In the broadest sense "The Sixties" have been inflated and distorted in the American historical memory. We won't stop hearing about how amazing and revolutionary the decade was until the last Boomer is removed from the ventilator in his Sun City nursing home, but there is no disputing that, although overstated in hindsight, the decade was a remarkably turbulent time both socially and politically. People who did not live through it, myself included, have a hard time understanding it. When I teach about the history of the presidential nominating process, I always find it quite challenging to set the appropriate context and background for the 1968 convention and the subsequent McGovern-Fraser reforms that created the primary-driven system we use today. It is one of the few occasions on which I show video for instructional purposes (1968: The Year that Shaped a Generation, easily the least annoying collection of footage of hippies, riots, napalm runs, and MLK speeches with a soundtrack of wah-wah music) for lack of a better way to explain the backdrop for the election.

The kids never fail to be at least moderately shocked by it (I admit that I am too sometimes). Why wouldn't they be? What experiences have they had, bearing in mind their 1986-1991 birthdates, that can compare? What events have they witnessed in their lifetimes that bear even a passing resemblance to assassinations, riots, and legitimate protests? And covering this topic never fails to get me thinking about what it would take to get this generation to take to the streets in any significant numbers. Yes, the easily-derided campus socialists and hippies stage a sit-in every so often, but not in numbers great enough to draw attention and rarely for a coherent purpose. What would actually get substantial numbers of these people to, you know, riot? For real, not for show.

Rome has dealt with moderately heavy rioting for the past two days (good photo spread here). When the Greek government announced its "austerity" measures over the summer, riots broke out across the nation. The mere suggestion that the retirement age in France would be upped to 62 led to riots in Paris (a regular occurrence, it seems). In the U.S. we sit with our thumbs in our asses as they propose pushing it to nearly 70. And then we vote for the people who will make it happen, because the power structure has only our best interests at heart. Awfully ungrateful of you to criticize our benevolent ruling class.

It's pathetic, really, to watch what passes for a social movement in the U.S. these days. I would even have some respect for the Tea Party, as numb-nutted and vapid as they are, if they would, for lack of a better term, show some fight. Flip over a goddamn car or something. Set a fire. Punch a cop. Do something. Anger might not be the most useful emotion but at least it's an emotion. We have the same limp-dicked reaction to everything. Sit on our asses, watch people argue about it on TV, and change the channel. I suppose it is more realistic to expect Teabaggers, fighting as they are on the side of big business and authority, to fellate a cop rather than punch one. The left's meager efforts to get riled up are no better, though. We don't have "rallies" or "protests" in this country; we have the occasional well attended circle jerk at which everyone shows up at the same place and stands around taking pictures to post on Facebook before quietly going our separate ways back to the Holiday Inn Express.

This is a problem that has been building for many years as successive generations of young adults get more and more used to a world in which actions involve no action and interpersonal exchanges are impersonal. Long-time readers have heard this rant before, but it is relevant here (for a change). "Taking action" means clicking "like" on a Facebook group. Talking to someone involves no actual talking. Meeting new people doesn't require putting on clothes and leaving our bedrooms. If something is particularly infuriating and important, we might blog about it. Issues have been reduced to brand names and logos; we express ourselves with magnetic ribbons on our cars, we fight breast cancer by buying pink shit, and we Make a Difference for Mother Earth by purchasing only the overpackaged consumer goods with the particularly effective greenwashing campaigns. In 30 years, what kind of memory is "Hey, remember when we changed our profile pictures to cartoons to stop child abuse?" going to make?

These are not terrible things individually or together; the problem begins when we treat the whole world, including politics and the societies in which we live, as something that happens on a TV screen. People are Facebook profiles, conversations are chat logs, activism is buying stuff, and taking action involves the fraction of a second required to click a button on the screen. What would happen if we had a riot and no one showed up? You're looking at it. God forbid the government or society get to the point where an actual riot would be necessary. I doubt we'd even remember how to do it. A million people would stand around, google "riot footage" on their smartphones, watch a few YouTube clips, and then get distracted by the cornucopia of kitten videos and pratfall montages on the sidebar until no one could quite remember what everyone was so angry about in the first place.

