Thursday, April 27, 2023

Lushington D. Brady: The Kids Aren’t All Right

What are we going to do about it?

Ah, me: the Boomers. Here I go, readers will think: taking the stick to my favourite whipping-boys. Not quite. Read on, geriatric Boomers, and don’t get your Depends in a knot, just yet.

Way back in the depths of the pandemic, I commented on social media that the response proved that Boomers are the most selfish generation. Because, I argued, the whole of pandemic policy was designed solely to try and save the elderly for just a few more weeks, at not just staggering economic expense, but at the cost to the well-being and future prospects of the very young. The Moloch Option, I called it.

But some Boomer relatives and friends disagreed. “We’re not all like that,” said one. They hated the lockdowns, too.

Which is a fair point. It might also have been pointed out that the politicians and bureaucrats behind the disgusting lockdown and mandate policies weren’t even Boomers (with the exception of the US, where geriatrics like Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci were responsible), but GenX or even (in the case of Jacinda Ardern and Siouxsie Wiles) Millennials.

So, yeah, even I make the occasional mistake. No, really. And, in turn, not all Boomers are completely indifferent to the plight of today’s young. Covid policies were wrong, and they know it. In fact, they’ve generally had an easy run through life, and they know it.

When I expressed flippant horror at the closing of my sixth decade […] it also made me reflect on the world of my actual adolescence and early adulthood half a century ago, with indignant sympathy for today’s real young. We hear much about generational imbalance, aggravated by Britain’s shamefully unmet housing, childcare and early-education needs. Angry young and pious mid-lifers reproach “Boomers” for our property wealth, triple-locks and annoying longevity. They do have a point (though rarely any useful suggestions) and this reasonable sense of injustice was sharpened when Covid propaganda and regulation valued the very old while carelessly damaging children, students and young adults not yet entitled to furlough.

So far, then, we’re on the same page.

Their mistake is thinking we don’t care. Millions of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors (even some landlords) shudder at the difficulties of youth and by sacrifice and ballot box would rather help than hinder.

Is this true, though? Watching the streams of RVs passing through my country town, full of silver-headed Boomers cackling about “Spending the Kids’ Inheritance”, it’s hard to be so sure. Ditto, when governments regularly bleed the young working-age to fund decades of welfare and free healthcare for the old.

But, at least some Boomers are cognizant of how easy they had it.

We remember the differently structured society of the 1960s and 1970s. It had disadvantages: fewer and more expensive ways to communicate, crushing sexism, racial intolerance and bosses who make Dominic Raab look like Bambi. The country was riven by strikes and inflation. But upward social mobility was easier, rents bearable, the postwar wealth gap smaller. Fusty old classism was increasingly jeered at (why else did middle-class Mick Jagger go mockney?). In the early Seventies at least, unemployment was low: as a reporter I interviewed a group of kids considered exceptional for being one whole year out of school without a job. Their sense of shame was painful.

The many who did find jobs could probably find accommodation in the heart of the big cities, even if it was a squalid room with a hissing gas fire and shillings in the metre. London was scruffy and rundown, not yet pimped out to foreign money, so young Dick Whittingtons found squats, bedsits or studios and set up radical or artistic collectives in the aftermath of the 1968 excitements.

The Boomers benefited from a world of wealth and stability created by the toil and blood of their parents. A generation who’d endured the Depression and World War then endured being sneered at by their coddled children. But that coddling didn’t just feed the Boomers’ outsized sense of entitlement: on the plus side, it gave them the luxury of freedom to experiment and fail upwards.

What I would wish for today’s young is that atmosphere of insouciant, inventive risk-taking […] Couples’ ability to scrape by on one pay packet meant not housewifely stagnation, as some moderns assume, but energies freed for change. After all, half a generation earlier Denis Thatcher paid the bills while his wife Margaret studied law and prepared for politics.

Without today’s constant online status-judgment there was less pressure to make good money, or become a star, straight away. And if leftish artists and musicians had a taste for adventure, so did budding capitalists: by 20 Richard Branson had failed at selling Christmas trees and budgerigars, run a magazine and launched a record business. Others designed, crafted, wrote, composed or invented on a shoestring.

Not all the experimentation was for the better, of course. Much of the worst ills that plague the contemporary West — Queer Theory, Gender Theory, Critical Race Theory, the whole gamut of Cultural Marxism — festered in the uterus of the “New Left” from the 60s on. The Boomers also gave us the Long March through the Institutions. But, to be fair, too many of us GenXers became complicit foot soldiers.

But today, there is no such luxury of experimentation for the young. Any who dare rebel as the Boomers did against the certainties of the Establishment, by pushing back against leftist orthodoxy, are summarily cancelled. If not physically attacked.

