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Samizdata quote of the day – generational differences edition

“But I must say the general mood of many people my age is an astounded sense that we began in our youth, in the 1960s and ’70s, saying `Don’t trust anyone over 30.’ And now, as we survey the wreckage the woke regime has done to the academy, the arts, the corporate office, we are thinking something that had never crossed our minds. `Don’t trust anyone under 30.'”

Peggy Noonan, WSJ ($). She’s reflecting on the conduct of college students in the wake of the atrocities against Israel. In another passage, she writes that when students in a college were told that what happened on 7 October was a “pogrom”, they didn’t know what the word means.

33 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – generational differences edition

  • Steven R

    I have to wonder if the people of Peggy’s generation are looking around and feeling the same thing that Mao’s old guard friends did when the Cultural Revolution was going full steam and asking themselves “where did we go wrong? How did this happen? This isn’t what we wanted.”

  • we began in our youth, in the 1960s and ’70s, saying `Don’t trust anyone over 30.’

    Forgetting that time always rolls on. The stupidities of youth.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have to wonder if the people of Peggy’s generation are looking around and feeling the same thing that Mao’s old guard friends did when the Cultural Revolution was going full steam and asking themselves “where did we go wrong? How did this happen? This isn’t what we wanted.”

    Well, she certainly is in this article. The irony is that older folk in the past would often dislike how the younger cohorts abandon restraints, etc. What is galling is that the sort of young idiots we see on these news stories are more, not less, authortarian, and less interested in debate and conversations, than the older ones are.

    There can be some interesting swings and pushbacks. I recall various people noting that the children of 1960s/70 “hippies” would rebel against their parents and be more socially conservative. The running joke in the UK sitcom Absolutely Fabulous has the daughter, wearing sensible clothes and being very “square”, rebelling against her aging 60s raver mum. Maybe the same dynamic works in a different way with some students daring to become overtly anti-semitic, or whatever, whereas their parents are far more mindful of taboos and social conventions about what a civilised person should say in public. The dynamics are complex and depends on specific population groups. The children of North Asian immigrants (Hong Kong, Korea, etc) tend to be fairly conventional, like their parents. Second or third-gen children of some (not all) Muslim immigrants can be more radical, but some may even rebel and try and be more secular and less interested in old ideas.

    I just have to hope that a sufficiently large number of young people are appalled at what is going on. This may already start to happen if the higher ed. sector is cut back, more school leavers go into apprenticeships and vocational training, etc, which needs to happen for various reasons.

  • Sam Duncan

    Personally, I never trusted anyone under 30, including myself.

  • Schrödinger's Dog

    Presumably then, you CAN trust someone who is exactly 30.

    (Sorry. That’s what writing software for nearly forty years, with its exact use of logical operators, does to you.)

  • Paul Marks

    Young, and now not so young, people did not just wake up one morning intolerant and vicious – believing that dissent should be punished and that inequality = injustice, “exploitation and oppression”, that, for example, Jews must be the Bad Guys in the conflict because the Jews had more material things – that their comparative wealth must come from “exploiting and oppressing” the Muslims.

    The young, and now not so young, were EDUCATED to think like this – to think that peaceful dissent was “violence” because expressing “reactionary” ideas “harms members of marginalised and vulnerable groups”, whereas actual violence was noble “resistance” against “exploitation and oppression”.

    Peggy Noonan must remember what all this is – all the above was about in the 1960s, it is the doctrines of Herbert Marcuse (Freedom of Speech is “Oppressive Tolerance” and all the rest of it) and other people from the same school of thought. It was a fringe thing in the 1960s, but after 2009 (after a certain person became President of the United States) universities were told, told by the Department of Education in Washington D.C., that they should “protect students” from the “harm” that dissenting ideas did them – yes that is what the government told universities (by twisting the meaning of Title Nine of the Civil Rights Act). This was very much “top down” – although the ground for crushing dissent had long been prepared by lots of people with a certain way of looking at the world becoming teachers, academics and administrators.

    It is MARXISM Peggy Noonan – you know it is MARXISM, but (as with the WSJ and rigged elections) you, somehow dare not say it.

    I suppose the fear is “if we say the word – that makes it real” – but it is real anyway, American institutions (including Corporate America) are in the grip of the ideas of people such as 20th century Marxist Herbert Marcuse – a School of Thought whose ideas, for example that expressing “reactionary” opinions “harmed” people, were made mainstream by the person who was elected President in 2008 and became President in 2009 – via the people he appointed (although the ground was prepared long before).

