Generations X, Y, and Z and the Future of Democracy

by Pedro Blas González (December 2019)


Anschluß: Alice in Wonderland, Oskar Kokoschka, 1942
 
 
 
The twentieth century was marked by the praxis of Marxism. From the violent call for revolution by the alleged proletariat in early twentieth century Russia, through Lenin’s Bolshevik revolution in 1917, and the establishment of the Soviet communist empire in 1922, Marxist violence would eventually spread to all aspects of human life by the end of the twentieth century, and into the twenty-first. In the twenty-first century, Marxism has taken up many crafty and imaginative guises in order to re-introduce itself, in an attempt to re-educate younger generations.
 
Marxism has brought about more systematic murder and suffering throughout every corner of the globe than any other form of despotism, tyranny and ideology in human history. Today, this is a matter of historical fact; the available data and statistics readily bear this out. Lenin’s idea of the end justifying the means left little to the imagination of what Marxism had in store for the twentieth century:
 
For as long as we fail to treat speculators the way they deserve—with a bullet in the head—we will not get anywhere at all.[1]
 
One contributing factor for this unprecedented systematic repression and murder is that Marxism has enjoyed more chic acclaim from intellectuals than any other form of tyranny in human history.
 
 
Given the overwhelming and indicting de-classified data available, that places Marxism in the column of tried-and-failed social-political engineering theories, it is prudent and timely to ask, how can Western intellectuals continue to sell young people centralized government and economics, circa 2019? [2] How can this dog and pony show be proposed responsibly—with a straight face? This is an important question, especially after the number of wars, social-political insurgencies, civil wars, and social-political destabilization that the many—and currently evolving variants of Marxism—have subjected man to-date.
 
This concern is best appreciated when we understand the necessary pre-conditions for socialism to be re-packaged and sold to people under the age of fifty today. What is not at play in leftism’s current call for alleged democratic socialism is the classic model of Marxism, which history has relegated to the dustbin of failed human passions that pose as ideas.
 
As an oblique form of rationalized power grab, classical Marxism has entranced Western historians, intellectuals and many unsuspecting people for over a century. “Useful idiots,” these people have been called. The Austrian-American economist, Ludwig von Mises, referred to them as “useful innocents.”
 
The above-mentioned sectors of society have blindly embraced Marxism’s violent dialectic of revolution, the abstract and vacuous idea of the proletariat, class struggle, redistribution of wealth, and many other archaic stepping-stones of universal disenfranchisement.[3] Why is that?
 
The updated hybrid forms of Marxism that inform the universe of Generation X (1965-1979), Millennials (Gen. Y, 1980-1994) and Generation Z (1995-2015) have been adapted and customized to fit in with an illiterate populace concerning history—regardless of whether these individuals have received a high school diploma or university degree.
 
The suppression of historical shrewdness, the study of civics, and social studies in Western public schools has created many generations of functionally illiterate people who lack the basic knowledge of the building blocks of democracy. While this is both regrettable and ominous, it has nonetheless created vast opportunities for Marxism to re-educate a vast number of politically unsophisticated people. Consequently, Western democracies have ushered in the tenuous reign of a hopelessly gullible, yet politically dangerous mob.[4]
 
In order to gain traction with post baby-boom generations, current adaptations of Marxism must take into consideration everyman’s list of gripes against the contingencies of human reality. One would be hard pressed to find a millennial stoic, much less willing to fully embrace life—warts and all. The majority of millennials with an axe to grind about life are people whose existence is consumed by video games, superhero movies and an unprecedented degree of self-indulgence.
 
Let us not be deceived by the innocent-sounding rhetoric of leftism’s ruling elites, the ad populum variants of Marxism that are being peddled today to young people appeal to self-centered individuals who think that life owes them something.
 
The classical form of Marxism that older generations were exposed to—through formal education or because they witnessed firsthand the debilitating effects of Marxism on the human psyche during the Cold War, through physical torture, Soviet and Eastern Bloc concentration camps, and the deterioration of man’s living conditions—has morphed into a many-headed, social engineering hydra.
 
Today, the classical model of Marxism has been augmented. This is in keeping with Marxism’s fluid architectonic of expansion in order to embrace choice and timely topics that are rife for Marxist theory to manipulate. This is the essence of Marxism’s perpetual war on capitalism, the open society, and the structure of human reality itself.
 
This is why Marxism cannot be naively thought of as being merely an economic theory. Beginning in the 1930s, cultural Marxism found a way to subvert churches, music, the arts, the nuclear family, sex, culture, the media, and most importantly, all levels of institutional education. Cultural Marxism’s corruption and appropriation of human innocence would not begin to yield dividends until the 1960s.
 
The chameleon-like construction of Marxist praxis is shamelessly appended to the heartstrings of everything that is trending. This explains the longevity of Marxism in spite of it being a pseudo-philosophy. In post-modernity, Marxism has successfully tapped into the nihilistic belief that free will is a burden to man.
 
