The Twilight Of Boomer Power


THE DAILY BLOG’S Editor, Martyn (Bomber) Bradbury, is characterising the decisive 2020 election result as the Twilight of Boomer Power. Martyn, and all those who share his view, had better hope not. Baby Boomer votes played a critical role in Labour’s historic victory. Moreover, as New Zealand’s most electorally diligent demographic, they are likely to play an equally critical role in the next. Under these circumstances, dancing on the grave of Boomer power strikes me as a sub-optimal strategy for holding together Jacinda’s winning coalition.

For clarity of analysis, it is important to remind readers that the age-range encompassed by the term Boomer stretches from those born in the year following the end of World War II, 1946, to those born at the very end of the post-war surge in fecundity in the mid-1960s. In other words, a Baby Boomer can be anybody between the ages of 55 and 75. Or, to put it another way: the first Boomers came into this world to the crooning of Frank Sinatra; the last to the pop poetry of The Beatles.

We are a singular generation. Those who pay attention to the ads on television will have noticed a strange shift in the marketing strategy of the corporations promoting retirement villages. Where once the ad-men conjured up visions of silver-haired ladies and gentlemen settling into their final years amid fine china and roses, they are now making their pitch to what look like slightly wrinkled versions of sixties-era hippies and rockers. The soundtrack, once Mantovani and his Orchestra, is now The Who and The Rolling Stones. Clearly, the psychographics are telling the advertising gurus that the Boomers are preparing to grow old as they grew up – disgracefully.

There’s a political side to all of this that it would be most unwise for younger generations of voters to ignore. It is, perhaps, best illustrated by a meme sent to me recently by a friend. It depicts a young woman from the Swinging Sixties standing in front of a Mini Minor motor car. The text reads:

Your Grandma wore: Mini Skirts, Hot Pants, Go-Go Boots, Bell-Bottoms, and no Bra.

TDB Recommends

Listened to: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Stones.

Drove: Mini Cars.

Rode on: Fast motor bikes and scooters.

Smoked: Slim cigarettes.

Designed: Fashion you are still wearing today.

Drank: G and Ts and shots, came home at four am, and still went to work.

You will never be as cool as your Grandma.

Boomer hubris? Of course! But it does make the point that the generation raised in the years of plenty turned out to be very different from the generation raised during the years of global economic depression and worldwide war. All that generation wanted to do when the shooting stopped was find a job, get married, buy a house, and start a family. (Although, not always in that order!) Their children, however, took all of their parents’ hard won opportunities and affluence for granted, and went off in search of something more. Not all of them gave up when the rules of the game changed abruptly in the 1980s. And even the ones who did can still remember what it’s like to reach for something beyond your grasp. Some of us are reaching still.

Could that “reaching” have played a part in Labour’s astonishing victory? I think it did. I think Jacinda reminded many Boomers of their younger selves. I think they contrasted her courageous handling of the Covid-19 Crisis with their own cowardly failure to meet the moral challenge of Neoliberalism. Where they had simply taken the corporate money and run, Jacinda faced down the “economy first” brigade with, of all things, kindness.

There was a transcendence in that brave display: a moment of – dare I say it? – transformation. It reminded many of them of things they had forgotten. Like the sheer size of the anti-Vietnam War mobilisation of 1971. Like the political electricity crackling across the first United Women’s Convention in 1973. Like the lonely thrill of seeing the Riot Squad advance with batons drawn in the anti-Apartheid protests of 1981. Like the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1986, and the Nuclear-Free New Zealand legislation in 1987.

Some may even remember the evening of Saturday, 25 November 1972, when New Zealanders, after 12 long years, shrugged off the blues and turned their country red. I certainly remember it. Sitting in my parent’s kitchen, watching the portable TV set, drawing a red star by every electorate that fell to Labour, and a blue swastika alongside every National win. And how, by the end of the night, the Special Election Lift-Out section of theEvening Post, sellotaped to the kitchen wall, had become a veritable galaxy of red stars. Thinking to myself: this is new; this is something I haven’t seen before. I was sixteen.

Nobody will convince me that in kitchens all over New Zealand, last Saturday night, there weren’t thousands of 16-year-olds looking at their devices and feeling that same shiver-up-the-spine as their country, very deliberately, turned a page. That they’re out there fills me with hope. But, I would be lying if I didn’t admit also to feelings of dread.

A recent study by the University of Cambridge indicates that: “Young people are less satisfied with democracy and more disillusioned than at any other time in the past century.” The reason? That’s easy. Their disillusionment has grown out of their steadily deteriorating socio-economic situation vis-à-vis the two generations that came before them. It’s the Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, who feel most aggrieved. And why wouldn’t they? When the Baby Boomers were their age, in the US, they held 21 percent of the nation’s wealth. Today, Americans aged 25-40 hold just 3 percent! For those disposed to light a match, there is fuel aplenty here to set democracy ablaze.