    Can a society survive being dominated by such ideas?

    No it can not – America will either reject these ideas or America will cease to be.

    And to reject these doctrines you must first not be scared to name them – they are MARXISM, and MARXISM needs to be rejected.

  • Paul Marks

    Before anyone points it out – I know that modern Marxism (“Critical Race Theory”, “Third Wave Feminism”, “Trans Liberation”, “Environmental Justice”, “World Equity” and all the rest of it – including seeing Muslims as a victim group oppressed by capitalist Jews) is not a carbon copy of what Karl Marx and Frederick Engels taught – like other Schools of Thought Marxism has developed over time, today racial, ethic and sexual groups are what is important (not, say, West Virginia coal miners) – but the themes of “exploitation and oppression” and “liberation” via Collectivism remain.

    What is bizarre is hearing such modern Marxist stuff from leading members of vast “capitalist corporations”.

    I also know that many of the people who push modern Marxist doctrines, that must mean the destruction of Jews – as “inequality = injustice” and Jews are often “Tall Poppies”, are themselves from Jewish families.

    Such are the ironies of history.

  • Kirk

    I wonder if Peggy Noonan is capable of understanding that the “kids today” are a direct result and planned outcome of her own generation’s hard work at tearing everything down?

    This stupid, foolish woman has been sold as some kind of “genius” since I was a teenager. She’s a low-grade intellect propelled to the highest reaches of “the system” through sheer luck and God alone knows what corruption. I’ve never read anything of hers that had the slightest amount of self-awareness or where she’s taken responsibility for what they wrought, those worthless, self-indulgent mouths of the Baby Boomer generation.

    It ain’t a generational thing, either… A lot of the so-called “Boomers” were responsible and self-aware. The problem was, they were the minority in that age cohort, mainly due to the very indulgent and overly-indulged way they were raised by their parents.

    I’ve always been highly suspicious of the way they divide things by generation and date of birth. The real question is “where did your primary cultural influences come from”, not “when were you born?” My primary source for socialization was my grandmother, who was born in 1897. Her influence has left me a stranger in my own times, given that I really should have been born (by cultural influences…) back in the 1920s or 1930s. Because of this, I’ve been an outsider for most of my life, observing these idiots with a very jaundiced eye.

    And, a lot of the so-called “Boomers” like Noonan are basically smug dumbasses educated and placed far beyond their actual intelligence and capacity for thought. The woman has zero self-introspection going on, and never recognizes how much she herself has contributed to the current state of affairs. Like most of her peers…

    John Cleese is another one. The man spent his entire life making mock and running down British culture, and is now shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that his hard work discrediting all those things he mocked has paid off, and that the England of his youth no longer exists. Lots and lots of these “counter-culture” types are in the same boat, as they hit late middle age and look back, realizing that they don’t actually like or approve of all those things they once went out on the streets and protested for.

    My biggest beef with these low-grade cretins isn’t what they’ve done, so much as the fact that they were utterly heedless to the laws of cause-and-effect. I spent a lot of my childhood with my peers being the “wet blanket” that was always pointing out the likely results of our sundry follies, which very often turned out to be correct. Wasn’t a popular kid, lemme tell you. Although, I did rather stay out of trouble with the group, coming up with my own well-considered idiocies–Which usually left me going “What the hell was I thinking…?”

    Noonan and her ilk are welcome to the world they made. I just wish I wasn’t forced to share it with them.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – very harsh language (very harsh indeed), but there is indeed some truth in what you say.

  • Kirk

    One of the things about the Boomer age cohort that seems to be a fairly consistent characteristic is that, as a group, they lack self-awareness both personally and as a group. They’ve been feted and lionized as these “youthful saviors” throughout their existence, and that’s just more of the same self-indulgent and excessively permissive way they were raised by their WWII-era parents. I suppose it’s a natural outgrowth of the deprivations and sacrifices their parents made, but… Dear God, did it produce some utter wastrels and monsters in their children.

    I think Dr. Spock had something to do with it, too: You can’t raise kids without consequences, and when you exclude physical punishments? Yeah; be prepared for issues later in life. It may work for Inuit, and other primitive tribesmen living in harsh environments, but the sad fact is, every culture that raises kids like that creates an excess of narcissism in them. Ever been around Arab or Japanese families, where the little boys are treated as infallible little godlings, never disciplined, never curbed? We did most of a generation like that, thanks to the WWII generation and Dr. Spock’s inimical influence, and here we are decades later still having to put up with their nonsensical self-indulgent BS.

