I’m a Baby Boomer, and our hourglass is running out. I had begun a piece about modern Millennials, actually a positive one, then realized that in order to understand the natural laws of generations you’d have to first have some frame of historical reference, for many of the factors that apply now are of relatively recent origin. (It’s been my view that this has been a general shortcoming of Millennials and many Gen Xers.)
I was born at the very front end of the Baby Boom, I’m 75, while the youngest of our generation would be about 57 now. I know, there is almost nothing culturally to compare this 10-year old kid who watched Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show in September, 1956 with that 10-year old who watched Blondi premier in 1974, yet we are both dubbed Baby Boomers.
In fact, in my view, I think the designation of the Baby Boomer generation was a product of Madison Avenue, for with television becoming universal by the mid-50s, knowing we were the largest generation in world history, and only in America, New York advertisers figured they could turn us into big consumers before we ever earned our first nickel.
And in the process, create a model for eye-teasing, hidden persuasions using the best available “free” media that would last a lifetime.
Our Saturday morning-TV was for the boys; cartoons, westerns, animals, and sugared cereals. After close to 20 years of self-denial, a Depression and a War, Madison Avenue considered it a gold mine to sell things to kids who hadn’t a nickle in their pocket now that their parents were rolling in dough…relatively speaking. So, before long, instead of radio favorites such as Wheaties and Post Toasties, it was Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, and Frosted Flakes, and while doctors were telling parents the kids were getting too much sugar, America’s dentists were sending Kelloggs and General Mills Thank-You notes.
This pattern was still going strong when I went to college and my baby brother was only 7, still watching the same Saturday morning line-ups, only with different stars and different super-dogs and horses. That process has never changed. Only the branding.
And there were so many more of us. The returning GI (and wife) had around 4 kids on average, which changed how Detroit designed cars, the station wagon becoming a principal means of transportation by the 1970s. But all cars would carry 6 comfortably, including 3 in the front seat. Family size was about 6 then, today it’s just under 4 and America is barely keeping up its replacement rate by births, trending down.
(A lot of people now would like to see this birth trend actually move into negative territory, as it has in Europe and Japan, only they haven’t considered the impact of Natural Law on how socially-engineered gerrymandering from the top affects the life of an organic culture, especially one built on individual freedoms. Or maybe they have.)
There are a lot of moving parts in discussing these kinds of considerations, but we have to first begin with a Unified Theory as to whether individual liberty and freedoms are a “Good Thing” or a “Bad Thing”, or as natural scientists call it, “Survival Enhancing behavior” or “Survival Endangering behavior”. Certain laws do apply.
The only takeaway from that consideration that matters to our inquiry here is that that final “Good” or “Bad” finding rests entirely in the hands of Nature to decide. Man has no final say except in managing his own private affairs.
There were earlier eras, listed below, but in America the era of “Isms” began post-Civil War with our “free-market capitalism” and our Industrial Revolution, which took on a different presence than the more centralized corporate variety in Europe, which spawned its own counter-‘isms, Marxism and Fascism. Marx purported to hate capitalism from the very beginning, the 1840s, when America was still largely an agricultural and trading nation.
The early European Marxists, 1840s-50s, were mostly educated middle-class, scholar or lawyer types who taught in universities, but for pennies a day compared to the vulgar, low-brow factory operators, so carried their own bag of vanities and jealousies, with absolutely no sense of “how things worked” which their American counterparts were raised with. They had several mini-revolts across Europe, the Revolution of 1848, all of which failed miserably. (They did not have the governor of Oregon, nor the mayor and police departments of Portland to protect them.)