54 thoughts on “TORPOR”

  • I think a lot of the issue is the diffuse way that power is used and abused in this country. There were riots in London the other day because the government talked about raising tuition rates to 9000 pounds. Tuition in this country has been on the rise for at least a generation (I know my parents pay WAY less for their diplomas in the early 80s) but since college education isn't provided by one group (say the government) in this country who exactly are we to go riot at?

    In terms of your point about riots there's no comparison. But I'd suggest that in terms of "inflation and distortion" The Fifties are just as bad in the american psyche.

  • Let's face it… riots don't matter until it involved white kids with money. No one gave a shit about the Vietnam war until they started drafting college kids. Civil rights were ignored until it started to bring educated, well heeled northerners to Mississippi and Alabama to make good TV.

    I've lived through two riots in my life, the LA riots of 1992 and the WTO riots in Seattle. The LA riots were much more massive but they were the poor black folks getting uppity and no one gave much of a shit or had any sympathy for them… if they lived in the burbs. The WTO riots were attended by well-meaning hippies and some of the dumbest stoners I've ever met. As a student of international trade, I had an informed opinion on the matter and spoke with several of them about what brought them out into the street and no one under 40 had a coherent view of what the WTO, GATT, or IMF actually were.

    Protests and riots will come but it won't happen until the new grads find themselves no longer supported by their parents, current students find themselves unable to get loans, and real suffering starts hitting the former middle class.

    Until then, slacktivism is about the best we can hope for. The good news is that the seeds of discontent have been planted. It will take some true poverty for a lot of people that always thought they would be insulated from it.

    Social unrest and even revolution happens quite quickly when conditions are right. I suspect that ours will happen at the ballot box coupled with some fairly ugly riots just to scare the well off to finally start looking at the big picture before we turn things around.

    It will happen, how soon depends a great deal on who suffers and how much.

  • Europe has high Facebook adoption, digitally distracted youth, etc. Technology is not the problem.

    Caring about shit is still in vogue in Europe. Caring about shit is like totally lame in the USA. Couple this with our anti-intellectual streak and we're fucked in comparison.

    Reading books and studying history and philosophy and being "revolutionary" (or pretending the same) simply does not pull tail in the US anymore. Revolutionaries are unemployable and the almighty dollar has replaced even the "bad boy" as the current feminine object of lust.

    I am only half joking. Getting young American women interested in anti-establishment heroes could save this fucking country. We need Twilight with dashing socialist rogues in place of vampires. Or a new Julian Assange with a chiseled jawline to go with the height.

  • Piggybacking on what Anon says, I'm going to quote one of the few honest baby boomer radio hosts who is sinking into conservatism as he gets old and rich:

    "Protesting in my day was all about fashion. We didn't really care. We just wanted to look good and do what was popular and that, in my day, was fashion."

    You'll notice that, beneath all that protesting, was an entire underclass that was quite happy to conform, even in the 1960s. Nixon used it to rise to power, with Spiro Agnew shoring up the elderly end.

    That said, just prior to the Iraqi War of Choice, millions of people world wide took to the streets, but you'd be damned if what passes for media in this country actually bothered to report on it.

    One of many not particularly good John Mayer songs is entitled Waiting on the World to Change. I mention that to emphasize the Waiting. All Xers and Yers really needed was a leader that didn't disappoint, and they could be motivated to set aside the cynicism and helicopterism to stand up and do something. That leader was supposed to be Obama. It turned out, on some level, for a brief time, to actually be Conan O'Brien. Obama's a disappointment. O'Brien is on TBS. What can you do?

  • On another note, did you watch the biggest loser finale tonight? I find it truly inspiring to see people turn their lives so completely around, if only temporarily.

  • Tea Party riots would be disastrous for the rest of us, because they've got all the guns.

    You're right, the problem is that people just don't care enough about anything to riot. I was a poli sci major in school ('08), and even among that crowd it was pretty common to find people that were knowledgeable about "the issues" on some level but not even close to passionate. I don't limit this just to my generation, but in any good riot isn't it the angry 20-somethings on the front lines?

    Saw in Kyiv recently protests against the threat of raising taxes, if only to levels common to much of the Western world. One of my first thoughts was in a similar vein to this post, that it would take far more to get people in the US to even consider protesting. To get people to gather in D.C. from all over the country? I can't even imagine.