    And, it ain’t all of them, by any means. Lots of the “Boomers” went off and did their duty, having been properly raised and acculturated. The things under discussion here are a direct result of the prosperous and indulgent childhoods most of them were given, which led to the expectations they had for always being the center of attention as they were in the mass media with all that “youth” bullshit.

    News flash for all y’all: Youth is generally callow, shallow, vacant, and in general terms, extremely stupid. The worshipful indulgence of the “youth culture” is where we went badly off the tracks, and the sad fact is, most of that cohort were no more noble or better people than their parents. Indeed, many of them were far worse. Not a hell of a lot of use for that part of the Boomer cohort, I’m afraid.

    Ah, well… Many of them are going to reap as they have sown. I laugh, watching the inevitable results of their folly play out before us. Too bad there are going to be so many collateral victims of the miserable bastards…

  • Fraser Orr

    I don’t really think it is complicated. People under 30 are stupid — they always have been. Stupid people greatly overestimate their capabilities as is well documented in the Dunning Kruger effect. Unfortunately, my generation has compounded that with our participation trophy attitude, pumping up the egos of the already ignorant to unheard of levels.

    It always amazes me that some kid can tell me with a straight face how he’d run the world economy, despite the fact that he can’t hold down a job as a shift supervisor at McDonalds.

  • Paul Marks

    It is not college kids – anti Freedom of Speech doctrines are all over society including “the law”.

    Bob Stewart MP was just convicted by a court for saying “Bahrain is a great place, go back to Bahrain” to a person who had just taunted him with “Did you sell your soul to the Bahrani regime?”.

    It was “racist” you see – “go back to where you come from” (or words to that effect) is now a “crime”.

    Well Kirk – I am a good example of a degenerate “Boomer”, I despair of this dying society, and go to bed each night hoping to not wake up in the morning, yet I do not have the courage to cut my throat.

    There is nothing to look forward to but further decay and humiliation, yet I can not find the courage to do what should I do. To die whilst I still have a scrap of dignity left.

    Sadly I am all too typical.

  • Steven Wilson

    As a lifelong West Virginian I want to thank Paul Marks for thinking of our coal miners, and I want to go on to say that tearing down societies is so much easier than building them.

    As I recall my youth in the 60s and 70s there were a lot people thinking that anything was better than what we had. Surprise. It seems to be turning out that nothing that has been built
    to replace the Christian based Western Civilization is anywhere near as good.

    I don’t think this ends without a lot of bloodshed. Marxism will never work but that won’t keep them from trying, and we know how they try with an ounce of lead to the back of the head–provided you haven’t starved or died in a gulag first.
    Come to think of it, starvation and hypothermia are bloodless. So, if the populace is rendered properly docile it will be possible to create a brave new world without much bloodshed.

    Ultimately our only hope is that our side may be better at fighting than those who rely on executions.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Presumably then, you CAN trust someone who is exactly 30.

    Technically you are only “exactly 30” for a few moments, if not just one day.

    (Sorry. That’s what debugging software for nearly forty years, with its exact use of double floating point notation, does to you.)

  • Kirk

    @Paul Marks,

    Do note that I specifically said it wasn’t “all Boomers”, just a whole lot of them. I don’t like the generational cohort crap, as I said, but it does provide a convenient handle for discussing common characteristics resulting from the zeitgeist of the times they were raised in.

    I’m considered a very late Boomer, myself, but both my parents were born before WWII, and my primary cultural input came from my grandmother who was born back before the turn of the 19th Century. As such, I never fit in with the Boomers, or my own age group. Values, mores, sensibilities? I feel more in common with the pre-WWII generation than I do with my own.

    The generational stuff can be useful, but there are limitations to it. The reality is that you’re the product more of who raised you and the rest of the influences you had during early life, and many of the Boomers were influenced by absent parents that indulged them with all the things they didn’t have as kids, themselves. They also got a healthy dose of “You’re the greatest, ever…” narcissistic programming from society and the media, which is where I think most of the problems they’ve had stem from. Ain’t nobody out there capable of living up to all those incredible encomiums that the Boomers spent their entire childhoods hearing about themselves, and it shows with how they react to the world.

    The Myers-Briggs tests are mostly BS, but there’s something to the personality type thing they use in it. Some people are naturally instinctive “conservors” whose instincts lay along the lines of “Let’s keep everything going and take care of society…”, something I note is woefully lacking in many Boomer mentalities. Most of them, particularly the ones who got themselves into positions of power, wound up wanting to tear everything down and start over, failing to comprehend the why and the how of the way the world worked.

