Thursday, August 18, 2011

No, this exactly what you fought for

I've had it. Yes, I know - Greatest Generation - yadda, yadda, yadda.

The self-selected memory though is getting old. We - especially your humble host - like to throw patchouli oil soaked spit balls at the Baby Boomers and all the cultural fetid mass that came out of what the Europeans call The '68'ers.

Riddle me this though; who had the power in academia, politics, and the culture in the late-50s through the '70s? Who raised the Baby Boomers?

In that light; behold those who lack self reflection.
They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It's not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.
Curious about his grandmother's generation and what they did in the war, he decided three years ago to send letters to local newspapers across the country asking for those who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences.

He rounded off his request with this question: 'Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?'

What is extraordinary about the 150 replies he received, which he has now published as a book, is their vehement insistence that those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war would now be turning in their graves.

There is the occasional bright spot - one veteran describes Britain as 'still the best country in the world' - but the overall tone is one of profound disillusionment.

'I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,' wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, 'and I wonder why I ever tried.'

I call BS. This is the UK they made. These seeds were sewn in the 50-70s, and again - who had power then? They did.

This is the whirlwind. Reap it and weep.

Hat tip Mighty Tim


Scott said...

What a coincidence that I've not visited this site in awhile, but my son and I had this conversation last night.  It was the "greatest generation" that has the respect for  "saving" the world from the Axis Powers, but leaving it in the grips of communism.  The perversions of communism were allowed to permiate through America prior to WWII and accelerated after half the world was delivered to them after WWII.  The good times after the war were a result of our positional strength and the indulgence of the baby boomers was the result.  Add the indulgence to the communist ideology world-wide and you got your '68 and beyond.  We won the battle of WWII, but lost the ideological war by saving Uncle Joe.

Salty Gator said...

To quote Ricky Bobby's prodginy, Walker and Texas Ranger: "Greatest Generation my ass!  Tom Brokaw is a PUNK!"

The "WWII Generation," i.e. those who were in their early to mid twenties during the war, have a lot to be proud of.  But, as the saying goes, you are only as good as your last FITREP.  Their soup sandwich children have royally screwed the pooch, and by today's standards the onus would fall to either the parents or the Government, both of which they controlled.

The WWII Generation and their parents voted for Churchill's opposition, the Labour party, immediately after helping us defeat the Nazis.  What happened next was a socialization that Stalin himself was likely proud of. 

William Powell said...

Father forgive them for they know not what they do.  Whom of us knows what all the unintended consequences of our current actions will be?  Remember that the "Greatest Generation" were all children of the Great Depression.  I remember my father telling me about being issued one .22 round, and being expected to return with something that could become supper -- and Grandpa still had a job!  Is it no wonder that they wanted their children to have all the things they never had?  I was fortunate in that dad made me work for all those bennies; a lot of other kids I knew just had the goodies handed out to them.  In the case of the UK, those WWII vets were raised in a fairly socialist environment before the war as well.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a recursive exercise.  If it's the greatest generation's fault, then it's their parents fault, then it's their grandparents fault, then it's their great grandparents fault...etc.

Mike M. said...

Oh, you've dropped the H-bomb.

Quite rightly.  The World War 2 decade group had a very lackluster performance once they got in charge.  They've been living on the Second World War reputation...and ignoring what they did afterward.  Sort of like the college football star who turned into a drunken sot.

(Side issue:  A political 'generation' is about 10 years, not the 20 of a biological generation.  A person born in 1946 and another born in 1964 may both be considered Baby Boomers, but they have very little in common.  Start thinking of a 10-year political generation and you'll start getting good answers.)

Outlaw Mike said...

I think you're being unfair. The generation which produced the Babyboomers simply had no clue what was happening to their offspring and, indeed, most of the time vehemently resented their ideals.

Where do you think the term "generation gap" comes from? I mean, back in the eighties there was a lot of talk (in the Low Countries) about the "generatiekloof" (literally translated "generational abyss", generation gap).

My parents can (just) be considered as among those who raised the babyboomers. Jesus, they were working their *sses off all the time.

The Greatest generation not only fought WWII, but post war they were ALSO responsible for the rapid economic growth, the 'Wirtschaftswunder', the Golden Sixties etc.

