Sunday, June 30, 2019

I've stopped doing much analytical writing. It's interesting stuff, and I've learned a lot, and moved noticeably further left as a result, but that's all personal stuff. We're in a time when the choices are stark, and simple. If you're OK with the concentration camps, I don't want to know you. If you think they're not concentration camps, you're stupid or utterly dishonest.

I got a note from a bright conservative earlier today -- I unfriended him a while back for making light of the concentration camps.

(Digression: I unfriend people on FB a lot. It's rarely really personal -- my social media use exists for my purposes, not yours. If you take up too much of my time to no purpose that suits me, I'll move you along. If you annoy me often enough. If I think you're spreading information that does more harm than good. If you're contentious and make me moderate. You may *think* that having lots of followers and FB friends makes you happier, but the people I see with super busy feeds spend so much time managing flareups in their feeds that I'm frequently appalled. I'm busy and Zuck hasn't ever sent me my FB check, not once.)

Anyway, I unfriended this guy a while back, and told him why. He didn't seem to take it too personally. Apparently he's still reading me; he sent me a very perceptive note about Boomers. (He is one, of course; I'm skeptical about the ability of conservatives, in general, to do *any* social analysis that doesn't impact them personally: but like all of us, they notice the stone in their own shoes.)
Boomers, he said, are not worse than the generations preceding them. In fact, they're probably a little better. Less bigoted than the Greatest Generation, or the Silents. More aware of the challenges facing them. *Far* more aware of themselves *as* a generation, and prone to identifying as such -- God knows that's true, I hit it harder and more frequently than I do when analyzing white people, or men, or straight people, or any other cohort. Conservatives as a group don't like group-based analysis: liberals love it, until you get to generational analysis. (I suspect this has a *lot* to do with the age of my feed, and the fact that the people most prone to complaining about such analysis are very frequently not white, or straight, or male, and are not accustomed to being lumped in with the conduct of people with whom they individually have very little in common. Speaking as a white cis male, welcome to *that* club.)

But my conservative acquaintance is broadly correct, I think. Boomers failed at some of the most basic tasks before them. (And succeeded at others: liberal boomers moved the social construct left. Gay rights, gay marriage, racial intermarriage, a whole host of inter-personal stuff.) They got steamrollered on taxation, on spending, on the ecology, on voting rights, and on and on and on. On balance, and without commenting on any individual Boomer, they failed more than they succeeded, *particularly* on the things that, for the survival of future generations, we had to succeed at.
That's just the reality of what happened. But it may not be useful, to phrase it that way. Daniel Dvorkin made an argument a while back that generational cohorts were less appropriate for analysis than other cohorts -- I disagreed and still do. The phrasing in my head went:

Would women behave differently than men if they had the power? I don't think so, based on child murder rates. (They'd rape less: but I suspect that's biological, it's harder to rape an unwilling man, though not impossible.)

Would POC have behaved better than white people, in reversed circumstances? I doubt it, if we do a real "Lion's Blood" flip-the-scenario thought experiment: people are people.

Would LGBTQ people have behaved differently than cis-straight people? That's a hard one to do a reversed scenario; maybe. You'd end up with a different human race, in a world where LGBTQ were the majority in power.

But you take the thought experiments aside and what you're left with is the reality of the Now. Particularly when talking with white cis men, I'm careful to frame things such that I don't sound like I'm blaming all of them for the sins of most of them. There's nothing special about white cis men -- on any axis. Not special bad, not special good. Just a historical accident, leaving us with a place where right conduct is harder for us than for other people, because people like us are in positions of power, and going to excuse us when they can. It'd take better people than most humans I've ever met to resist that temptation, and certainly white cis men have failed at it.

The main difference becomes this: Boomers are going away. History will swallow us. White people aren't going away, men aren't, cis people aren't. But the Boomers won't be here, in too much longer. Blaming them for getting things wrong? Well, in this very moment, it's a fair argument: a bunch of us are asking to become President of the United States right now -- the last four Presidents we've had have been Boomers.

But not too much longer. The Boomers are running out of road, and people will forget us. In twenty years there won't be many of us left. But the problems of oligarchy, climate change, racism, misogyny, will all still be with us. And Gen Z will be giving Gen X shit for everything they got wrong. It's probably fair, in one sense: seeing what Silents and older Boomers got wrong is part of what informed my political growth and worldview: parsing the errors and crimes of Gen-X is going to be part of what informs Gen Z. At that level, this is probably forever, and frankly healthy: all progress comes from seeing the mistakes of the people who came before you.

I don't know what Gen Z's children are going to throw at them. (I can guess, I'm an SF writer.) But painful as whatever it is, is? Will count as progress, probably. And if it doesn't, if climate change really does destroy the world and most or all of the human race? Maybe our generation really *will* be remembered. For a while.

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