  • Runcie Balspune

    It always amazes me that some kid can tell me with a straight face how he’d run the world economy, despite the fact that he can’t hold down a job as a shift supervisor at McDonalds.

    You don’t have to be a kid, see J Corbyn et al.

  • bobby b

    “But I must say the general mood of many people my age is an astounded sense that we began in our youth, in the 1960s and ’70s, saying `Don’t trust anyone over 30.’ “

    I’m pretty sure that, back in the early 70’s, when we were marching (and more) to protest the Vietnam war, our elders were looking at us with much the same dismay with which I now look at woke-college pro-Hamas students.

    The lesson seems to be, not that times repeat, but that the loudest, most self-satisfied youth are always stupid and incurious creatures of fashion.

  • NickM

    What happened to CND?

    When I was a kid the Wymyn were camped outside Greenham Common etc. CND seems to have disappeared.

    There are always people who want to rebel and “Fight Da Man”. Who that is and what causes they support changes. The same sort of people who 40-50 years ago were all “Ban the Bomb!” are now “Just Stop Oil” or “From the River to the Sea”.

    It is about transgression and what is transgressive then isn’t now. How do you realistically go on a gay rights march in a country which has basically complete equal rights WRT homosexuality? You can’t so, “Pick another cause! Any cause!”

    There is a force in history that is dramatically overlooked but is very powerful. That force is fashion. “Fashion” isn’t just about clothes and music (though they are useful markers) but everything in the human experience. Fashion is very important.

    “Palestine” is just in fashion right now, like Taylor Swift is. Though supporting Hamas (as well as being “edgy” – as fashions have to be) is also channeling the most ancient hatred of all – anti-semitism. This perhaps makes it different and more dangerous than most of these fads.

    That’s part of my analysis. I hope nobody thinks it’s frivolous. I am not being frivolous in the slightest.

    I hope someone takes me up on this.

    PS I wrote this before seeing bobby b’s comment just above. I really did.

  • NickM


    “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain”

    I’d always thought this or something very similar was Winston Churchill but…

    Look here.

  • bobby b

    “I hope someone takes me up on this.”

    Sorry, can’t. I agree with you. Fashion is blending in, finding a place, boosting your self-esteem by becoming part of a group or movement. What you support or oppose becomes much less important than picking the right crowd to stand next to when you do. You can buy that Taylor Swift tee-shirt, or chant about killing Jews. Both can make the right people like you. Both are fashion choices.

    (ETA: Yeah, we both timed things funny here. 😉 )

  • The Israelis don’t have to negotiate with anyone if there’s nobody left.

    Here’s to Car Park Gaza, swiftly followed by the West Bank Water Park.

  • Platypus Rex

    What happened to CND? The Comintern money ran out, Saint Ronaldus be praised.

  • Fraser Orr

    @John Galt
    The Israelis don’t have to negotiate with anyone if there’s nobody left. Here’s to Car Park Gaza, swiftly followed by the West Bank Water Park.

    I hope there is a more sophisticated response than that. Certainly Hamas needs to be destroyed, but it is important to remember this: the idea that there are 200 hostages is simply wrong, there are in fact two million hostages because the Palestinian people themselves are hostages of this evil regime. When a fighter hides behind the skirts of a woman, she is a hostage. When a five year old kid is prevented from leaving a building when he hears a roof knock bomb, he too is a hostage. Some of the Palestinians have culpability for sure. I was reminded of this by one of the commenters above who talked about the horrendous treatment by bystanders of that poor woman paraded through the streets, and their mothers’ milk is hatred of the Jews, which poisons the minds of the whole population. But there are a lot of people there trying to live their lives who have never harmed anyone else.

    The destruction of Hamas is a moral imperative. Doing so with the protection of innocents though as a highest priority is also a moral imperative.

    Easy? No, amazingly hard and challenging. But the whole situation is a boiling mess for which there are no easy answers.

    It is also worth remembering that Israel bears some responsibility here for their failure to defend the population. When you keep venomous snakes in your home you are responsible to make sure the cage is impenetrable. How the IDF and Shin Bet could have allowed this to happen, or go on for so long is beyond my understanding. What, were they surprised that someone got hurt when the rattlesnake escaped the cage?

  • I hope there is a more sophisticated response than that.

    Then I suspect you hope in vain. The fake “Palestinians” will continue to be a problem and a threat to Israel until they are neutralised or exterminated.

    In the absence of any ability to undertake the former, it will have to be the latter.

