Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today's Conflicted Boomers : typical of any Transitional Generation

The main reason why the long dead Adorno and Horkheimer still get the big bucks in intellectual currency, while you and I pal pick about for chicken feed, all comes down to a mimeographed collection of turgid speculative essays the pair circulated among a few friends at the end of WWII.

At the time, all the rest of the world was beaming in self-satisfaction about Modern Science's obvious success (here insert A-Bomb) at beating back 'Barbaric Age' Axis science.

But Adorno and Horkheimer alone suggested that Janus Year 1945 really meant that the world was now in a 'transitional era' between a fading Modern Science (aka 'modernity') and a rising postmodern world.

But as the humble mimeographed nature of their book (The Dialectic of the Enlightenment) suggests, the pair were completely ignored at the time.

So what was first noted about all the kids being born between the early mid-1940s to the early mid-1960s was simply that : their extraordinary large numbers : hence 'Boomers'.

But would their highly unusual behavior during their plastic formative years been any different if their birth numbers had been considered 'normal' or low ?

I argue not.

The coincident fact that the peak of the transitional era's passing turbulence coincided with the Boomers' crucial formative years would have produced 'The Sixties' irregardless.

At the time, 'The Sixties' social conflict was neatly explained away by simply pointing to the Boomers' extra large numbers as sufficient explanation.

So the transitional nature of The Sixties was never recognized.

In particular no one looked at who all was retiring at the world's High Schools and Universities, instead of looking simply at who was newly coming in as students -- and then promptly protesting.

For in all times of transition, tides go out just as much as they come in.

Unlike their parents raised in unconflictedly modern schools - or their children raised in unconflictededly postmodern schools - the boomers got it from both barrels.

Early on : taught by moderns; later on : taught by post moderns : who now to believe ?

Before 1989, those Boomers who took the postmodern science way of viewing physical reality dominated their peers and the news pages.

But I argue that since "The End of The Cold War", those Boomers who went on to rule the world after 1990 - and who still do rule our world -  held more to the older 'modern science' way of viewing physical reality.

I argue their rise to power was itself transitional .

Mostly due to others abruptly retiring, due partly to old age but mostly because of satisfaction at completing their life work : defeating Communism.

The new bosses, like the old bosses, were a hard,mean,uncharitable lot but their target and hence its solution, had greatly changed.

Their target was now environmentalists, not communists .

No longer was conflict over direct questions of ideology, basically 'trickle down' theories versus claims of 'human equality of access to basic life necessities'.

Now the conflict had become modern production science confronting postmodern impact science (over climate change in particular) to use Allan Schnailberg's highly influential formulation.

The dying-off Old Guard (the Modernist cum Greatest Generation) could find almost none among the Gen X and Millennials to carry on their battle against their true mortal enemy, the postmodern majority among the Boomers.

But not all Boomers resolved the conflict between modern and postmodern schooling in 100% favouring postmodernity.

This minority, the Rogue Boomers, (Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott come to mind) swallowed their internal doubts (that as conflicted Boomers they must have had) and made a big career advance - nailing their Boomer colours 100% to the fading modernist cause.

For these relatively young leaders have always found most of their votes among those much older than themselves - rather than among their peers.

But the older voter is always a constantly wasting resource.

Soon Boomers, more and more, will become the true older voter (because voting falls off sharply after age 75 - and all of the Greatest Generation will be over 75 in 2016's presidential election year.)

Because of their higher - age-related - turnout, Boomers will be the key voter up until the climate crisis's tipping point.

The fate of our world will thus turn not on a conflict between nations, ethnicities, religions, classes, genders or even generations - Fox and CNN to the contrary.

It will turn on a conflict within a highly conflicted transitional generation : the Boomers ....

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