Ever since Chloe triggered snowflake baby boomers with her ‘Ok Boomer’ burn in Parliament, pundits have flocked to defend or attack each generation. What is most interesting is that none of these opinions acknowledge the fundamental difference between Boomers and everyone else – neoliberalism!
Boomers grew up under Governments whose lesson from World War 2 was that democracies had to protect their citizens from the sharp boom and busts of capitalism or else the extremities would turn those citizens from democrats into fascists or communists.
That’s why there was a ‘cradle to grave’ subsidisation of Boomer lives. That’s why Boomers have the wealth they now have, BECAUSE Governments saw their obligation to provide that subsidisation so egalitarianism cemented into place a shared social contract of fairness.
This social contract was ripped in half when Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics replaced those Government obligations with free market principles across the western world in the late 70s and early 80s.
NZ was infected by Rogernomics and the legacy of that 30 year neoliberal experiment haunts us now.
Gen Xers were the first user pays generation and so had to pay for their own education while being priced out of the housing market by property speculating boomers. Gen Xers had to have children later in life and because Boomers health is so good, haven’t advanced in work environments because Boomers won’t retire. Gen X are cursed, they don’t have the wealth muscle of their previous generations but also had the education of public services that still institutionally remembered those old egalitarian pretensions and taught Gen Xers to be deeply distrustful of power. We ended up with none of the money but all the memory of a better quality of life.
Millennials grew up utterly immersed in user pays culture and individualism uber allas. Education philosophy went from ‘be the best you can be’ to ‘everyone is special’. Coupled with helicopter parents, this fragile generation believed they had to be protected from triggers at all costs and because they couldn’t change the neoliberal hegemony (if they were even aware of what that was) they focused on what they could change and that was militantly policing micro aggressions. Born knowing the environment is failing and older generations don’t give a fuck has generated a generation utterly lost in their individualism with no power to unify class because identity is all that is valued.
Our common foe is neoliberalism, it has changed economics, culture and politics and the fact it hasn’t come up in any pundits review of the current generations war suggests its power to distort and hide in plain sight makes it the winner by default.
For me as a class leftist, the delineation of power in society is not woke inersectionalism, or skin colour, or gender, or sexual identity, it is the 1% wealthiest with their 9% enablers vs the 90% of the rest of us. The sooner we appreciate that and work with political strategies that unify and bring us together rather than divide, the sooner we can beat neoliberalism.