Civic GenX

Here is an interesting article about GenXers.

More Than Zero by Pete Peterson

Two things caught my attention:

(1) GenXers are the least trusting of non-local government, but also identify as more conservative.  So, this would seem to imply GenXers are attracted to politicial ideologies such as libertarianism.

(2) GenXers are very civic-minded.  On the local level, GenXers are very involved in volunteering and donating.  This is interesting because GenXers are prone to a sense of being disenfranchized from the political system and aren’t well represented by politicians.  So, this would seem to imply that GenXers prefer their politics on the level of personal direct action and so bypass traditional paths of influence.

Wanted: Visionary for a Cynical World

This post is just about what is on my mind at the moment.

First off, I recently ordered two books that I’ve been excited about.  Quentin S. Crisp’s fiction book Shrike just came today.  I’ve only read a few of his stories, but I enjoyed them.  Also, even though I read many blogs, his is the only blog I regularly follow.  He has an interesting take on life and is an imaginative writer.  The other book I ordered is Carl Jung’s Red Book which is now being published for the first time.  It was a private journal that he kept during a difficult period extending many years.  If you’re a fan of Jung, this is a must read.

New books always make me happy and I can always use some extra happiness.  Recently, I’ve been in a bad mood for various reasons.  The most overt reason is that I’ve been listening to the news and the news is so very depressing.  I probably should ignore the news, but I seem to be a masochist.

In a perverse way, I was happy to see the CIA get nailed for one of it’s covert activities.  The CIA, of course, is always doing something evil somewhere in the world, but it rarely gets caught and when caught rarely gets into the news.  This covert operation involved kidnapping in a foreign country and extraordinary rendition where a person was tortured horrendously.  The reason I’m happy is because a foreign government decided to hold America’s government up to a moral standard that Americans should expect of their own government.  I’m not a fan of evil secret agencies such as the CIA and I’m not a fan of those who are the strongest supporters of this kind of evil such as the evangelical Christians (who are the biggest supporters of torture in the US).  May these CIA agents end up in torture prisons themselves and may these evangelical Christians end up in the hell they like to fantasize about.

I was watching Alex Jones documentary Terrorstorm.  It’s conspiracy theorizing, but it’s intelligent conspiracy theorizing based in actual facts that you can research if you’re one of those people who prefers not to dwell in complacent ignorance.  Agree or disagree about Jones overall view, the examples he brings up are in the public record.  You may dismiss them as isolated events or you may see a repeating pattern, but either way I think it’s important to know about such things.

I wrote about this a while back detailing the entire dark history of the 20th century US government and let me tell you it was a long post.  Jones covers some of the same things that I wrote about.  As I said, it’s all in the public record for anyone to research for themselves, but sadly few people choose being informed over being ignorant.  I wish I understood the attraction of ignorance.  Between government agencies and megacorporations, there are endless examples of oppression and the cynic that I am I simply accept that there are immoral people who enjoy oppressing others.  What I don’t get is why most of the world’s population wants to be oppressed.  There are people walking free who have commited various crimes against humanity and most people don’t seem to care.  Why?  Is it just ignorance?  Or is it fear?  Or even do people believe they deserve to be oppressed?

Every day, the goverment and media feeds the public lies and propaganda.  In the industrialized West, we like to think we’re free and yet we live in a fantasyland detached from reality.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then read the writings or documentaries by people like Noam Chomsky.

It makes me wonder what a visionary like Jung would think about these dark times we live in.  He saw the social climate shift as Europe descended into WWII and he had great fear of the evil that can be accomplished when people become organized.  But he also had faith in the individual and as an individual he has had great positive influence on the modern world.  There are plenty of doomsayers (whether intelligent like Alex Jones or idiotic like Glenn Beck), but where are the visionaries?

The ugliness of politics has become so blatantly obvious in the past half century that I think most people have become too cynical.  These dark times will pass, but it’s hard to see beyond them.  In the next couple of decades, the world is going to transform so dramatically that the outcome can’t be predicted.

About cynicism, I grew up in the cynical mood of Generation X.  My generation is much more realistic and informed than previous generations.  We grew up with more information available to us and we learned young not to trust authorities, not to trust single sources of information.  When I look at older generations, they seem very naive and trusting of the government and of authority figures.  Older generations grew up when there was certain authority figures everyone trusted such as Walter Cronkite, grew up before all the corruption came out about various presidencies such as Nixon and government agencies such as the CIA, grew up before the assasinations and COINTELPRO that destroyed the civil rights movement, grew up before the loss of America’s moral highground.  My generation, on the other hand, was bottle-fed on dark visions of post-apocalyptic America and dark visions of demonic children.

Now, my generation is coming to power.  Obama is technically a GenXer according to certain definitions, but he is on the very oldest end of GenX and some categorize him as different generation entirely.  Also, Obama grew up abroad and so doesn’t have the same experience that most US GenXers had growing up.  But he does represent the change that is happening.  He is a different kind of president than we’ve seen before.  He is the first president, for example, who has successfully used the internet in his presidential campaign.  Even so, there are more ways he is similar to than different from the neocon presidents of the last several decades.  He has so far done very little to distinguish himself from Bush jr.  More so than Obama, I’m looking to the GenXers outside of politics.  Will the innovativeness of GenXers actually pull us through this divisive time?

I don’t feel hopeful.  Glenn Beck is also representative of this new generation as he was born 3 yrs after Obama.  Both Obama and Beck know how to use the new media to influence the public.  Sadly, though, Beck’s cynicism is more in line with GenX than is Obama’s hope.  Who made a drunken clown like Beck into the mainstream voice of GenX’s cynicism.  I feel deeply ashamed that he represents my generation in any way.  I suppose the true visionaries of our time are people like David Foster Wallace who recently killed himself.  I could maybe try to nominate Quentin S. Crisp as the new visionary of GenX, but I doubt he’d want the job.