The other day I came across this article during some random Web surfing, which contained a fairly familiar conservative hammering of what is loosely defined as the Baby Boomer Generation, that portion of the mostly Western population now on the verge of hitting the age of retirement.
In essentials, the argument runs like this: baby boomers are self-obsessed, adopted some mind-bindingly dumb (mostly left) political views; undermined respect for any kind of authority; addled their brains with drugs during the infamous Sixties and now expect we younger folk to shoulder the burgeoning cost of keeping them in retirement. Blah, bloody blah-blah.
Yes, you may have guessed it – this writer (born in that greatest of years, 1966, about a month before England won the soccer World Cup) is not entirely sold on the conservative critique, even though I share some distaste at the dumb political and cultural stances that were taken by said generation. But one thing which I frequently note is this – the BB generation is often attacked for being self-interested and focussed on acquiring self-esteem. But wait a minute. As a libertarian and unashamed individualist, I have to ask: what is wrong with wishing to improve one’s life, exactly? After all, one of the most widely books in that stiff-necked era, that of the Victorians, was Samuel Smiles’ hymn to self-improvement.
Surely, anyone who believes their life is their own, and not that of the State, Volk, proletariat, God, Allah, or the Great Green whatever, will embrace the notion of self-improvement. After all, much of the libertarian movement we know today, with all its different strains, acquired a considerable amount of energy during the 1950s and 60s. David Friedman, for example, who is the son of Milton Friedman and a leading exponent of anarcho-capitalism, might be regarded as a baby boomer. A good number of those who were inspired by the ideas of author and philosopher Ayn Rand were baby boomers. The Libertarian Alliance’s own director, Dr Chris R. Tame, and LA editorial boss and Samizdata.net scribe, Brian Micklethwait, were of the boomer generation.
To put it another way, let us avoid the groupthink mentality that would bracket a whole generation under one heading. The BB generation contain a fair share of boobies, charlatans and fools. It also contains folk I greatly admire and am proud to call my friends.