socialization to oppressive institutions took their toll on the Boomers as they had on the prior Traditionalists who fought WWII–and who would have been named something else had they been younger when people started to name generations.
The Boomers–my generation, too–did a lot by breaking that initial inertia to go against that umweldt of militarism that our parents embodied after two generations of imperial European wars. But we failed to create an alternative economy or modus vivendi that would manage middle and old age, and so most of us returned to the failed but ambulatory system that existed.
We need to create an alternative way to manage food and housing and education, and to set it against the mainstream on a daily basis. Otherwise, one casts one’s brilliance into a few short epiphanies, and the wave crests upon the shore and recedes.
We now do have the waves of recent generations and recent conflicts on film and in abundant print and with more perspectives than we did, and we can see and study the failures and the compromises.
We have come to a time in which we may no better, in which the younger people might come to know better than to address only the immediately obvious gaffes of the society, and to get down into the basic work, to change the ways of daily living.
The kids appear to see truer than their parents and grandparents at present. That’s not so unusual, I suppose, but it might be a start.
Here’s my take on how to decide who’s in what generation, using the terms adopted in Strauss and Howe’s “Generations: The History of America’s Future” and newer ones adopted since then.
My thesis is that it is pivotal events that shape generational cohorts and so the key to define them is if the members of the cohort experienced it or not with “too young to” and “but old enough to” brackets.
I don’t know if any of the “Lost Generation” (I know a bad name for the entire cohort) are still alive- but I’ll start with them.
Lost (The World War I Generation): Too young to remember a world before Telephones & Electricity but old enough to have served in World War I.
GI (The World War II or ‘Greatest’ Generation): Too young to have served in World War I but old enough to have served in World War II.
Silent (The Korean War Generation): Too young to have served in World War II but old enough to remember it, or at least its end.
Boomer (The Vietnam War Generation): Too young to remember World War II but old enough to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Gen X (The Gulf War Generation): Too young to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy but old enough to remember the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Gen Y (The falling between the cracks Generation): Too young to remember the Iran Hostage Crisis but old enough to remember before personal computers. [This is a narrow generation that is a cusp, the few members of this cohort around 38-44, don’t fit in well as Gen X or Millennials]
Millennials (The War on Terror Generation): Too young to remember before personal computers but old enough to remember 9-11.
Gen Z (The youngest Generation alive): Too young to remember 9-11 but old enough to… the defining event that will separate Gen Z from the next generation hasn’t happened yet.
As the defining brackets are often based on ‘remembering’ or ‘participating in’, the separation of each cohort is hazy, the two generations bleed into each other on the cusp. Some folk at 2 years of age at the time might remember the end of WWII and thus be Silent, while others at the same age wouldn’t remember and thus be Boomer. Cusps are not clear cut lines.
The cusp between Gen X and Millennials is the most hazy as there was not a real big defining event to separate the two- thus there is a small cohort who know they aren’t Gen X but they also know that what everyone says about Millennials just doesn’t fit them. Some systems say they’re one and some say they’re the other- thus Gen Y defined as different than Millennial.
(I think the same was true a hundred years earlier of the cusp of the Lost Generation and the one before it, the Generation of FDR and Churchill, the Missionary Generation.)
But the murder of JFK and 9-11 are clear markers. I don’t care that the demographic rate of a baby boom lasted until 1965, anyone who is too young to remember the killing of JFK, who can’t tell you where they were and what they were doing, is not a Boomer. On the other hand, the cut off between Millennials and Gen Z is if they remember 9-11 the same way.
So here I’ve been all authoritative and certain. Well, I am certain. But often when I’m certain I’m wrong. Oh well.
Hopefully this article will get many boomers to think:
Been down so long it looks like up to me.
1946 to 1964 birth year.
Inherited about 5 trillion dollars and have spent it all.
Now, aching for more free stuff.
80/20 rule applies, tragic.
Kent State in Ohio: The night before, a provocateur naval ensign burned down the navy ROTC building. audio recording from a window examined with todays technology does not rule out a fire cracker from the milling students. The soldiers reacted, shooting over the heads of the people directly in front of them. The four casualties,- would not even be news noted 2 days later in 2019.
We already have four murdered in Chicago this week end. Make your newspaper? news web site? = nope
Thanks for bring this up. I learned of Strauss and Howe somewhere in 2007 and studied it intensely with my “greatest generation” dad born in 1922. The book explained a lot we knew intuitively. Very provocative perspective. And I feel the “cusp” as I was on the cusp of the earliest Boomers and my dad was on the tail end of the Greatest Generation. It feels like you don’t fit with your proscribed cohort and don’t really fit. Oh well…
As a boomer, this article is able to say exactly what I’ve been thinking but have been unable to express. The best I’ve been able to come up with is I’m assumed of my selfish generation.
Inherited about $5 trillion and spent it all? Please elaborate and provide a link.
I’m 62. I don’t know any of those boomers who are against Sanders. All my friends think he’s great. I have waited all my life for someone like him to run for president. But, as usual, if the majority of a group (or in some cases the minority) is accused of something, then that entire group is considered guilty of the alleged offense. That’s the way the modern world seems to work. It used to be called stereotyping. I was crushed when Sanders lost the primary in 2016. I voted against Trump. I did not vote for the loathsome Clinton. Her husband, the Republican in Democratic clothing, did enough damage as president. If Bernie is not the candidate, or Warren, I will not vote for president. I might even vote for Trump in retaliation for the stupidity of Democratic primary voters. It’s Bernie or Warren. Or Trump. Democratic primary voters better take heed.
I’m reading a good book now entitled “A Generation of Sociopaths-How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30841993-a-generation-of-sociopaths
It talks about how the Boomers were spoiled by their parents (The Greatest Generation) because their parents did not want their children to “suffer” as they had. All the work The Greatest Generation did regarding the social safety net-was thrown away by the Boomers. The credo of The Boomers was “I got mine, to hell with everyone else”
I think what it really comes down to who will the Democratic Natioanl Committee decide to run? Clearly many want Sanders but if the powers that be decide he is too old or too whatever, then fossils like biden & co. might be on the ticket much to our chagrin.
I am a boomer. Still work as a public defender. I support Sanders. If I didn’t, I’d be treating my whole life as a joke.
The trope about inheriting $5 trillion is ridiculous. First of all, I am one of the older boomer population, born in 1949. My worldview was formed in the ‘60s in high school and college and in the ‘70s, when I finished college and began a working life as a journalist. At that time my parents were in their 50s. I was 30-plus years from getting the $250,000 in the form of a 403(b) retirement fund and a small condo to sell that they left me and my brother and sister to divvy up (my share (about $80,000) all went to paying off a small balance (about $36,000) on our house mortgage and to help pay for my two kids’ college tuition). It had zero impact on my politics. I think this claim about boomers getting rich on their parents’ estates is BS.
founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net
Excellent post bardamu.
I’m an old hippie too. Fortunately, I’m still sounding like Bernie Sanders–always will. I will vote for him or write him in–whichever.
You are right on target when you say that there was never an adequate alternative way to live after the “wave crested upon the shore.” I was going to say something like that. Many Boomers lost faith because of that beautiful “hope” thing that sputtered out. The feeling of glorious success, when followed by absolutely nothing changing, is a real dream killer.
From my perspective: ANYBODY BUT BERNIE!
When they killed Martin and Bobby and those kids at Kent State many of us decided to survive instead of taking up arms. The rest is manufactured consent. It happens to every generation.