That would be a tragedy, because the sort of people who set democracies ablaze do not offer hope – only hate.

Our democratic vote can be put to multiple uses. In dangerous times, it can be used as a shield. In times like these, of opportunity, it can also be used as a tool – to build a better future. But our votes can also be used as weapons: to punish and to harm political “enemies” of all kinds. But, when they are used in this way, history shows that the weaponisers suffer every bit as much harm as their intended victims. Political vengeance is a poor substitute for progressive policy. Giving up on democracy means giving up all hope of a better future.

Martyn Bradbury is right about the Boomers: twilight does beckon them, as their long reign approaches its end. But before they go into “that good night” (which awaits us all!) I, as someone born right in the middle of the Baby Boom generation, would implore the younger generations to give my fellow Boomers one more chance to “rage, rage, against the dying of the light”. One last opportunity to demonstrate the wisdom of the poet, Robert Browning, who declared: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

In the name of generations yet unborn, I invite you to reach out your hands to those who, for a few, brief, shining moments, allowed themselves to believe that there is “something more”.

Because, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four: don’t we all, as New Zealanders, deserve the chance to say:

“This is new. This is something we haven’t seen before.”



    • Ada – It is not nostalgia, it is the knowledge that things can be better than they are now.This is one of the reasons I was dismayed at Swarbrick’s sweeping assertion that experience doesn’t count.

      I think Swarbrick’s original “ Ok boomer ,” comment was made to Gerry Brownlee, and I can sort of understand that.

      To me he is representative of a group of talentless, mediocre politicians who have acted entirely out of self-interest, and under the pernicious influence of serial shagger Roger Kerr and the Business Round Table, to serial pony tail puller, John Key and the party as his personal fiefdom, many of the certainties which the Boomer generation enjoyed, no longer exist. The sly deceptiveness of The Employment Contracts Act presented as some sort of worker freedom, effectively shackled every aspect of the working world possibly without those stuck in it – and I mean stuck – being hugely cognisant about what exactly was happening, or not in the position to do much about it.

      Peter Fraser’s statement’s upon New Zealand, reluctantly, but with a profound sense of moral duty, entering into WW2, are equally applicable today. Where Fraser speaks of the work of overthrowing the oppressor and freeing peoples of the earth from bondage and slavery to a ruthless and cruel slavery, he not just articulated some commendable values which helped shaped the community in the aftermath of that terrible war, but he is also describing the existential crisis of the millennial generation.

      But it is they who have embraced materialism and consumerism as the emblems of success, their choice, burdens for their own backs – epitomised comically with media drooling over John Key and the publicly big house which made him feel a big man. If PM Ardern’s espousing a politics of kindness has captured people in the way which the Beatles did singing about only needing love, then that sort of nostalgia doesn’t go amiss.

      Millennials, or anyone blaming Boomers wholesale for the challenges of their own lives, fail to heed the the lessons of history or to understand the dynamics of power. Eugene O’Neill: “There is no present or future, just the past happening over and over again now.”

    • Self-interest is what locks most people into a choice between mildly neoliberal Labour or the openly neoliberal Nats.

      So, no transformation outside of mainly symbolic gestures on social issues.

      • Speak for yourself. There are big picture people who see the common good.

        Working For Families is much more than a symbolic gesture. Winter energy payments did actually help kids and oldies keep warm. If the money involved was no more than a symbol to you Aggie, it made a difference to other people’s lives.

        Slashing the cost of GP visits meant some old people could afford to go to the doctor.
        This may be just a symbol to the wife of a doctor, but it meant money in their purse for the ailing – and the possibility of averting more serious future health problems which place greater burdens on the squeaking tax payer.

        The over-due money being put into mental health initiatives may reduce the pain in other people’s lives, and even help them to encounter joy. Beautiful symbol.

        • “There are big picture people who see the common good.”

          Correct, just too few of them for transformational change (outside of a complete economic, environmental and social collapse).

          • Could be that’s because self -obsessed Millennials are determined to play victimhood, regardless of how counter-productive and disruptive it may be, or how misleading – well-exemplified by the Green co-leader, the sad night of the Auckland Muslim tragedy vigil. No way were they going to go along with the PM’s message that we are all in this together.

            Divide and rule is as old as the Southern Alps.

            • Applewood: “….well-exemplified by the Green co-leader, the sad night of the Auckland Muslim tragedy vigil.”

              Indeed. All of her pent-up resentment at and jealousy of pakeha who’ve never done anything to hurt her, but have got on with it and paid the taxes that keep our welfare system afloat.

              It was truly vile. Had I been disposed to vote Green again, that night was the end of it for me.

              I’d hoped that they’d be out of parliament at the election. Sadly, that was not to be, but at least the voters rendered them governmentally impotent.

              God bless those voters.

      • Totally and utterly on the money.

        National: Totally immoral corrupt bastards.
        Labour: Moralizing, identity politics BS.

        Take your pick.