(Note: There are more ancient versions of these three-generation laws, such as Feudalism, which, like an umbrella, protected a thousand years of “royalism”. “Royalism” still best defines the inner needs and ultimate ambitions of virtually every top-down government since the rise of the “divine right of kings” in the 9th Century. This royal urge appears to still be the “one ring that rules them all”; greed, power, wealth, all based on royal status and exclusive privilege. Today, all government forms appear to (naturally) revert to that class-based placement of their leaders, even if elected, almost all arising today come from privileged education and status. It’s an interesting history once you understand the basic natural law principals underlying excessive pride, gluttony, arrogance and condescension, indifference, and never once having to mention God or religion. Under Feudalism, no matter the rise and fall of a dynasty, or even empire, in the third generation as often as not, it would be replaced, most often by conquest, by one that was (usually) younger, more virile and strong, because the older dynasty had petered out (sic), spending more time out falconeering or on the ballroom floor, and eventually through imbecility from in-breeding. Even the Ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Chinese had similar changes, although their tales are buried in unknown languages and myths, and therefore not scientifically verifiable.)
But in the modern era, it does seem to be a three-generation rise-and-fall affair, for by Marxism’s third generation all that religious fire for the workers, or the poor, and the callous indifference paid to them by the management class will have evaporated, and, like Nancy Pelosi, who began as a debutante-zealot from a small Maryland estate, the D’Alesandro “duchy”, then over 60 years evolved into power-and-wealth mad politician, having carved out her own family “Pelosi” domain”, which will be passed onto future generations.
So it has been with all the authoritarian ‘ism’s. They dry up and die after three generations. They implode…by natural law. (And they largely know it, which is why they are so zealous to preach, teach and recruit, among 18-year olds on campus, since, not unlike a sinner stepping out of his pew and rushing up to the church altar to be saved, which for Christians is a moment of transcendence, lasting possibly for generations and at least passed on for another, the American theology (an important supplemental read) is transmitted, Marxism dies much more quickly simply because it produces nothing of value that can be passed on without the assistance of bureaucracies, “ism’s in their own right, and like parasites, will hang on and suck the blood out of any institution until the host dies or they are removed by force.
As Natural Law sees it, religion teaches reciprocity (Love they neighbor), the seven virtues, while the “ism’s teach only to the few, children of wealth and privilege, so more often tap the seven vices; gluttony, pride, anger, lust, envy and vanity, avarice. Americanism had always steered clear of those for 15 generations, and through great tumult and real tests, it had done swimmingly.
When the Soviet Union fell (I was there, 1991-92) the question was asked, what killed it? The leftist Hillaryites believed it was HomoRus (Russians males), wanting to be able to cling to the Marxist ideals only in less boorish and uncouth hands. We would have done it much better, Saul Alyinsky’s acolytes believed. Or was it HomoSovieticus, which many American Marxists wanted to lay at the feet of Stalin’s system after 1924? Organization charts out the ying-yang, causing production to slow to a crawl, since, to be able to boast full employment, 10-15 chairs would be added to a production line, many of whose only job was to sign off on a piece as it came down the line… but also able to shut that line down if that “essential worker” failed to show for work (more often as not, hung-over, in later years.)
What was always vainly overlooked by American leftists as the principal killer of Soviet Communism, was HomoBureaucraticus inasmuch as no modern top-down system of management since the fall of the monarchs could survive without them. “The System” was the one indispensable thing all the modern ‘isms had in common, and had to have. But only the private sector could manage and control them effectively…until recently.
My wager is on #3 as being the Homo that killed the USSR, for unbeknownst to authoritarians of every stripe is that “the bureaucracy” is itself a living, breathing organism which must procreate and grow regardless of the mission the managing regime tasks it with. Only in a free-market economy, where a corporation’s management, (ostensibly it’s creator(s) and owners), can a bureaucracy be streamlined, even be fired, with the stroke of a pen, and without recourse, for any reason, including becoming too big, which in corporate-speak means “too costly”. Government bureaucracies simply raise their budgets. (As Rush Limbaugh, RIP, often remarked, government never reduces spending, only its annual rate of increase.)
For generations America was the paragon of private sector virtue in efficiency and money management for this very reason. It would be 122 years before Congress could even tax corporate income, just 4 years before it taxed individuals’. The taxpayers wouldn’t allow it. The Federal bureaucracy could call 1909 its birthday. The federal government has grown in size every year since…even as we knew such behavior was “survival-endangering” according to the dictates of Natural Law, for, in the private sector, thousands of businesses go out-of-business annually on that account alone.