  • "Tea Party riots would be disastrous for the rest of us, because they've got all the guns."

    No they don't.

    I'm a liberal – just not the fun kind.

  • As a "boomer," who is not yet on a ventilator, I have an experiential perspective on the use of organized protest/rioting (or the lack thereof) to express the social conscience of a generation. I do not, for a nanosecond, believe that our current lack of civil unrest is due to the fact that people just don't care enough about anything to riot.

    In my opinion, the 2008 presidential election results signify just how deeply Americans do care about the course that we are on. Likewise, the ensuing disappointment that our efforts to rally an historic vote did not magically transform America into Candyland, overnight, signifies our despair over the mess that we've made of our government

    As many of the brighter lights of my generation learned, no amount of group tantrum or bad behaviour is as effective as one earnest participant in the day in/day out democratic process. Social transformation takes root wherever people share their myriad experiences and insights, if that happens to be on Facebook, or some fringe-ier outpost in the blogosphere, I say "so be it."

  • Anon and cromartie both make great points (not to mention, as always, Ed himself). One I would underscore is that for riots or demonstrations to have any effect, they have to be covered by the media. I marched in NYC (twice) in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion and it barely made even local news. Truth is strangled by corporate-news euphemism and by editing a week's demonstrations into a 5-second summary. In the 60s (my youth) there would have been a news team staked out with hourly bulletins, at least.

    My takeaway from George W. S. Trow's "In the Context of No Context" was that there is no longer mediation between the individual (aka the water drop) and the masses (the ocean), no local chapter of anything, no church group, no political club, no flesh-and-blood organization of neighbors with its complex interactions to educate and motivate and focus attention on a right or a wrong. The media, as they represent the mass, was/is a false and very unreliable equivalent. Trow's little essay was prophetic since the internet addition to other media has redoubled our remove from flesh-and-blood contact.

    And what of the Million Man March, and more recently the Glenn Beck and Stewart/Colbert rallies? Don't even the Tea Partiers represent the road back to flesh-and-blood demonstrations? True, they are incoherent, media-driven farces and as for the rallies, not even "demonstrations," never mind "riots" and more like rock concerts with passive attendees than examples of flesh-and-blood activism. But I would have thought we were on our way back from our "torpor", if only because one maniac on Fox keeps urging his minions take to the streets. But given the observations above, I now think I was bullshitting myself.

    Without the mediating social groups Trow lamented, we're reliant on mainstream media to help us focus, to allow voices, whether in the street or elsewhere, to be heard, to deliver unvarnished truth and urge us to act on it. In other words: WASF.

    I caught a couple of minutes of "Morning Joe" this morning. A guest repeated that "the rich have been running the government for several years." Cut to commercial, after which an item about a buffalo riding in a car.

  • Major Kong:

    I respect that you are armed and dangerous.

    The Left, in general, is out of the loop when it comes to almost anything to do w/ the 2nd or gun culture. You teach your children that guns are one of the roots of evil. You won't even let kids draw pictures of guns much less learn to use them safely. In States where you are in power, you routinely deny citizens the ability to protect themselves.

    "Remember, when seconds count – the police are minutes away."

    I would hazard a guess that if ball bustin' time ever arrives that there are enough Leftists who are armed and dangerous that they could produce a Samson scenario, but it would (as was in his case) ultimately be suicidal.

    I assert without proof that way more of the approx 90 million gun owners in the USA lean toward the Tea Party than lean toward Huffianna Arrogant.


  • I live and work here in DC. I've been called a socialist numerous times because of the fact that I get angry about what is going on. (the continuing economic injustice) Anger makes people very uncomfortable in this town especially if you are criticizing the status quo. The only time I ever saw anything close to a riot is when, about three months before the invasion of Iraq, I got surrounded by about 6 dudes at a bar. I was threatened with bodily harm because I refused to recant after calling Bush and his admin liars. Unfortunately, the Left is not much better. I’ve been criticized on this site for saying things that were construed as being right wing when I thought I was trying to establish politically neutral dialogue. I consider myself to be a patriot. I can honestly say that I do love my country. But, I’ve found myself entertaining the idea of leaving it and moving to Montreal. Rioting will only give the Right reason to shoot the Left. It’s hard to imagine dumber people in history. The present is a real disappointment.