  1. We are ALL victims of the Silent Generation, the generation that preceded the Boomer Generation, because it was THAT generation which was in control when the consumer society was established and when the revolutionary (literally revolutionary) ideas of boomers were ruthlessly crushed -as per ‘The Weathermen’ etc.

    It was the Silent Generation that sabotaged the sane response of the Boomers to the ‘Limits to Growth’ analysis [that forecast peaking of industrial civilisation and its subsequent collapse -just what we are witnessing- as a consequence of overconsumption, overpopulation and excessive generation of waste the Silent Generation were great advocates for].

    It was the Silent Generation that perpetrated some of the greatest crimes in history, including the mass bombing of civilians and the destabilisation of democratically elected governments, and taught their dirty tricks to the less ethical of the Boomer Generation.

    And now, as victims of the Silent Generation’s rather nasty actions, we are all suffering the dire effects of resource depletion and severe contamination of the planet. That severe contamination of the planet by contaminants that both the Silent Generation and the Boomer Generation declared ‘harmless’ and ‘safe’ is manifesting in ways anticipated by scientists many decades ago.

    Now that we are fast approaching the point of collapse, what is the response of Generation X? To keep doing what their predecessors did and make everything that matters worse! For the sake of ‘the economy; of course. Never mind the existential threat, the economy still comes first.

    In other words Generation X has learned nothing from the mistakes of those that preceded it and have become both architects and constructors of their own demise.

    Here we are, with most of the Silent Generation that initially caused the diabolical mess we are in either dead or approaching death, and their legacy is a society that doesn’t just perpetuate the same errors of judgement but actually celebrates them.

    It that’s not insane, what is?

  2. The boomers were simply voting for their own self interest, being protected from covid, at- you guessed it- the expense of the younger generations.
    Secure in the knowledge Jacinda will not tax them or the holiday house any time soon.
    Such an altruistic generation!

    • KCCO You’re falling into the same trap as all identity politics aficionados by trying to stereotype one group – here, one generation – as a mass of shared characteristics. Hitler and Stalin made similar errors.

      Support for government pandemic management was by and large universal – apart from a few bitter Nats determined to politicise it – some’d politicise chooks laying eggs if they could, or who brings home the bacon to accessorise the said chooks.

    • Keepcalmcarryon

      You’re not very bright if you think it was just the boomers voting for their own self interest. I’m sure which ever way you voted, if you did, there was a large spoonful of self interest involved. Your comment makes you sound pathetic and spiteful. What makes you so qualified to judge a whole generation. Does the heavy load of self pity you seem to carry make you feel like the world owes you a living. Boomer wealth didn’t just happen because times were good. They worked hard and paid cash for what they have. Are you.

      • You’re not very bright if you think I said only boomers voted for their own self interest.
        Downhill from there.

        I’m comfortable thank you- not that its your business. And I voted Labour last time for a CGT and to stop the TPPA despite benefiting from the current status quo.
        Turns out they lied.
        We got governance for the boomer Auckland house price mob.
        Does it sting to hear it?

        • Keepcalmcarryon
          We live in strange times. I voted National last time but could see that a CGT was needed. My son is buying our modest sheep and beef farm.I paid $60000 pounds death duties in the sixties before it was freehold. No small amount back then. I was happy to do that but Jacinda Ardern walked away from CGT without a whimper. Forget NZF. I was disgusted and so still vote National.

  3. ‘Nobody will convince me that in kitchens all over New Zealand, last Saturday night, there weren’t thousands of 16-year-olds looking at their devices and feeling that same shiver-up-the-spine as their country, very deliberately, turned a page.’
    Do you mean looking at the election unfolding on their devices? Really?
    If 16 yr olds were doing this, on a Saturday night then yeah we would be indeed be turning a page. I find it very hard to believe 16 yr olds would do this. I must live in another world.
    I’m gonna read your blurb again, didn’t make sense to me. But a great topic Chris Trotter.

  4. As a boomer (who while not being able to “beat” the neo liberals just yet, but at least never joined them) I took no umbrage to our esteemed editor’s comments.

    I took them more literally, that the political power of conservative Provincial residents, Federated Farmers, and old school “born to rule” torys has been demonstrably lessened, possibly for good, or a long time until the right finds organisational forms other than the NZ National Party.

    A quick look at some of the booths all over the country that switched, shows Chris is likely right about some of these switchers, that they have reflected and changed their behaviour. Thumping great student loans, precarious employment despite qualification, exploitative rents, and loans from Mum and Dad to have any chance of owning a home, are increasingly seen as not a great way for young people to start out in life.

    Boomers did a lot of good stuff, I enjoyed the ’81 tour winter despite the discomfort and danger, the No Nukes and Homosexual Law Reforms, and countless pickets, strikes, demos, marches, and occupations. Boomers had higher union density pre 1991 and pre the NZCTU formation which caters now mainly for the “class neutral” public sector. But boomers stoned aged care days are approaching, and new societal groupings will be making the running–but yes full marks to those that have recanted and voted Labour/Green this time around.