Of course, only few could say this out loud. Barry Goldwater knew this in 1964, as did Ronald Reagan in 1988. But he hadn’t the pull in Congress to pull any of it back, not even repealing the horrible leaps forward in new department (useless) bureaucracies created by Jimmy Carter. George W Bush may or may not have had a taste for clipping the wings of the bureaucracy, but he had wars on his hands. And personally, I think he was so deep up to the waist in new ideas about new world management he believed a big, big front office was the best way to govern. Even Major League Baseball, his only front office experience, had gone heavy Front Office by the time he came to the White House in 2001.
So by the time Donald Trump took office in 2017, himself a “billionaire-expert in creating and managing bare-bones front offices entirely from a private sector perspective”, even though he had a window of opportunity with a Republican Congress, he couldn’t launch any campaign to reduce the size of government, or even unload the excesses of the Obama years, because the majority of those Republicans had also bought into the modern business school math that the Front Office was where corporate wealth should be centered. In 1979 a manufacturing corporation could budget its management at around 15%, today that’s closer to 40%, mirroring the bureaucratic cost of government.
And much of Trump’s resistance was generational. Paul Ryan was a classmate of my son at Miami University, for instance. Both Gen Xers. Not all Congress were sponges like Bob Menendez or Mitch McConnell.
Myself, having only been two years out of a large corporate entity who had just said good-bye to it Greatest Generation top management team in 1989, all old- school educated, then watching them be replaced with Baby Boomers on average 10 years my junior (Blondi-ites, not Elvis-ites), armed with that just-mentioned whole new way to organize business. I called it “Bottom Line Analysis” in 1989, but after watching the USSR flag come down, I adopted “Greed is Good” once having noted the buried class-based “ethics” in the ways business schools had diminished the value of the workforce (ours was 60,000), with the resulting “I can train monkeys to run a factory” they had bequeathed to our front office. Adam Smith would not have been amused.
The best paycheck I ever got was the last one I received from that company, 1989, and I headed straight to Asia and then to Russia-Ukraine, and later the Balkans, to consult (teach-for-hire) in order to see what a generation of captives actually in the process of passing from view, with a whole new world opened up to them…without having a clue what lay ahead…could teach me.
Law of Generations, up close.
Both the Soviet Union and the Balkans have gone through a full generation since the Empire fell. 30 years. They were all flying blind then, and generally still are, only the East Europeans had that one-generation safety-net over the Soviets having only been taken over 1945-48. Because the East Europeans got out after only two-generations, they will make it back. It will take time, of course, but anchors of the Church for Catholic Poles, Hungarians and Czechs, and to a lesser degree Orthodox Balkans, bounced back more quickly, largely because their church ties were stronger in ’45 than the Russian Orthodox were in 1917.
That second generation rescue meant a lot to the East Europeans, for in Russia more than one person, including state apparatchiks and academicians, asked me if I could send them a book about Russia’s history before 1918-1921. They knew nothing of their city, oblasts (states) or, more remarkably, even their families before that date. The result is that a full generation beyond Marxism they are still floating around without any fixed stars in their heavens to guide them. They have no internal gauges about what is Good or Bad universally, under Natural Law, but only in the context of getting along with their “mafias”, not unlike life in those first-generation slums of New York City around 1900, when criminal gangs sold protection to small businesses and took a piece of every transaction…only now, as far east as the Urals.
Russia’s top bosses had simply changed hats, no longer Soviet Communists, but gangland Fascists. For profit.
You may be asking, how and why did America make it, from 1619 to around 1900 without falling prey?…especially after we invited in, from the dregs of society of both east and west, from railroad workers from China to ditch-diggers from Italy, Poland, Slovakia?
How did they become American?
Short answer: That moment of transcendence, cited above, a process which took 3 generations to complete, built around the simple Golden Rule of the New Testament, only modified to fit the terrain, “Reciprocate with thy Neighbors as you would have them reciprocate with you”, followed by “Don’t waste your time minding other people’s business. Tend to your own House.”
