Mailvox: in defense of Baby Boomers

Chris has some thoughts on just how responsible the Boomers are for the present state of the USA:

Having long ago contended with the fallacy of conspiracy theories, I formulated more of a humanity based explanation for human societal and cultural phenomenon.  Therefore, I would like to put forth a few ideas to defend boomers from the blame you seem to assign them for current problems and the general direction of decline in western society. I think the generalization of blaming boomers is a mistake.

The point here is not to defend boomers per se, but to consider the causes of generational uniqueness as external to any generation or group.  After all, humanity hasn’t changed fundamentally.  Boomers weren’t different as a species from the generations a few before, nor a few after.  The conditions of the world have been changing dramatically (while humanity has not), and humanity’s circumstances therefore are the more likely key ingredients for the path we are on. 

I’m not saying bad decisions were not made by boomers, but what conditions accommodated those decisions, and allowed a series of degenerate shifts in society at all levels, without consequence to their near term survival?

My answer is prosperity.  Without proper governance (which humanity seems incapable of), prosperity sows the seeds of its own destruction.  This is not without historical precedence.  Study prosperous societies (for example: Roman, or Greek), and how they end.  Why don’t they last?  Human nature under prosperous conditions is destructive, and the prosperity creates an environment where the feedback for stupid decisions is blunted if not eliminated.  The feedback in prosperity is certainly not consequential to survival. 

After all, why do you think “feelings” have been elevated to such a level of reverence in our society?  Survival is no longer a factor, so the focus of the survival instinct has shifted to “feelings.”  Before prosperity, anyone with a propensity to focus on feelings had a survival disadvantage.  Now, they don’t.  The personality characteristics that come with focusing on ones feelings are clearly destructive in many ways. 

The advantages of principled decisions and common sense are reduced in proportion to prosperity, the proportion of the population without proper mooring to reality rises.  Worse yet, they thrive.  SJW are the realization of the fulfillment of this populations’ “self-actualizations.”  It wouldn’t be possible without prosperity.  They wouldn’t be tolerated or even given attention if survival were an issue, and their own survival would be threatened by their own propensities. 

The human (and Christian) trait of empathy works best under conditions where survival is threatened.  For those whose empathy is not tempered by rational principles and larger historically informed context, poor decisions are common: for example supporting illegal immigration. 

In the end, the proportion of the population with destructive characteristics rises.  Their power also rises because there is no survival threat for their psychological self-absorption or other anti-survival characteristics.  It is the diversity of humanity, in the presence of prosperity, which allows devolving of key elements of a prosperous society, because the worst characteristics can thrive. 

There are plenty of boomers who didn’t (and don’t) agree with the path taken.  A huge number didn’t just lie down and let it happen, but it happened anyway.  There was a dramatic rapid shift in society.  The rules changed wickedly fast with only subtle evidence at first.

The shift to the current state was rapid, and hard to believe in real time.  Things that seemed ridiculous, nonsensical, even impossible, occurred, and then became mainstream so rapidly many were blindsided.  The ones who saw it coming were actually considered kooks.  “How could that ever happen?”  “You are nuts.”  There was no reward for having warned of the future.

Boomers grew up when survival was still at the forefront of people’s minds, just one generation removed from the great depression.  They didn’t recognize there would be no negative consequences for all the irrational foolishness and abandoning of common sense.  And when there were no consequences, the bar was moved, and those trying to hold the line were marginalized.  This is still happening today. 

Those of us who saw it coming, and thought we were working against the wave, didn’t realize it was a tsunami.  And could only be stopped, can only be stopped ever, by a larger counter-tsunami.  Otherwise, maybe the flood comes, and we start over with natural selection in survival mode.  Humanity seems to self-select best when survival required good choices.

I think it is reasonable to say that the Boomers didn’t grasp the consequences of their actions and their ideology in their youth. And perhaps that is even moderately excusable. But what I, and other Generation Xers find so unforgivable, is the way that so many Boomers still attempt to justify their actions, defend their ideology, and deny the consequences observed.

The penitent can be forgiven. But how can one forgive the unrepentant?