It seems to me that 50 years ago it was easier to feel that it was both safe and a lot of fun to be young. There was less fear of ending up on the actual pavement, and it seemed as if youth was winning: taking over, brightening the world up, outstripping the monochrome boring oldies. Not envying or resenting them.

Anyone who thinks the young Boomers didn’t resent the oldies is pissing on our legs and telling us it’s raining. But, it’s true that it was safer, freer and more fun for the young Boomers. Even we GenXers, coming of age in a world defined by stagflation and unemployment, could easily pool our dole money in a share house and pursue experimentation in music, art and writing, without fear of cancellation (the first recognisable “cancel culture” scandal that I can recall hit brutally in 1993).

So, we know that life sucks for kids today — the question is, what are we going to do about it?

Lushington describes himself as Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

Margaret Carswell

Boomers were a product of their time. Some were born with the oral silver spoon but there were plenty born into poverty as well.
The social revolution of the sixties was freeing for a whole generation and foretold a continuing liberalisation of society that has descended into anything goes and a sense of unearned entitlement that didn't blight the boomers.
Decisions made by politicians, not necessarily boomer politicians, have shaped our present conundrums. The neo-lib, promised money-trickle-down of the Roger Douglas years is responsible for the setting up of our present financial woes. And subsequent governments have had opportunities to dial that back but never have as it suits the wealthy too well.
If boomers have benefitted from the political /financial landscape set up by politicians how are they responsible?
And as a reality check, Lushington, are you saying that in the last 5-10 years, the only people to benefit from the massive increase in property prices and subsequent wealth increases, aided and abetted by political and banking policy through RBNZ policy idiocy and hands-off government manipulation of the housing market, the only GENERATION to benefit from all of that was the boomers?
So many boomers like myself have struggled to get our kids to adulthood and now we find are still helping them financially to get independent housing.
Typically, the younger generation are jumping on the "divide" bandwagon and promoting identity issues (i.e. this generation vs that generation, this race vs that race, this gender vs that gender) instead of looking at the class issues that are the true cause of the problems we need to resolve.
If you're wondering what class is, think elite, top income earners; struggling, middle income earners; desperate, low income earners. Then there are the not-too-happy-but- getting-by beneficiaries and the forgotten-and-despised-homeless.
To blame all our financial and social ills on the boomers is ignorant and divisive and not helping to see things clearly and promote solutions.
There will always be classes of people but surely it is up to our political leadership to guide us to a fair society, not one that has caused such huge wealth distortion that the threat of civil disturbance must follow if things do not improve.
And why does it feel so good to bash the boomers? Elder abuse really is a thing.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion bashing baby boomers is as lazy and unhelpful as any sort of generic denigration.
These were the children of people affected by war, born in times of rations and then social reinvention. Each generation refines what they inherit. The baby boomers grabbed life with both hands, seized the day and dragged themselves out of the tragedies of the first half of the twentieth century. They worked hard, they pushed the boundaries, they achieved. Were they perfect? Well - whoever is? Did they make mistakes- of course! Were they a product of their time- naturally. Do they deserve respect - unequivocally.

TJS said...

The Boomer generation ends from 1965 so if you were born before then you are most likely a Boomer.
I thought Punk rock pretty much finished up by the early 80's, mid 80's at the latest and then lead onto other stuff. Definitely having it's day in the late 70's though.

I'm one of those boomers. Dont quite think of myself as one but now I'm this age I guess I must be. Not much employemt opportunities in the 80's, seemed to be all stitched up by the 30 somethings.

I read the article of the Lemon Fanzine writer Louise and how she had suicided directly or indirectly from cancel culture. Very sad. And it continues to happen. I have seen some tragic results and some disturbing consequences. People can be harsh, ironically when they are trying to be virtuous.

I think in reality... every generation blames the one🤣thats a dumb song.

I wonder what the the next generation will think about of the powers that be of the millennials the gen x y and z. with.what they have done? What gen is Chlöe Swarbric? I was no fan of the lockdowns. I'm still reeling in shock.

TJS said...

PS. I liked the reference to The Who, that, the band not the Nazi organisation btw, was one of my f..... favorite bands.

Gen X. That's who we thought we were though.

Anyway all these libtards have made quite a mess of things, and now everyone is fussing, as Tucker Carlson says it won't last forever. The truth will prevail.

To all these virtue signalling socialists 'Why don't they all just f....fade away'
They will.
But it might be the motivated next gen to fix it up. Cause as much as we try it seems hard to alter the course because they are bloody determined to have their way. like babies. and very rich and powerful corporations. Boycotting works.