Somehow or another, in every generation enough people grew up learning about “becoming American” in this same way from 1620 until about 1960. After that the government and its bureaucracy got involved.
I know Millennials don’t like long-winded explanations, and as I touch on some of the points about Natural Law and Unified Theories later, I’ll try to keep the writing in your comfort zone.
But just as Natural Law declares what is and what is not survival-enhancing and survival-endangering in a flock of birds or a herd of elk, it does so through the “instinct mechanism”. Animals feed on one another in a creepy ranking system based on size, strength, and speed, each herd, flock, brood, in which the victim herd or flock renders up it slowest, weakest, sickest (I could be wrong, but I don’t think that predators choose their prey based on “color” or “ugly” or even “dumb”.) But in the end both the victim herd survives as well as the predator pride of hunters.
Natural Law does this same thing with humans, only, by prior arrangements, (some say with the Original Creator) for Man to have a series of choices, both individually and collectively. Most people who look at it from the point of view of a Creator believe this began with Man eating from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some say that this choice was a Curse, still others a Blessing, but either way Man has, for thousands of years been able to discern between the two.
Americans, again, probably New York advertisers, began counting “generations” in the 1880s, beginning with the “Lost Generation”, which were born of the Gilded Age and America’s Industrial Revolution, and produced not only the World War I generation, but the “lost generation” of American literature, (Hemingway, Fitzgerald) and the first infusion of Marx and “progressive thinking” (including a powerful federal government) into university teaching and politics, with Woodrow Wilson. And the Democrat Party officially became the Party of the Worker in 1896, to combat all that wealth the industrialists were amassing.
And some for the noblest-sounding reasons.
This is how those generations have proceeded since, 1) The Greatest Generation (born 1901–1927) 2) The Silent Generation (born 1928–1945) 3)Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) 4) Generation X (born 1965–1980) 5) Millennials (born 1981–1995) 6) Generation Z (born 1996–2010) 7) Generation Alpha (born 2011–2025).
You would be wise to evaluate people in history using these eras.
You’ll have to do some history legwork to determine how each might have been affected by preceding generations and affected succeeding ones, but in doing so you’ll have to acquaint yourself with the changes in cultural influences, as I first opened with the rise of television, mass communications and advertising, above in my generation. Every generation had them. Consider the cotton gin in 1796. By a guy from Massachusetts, even. And you’ll have to think of a culture as having a collective “soul” and how the diminishing of religion, in the general sense, and the belief in a Higher Being, may have affected that collective soul; good, bad or indifferent.
Some Millennials, who I will soon begin addressing more directly, will need to self-appoint themselves spokesmen-or-spokeswomen for this aspect of the life in America for (Hear me!) at some point on that 7-generation calendar…not occurring at the same speed or the same places simultaneously…
…the clock on Natural Law’s mantle piece began ticking…since after fairly consistent generation shifts beginning in the mid-1620s through the Civil War (by Madison Avenue calculation, 15 generations) of the moral fabric that painted what it means “to be American”, and all that meant to the ideals of liberty and freedom worldwide)….
….as to whether our society would continue on its course, as determined by both our conduct and our approved institutions, as a “survival enhancing” species
You can study, talk amongst yourselves about both the causes and the potential for this coming disaster, but it is not difficult to see that America, the world’s first, and for the most part, only people in history to have actually created on their own a free nation of free people, has been gathering speed since the advent of my Baby Boomer generation, to actually start racing toward self-destruction by adopting “survival endangering” behavior.
As I have said before, Nature determines this. It is for only you, principally Millennials, and what will come after you, to steer America back.
Trust me, you will not find the answer on that little instrument you’ve had surgically attached to your left hand. You can never learn much of anything if you limit yourself to 240 characters, or even 800 word essays. That inability alone is survival-endangering.
Not only your minds, but your hearts must “be in the trim”. Whether you like it or not, numerically, you are the core, Millennials. You’ll still find plenty of help and guidance by armies of GenXers, now in their 40s and 50s. They have seen and done many things and have read many, many more things, and I know many who actually seek wisdom. Learn from them.
Then when the time is right, lead.