  • I don't think there will legitimate, honest to dog riots or protests again. I think that the historical record (or the perception of the historical record) of the results of the riots/protests of the 60s is such that most people, from my generation on (BORN 1968), saw the extreme effort put forth by protesters (beaten by cops, shot by national guard, sprayed with fire hoses), and then looked at the results (an end to the Vietnam war SEVEN YEARS LATER, half-assed civil rights EVENTUALLY after some people get ASSASSINATED, social change after MAJOR UPHEAVAL) and decided that there were better ways.

    And I think that the Obama campaign was probably the closest thing I have seen to a cause that was worth it. So i decided to get off my ass and be bothered to do something that might actually affect the tide of history and i did one of the most powerful things I could think of – I voted.

    If things get to the point where I am in the street, the 60s will look like a cake walk. It sounds like the standard bs macho posturing, but I think it is the truth – people now who feel like they need to take to the streets to make a difference don't simply take to the streets, because we have seen the futility of that (Iraq war, WTO, etc.). People now who might have felt in the past that an appropriate action would be protesting are now taking their guns out and shooting people.

    This is the protest of the modern age – gunfire. It's not necessarily effective, but at least you usually don't survive to see your cause ignored.

  • Ed, I think you're a bit off the mark here. First of all, protests in America do not do a thing to change anything. Policy makers do. Second, if the draft were reinstated you'd see scores of young people coming up with ways to protest that go far beyond a Facebook status. I think we all need to take a step back and remember how this current generation has been educated and the "information" they've received since birth about entitlements, retirement, etc. What were once not long ago considered our basic rights as citizens of the US have now been stigmatized to viewed as socialist (with its warped and incorrect definition not withstanding). We've come to expect that our place of employment will not offer a pension, or even health insurance. These kids can't and won't protest things that they don't understand and fully expect to not be recipients of – and they seem to be fine with that. Anarchy really isn't the answer. Legislation is. The number one problem with Americans is that they don't vote, and they are embarrassingly ignorant of the political process, how the government works or even the extent of the powers of the President. It's sad, but that's the meat and potatoes of it.

  • Just a correction, they wanted to move the early retirement age from 60 to 62 and retirement with full benefits to 67.

    The distinction was lost intentionally in our media IMHO.

  • "The number one problem with Americans is that they don't vote" Web Dunce nailed it. If as many minorities and young people had voted in the recent election as they did when Obama was elected, we would not have had a tax cut for the rich. But No, they couldn't be bothered. Elections do have consequences.
    As far as history and intent of riots etc, they were all over the map. Some were little more than social gatherings while people were shot and killed at others. You can not pigeon hole the entire process.

  • @Web Dunce: "The number one problem with Americans is that they don't vote, and they are embarrassingly ignorant of the political process, how the government works or even the extent of the powers of the President."

    Can we lay the blame at the feet of both schools and media? The latter could take up the slack of the former, but don't. Doesn't suit corporate ends.

    BTW, if you want riots set in the near future, I could mention Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story." Artillery in the streets, etc. I haven't finished it, but so far the violence is unconvincing. Power doesn't need force, or need to respond to force, if it knows how to anesthetize.

  • Web Dunce wrote "if the draft were reinstated"
    Sad to say, a bad economy and sending state national guardsmen to Iraq and "stop/loss" are a draft. Collectively, they're a draft with loads of exemptions for anyone with enough money or wit to avoid enlisting in the national guard.

  • Monkey Business says:

    The problem isn't that people aren't demonstrating or rioting, the problem is that they're not voting. We have a voting electorate that disproportionately overrepresents the old, and underrepresents the young. You think the government cares about the environment, student loans, college costs, rampant youth unemployment, GLBT rights, etc.? Hell no they don't, because they know that those things only matter to people under 30, who are usually the least likely people to vote. Instead they spend their time appealing to the Tea Party types, because they actually vote.

    Voting is the greatest privilege we as a society have. Every year we get the opportunity to elect a new set of leaders at various levels. In the span of 6 years, we could completely turn over every elected position in this country.

    Before we can change anything, we need to eliminate the ability for people to burrow and entrench themselves in nationally elected positions. We don't let the President serve for more than 8 years. Why should Congresspeople be allowed to serve forever? I say let Senators serve 2 terms (12 years) and Representatives serve 3 terms (6 years). Moreover, lets establish a mandatory retirement age for the Supreme Court; say, 65 or so.