  • jgh

    You’ll never breed a peaceful Kzin. It looks increasingly that the Wunderland Treatymaker is the only option.

  • Paul Marks

    John Galt – as you know, talks are pointless with forces whose primary aim is to destroy you. The difference between “Hamas” and the more “moderate” groups that the International Community love – is NOT the aim (they all want to wipe Israel out – indeed they all want to spread the power of the belief system all over the world), the difference is their presentation.

    Steven Wilson – I think West Virginia will not be as badly hit as many places, you have coal and you have farm land, and you do not have a population that is divided into groups who (privately – but it will not be private for much longer) HATE each other.

    Compare the population density of West Virginia and England, and look at how much we, in Britain, depend on Credit Bubble “financial services industry” (that is not going to go well).

    You are in for hard times – but West Virginia has been hit by hard times before – it is going to be horror film here in the United Kingdom and much else of the West. Stay well away from major financial centres in the United States – or any major city for that matter. But then you know that – you know what is coming. Economic meltdown – but not just that (that would just be a rerun of the 1930s) there is going to be social (societal) meltdown as well, indeed it has already started.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Kirk – there are lot of “Boomers” who are better men than I am.

    Thank God for that.

  • Paul Marks

    Fraser Orr – no.

    The population of Gaza are not “hostages” of Islam – any more than the population of Afghanistan or Iraq were, indeed your words indicate that the West has learned nothing from the failed wars in these places, from all the dead. And learned nothing from what has happened, for example to so many young women and girls, in many European cities and towns – including the United Kingdom.

    “I did not say they were hostages of Islam – I said they were hostages of an evil regime, of Hamas”.

    I know you did Fraser Orr – and I am trying to think of polite words to express the terrible mistake of thinking you are making. So I will just say, with the greatest respect, you do not yet grasp the basic principles of the matter Sir.

    By the way, I have just turned off GB News – because a well meaning person is saying how war will “radicalise” the population of the Middle East.

    He does not grasp that they were “radicalised” more than a thousand years ago. At this point I despair of most Westerners grasping the basics that their ancestors understood.

    There is no point in writing any more on this matter – I will just upset people, and I have no wish to distress anyone.

  • Kirk

    The thing I love is that the Gazan Arabs are demanding negotiations over things, and they go about saying that Israel’s destruction is a non-negotiable issue.

    So… What is to negotiate? Who goes into the slaughterhouse first?

    The mental contortions you must have to go through to recite “from the river to the sea”, and then demand negotiation from the people you’re talking about wiping out is truly a sight to behold. It’s like they’ve compartmentalized the two ideas in their mind, and they can’t comprehend that the one thing they’re demanding over here makes the other thing they’re demanding over there a non-starter… What, pray tell, do they expect the Jews of Israel to do? How would you square the circle? What alternatives have the Arabs come up with for the Israelis besides “Die”? That’s supposed to be an incentive?

    Typical of the Gazan and West Bank Arab… Whine about how “nobody will negotiate with us…” and then fail to comprehend that the fact that they want to commit genocide on the same people they’re demanding “negotiations” with might, just might, make them all a little unwilling to “negotiate”.


  • Paul Marks

    By referring to the 1960s Peggy Noonan reminds us that it was NOT the immigrants who corrupted Western institutions and undermined Western principles.

    Western institutions were already being corrupted and Western principles undermined before the immigrants got here – that is why they, and (more) their children and children’s children do not assimilate – other than in a superficial way (pop music and sport are NOT a culture).

    They do not assimilate because the core culture (the core principles) have been undermined (and NOT by the immigrants) – so there is not much, in terms of core principles (society and culture) for them to assimilate into.

    Take the example of the “mainstream” Christian churches – if you were a Muslim immigrant or the child or grand child of a Muslim immigrant, would listening to a sermon by Archbishop Welby or Pope Francis inspire you to covert?

    No it would not – what listening to such things would inspire is feelings of contempt, utter contempt.

  • Fred Z

    Are you lot of pansies still convinced that genocide is always a bad thing?

    Always ask yourselves: What would the Romans have done with the Palestinians?

  • Kirk

    Same thing they did with the Jewish zealots… Masada, anyone?

  • Kirk

    By referring to the 1960s Peggy Noonan reminds us that it was NOT the immigrants who corrupted Western institutions and undermined Western principles.

    What were the Frankfurt School types, if not immigrants?

    All that crap stems from the same sources that led us down the primrose path into WWII, the extremist ideologues of socialist and communist bent.