28.3.17

FROM SILENT TO SWADDLED IN FOUR GENERATIONS.

A recent column suggests the latest cohort of young people might be "the most conservative since World War II."
They’ve never known life without the Internet, and have grown up surrounded by instant access to the world’s harsh realities on their smart phones.

These young people are products of conflict and recession. They can only remember a news cycle “marred by economic stress, rising student debt … and war overseas.”
Much as was the case with the babies coming of age in Depression and War, eighty years ago.  That cohort was too young to serve in World War II or, for the most part, Korea, and too old for Vietnam.  In public life, they were the process worshippers that gave us process, nuance, and failure.  And the "Silent Generation" tag surely didn't apply to the overly verbose representatives of that cohort in any faculty assembly.

The current crop have in common with their saecular counterparts, at the beginning of the Great Power Saeculum, fiscal prudence.  "Eight out of ten of these kids identify themselves as 'fiscally conservative,' and they prefer saving to spending—at rates not seen since the Silent Generation."  Future conservatives, though?  Perhaps they will recognize, in their counterparts' relaxation of social constraints in response to the excesses of fascism, the consequences of no social constraints.
According to one British study conducted by global consultancy firm, The Guild, almost sixty percent of Gen Z respondents in the U.K. described their views on “same-sex marriage, transgender rights and marijuana legalization” as “conservative” or “moderate,” compared with a whopping 83 percent of Millennials who called themselves “quite” or “very liberal” on these issues. The Gen Z participants were even ten times more likely than Millennials to dislike tattoos and body piercings!
The article uses the labels "X" for Thirteeners, "Y" for Millennials (or Snowflakes) and "Z" for the cohort whose identity has not yet emerged.  It also argues, from a religious perspective, that something other than cycles of history is at work in creating this cohort's collective personality (if there is such a thing.)  Yes, there are signs that this cohort will be "adaptive," to use the Strauss and Howe Generations taxonomy, but it's likely that Contemplative People are paying too much attention to the behaviors of a subset of the cohort, in much the same way that all Baby Boomers (until the emergence of Donald Trump as politician) appeared as latter-day hippies, and all Millennials take on the coloration of the spoiled coastal snowflakes.  History may rhyme, but the cadences will be irregular.

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