    We need new blood, new ideas, new people in government, and as long as we maintain the farce of allowing our elected officials to effectively become appointed for life, unless they majorly screw up, that's never going to happen.

    So yeah. This was a bit more rambling than intended, but it boils down to this: the problem isn't that we don't protest or riot, its that we don't vote. Fix that, and we won't need to protest or riot.

  • Monkey B:

    I think you are trapped in a bootstraping problem.

    Reps and Senators specifics as to term length and min age are set by the Constitution. All other qualifications (other than details about office holders – "no religious test" etc.)are the prerogative of the States.

    I think most Constitutional scholars and historians would argue that you need a Constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Reps ands Sens just like we did for Pres/VP.

    You end up w/ an approval process that works in the guts of the political process – needing 2/3 approval of the sitting Congress and 3/4 approval by the State Legislatures.

    There are four methods to amend that are listed in the Constitution:

    •Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state conventions (never used)

    •Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state legislatures (never used)

    •Proposal by Congress, ratification by state conventions (used once)

    •Proposal by Congress, ratification by state legislatures (used all other times)

    So to get where you want to go using existing methods, the very people you note that are uninvolved would need to be very involved.


  • Divide and rule. An insidious culture war, itself a front of the underlying class war that has been with us all along, has stigmatized the left in this country over the last generation or so with patience and tenacity that would do Gandhi or Ho Chi Minh proud. The anti-Iraq war protests were ignored; demonstrations at the 2008 GOP convention in MN were brutally suppressed by men in black. The Tea folks were originally pissed at Wall Street's open thievery, a concern held in common with the left, but were diverted into the conservative social wedge issues of their progenitors, the Moral Majority et al. No Child Left Behind has left behind our youth, who would probably be OK with reinstatement of the draft as long as they could register for it on Facebook.

  • Paul W. Luscher says:

    Well, there you are.

    You said it: the downside of the media/internet revolution is that life is now One Big TV Show. It's really led us all into becoming dumbed-down couch potatoes, who passively watch as the events of the world unfold on the big screen–well, at least until the next commercial.

    Oh, what a fringe benefit of the Internet for the Plutonomy–the modern world's version of Rome's "bread and circuses"…keep the masses fat, dumb, happy, and passive….

  • I've seen a couple of folks here mention the 2003 protests as a kind of "last gasp" of the idea of changing things with protest. I'd like to make something of a counterpoint. Nunya mentioned the idiot stoners who made up so many of the WTO protesters, and I think that they at least bring up the point that Ed raised that even when you see protesters, there's a lot of theater, but not a lot of long-term work. I think that Saddam Hussein might still be dictator of Iraq today if the work to prevent the war hadn't been hijacked by the Attention Whores of 2003. The principled objection to up and conquering a country was drowned out by a bunch of people grabbing the mike and shouting, "Smash Capitalism! A million Mogadishus! We hate America!" and of course the media was only too happy to give them a platform.

    Monkey Business, I think that you have it right. The actual work of voting in primaries, of getting involved in your local political party, hell, even of writing a check to the DNC takes work, and it's not something that you do once. I think that the greatest disappointment with BHO came about because he was expected to be the hero riding in on a white horse to fix everything.

    Meanwhile, the geezers actually bother to vote and take part in politics, so we get political promises like, "Don't worry grandpa, we won't touch your Medicare, we'll just take away *other* people's gummit bennies."

  • I'm so old I remember the 60's! Har. Seriously, though, one big difference that has been sort of mentioned here before was that the media actually covered the Vietnam War. I remember as a kid watching soldiers die on TV every evening before dinner on the nightly news. The media covered protests on the nightly news, too. Now you barely even hear about someone dying in Afghanistan, much less see it happen.

    Wonder how much would change if they televised wars again–and brought back the draft?

  • 1. As a lefty socialist type I say bring on the draft, so long as there are no exemptions ie the rich and spoiled have to serve with the low and numerous. I doubt we would see America in decade long wars once Skip and Cody have sucking chest wounds too.