  5. “The first Boomers came into this world to the crooning of Frank Sinatra; the last to the pop poetry of The Beatles.”

    The first baby boomers were taking notice of the new “rock and roll”, the last of them born in the early to mid-1960s were listening to David Bowie.

    Also, the vast majority of baby boomers were never profoundly affected by the cultural change. Only a small percentage were every “hippies”. In the US, Country Joe (of the fish) said you only had to go ten miles in from the west coast to be amongst rednecks.

    In New Zealand, all these non anti-establishment baby boomers didn’t start acting like “hippies” until ten years ago when they all started buying motorhomes or harley davidson motorbikes and put colour streaks through their hair.

    • You are probably right ep. But the Boomers are a mixed generation as I suspect all generations are. Many may not have been profoundly affected by the cultural changes that were happening all around them but they would have to been brain dead not to notice. There were many changes that affected the lives of the Boomer generation …profoundly or otherwise … and laid the ground for successive generations: the growing availability of contraception and the developing sense that women not only owned their own bodies but their destinies (the struggle continues); the entrenchment of consumerism and all the hype that goes with that (no better example that the music industry)… just to name two. Hippies were I suspect very much in the minority, confined to the Hokianga, the Whanganui River valley and the Nelson Hills. They were the enchanted souls that turned their backs on the establishment and set off to discover a new reality. Where are they now? Still growing their own vegetables, making their own bread and sprouting mung beans? Some may well be. But others have moved on. Tie-dying their overalls or tinting their hair? Driving around in SUV’s, Saab convertibles and Harley Davidsons? Who knows? Life gets in the way. People change. Others, less inclined, just enjoyed the moment. And they would say there were many great moments! Yet others, just 10 miles from the centre, were perhaps oblivious to what was happening around them. But I don’t quite believe that. And over time, even these would-to-be Boomers have the potential to change. I think. I hope. Perhaps they are the ones dying their hair green and riding fancy bikes (and what red-neck Boomer wouldn’t like a Harley!!). Perhaps it’s all those thrill seeking boomers – the masses who simply enjoyed the moment – reliving their twenties and thirties?

  6. “You will never be as cool as your Grandma”….yeah, right…thats why i still can’t smoke a joint…cos the boomers were? what? too cool to make it legal??

    • Siobhan: “…thats why i still can’t smoke a joint…cos the boomers were? what? too cool to make it legal??”

      Nope. Unlike many commenters here, I was there. Cannabis first appeared in unis around the late 60s, just after I had graduated. There was none at the student parties I went to before that. At first, it was the preserve of students. When it percolated out into society generally, it was disproportionately young pakeha males who smoked it, as I recall.

      Unfortunately, the (Labour) government of the day bought right into Richard Nixon’s wrong-headed and ultimately futile war on drugs. See this:

      Back then, in the 70s, we ought to have been having the cannabis debate that’s been going on here recently. Before the use and distribution patterns had developed in the way they have over the last 40+ years. It’s too late now, in my view.

      Have a look at this as well:

    • David Stone: “We were ugly but we had the music.”

      Oh, we surely had the music, right enough!

      And I don’t think that we were too shabby in the looks department, either.

      At least we weren’t fat….

  7. The low spark of high-heeled boys (Traffic)


    “The percentage you’re paying is too high priced
    While you’re living beyond all your means
    And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
    From the profit he’s made on your dreams
    But today you just read that the man was shot dead
    By a gun that didn’t make any noise
    But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest was
    The low spark of high-heeled boys”


    “If I gave you everything that I owned and asked for nothing in return
    Would you do the same for me as I would for you?
    Or take me for a ride and strip me of everything including my pride
    But spirit is something that no one destroys
    And the sound that I’m hearing is only the sound
    Of the low spark of high-heeled boys, heeled boys”


    Variation. The same and the different.

    Be cautious with demographic divisions and traps set up by neoliberal promotion.

  8. To write a piece like this, which is sorely needed, we need to get a few facts correct, and to start understanding why we have these generation labels.
    Now I am a fan of generalisations, as they help us make sense of the world. IQ tests are all about generalisation, there is no room for creative thinking in those.
    But first, I want to make the point that those of you who generalise about generations typically deplore generalising. So get over that first.
    It is important to understand the generations, but to ignore the “silent” generation which all are except the aptly named Afewknowthetruth do in these comments, and the fact that there is a “generation Jones” at the tail end of the boomers, misunderstands the problem, the solution, and how these generations came to be.
    What the left needs to do is understand this generation jones, as they are classified as boomers but identify as millennials. You need to understand the forces that shaped the views of these generations.
    Any party that does that can win elections for the next decade and make a paradigm change.

