The greater generation ?

by John Quiggin on February 4, 2006

One of the lazy journalistic tropes I most dislike is the generation game. It’s essentially a young person’s game, so lately we’ve mostly seen people under 45 (the so-called generations X and Y) putting the boot into those aged between 45 and 60 (Boomers). The results have been reliably silly, and also repetitious – the complaints and responses are little changed from 30 to 40 years ago, when boomers were mouthing slogans like “Never trust anyone over 30” .

But the game is even sillier when played by those old enough to know better, like Richard Neville. In Salon, Gary Kamiya gently skewers the latest of the genre, a book claiming that the Boomers are a “Greater Generation” than the one that fought World War II by virtue of their struggles for civil rights, equality and so on. Crucial quote

Leaving aside the obvious definitional and chronological difficulties — many of the boomers’ achievements were set in motion by men and women from the Greatest Generation — is it really fair to say that a group consisting of millions of people “did” anything?

I look forward to a time when the idea that you can classify a person by the date on their birth certificate is accepted only in the astrology columns.