    2. The hippies of yesteryear are the people in congress selling away our rights and freedoms every day.

    3. We the People need to realize that taxes are actually an ok thing, but you should get bang for your buck, and that things like health care and social programs are better benefits for everyone than overspending on the military.

    4. Why do people assume that those on the left don't like guns? I really like mine! But then as a genXer I was the last class at my Jr. High to get to use the rifle range that was set up inside our school for hunters safety classes, it was a sad day when they shut that down. It meant that people who couldn't afford to own guns could still learn to be responsible in their use, and now that option is gone.

    5. I voted and got others to vote in the latest election, but still ended up with a Governor who sent federal project dollars to other states because he somehow believes that building railroads and staffing train routes doesn't create jobs. I give it about one more election cycle before we start noticing Hapsburg jaws on our dullard politicians from all the political inbreeding. If only it took something other than to be a millionaire/billionaire/paid puppet to be a viable candidate these days. Or maybe we need all the hippies turned authoritarians to just peace out.

  • Every point I wanted to raise has handily dealt with by others so I'll just add this: I think that growing civil engagement with age is due to an expanded time horizon. Something ten years down the road has a lot more immediacy to someone my age than it does for a twenty year old.

  • @Osric1

    4. "… I was the last class at my Jr. High to get to use the rifle range that was set up inside our school for hunters safety classes, it was a sad day when they shut that down."

    You make my point.

    It wasn't local NRA members that lobbied to get your gun range shut down. It was liberals fo' sho'….(probably one of those most glorious Academic Administrators.)


  • Meh. Lament apathy all you want, but the real reason no one riots or protests is because the minute anyone says, "Here's my demand, let's protest" or "This is bullshit, let's smash some fucking windows," all the liberals pop up like gophers from their holes to be like, "Gee, I dunno, I don't think that's allowed, and it's a bad idea anyway, as the 60s proved."

  • I stepped outside just after writing that last comment and discovered a loud protest outside City Hall. The protesters are demanding that the Mayor stop police layoffs. Cop cars are driving by with their lights flashing, blaring their sirens in support. Cops are also keeping order and directing traffic. What a world. I'm sure their demands will be met.

  • As someone who was born in 1961, my experience of the 60s was through the eyes of a child. And it was fucking scary. I remember Vietnam War body counts on the nightly news as we ate dinner; I remember my mother talking to my aunt all the way out in California about police harassing young kids out there for "shooting up." I didn't know what it meant but I knew it must be awful.

    Funnily enough, my older sister invented an imaginary character to terrify me with whom she named "Dope." Dope was responsible for everything awful that happened. We'd go to Kresge's to buy candy and on the way home she'd walk up to a strange house, and tell me this was where we lived, that "Dope" had switched our houses. In later years I asked her where Dope came from and she said probably the endless parade of Officer Bobs and Officer Bills who came into the public schools to warn kids about the evils of, you guessed it, dope.

    The 60s were traumatic for us little kids not because of anything we personally saw so much as adults' reaction to all of the changes going on around them. I sometimes wonder if future generations will see the past decade the same way?

    One more thing on the 60s: I think a lot of people confuse the 70s with the 60s. Many of the major upheavals and changes (and best music) happened in the early 70s.

  • ah yes, I was there – on a college campus to boot. It was literally a riot. Many protesters had no idea what they were protesting. I blame the current lethargy on too much technology.

  • "…and then we vote for the people who will make it happen". Because we aren't presented with any meaningful alternatives, because no meaningful alternative could make it past the financial gatekeepers who keep politics safe for the ruling class.

    Also, we did vote for the guy that we thought might stop it from happening, but he was a Trojan horse.

  • Maybe there were protest in the 1960's because there was some memory of protest in previous years. As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in the shadow of those 60's ideals, but most of these hippie ideals have been co-opted by the capitalist system. There were protest earlier in the century that caused change. Go back to miner strikes in Colorado, the auto worker sit ins of the 30's and the red scare of 1920 to see how the state and big business reacted to protest.
    So HBO has this new show called Boardwalk Empire and not one, not one character is a member of a trade union or a radical that could be seen as a threat because of a red scare. And the first season is in 1920. I seethed with anger as I realized that. That is absurd, instead we have a show about petty thieves that want to be like the petty capitalist rulers at the time. Ridiculous. The past rewritten to erase the history of the left so that the modern corporate state doesn't have to acknowledge it. Shameful

  • Riots? Isn't there video game for those?