  9. There is no doubt that we boomers in New Zealand have lived the most privileged lives of any human population in the history of the earth. We have had free education free health service and the best in the world, a wonderful climate incredible scientific advances to entertain us, a land and a sea of plenty and the best music that has ever been produced and peace.
    We do owe it to younger generations to apply what we have learned over a long life to remedying the gross errors some of us have made. The principle of which is undoubtably neoliberalism if for no other reason than that it is in the way of making any necessary changes to society’s structure. It prevents looking after resources, conservation and fair distribution because if there is no profit in it it doesn’t happen. The state does have a legitimate role to play which business has usurped.
    D J S

    • David Stone: “…we boomers in New Zealand have lived the most privileged lives of any human population in the history of the earth.”

      Yup. We were lucky. Until neoliberalism and Rogernomics.

      “The principle of which is undoubtably neoliberalism…”

      All of us – boomers or not – need to remember that it wasn’t boomers who invented neoliberalism. Think of laissez-faire capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

      And it wasn’t boomers who foisted it on NZ: the prime architects of it in the 1984 Lange government weren’t boomers. To be sure, there were boomers in that government, but for the most part they didn’t have the power to gainsay Rogernomics. Nor, it turns out, did Lange (not a boomer).

      Though we boomers certainly were disproportionately whacked about the ears by the economic effects of Rogernomics.

      • Of course boomers aren’t to blame.
        What happened was the psychology of the human mind reached a level of scientific advancement whereby governments learnt exactly what was needed to change people’s perceptions. And understand their needs, and weaknesses.
        Modern philosophy does not exist, it has been replaced by modern psychology, which enabled governments to recognise that stressing and dividing people, instilling fear, promoting greed and then pretending to offer salvation is the path to power.
        I have an issue with people not recognising this is happening. Sure, elements of the strategy have worked for 1000s of years, but the point is now we have Cambridge Analytica and Crosby Textor who exploit these advances to win elections for sociopaths and the boomers deny it is even happening, when all the evidence is right there that they are easily conned.
        Boomers led such a golden life they really never had to think about things much, that’s fine, it is the denial that fucks me off so much.

  10. Is ‘Boomer Power’ really over when we crush our economy and the future of our youth in order to keep a handful of 80+ year old’s living a couple of years longer?


    • Andrew: “…we crush our economy and the future of our youth in order to keep a handful of 80+ year old’s living a couple of years longer?”

      I must point out that 80+ year old people aren’t boomers.

      I don’t doubt that the government wasn’t looking to protect either them, or us boomers, when it closed the borders and so on. Our health system has been munted by many years of underfunding, going all the way back to the late 1980s-early 1990s. The public health system isn’t well-enough resourced to run an epidemic response, and the Ministry of Health is a policy shop: it isn’t configured to do that job, either. The government was scared stiff that cases would overwhelm our hospitals, as had been reported overseas.

      The fact that we’ve had relatively few cases, and fewer deaths, is mostly down to luck. Being remote helps. Look at Australia for another example of a country with relatively few cases and deaths. The figures for Queensland are instructive.

      And I agree with you. We also have young family members who have been negatively affected by the government’s actions. I take strong exception to being accused of valuing money over people: that’s just have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet stuff. People – young people included – must earn money, so as to pay rent, mortgages, to feed and clothe their families.

      Whether people like it or not, money makes the world go round.

  11. During the 1960s it became obvious that the environment was starting to collapse.
    Boomers were busy chasing sex, buying fashion, drinking booze, buying cars, using planes for holidays abroad and having their big OE.
    Most of them didn’t give a stuff about the future and still don’t.

    !972 saw the publication of a clear analysis of what we had done to the planet, how we had over ridden environmental constraints and were not recognising population over shoot, but the business world lied and it was easier to believe the lies than face facts staring us in the face.

    Nothing was done and we proceeded to continue with the destruction. drink the booze and cool aide of MSM, consume and waste, support wars and kill millions and get fat.
    The wilderness and wild life steadily disappeared while pollution mounted and CO2 was added to the atmosphere faster than the oceans and forests could absorb it.

    douglarse, de Cleene, Prebble and cohorts proceeded to dismantle NZ”s social institutions and boomers did nothing.
    Unions were attacked and boomers did nothing.
    Richardson extended the attack on Kiwis and boomers did nothing.
    As more dire warnings of environmental collapse became evident the boomers did nothing but stand in the way of protest by braver souls.

    Now we are deep in the shit, still the boomers do nothing as the won’t be around when the crunch hits hard.

    As stewards of the world they have gorged themselves, wasted our precious shrinking resources, filled landfills, polluted rivers and the ocean, done nothing about the attack on unions, watched private health undermine public health, watched the sinking lids and done nothing.

    Now a few boomers give lip service to protest, few actively support change and even fewer demand the changes. Disruptive action such as a national strike would not be supported by boomers.

    So they will die off in a crumbling world and leave their neglected children and grandchildren to suffer along with the depleted fucked up world that was in their stewardship.

    Selfish indulgent creeps who prefer ignorance and denial to having responsibility and curbing their impact on the planet and society.

