Why Do People Worship the Baby Boomers?

In “Blinded By Nostalgia“, Yuval Levin looks at lingering narratives about the future that are left over from the post-WWII anomaly (“America’s postwar strength was a function of unrepeatable circumstances.”) that was cheap oil, a perceived social consensus, and near-global dominance. All of these conditions no longer exist—and never existed.

But still, the author so eloquently typifies what I continually rail against (summing up my critique of our whole culture, to be honest) with this supposedly reasonable, mediating call to realism: “To regain our footing in the twenty-first century, we need to get over our blinding nostalgia for that unusual time.”

Questions:

1. What does “regain our footing” mean, exactly? Occupy or sabotage more countries, extract more resources, grow our population endlessly?

2. Who is “we”? The article explains quite well that nostalgia for the ’60s mostly tends to gloss over the burning neighborhoods, the foreign quagmires bloodbaths, the counter-culture and growth of the police state, and the countless other blights on an otherwise rosy picture of the American glory days. Did most Americans really have a “footing” then? Can they regain what they never had in the first place? And why would they want to gain a footing—however defined—in the first place?

3. Why do people worship the Baby Boomers?

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4 thoughts on “Why Do People Worship the Baby Boomers?

  1. That is a pretty garbled essay. I’m not really sure what the point is beyond ‘nostalgia is bad or could be misleading in trying to form a vision of the future.’ Some of what he says just doesn’t make sense to me. He describes a decentralized society but I see just the opposite happening. Think of all the corporate monopolies. Walmart. Amazon. Factory Farms. Corn farmers were freaking out this year because they were unable to find ANY non-Syngenta seed. The NSA. Add in large numbers of people terrified to rock the boat or appear nonconformist and it looks pretty consildated to me. As far as empire goes, I don’t see the US losing much ground. They are still the biggest bully on the block.

    • Yeah I think he may have meant decentralization of grand collective projects, i.e. loss of a sense of belonging to the whole. We’re not asked to sacrifice or work together or accomplish anything, but rather simply to consume. But I agree, the article leaves so much out, and of course I don’t think empire is something to pine for.

      • This is a society of hungry ghosts and has been for a very long time. I had never heard of him but when I looked his name up I found out he is apparently hugely influential with policy types. So then I read the essay again trying to figure out the implications. I wonder if he is carefully suggesting what is actually the obvious: that we are undeniably heading for collapse. An unsustainable society is simply unsustainable. But I have to disagree with him about the value of history. It is entirely possible to learn something from past mistakes and success.

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