    There are many things that have changed since the 60s. One of which is that "teen rebellion" is the expected norm thanks to M-Tv. When being a "rebel" is seen as the cool, hip and everyone's doing it thing, then rebellion is no longer rebellion. When there are stores and brands that are one-stop-shops for white face paint and bondage belts for the emos, it's lost something.

    So what are kids to do? How are the to annoy their parents? Well they dress in Wall St pin-stripe and espouse neo-classical economic theory.

    We fail to realise that the Boomers are the first generation to live under the post-modern world

  • Hmm… this got cut off…

    – with modernism beginning its death throws upon the battle fields of WW-I and finally giving up the ghost at Hiroshima. Where being absolutist had very dire consequences for a world under the shroud of M.A.D.

    Another way in which the Boomers' world was different is that for the first time the middle classes went en-masse to university where they learned about having their Constitutional Rights. Most people weren't in a place to say anything until this time, as they were hoping to get a decent wage, safe work conditions, vacation, sick leave, etc. Now they were in a position to say something. Given that they were raised by modernist parents, where everyone had been taught that they have this wonderful thing called *Responsibility*, they realised that with these Rights they had a Responsibility to fulfil them by becoming activists.

    Though I'm decidedly with Ed on this, Boomers have a lot to answer for, as they cut society away from all of its moorings, but failed to put anything substantial in their place. Which has what has lead us to consumerism and the insecent (sp?) search for the next high. Today the Boomers have taught their little brats that they have Rights – and oh boy do they know their Rights – but have failed to instill in them a concept of Responsibility.

  • Angry riots? I'm passionate about many issues, but I understand that doesn't justify breaking windows and shit. Even if it did, I don't wanna sit in jail for a couple months and become even more unemployable. In Europe, it seems like a lot less is at risk when you go crazy.

  • "God forbid the government or society get to the point where an actual riot would be necessary. I doubt we'd even remember how to do it."

    This reminded me of the movie Wall-E, where the people on the space cruise ship had forgotten how to do anything, including walking, because the ship and its robots did everything for them.

  • Voting? Really? man, I love this blog and the comments (usually) but the comments to this one really depress me. are liberals and progressives really so blind to what the real issues are? If you want to know why people don't vote, just look at how much good it does the average person. They know what most liberals can't bring themselves to bear — that we have a one-party system with two wing, and they are both owned by our corporate masters.

    The media consolidation that has occurred since the Reagan administration only makes things that much worse, as they speak in a nearly monolithic voice (just ask Julian Assange). Couple that with an education system that's only goal is to make enough of a barely literate populace to staff all the fast food restaurants and you've got major issues, NONE of which will be solved by voting for the lesser of two evils.

  • As a labor and political organizer, I completely understand this apathetic mentality. The number of people in the country that actually get out and take action to make change is dwindling rapidly. The rallies and actions I attend are dominated by people who were my age in the 60's. Getting my peers to act (or care about anything that truly affects them) is like banging by head against a wall.

    It's a sad day and age when the young people of our country forget what it means to care about anything that doesn't disrupt their happy little online social lives. Living in a box is only good for one thing, staying in a box. Go ahead and move to the suburbs, get married too young, watch fox news, and enjoy spending the rest of your life complaining to your father-in-law that our 'socialist' President is destroying everything your accounting firm has worked towards. I'm sure he agrees with you, and thinks you're a really 'swell chap.'

  • "The present age is one of understanding, of reflection, devoid of passion, an age which flies into enthusiasm for a moment only to decline back into indolence."

  • Gee, I guess one isn't allowed to use spanish punctuation here. What I tried to say was that here in Panama a few years ago the government tried to raise the bus fare from twenty-five cents to thirty cents and the entire city erupted. Teachers and workers marched in the streets, people blocked off streets and the University students fought the cops for two days. There were riots in the city and tear gas was in the air.
    I haven't noticed people get that worked up about anything in the U.S. for a long time.

  • I may have hit on something that may spark a riot, if not at least a fairly serious protest.

    Imagine if suddenly there was a Monsanto Field where there's presently a certain Wrigley Field? Or Boeing were to 'doze it for their new office complex?

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