    The younger generation now in their years of hope and looking ahead to crap, need to defy their boomer keeper and rebel at every turn of a wheel that contributes to faster collapse.

    School strikes are a start and a national strike must lie ahead as boomers will ignore anything less.

    NZ is a nation hostage to then UK/USA pillaging but we must stop supporting that.

    While my use of “boomers” is a generalisation, my observation that some of the most educated and outspoken protagonists of change are boomers or older.

    They are few but seem well prepared to take on the discussion with the pathetic hedonistic boomer and younger wasteful and destructive pleasure seeking, selfish, indulged planet fuckers.

    I salute the simplistic rebellion of the young, and mostly from poorer families and minority groups.

    To those that discourage or block protest, then you are identifying yourselves as ignorant, or lacking responsibility; and a part of the problem.

    • Great comment, though, as I pointed out separately, it was the Silent Generation that set things up for the ongoing catastrophe we have witnessed over the past 50 years, and it was the generations before them -the ‘Greatest Generation’ and the ‘Lost Generation’- that set the ball rolling in the wrong direction….no it was the colonists of 1609, who deceived the ‘Indians’ living in what was to become the US…no it was the Portuguese and Dutch, who sailed off to the Spice Islands to acquire spices directly and cut cut the middlemen….

      And so we see that no one generation was responsible, and that each generation builds on and amplifies the mistakes of the previous generation.

      And, as you have noted, any dissent is CRUSHED (I well remember marching in the street against Thatcher, and opposing the Employment Contracts Act, and protesting NZs dependence on fossil fuels…and getting abused for it.)

      What particularly marks current world leadership is the abject failure to deal with ANY of the factors that are brining about our demise and the utter desperation to try to preserve the dysfunctional systems -money, trade, consumerism etc.- that are causing our demise.

      I see that Arctic sea ice cover is currently around 5 million square kilometres, HALF the 1981-2010 median!

      As Charles Hugh Smith has pointed out, western societies will passively go to their oblivion, unwilling to give up the comforts and conveniences the system has temporarily provided them with at the expense of the future.

    • Did nothing? Seriously? Rod Donald was a Boomer. Helen Kelly was a Boomer. Matt McCarten is a Boomer. John Minto is a Boomer. Sue Bradford is a Boomer. And there are tens-of-thousands other Boomers who have fought the good fight. Nothing, John? Think again!

      • Chris I have looked at this long and hard. There are exceptions and they did try to urge change but apart from the anti apartheid protests mobilisation of the boomers has been abysmal.
        Bolivia with its national strikes have forced elections.
        Apart from the rugby related protests, when did we rise up and confront a government last.

        More power to those who tried but failed to mobilise the boomers.

    • John W: “….using planes for holidays abroad….”

      Not in the 60s, we weren’t. Long haul air travel came a bit later. In the 60s, people usually went to Europe by sea. We could fly to Australia, of course, but flights further afield were less common and very expensive. Flights to Europe, the UK and the US became more common in the 1970s.

      “Most of them didn’t give a stuff about the future and still don’t.”

      That’s not what I recall. We were very concerned about what was happening to the environment, and what the future held for all of us. Anti-war and anti-apartheid protests were part of the political landscape.

      One of the first environmental campaigns I can remember was protecting the West Coast beech forests. Not long after that was the Save Manapouri campaign. Very large numbers of boomers – and the older generation as well, of course – were involved with both campaigns.

      Many boomers remain environmental activists. I’ve been a gardener for as long as I can remember: for me, it’s always gone hand in hand with environmentalism. I come from a farming family; naturally enough, we’re interested in both animal husbandry and agriculture/horticulture, and in environmental issues.

      The environmental movement goes back many years before the arrival of the boomers. One can detect in Tolkien’s writings the concern for the preservation of English rural landscapes and lifestyles that many of his generation had.

      I suspect – given your misanthropic views -that you aren’t a boomer.

      “….proceeded to dismantle NZ”s social institutions and boomers did nothing.
      Unions were attacked and boomers did nothing.
      Richardson extended the attack on Kiwis and boomers did nothing.”

      Hahaha….rubbish! Now I’m certain that you weren’t around. There was considerable protest at what was being done to people by Rogernomics. I know: I was involved in much of it.

      I certainly don’t support the current iteration of the Greens. Though I would do so like a shot, were it the case that the Greens were still advocating for the environment.

      But the current party has succumbed to Identity politics, woke leftery and authoritarianism dressed up as progressivism.

      Its members appear not to give a flying fig for environmental issues. I’m pleased that it’s been rendered politically impotent in the current parliament. It would be better still, had it not got over the 5% threshold at the election. Next election, I hope it’ll be gone.