 
The Emptying of Rationalism
 
Following the tracks of current forms of nihilism quickly delivers one to the gutted carapace of rationalism. While Marxism conveniently made rationalism out to be an all-powerful force that would safeguard man from all existential burdens, this enabled the radical proponents of philosophical materialism to destroy religious belief. Philosophical materialism, which is the anchor of Marxism, believed that rationalism was a cure-all utopian elixir that would mold human aspiration and passion ad infinitum.
 
We ought not to forget that classical Marxism believed socialism and communism to be scientific. This is an example of the myopic notion that rationalism would liberate man from all existential evils, e.g., the burden of free will. Instead, history has exposed Marxism’s pretense of scientific socialism and communism as being no more than scientism posing as social-political messianism.
 
After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Marxist intellectuals in Western democracies were confronted with the stark reality of finding it necessary to re-vamp and up the ante of Marxism, by training their sight on the easily corruptible target that is Western culture. This was to be a continuation of the Frankfurt School’s initiative to attack Western democracies through culture. This is how cultural Marxism began to make headway into Western culture.
 
The aforementioned was the last opportunity that Marxists had of re-introducing a social-political, not just economic abstract theory, that pins people against their brother. This latest embodiment of Marxism, post the fall of the Iron Curtain, has proven to be highly effective in its ability to destabilize the mores and convictions of Western young people by making nihilism attractive in its promise of radical liberation. Marxism has been highly effective in converting classical liberalism into libertinism.
 
Antonio Gramsci and his cadre, who are responsible for the Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxism, launched an effective blitzkrieg assault on Western culture that today encompasses all aspects of life. François Furet explains this syndrome in Lies, Passions & Illusions: The Democratic Imagination in the Twentieth Century:
 
I think modern citizens have a moral and spiritual equilibrium that comes primarily from their relation to the past. And in seeking to create individuals cut off from tradition and their history, we’re on our way toward a world peopled with individuals who are prisoners of technology, superstitions, lifestyles, and so on.[5]
 
 
Millennials and the Wardens of Future Gulags
 
In the absence of common sense and good will, the ignorance of history that millennials display is astoundingly anti-historical. This grim condition has been achieved through the destruction of Western history, and the necessary rational capacity to make sense of human reality. This is a striking irony, given that Marxism’s criticism of traditional values as anti-intellectual, is precisely the condition to which Marxism has delivered Western civilization.
 
This has been achieved by fomenting envy and resentment, both seminal human emotions that quickly turn to hate, as soon as the power-grab that is Marxism promises the redistribution of looted goods from the perceived oppressors.
 
However, the hate of traditional values that many millennials now embrace goes beyond social-political explanations, given the degree of self-loathing that they have been affectively conditioned to accept through phantom guilt. The result of this is affectation and social-political fantasy theater.
 
We can identify several causes of the nihilistic privation of existential gravitas. One of these is self-flagellation brought about by imaginary guilt. At the core of the banal worldview of millennials, we find a profound inability to understand, much less abide by, the many unsavorily contingencies that inform human existence. Marxism and its many variants readily exploit this form of infantilism.
 
One reason for this is that millennials have inherited a world that is ready-made. The abundance of material goods, services and comfort, coupled with a lack of privation that millennials enjoy, has created the false security that the world and human reality have always been like the status quo. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, in social-political theater, appearance always tramples reality.
 
 
Minimalism and the Structure of Reality
 
One can liken the sense for life of generations dating back to baby boomers to the stoic embrace of realism. Much like realism in art, previous generations, including baby boomers, tried to convey a coherent structure to human existence that anchored belief and convictions in a mature sense of possibility and limitation. This was the practical attitude that defined the psyche of people up to the baby boomers—especially the earlier part of that generation. This is chiefly notable regarding existential concerns.
 
Part of the reason for this is that those generations had a set of values that served as the litmus test for any situation. Some of these values included prudence, sacrifice and respect for human contingency.  In other words, these people did not find it necessary to overpower or coerce human reality into complying with their private passions, likes and dislikes. The failure to embrace human reality, warts and all, had serious consequences.
 
On the other hand, staying with the metaphor of art, millennials can be compared to abstract impressionism in the twentieth century. The choreographed spontaneity of abstract impressionism reminds us of the affected and irresponsible impulse of millennials, who mimic the “let-us-live-for-the-moment” and “drink-and-be-merry” values of former hedonists.
 
The problem of practicing thinly veiled affectation is that this mind-set is not content to remain private and subjective; it selfishly protects itself by attacking objective values. It projects its hollow worldview onto the world with force and aggression. The forms of affectation that millennials have been conditioned to embrace demand that all aspects of human existence become politicized for an imaginary utopian end.
 
Of course, all the blame cannot be placed on millennials. The paradox of making life easier, “more livable,” as people used to say, has in fact made it so that younger generations have been shielded from the natural resistance that human reality demands from human life. Millennials have elevated the dictum that “familiarity breeds contempt” to a new level.
 
 
Generation X, Millennials (Gen. Y), and Generation Z as the synthesis of Comte’s Law of Three Stages.
 