I'd say they were just too busy creating all the wealth and infrastructure. The only thing one could reproach them is that they possibly invested insufficient time with their kids. Maybe they should have noticed the brainwashing of their offspring.

P.S. Wallace said...

Along the lines of this post, I've had a little historical thesis/theory running around in my head for a few years, never to be researched--and possible unresearchable--which says the "Greatest Generation" partially caused the problems of the 60s because so many had been in the service and had put enough coarseness, self-certitude, and homogeoneity in society, derived from their time in service, to a point where the Baby Boomers rebelled. I'm not defending the rebellion--it went too far. Nor am I saying "military service time=automatic jerk". Far from it. Service is enobling. But it can change attitudes, and not always for the better, and we might as well admit it. Plus, once you've survived the Depression and fought for Western Civlization, it's hard not to be a little smug--and that might impact how you relate to your offspring. 

Now lets add into the equation the large numbers of the preceding generation who had been mobilized for the Great War in 1917. My guess is that never before or after in American history would so large a percentage of the population have been subject for part of their lives to what I would call "Regular Army"-type discipline as in the 50s and 60s (remember, Civil War armies were different in crucial ways, including election of officers by men, and the lack of censorship of letters and diaries).

We know what the effects have been of a small number taking over the educational establishment--decisive over time. So the question is this--did perhaps too much of the military outlook (both the good and the bad) reach society at large, due to the various wars, the peacetime draft, and the overarching Cold War, and did the youth finally rebell once some obvious holes in the values of the system got revealed, showing the feet of clay?

For my one point of "proof" of the influence of a martial mentality on society at large in the 50s, look at the haircuts back then. Never before and never after have American hairstyles been so uniformly short. I find it impossible to believe that was not a direct result of so men having been in the service (though I could be wrong, not being a cultural expert of the times). The problem is that while they are some of the best fighters in the world when they believe in the cause, Americans are not Prussians. But if you put 10 million men in uniform, in a nation of 150 million, you can't expect some of the military attitude to not follow them home and for it not to have a impact--the positive as well as the negative (especially as Americans are not Prussians). Note--I'm not talking about PTSD or other "Rambo" crap. I'm just talking about increased acceptance of regimentation. It just may have been too much for the society at large to swallow for more than a while, and hence the blowback of the 60s (which went too far). 

P.S. Wallace said...

Like I said, just a thesis for thought. A similiar look would need to be made at the changes in the values and "governing abilities" of the college-educated due to large expansion of that class due to the GI Bill right after the war. Large expansions can be good, but they also bring their own problems (the pre-war USN officer corps and post-war USN officer corps were different creatures, I would think).  Likewise, the expansion of the college-educated would surely mean a reduction in what I would call the "yeoman farmer" type--the smart, bright, non-college educated guy who becomes a decent, hardworking Midwestern business owner and pillar of stability in his community. I wonder what the reduction in those ranks might have meant.

Outlaw Mike said...

No, what I am actually amazed at is how it was possible that in so short a time such vehement anti-americanism, not only among european youths but indeed among american youths too, could take such a flight.

I am 46 now, and I can appreciate that 20 years is actually nothing. It flies by.

Now take The Netherlands anno 1965. Imagine yourself in Holland in 1965. That's just 20 years after the liberation of Holland. To me, living in 2011, 1991 almost seems like yesterday. I vividly recall Nirvana's debut album, the Gulf War, Yeltsin on a tank. It's like it was yesterday.

So in Holland in 1965, the Waal crossing at Nijmegen by the 82nd Airborne, that must have been like... living memory! And yet college kids and university students all over The Netherlands saw fit to lambast the US. SUPPOSE that what America did in Nam in the sixties was indeed not kosher - by and large, I'm sure it was kosher btw - but SUPPOSE it was not. Suppose America in the sixties was INDEED an imperialist occupier...

EVEN THEN the scale of the sacrifice of your country in WWII, in 1965 such a short time ago, must have been such that one would still reasonably expect a degree of credit towards US actions in South east Asia.

As it was, the US did a lot of good in Nam AND YET was lambasted. Not only in Holland but all over Europe and in the heartland as well.

By the babyboomers.