      • D’Esterre
        I can assure you I was around and stirring the pot urging the young boomers to get off their arses and look at what was happening.
        There were overseas holidays and OE happening in the early 60s and surely if you were around you would be aware or perhaps you were sheltered from that activity.
        The rural mess with fertiliser, pesticides, herbicides, over stocking, polluting ground water, denuding hill country to grow grass and lately commercial scale irrigation, corruption of regional councils and authorities have been an ongoing festering sore that cannot now heal.
        It will take billions just to achieve some level of minimal restoration of our waterways.
        This did not happen over night and the farmers looking after the land in so many cases just didn’t.
        They profited at the expense of the environment. I too have farming and rural roots.

        The boomer psyche still remains a road block to the national conscience being an effective motivator for change.
        Why should boomers worry as they have had the best years in this country floating on the raft of social responsibility laid down by the first Labour govt, and yet let that raft sink progressively lower in the water with each “reform” introduced by National then the Lange govt treasonous attack on workers, families and communities.
        Privatisation is Nationals creeping agenda. Jonkey set out to take the first step of mega scale privatisation with selling off 49% of our state owned energy companies. The referendum held showed just under 70% of Kiwis were against that selling off. jonkey and National knew they could ignore Kiwis and do what they like so they sold off the newly created shares to “Mums and Dads” who turned out to be the off shore multi national investors that jonkey worked for.
        Where were the protesting boomers.
        The boomers know they will not be around for too much longer so their chance to create change away from what they have squandered, is slim. They will do nothing as a group.
        I do bear in mind the exceptions who have acted publicly, alone or in small movements but where is the change.
        Our economy is still based on oil and finally we have some restriction on wholesale use of coal. After how many years of knowing about the damage being caused.
        The call for change is coming from younger folk like Mike Joy who vocalises the state of rampant destruction being wrought mainly by ignorant and greedy boomers.
        Just look at the age group who hold the power.

    • John W: “I salute the simplistic rebellion of the young, and mostly from poorer families and minority groups.”

      A much younger member of this family has just pointed out this:

      “Gen X is old enough that one of their own is now prime minister, and as a breed they have been utterly apathetic toward everything but twitter.”

      It’s difficult to disagree with that.

      • D’Esterre
        Your comment
        “There was considerable protest at what was being done to people by Rogernomics”

        And what was that considerable protest and what did it change.
        Ruthanasia came next , and was there effective protest to those criminal poverty creating edicts born to give more tax relief to high earners and corporates.

        • John W: “…what was that considerable protest and what did it change.”

          Regrettably, it didn’t change the direction of either the Labour government, nor of the National government which followed it. But it doesn’t at all follow that there was no protest, or that boomers did nothing.

          Maybe you were protected from that protest? Sounds like it.

          It’s very sad that – for instance – we were unable to prevent the swingeing benefit cuts of the early 1990s. It’s my view that those cuts materially contributed to the current desperate situation among the poorest regarding alcohol and drug abuse, our dreadful record of child abuse, and crime generally, of course.

          It hasn’t just been the poverty: it’s been all the terrible consequences of that poverty. I blame the Clark administration for failing to do what we voted them in for: to raise benefit levels back to what they ought to have been. That was when it ought to have happened.

          I have no expectation that the current Labour government will do anything pointful towards that goal, either. Neoliberalism still afflicts their thinking, and the PM is a Blairite.

          • Nothing will happen unless there is significant ground swell and the main streets are filled with marching protesters.
            The victims of poverty are across the country.
            Where is the indignation when we know of the poverty yet also see the extravagant wealthy displaying their contempt for the poor.

            Boomers and others need to show the anger that deserves.

            Helen Clark took back ACC from privatisation but put Kiwisaver into the hands for private for profit fund manager without an option to invest with the Government of NZ.

            She did some basic good but like most of them is/was a gatekeeper for the cabal of off shore investment cronies.
            Most politicians have to be pushed with rare exceptions like Kirk and Anderton who saw the socialism needed and the barriers to be broken.

  12. It’s my impression that when Martyn talks about boomers, he has in mind frail, white-haired old folks with Zimmer frames and impaired sight/hearing. I’m a boomer, born very soon after WW2: nobody my age that I know fits that description. Including me. Such people are much older, and they aren’t boomers.

    People need to remember that the baby boom years were 1946 – 1964. Note that John Key and Bill English are both boomers. I was born at one end of the boom period: two close relatives were born at the other, in 1964.

    “Baby Boomer votes played a critical role in Labour’s historic victory.”

    Are there stats on voting patterns by age in the 2020 election? I’d have thought it a bit early for intel of that sort.

    “Could that “reaching” have played a part in Labour’s astonishing victory? I think it did.”

    I suspect that you’re over-thinking the issue.

    Regardless of whether boomers disproportionately voted Labour, from what I’ve seen and heard, this election was about fear. The public have had the shit scared out of them by reportage from overseas. We have family in Australia, the UK, central and eastern Europe: what’s reported here doesn’t necessarily chime with what they’re seeing there.

