Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Youth culture

I argued in my book, "The Currents of World History" (available at Amazon) that American became a youth-obsessed culture at precisely that time in our history that we lost our youth - during the Vietnam War. This was also the heyday of the baby boomers, a massive demographic dump of young people born after World War II. Our media saturation, and celebrity-youth obsession resembled in many respects the old myth of the Holy Grail and Camelot. JFK typified it, especially since he had been assassinated.

I now believe that the juxtaposition of the grey-haired Tea Party and the younger, more radical Occupiers amply demonstrate not only the last flameout of the sixties youth obsession, but of a maturing of our national consciousness, even as we rediscover our youth, while ironically losing some of our youth-obsession.

Mass media after World War II, and the explosive spread of cars, and planes, and telephones, and many other devices so radically altered our world that it was a natural thing for our youngest members to discount the opinions of their elders. To lose respect for the wisdom that comes with age. These technological changes were unique to history. Age could not prepare anyone for how to deal with them.

But we've lived with the constant upgrade of technological change in our lives for longer than some lifetimes. Age now brings with it an "old school" kind of wisdom that young people of today often find much more valuable than the baby boomers did when they were young. Oddly enough, many of the baby boomers have turned into the old people who dispense the wisdom!

Bottom line: the Tea Party spirit will live on and spread. The Occupy movement will flame out this summer.