It seems uncomprehensible to me. No, I won't throw a stone at the Greatest Generation. I'll throw to at the BB's though. They fucked up everything and continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it fair for us to blame the WWII Generation for actions of the Baby Boomers. Aren't the Boomers responsible for their own actions? Or did we decide to suddenly believe that nothing is one's own fault?

DeltaBravo said...

And what about some people who wander around running for president who lambaste us as "busybodies" meddling in other countries. 

We are indeed evil, aren't we.  Just causing trouble everywhere for the world. 

Some politicians would have had issues with us not minding our own business and shutting down the gas chambers in Europe. 

Redeye80 said...

When I look at Britain, I see our future.  I am so sad & mad at the same time. We are headed down the same road.

BTW I am buying more ammo!

James said...

Sense the war ended the soviets and others in europe have feed their people on a steady diet of propaganda, Lately (last 10-15yrs or so) its been basicly:

The US did nothing in WW2 and the Russians did EVERYTHING. Infact the Soviets won the Entire war with a little help from the other european powers while america just took credit.

Oh yea and the Japanese were a bunch of sub human monkeys who cant fight and had crap ships. Loved that one.

Its now crossed the pond and is growing largely in the UK and is taught more and more in American schools and collages.

Basicly We are beign edited out of history by the very people we sent a Litteral fortune to every week in ww2 of arms and vehicles.

Salty Gator said...

the most fungible commodity!  


Everyone on the front porch report your weapons!

ruger SR9
ruger Mini 14 tactical
ruger 556 (you may be noticing a trend)
mossberg 500 tactical

Salty Gator said...

Wow, Wallace.  In that line of thinking, my parents, the prodginy of Patton's Top Sgt and a senior NCO Marine from 1st MARDIV, should have been total screwballs.

But wait...

They're not.  In fact they are two highly successful, highly educated individuals who raised three kids with master's degrees.

Salty Gator said...

I may be re-thinking my position.  The Greatest Generation was fairly junior during WWII.  By the time they came back and had kids, the global western population was suffering from war fatigue in Europe, and was about to severely suffer from it once Korea and Vietnam touched off in America.  Britain was under constant bombardment during WWII.  They were holding on by a thread.  Liberals promised them the world, to shuffle from war materiel production to channeling the vastly powerful engine of the war time state into helping the people.  The birth of the western socialist machine.  instead of picking themselves up by the bootstraps, the people of Britain became convinced that they deserved such treatment, just like after the "New Deal" and Great Society Americans became convinced of the same, and the spiral of increased entitlements and decreasing productivity was born.

ivan0026 said...

Wallace's idea is just that WWII and the Draft era saw much more of the population run through the military. The result of being in the military is getting used to regimentation. The result was that when those people entered civilian life, they allowed it to become more regimented than the past. The generation that came after them rebelled against it.

Another factor was that many veterans went to college instead of similarly respectable (but non-college educated) professions. When their kids grew up, they were expected to go to college and colleges wanted them. The kids were not the experienced veterans of a generation before but rather adolescants who wanted to make a name for themselves in a relatively safe and regimented society. They rebelled and went too far.

DeltaBravo said...

Alternate theory:  The kids did not have battle and liberating concentration camps, and holding their dying friends in their arms, and seeing men die by the hundreds, and seeing the effects of communism and fascism and socialism on a nation to "educate" them before they went to the university.  University time became a great big playpen for people who didn't really have an appreciation for how good they had it.  They were sent off with all the freedom of the world, but none of the sobering knowlege to temper that freedom and give it a purpose outside of personal selfishness.

MR T's Haircut said...

Mine fell into the Ocean....


Ruger 357 5 shot.  It aint big but it will do for now.

wolfwalker said...

who had the power in academia, politics, and the culture in the late-50s through the '70s? Who raised the Baby Boomers?

Not the war veterans, save for the few senior officers who left the Army and went into politics. 

My (only somewhat informed) opinion is that P.S. Wallace, above, is on the right track.  The 'Greatest Generation' has not been studied, sociologically, nearly as much as it deserves.  In America (that's important) a lot of them went right back to being good solid citizens and stayed that way.  But a lot of them ... didn't.  They left the farms and went to live in towns that bore a strong resemblance to military housing, all nice neat identical little ticky-tacky boxes in which deviation from the established norm was Fiercely Frowned On to say the least. 