    Note that around two-thirds of coronavirus cases here have been in the 20-59 age group. A very small subset of boomers are in that age range (56-59). Such deaths as there have been, have mostly been in the 60+ age group, though.

    The other factor – most especially the party vote patterns in rural electorates – looks to have been a desire to keep the Greens out of any substantive role in government. In which enterprise, the voters have been successful.

    I’m an old lefty. I’ve voted that way for all of my adult life. I gave Labour my vote in 2017 – despite my misgivings about Ardern – because of its electoral promises.

    It has completely and utterly failed to perform. Moreover, it became clear that my concerns about Ardern had substance: she’s a Blairite.

    By the end of 2018, I’d decided not to vote Labour again. Not at this election, possibly never again. The Greens used to have my support, but no more: especially not after the vile anti-pakeha stuff spouted by Davidson and her colleagues in the wake of the shootings last year.

    I have no expectations that the government will accomplish anything of significance in the coming term. Free school lunches and making Matariki a public holiday are just faffing about on the edges of the tough issues.

    It looks to me like a cult has formed around Ardern: not what we need in our political arena. And it won’t help the government to make the hard decisions it needs to make.

    • Well D’E you young fellas are probably not that long out of work and may have more time to think and reflect on why we need a strong stand on environmental issues to bind the community to a sense of purpose and try in desperation now to salvage relationships with the young.

  13. For a few years in the 60s and 70s of the last century, political identity and cultural expression came pretty close to each other, sometimes over-lapping, and often intellectually cross-fertilizing many individuals and large groups in society.

    This very much happened outside the parliaments and other governing institutional frameworks of those days, including the industrialized workplace.

    The very strong amalgamation of culture and politics had powerful egalitarian, emancipatory, anti-imperialistic features and was shaking established structures allover the world.

    Since the mid-70s a wide range of reactionary responses gradually split congruence of politics and culture, and neo-liberal (capitalist) forces simultaneously disfigured and manipulated inherent libertarian ideas and approaches to their own advantage, this process is still ongoing.
    “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

  14. If those elder activists and protagonists can re-connect to the political energy and cultural creativity of the 60s and 70s, and maintain these for 10 years more, humanity will be given a fairer chance for surviving the unfolding socio-ecological catastrophy.

    Gray Panthers, eh. Come Naturally.
    Come Together Live 1969

    • Do we have the time. On fossil fuels alone we should have acted “yesterday” and presently have no show of reaching emissions targets set in 2016.
      As we dismantle our program of relying on fossil fuels then food will become more important than cars and plane trips. Rail will have to replace road for transporting food. If we are serious then sail may be a coastal option again.
      Electric cars are not an answer as the production and scrapping of a car both have a serious GHG component as well as wasting precious Non Renewable Natural Resources.
      NZ needs to reorganise communities, local food production and how it builds shelter without cement, paint, plastic and environmentally expensive metals.
      Living with a low carbon footprint has been done before for centuries
      Our stupid addictions have to change.

      • Yes, you raise the essential points, John W.
        Time is not on our side, most probably.
        At least not in short- and medium terms.
        But perhaps on a long term, eventually.
        The way how we accommodate the implosion
        is part of human continuation as a species.
        So, the right responses (lessons learned) remain important.

        • Manfred the point ignore by most is that if we stopped all human generated GHG emission now, the present concentration of CO2 and increasing methane emissions due to the rise in temperature, will feed the warming for centuries ahead. As the temperature rises then methane release will increase probably exponentially, the loss of ice will also reduce the reflection of sun’s rays so heat absorption will increase.
          We have no tested models for those two factors but the guesstimates along conservative lines point to runaway.
          Yet we hear political BS about efforts to restrict temperature rise to 1.5 or 2 degrees while we still keep up a program of record GHG emissions from human activity.
          The argument put forward by business and finance industries that we cannot disturb the economy with radical change is a fragrant pack of lies from those who think only of their personal profit now and fuck the future.

          Temperature rise will destroy present economies, reduce population and not only degrade human food supply but also wipe out significant populations of other life forms we depend on for food production and our existence.
          Profit now from consumerism will increase poverty and death in the not too distant future.
          The impending economic crash authored by the finance industry and bankers, is unlikely to be followed by a recovery but is more likely to progressively destroy the infrastructure supporting communities based on capitalism.
          Already with covid19 we see an obvious pattern of increasing death rate in countries run by the power of billionaires to ignore the social needs of communities.
          The USA holds many countries hostage across a range of political and military alliances so news and information to those people in hostage is extremely limited and heavily censored to make way for BAU propaganda. Attack China and Russia in spite of China showing how Covid19 can be controlled. They have a Covid19 death rate of 3.4 per million and effective control , NZ had 5.2 per million and effective control while the USA had approaching 600 per million and climbing so becoming a source of infection for the global community.
          Our news comes tailor made from Reuters so the Kiwi population are kept ignorant of what is actually happening politically and environmentally. Even RNZ proliferates some outrageous lies about world affairs and climate.


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