…. from the quill of Antisthenes
At the end of what is now known as the First World War there was a disillusioned generation. It was the trenches and gas and incompetent military leadership and death; and then the same politicians. And on top of that (for to me incomprehensible reason largely ignored) an influenza epidemic, which killed more people than the Great War. The people who survived were lost, but at least they knew they were lost. The term lost generation was probably coined by the rich Americans with literary ambitions in Parisian cafés. I don’t know. It caught on.
After another war to end all wars the products of post-war optimism were called the baby-boomers, but that happened later, when they grew up? At one stage there was a lame attempt to call the Soviet version of peace-lovers and the dope fiends the ‘flower’ generation. Yet another mis-description – I’m one of them and I can assure you I had nothing to do with it.
Some years back TIME magazine asked its readers to suggest a name for the then current generation. I wrote to them suggesting the vacant generation, explaining that the blank minds of young people, could be, and probably would be filled up with some nonsense, almost certainly a religious one. I was right. Al Gore saw it too and acted. TIME, being of course that TIME which had its last original idea sometime mid last century, selected the worst possible name – generation X.
After X comes Y and the last letter is Z. Presumably the TIME editors believe that the end of the world is neigh, but of course they think New York is the world. I’m told that now we have the Why generation. Or is it Y? Whatever the label, today’s generation is proud of its ignorance, of its bad manners and mindless materialism. They are so easily fooled by the feel-good “planet saving” stunts though keep dropping the half empty PET bottles of expensive tap water anywhere when they think nobody is watching. They can’t learn from history because they don’t know it and it is difficult to call them brainwashed because there was nothing to wash to start with. They need to devise an ‘application’ for their mobile telephones because they can’t remember something so simple as “level orange B2” to find their car in a shopping centre. Yet they consider that their ability to program a computer to do a task their great grandmother could do in a blink of an eye makes them superior to anybody slightly older. They believe that all new developments are good and that the ‘progress’ is always meet at first with opposition because it is not properly understood by the ignorant older generation.
According to The Economist of 23-04-11 “… the publishing sensation of the past six months has been “Indignez-vous!” (Time for Outrage!), a pamphlet by 93-year old urging his fellow countrymen to revolt.” (93!) The end of alphabet generation goes to the streets only when it seems that their inalienable right to civil service employment is threatened. It would be the ones not yet born or those just born, who would have to start sorting things out. It will be neither nice nor easy. And they are unlikely to be called “the found generation”.
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