Hell is Other People imposing their Will
I am reading The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. It’s a theory of history which sees repetitive cycles resembling the seasons. There are four seasons and each cycle (called saeculum) has four “turnings.” Each turning is driven by a generation. The four generations each have archetypes called Hero, Artist, Prophet and Nomad. In the particular saeculum we are currently in, there are popular nicknames for each of these generations. Heroes are called G.I.s. Artists are the Silent Generation. Prophets are Baby Boomers and Nomads, Generation X (the authors prefer calling them 13ers for some reason). I was overjoyed to find I was a Boomer. I fit the description to a “t.”
Strauss and Howe say Boomers (who were indulged as children) are highly narcissistic. Certainly! A lot of people are critical of Boomers something I’m quite accustomed to. However, the book The Generation of Sociopaths, was wrong and I explained why in the previous post, Talking ‘Bout My G-Generation. OK. I’m one. But I don’t think this is a characteristic of my whole generation.
As a psychopath, I always felt resentful when society tried to put demands on my sovereign Self. In fact, I could not tolerate it. A line from the Culture Club’s The War Song, expressed my attitude. “What’s mine’s, my own. I won’t give in to you, no matter what you say, no matter what you do.”
Boy George clearly means to condemn this attitude as the root of the whole problem of war and strife. But, in a way, he reflects my attitude. “People are stupid.” And how! I’ve been told by a shrink that it is narcissistic to say people are stupid. (I didn’t need to be told.) And the video shows little boys saluting which, to my mind, indicates that one of the stupid things about war is the regimentation, the enforced obedience. One of the most fundamental things I am aware of is the fact that I am a sovereign being. Even if forced to submit to society, I am still a sovereign being, maybe captive or in hiding but still sovereign.
According to The Fourth Turning, the saeculum ends with, first, an unraveling and, second, a crisis which profoundly changes things. A new saeculum starts. Boomers were raised to believe our individual needs were of great importance. As soon as we came of age, we imposed our values on society. Americans thought so well of themselves and their country but we confronted them with their sins, their hypocrisy. We rioted, refused to join the army, changed the rules of how people could interact, exposed the racism and started a counterculture. Of course, the values of most Boomers were so altruistic and empathy-based, it’s preposterous to call them “sociopaths.” But the counterculture was a rich environment in which to find oneself and it suited me fine until, one day, the conformity got to me and I left. The Punk Rock scene was refreshing in its rejection of the hippy cliches and all the readings of the I Ching. Still, I am proud of the Boomers, proud to be one. I think my generation accomplished more than any of the others.
According to Strauss and Howe, we are entering a time in which the individual is no longer the center of the universe. The community now comes first. As I read on, I became more and more angry at the idea of the individual having to sacrifice for the group. “Wait your turn.” “Do your chores.” “Don’t offend.” It’s stifling! As Billie Holiday sang, “You can help yourself, but don’t take too much” — God Bless the Child.
Strauss and Howe who are conservative, see the Fourth Turning as a time to do away with “entitlements.” Ah. That word. It’s like a red flag to a bull. A nasty, little right-wing word that means eliminating government benefits that were recognized as a right of every citizen since the New Deal. We seniors will just have to sacrifice. Our families can become our next “safety net.” How is that sickening? Let me count the ways. Only people who popped out kids have this particular safety net. And the safety is only as good as the will of the kids. If they don’t want to help, tough. Government “entitlements” didn’t make beneficiaries beholden to the benevolence of another person. Not that the kids in this brave new world get off Scott free either. There will probably be some sort of compulsory service. Schools will probably impose uniforms.
The Hero generation are called Millennials. Millennials will serve in the armed forces and kick the ass of our enemies. Of course, this is all hopeful thinking on their part. I think he has Millennials wrong. I worked with some of them in the Occupy movement. They were disciplined, egalitarian and democratic.
I really don’t like meetings and consensus. Still, I can subordinate myself to a group as long as the group is some something I believe in and support. That way, I’m still doing my own will. I think our next heroes thirst for social justice and will put an end to this serfdom the rich have imposed on the 99%. Of course, nobody knows what the next saeculum will look like until it’s here. But we all have our hopes.
- How the Generations Get Nicknames.
- Millennial Movements: Occupy Wall Street and the Dreamers. Dissent
- Generation Screwed. How Millennials Are Being Exploited by Our Political System
- The Liberal Millennial Movement. Atlantic