October 6, 2010

What will the upcoming Millennial culture war be fought over?

Roughly every 25 years we're struck by a culture war, where some perceived grand injustice needs to be corrected and we're just going to have to drop everything and fix it already.

The last hit in the early '90s and centered on identity politics and political correctness. Before that was the late '60s which focused on smashing capitalism and the imperialist war machine, as well as civil rights -- not a race issue except to the extent that these were denied based on race (see the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the Pentagon Papers, Tinker v. Des Moines, the re-birth of American libertarianism, etc.). Before that was the WWII era move to get women into the same jobs men were doing, as well as the first round of desegregation in the military and sports. Before that was the Harlem Renaissance and flapper period during the Roaring Twenties. And before that was the Progressive Era.

Since the last peak was circa 1992, that means that by the middle or end of this decade we can expect another culture war to explode. What will be its casus belli? Here's an article documenting the waning of the diversity cult on campus and its gradual replacement by the sustainability cult.

One index of the rise of sustainability at the expense of diversity is the size of the institutional memberships of their professional groups. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education now lists as members 800 colleges and universities in the United States. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, by contrast, has about 150 member institutions.

There's no foment in the air relating to blacks, the usual group around whom a racially charged culture war breaks out. The closest thing is amnesty for illegal immigrants or pushing for open borders, but Millennials -- the young people who always serve as cannon fodder for the war -- couldn't care less about putting illegals "on a path to citizenship." That's more a push from Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, to whom race-related culture wars make sense.

No, young people today are more concerned about "going green," as the article details, plus civil rights for gays, e.g. gay marriage. (Gen X's culture war featured gays, unlike the Baby Boomers', but it was about identity politics -- about transfiguring the dominant heteronormative metanarrative bla bla bla is it even funny to make fun of this writing style anymore.) One warning sign is that on one of my Millennial friend's Facebook, she has an item saying she'll "attend" (i.e. participate in) this public event. Here's part of the description for the few not on Facebook:

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes and at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality.
Join this event and invite everyone on your friends list. Don't let their deaths be for nothing. Let it mean something, and let's do something to change this country for once.

Currently there are 93,000 who say they're going to participate, and another 20,000 who may or may not, with 26,000 who were invited saying they won't.

I sure hope that their culture war is limited to a silly and innocuous cause like gay marriage, lest it rip society apart like another early '90s race war. Even if sustainability comes along for the ride, it will be annoying -- yet another 4-lane road ground to a halt because it had to make room for seldom used bike lanes on both sides -- but it won't tear us apart like the sexual harassment / date rape spook and the anti-white hate of the Anita Hill and Rodney King period. If things look like they're going to get bad within the decade, go back and watch Higher Learning to remember how divisive it was the last time. It doesn't look like the next one will have such a potential to blow society up.

Oh, and don't be stupid and see that movie as one of only three white teenagers in an all-black theater in Wheaton Plaza, Maryland. That was one of the few times in my life where I thought I was likely to get jumped by a mob. We stuck it out and nothing happened, perhaps because we made such exaggerated signals of disgust at the skinhead guy just to let them know we weren't like him. That hardly defused the choking tension, but it got us out of there unmolested.


  1. Ah, youth, Western youth, at least, always looking for a way to get the camera to catch them fighting for a cause that will make them feel their self-righteousness is justified.

    Occasionally, I have caught the seriously IQ-challenged Meghan McCain and Herbert Hoover's great-granddaughter wannabe-serious-"political pundit" Margaret Hoover on tv (she never comes off as anything but an inane, spoiled Valley Girl), and each time they speak, they turn a conversation to something along the lines of, "Well, you know, MY generation's fight is for civil rights for gays, you know? My generation is not prejudiced at all, you know? I mean, hey, like everyone can do his or her thing. Like, who cares? We aren't our parents' generation, you know?"

    They seem so very disappointed that THEIR generation didn't get some really, really serious civil rights battle, like for blacks and other minorities, you know? Like, they have been left with the dregs of causes, you know, and like, they have to talk that cause up, like you know or else they'll feel really, really left out of the cause business and that is just so disappointing....you know?

  2. Heh, yeah I wrote a post not long ago pointing out that one measure of social progress is how increasingly laughable each new social protest movement is.

  3. Tea party movement?

    The real culture war?



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