Today we pay a lot of attention to financial markets and indicators that try to justify the fantasy world of video games players. There is a name for these people: gamers. Somehow, naming this anti-cultural and illiteracy-fueling phenomenon legitimizes this post-modern form of retarded development and infantilism.
 
In 2016, the video game industry generated 101 billion in revenue. This is a staggering number, but perhaps not as important as the following financial indicators:
 
  • Video game players not only play, but enjoy watching others play.
  • In 2016, video game players spent 43 billion hours playing the top three video games. This made up 74% of all games.
  • Not only do people play video games on consoles at home, but 62% also play on mobile devices.
  • 67% of people who play video games do so to be social.
  • As of 2016, the average age of video game players was 31 years of age.
 
The most perilous implication of these statistics is that in order to understand them one must be removed from the phenomenon that one is studying. While the statistics are abundant and glaring, regarding the additive and culturally/socially-numbing nature of video games, the corrosive impact of these statistics is manifested daily in all facets of life today.
 
This brings me to August Comte’s Law of Three Stages of societal development. Comte argues that societies go through three stages of development: Theological, metaphysical and positive. The last of these is what post-modernism has ushered in.
 
The elephant in the room aspect of video games is their ability to brutally dumb down its adherents. This works on several levels. One of these is the understanding that human life can only be made so banal, before one loses all capacity to embrace vital, existential aspects of life. The time spent playing video games is definitely not employed reading or listening to music, conversing with other people and forming lasting bonds. The lack of the latter has a devasting effect on the quality of life. Socrates referred to this as life worth living—the good life.
 
Consider that the average person lives 29,800 days. This comes out to 700,800 hours of life. These vital hours are not negotiable. How many of these are we willing to squander on irredeemable tasks?
 
Post-modern video game players, and those who defend this aberrant form of post-modern man, will defend themselves by saying that everything is relative. How predictable. Given their atrophied form of human development, what else can they say? 
 
The ominous reality today is that the positive stage of human development in post-modernism makes Comte’s estimation appear naive. The positive stage entails dealing with facts and science to help us make sense of reality. This can only take place, Comte believed, once we have discarded the possibility of theological and metaphysical truths as illusion.
 
However, the problem is that Comte could not foresee that in the absence of the capacity to ascertain theological and metaphysical truths, facts become irrelevant, and science becomes corrupted by scientism. The latter two become the whore, the mere playing thing of human passions and whims.
 
We encounter blatant examples of this in the aberrant theories that public school teachers are being taught as the alleged cutting-edge pedagogy. One of these monstrous theories, which are developed by academics for personal gain, and are sold as seminars and textbooks to public school boards, is called gamification.
 
The idea behind gamification is that in the age of video game playing, students learn “differently.” This is yet another form of the sacred cow of diversity. How so, we should ask?  Post-modern game-obsessed people are visually oriented, we are told. This new form of homo sapiens approaches learning much like a Greyhound running in an organized race: by having something of interest dangling before them.
 
Hence, proponents of gamification believe that people today learn only by being offered incentives that lead to instant gratification. Just imagine the incentives that Neanderthals required just to stay alive in pre-history.
 
Gamification and its many variant make-work theories in effect admit that learning through observation, concentration, conceptualization, by reading and study, not to mention through motivation and awe and wonder—anyone of these old-fashioned methods will do—have been steamrolled by post-modern man’s incapacity to think and reflect about higher things, even if for practical reasons.
 
 
One of the implications of gamification is that learning must take a minimalist approach altogether—forget critical thinking—if learning is to take place at all in the future.
 
In the next five years this essay will seem quint, not because the human condition has changed, but because the greater and more brutal degree of aberrations that today’s anti-historical age will have normalized.
 
Postmodern man has entered a new dark age of technological, cultural and spiritual illiteracy. Our time is the breeding ground for the creation of the wardens of future gulags. So, the human drama continues to unravel through de-evolution.
 

[1] Stéphane Courtois, The Black Book of Communism. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999).
[2] Chapman Pincher, Too Secret, Too Long. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984), 59.
[3] William Barrett, The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals. (Garden City, New York, 1982).
[4] Jean-François Revel, Democracy against Itself: The Future of the Democratic Impulse. (New York, N.Y. 1993).
[5] François Furet, Lies, Passions, and Illusions: The Democratic Imagination in the Twentieth Century. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 76.
 
 
 

________________________
Pedro Blas González is Professor of Philosophy at Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida. He earned his doctoral degree in Philosophy at DePaul University in 1995. Dr. González has published extensively on leading Spanish philosophers, such as Ortega y Gasset and Unamuno. His books have included Unamuno: A Lyrical Essay, Ortega's 'Revolt of the Masses' and the Triumph of the New Man, Fragments: Essays in Subjectivity, Individuality and Autonomy and Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega's Philosophy of Subjectivity. He also published a translation and introduction of José Ortega y Gasset's last work to appear in English, "Medio siglo de Filosofia" (1951) in Philosophy Today Vol. 42 Issue 2 (Summer 1998).

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