But what was the established norm?  They didn't know anymore.<span><span>  They'd left the old social structure behind, but didn't know what to replace it with.  They were surrounded by new technology, but didn't know how to control it.  Many of them suffered from post-traumatic stress all their lives.  I strongly suspect that every one of the major social changes of the 1950s and 1960s can be traced to the WW2 veterans in one way or another, either themselves or their influence on their kids.  </span></span>

That's in America.

In Europe and England ... it was worse.  Much worse.  I think most Americans don't fully appreciate just how completely wrecked Europe was by WW2.  In England, food was rationed for several years after the war ended.  Politically, the war had completely discredited all the old "conservative" ideas.  For the second time in thirty years, an entire generation of young men had been killed, wounded, or otherwise affected by war.  I suspect that a disproportionate percentage of those KIA and/or WIA were men who would have become strong 'conservative' leaders.  With them gone, the only group with a ready made power structure was the old guard of Socialists -- who had always been against the war, and seized on the opportunity by promising that they would make things better.  And it worked.  Hell, it probably would have worked here.

The Greatest Generation?  Yeah, I think they were.  They won a war against a vicious and powerful foe.  Then they came home and found themselves in a different war against a very different enemy, one they didn't understand and didn't know how to fight.  They did their best, though, IMHO, and the fact that they seem to have lost doesn't take anything away from the fact that they did try.

Wharf Rat said...

I also think prosperity did this to us.  Too many people not having to fight for their liberty - whether literal or figuratively in our economy.

Fortunately, I have hope for this country, because at least half still believe its the right thing to do to no rely on other people for your well being.  Unfortuately - there are enough people who have been dummed down who just don't realize they've been dummed down.

Redeye80 said...

I prefer to keep'em guessin' on what I have.  You never know who is lurking here. Damm revenuers.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

<span>I prefer to keep'em guessin' on what I have.  You never know who is lurking here. Damm revenuers.</span>

Amen, brother.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


WAAAAYYYY off topic, but here is our eminently fair, unbiased mainstream news media in action.  From the network that brought you Dan Rather and his journalistic integrity when "investigating" President Bush's ANG record, we now have this bit of interesting merchandising

Bias?  What bias?

Anonymous said...

First in reply to Salty Gator, I *knew* someone was going to pull that kind of objection. To which I can only reply that I tried to forestall the argument. Look, numbers matter. If 10% more of a population become one way than another, it has an impact over time. Or else our politics right now would not somewhat revolve around trying to sway the 10% or so (it's a guess) in the "middle" who are not firmly committed to one side or the other.

Second, as I was thinking about this, there is one thing that needs to be acknowledged--a lot of vets were not "combat vets", in the sense they weren't storming the beaches of Omaha or Saipan under fire. They were either rear-area types or they were manning PC-1234 in 1944, after the U-boat threat had diminished. But they still fought, were vets, and were used to regimentation. Well, I like regimentation myself, but I can understand how it might have gone to far. We also need to remember that the home front in WWII had seen a lot of regulation and regimentation and propaganda that had to have taken a while to die out of the civic memory.

As one more thing--let's throw into the mix the 1930s efforts to "mobilize the working man" in a Rousseaian "general will" sort of way. Go take a look at the "Tribute to the worker" statue that is at Hoover Dam. In my mind, it would have looked at home in Speer's Berlin-not becaue it is fascist per se, but because that was a artistic motif at the time. And think of this--right before WWII there was an attempt to make a "half-Nazi" national salute for things like the National Anthem (don't have a lot of details on this). Overall, what I am saying is that from the 1930s on there were a lot of different strands in American life that threatened traditional American notions of individuality. I agree with the ideas about the "immaturity" of the BB kids who grew up in a prosperous society--but true "accident investigation" involves looking at *all* causal factors, not just the ones that make us feel good.

Anonymous said...

As an addition--when thinking about the more "power to the people" efforts of Progressives and New Dealers from the 10s to the 30s, and the later feelings that the nation had become too "bourgeoisie" in the 50s and early 60s, I can only say "well no kidding. Isn't that what you were fighting for? To have the common man be comfortable in a middle class lifestyle?" 

P.S. Wallace said...

The above is mine.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts, PSW.