That we are now in the midst of a carnival of Boomer-bashing is testament to the dubious triumph of generational thinking, the prevailing tendency, that is, to view social and political problems almost solely in terms of generations – itself, ironically, an intellectual legacy of the Sixties. But, as Bristow notes, the construction of Baby Boomers as a problem is also testament to a deeper anxiety, and a more profound pessimism, about the future, about our societal ability to make the world anew, to progress as a society. After all, the attack on the Sixties, as the time of the Baby Boomers’ youth, is implicitly an attack on youthful optimism and confidence in general. They had the party, runs the common metaphor brilliantly dissected by Bristow, and now it’s our job to clean up.
Perhaps the nastiest part of this generational buck-passing is the extent to which it turns children against parents. Problems of the public world, problems of housing, pensions and the economy in general, are ‘rhetorically [brought] into the “home”, imbuing them with a level of emotional intensity properly reserved for private family dramas’. It turns out that the easy answers generated by the Baby Boomer cultural script are not really answers at all. They’re dead ends, distractions, scapegoats. And what’s more, they militate against the very thing we need a lot more of: social solidarity. United we stand, generationally divided we fall.