Death fears of the Boomer Left

"Back in the Sixties," sighs an ex-hippie lady I know, "everybody was happy. Really. Everybody."  

Gosh, that wasn't what other people remember. Most teenagers go through a lot of ups and downs, and in the Sixties the Baby Boomers were rollercoastering through their own adolescence. (Some still are.)

But as the Boomer Left thinks back to those glory years, they sound like the poet Wordsworth rhapsodizing about the early French Revolution -- before the heads started to roll from Dr. Guillotin's clever new contraption:

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

But to be young was very heaven!
Well, bless their romantic little hearts. The Sixties! Woodstock! The Summer of Love!

Yet today Lennon is dead and Yoko is a little old lady; Jack Kennedy is long gone, brother Bobby and Dr. King are glorified Martyrs of the Left  -- which is odd, given that Bobby sent the FBI after Dr. King. Even elegant Jackie O has passed away. The Rolling Stones are gathering moss, and The Grateful Dead are looking a lot less grateful than they used to. But the enemies of the Boomer Left are still alive:  Richard M. Nixon is now reborn in George W. Bush as the Left's favorite hate object.

It wasn't supposed to be that way.

A lot of the loss of political sanity we see today reflects the death fears of the Boomer Left. The Baby Left was only a small  percentage of the Boomer generation. But starting in the Sixties, they managed to place their indelible stamp on the media, and haven't let up since.

"The Sixties" was itself a PR fantasy, whooped up by our objective media to flatter their younger audience, and to make converts for the Left. For Boomers themselves, swinging Left was a good career move: It got them noticed in the media, in colleges, in advertising, in the arts, in politics, and in the sexual meat market.

Europe had a slightly different version in the rebellious year of '68. It was all triggered by the biological clock of the post-war Baby Boom, of course, but the Left quickly took control of the generational narrative. A tiny minority of Boomers grabbed political and media power, and have exercised it with a vengeance, literally, over half a century.  Today they are having majot anger control problems, precisely because their media monopoly is being threatened. The traditional American narrative is not yet stamped into extinction.      

The rising Boomer Left openly conspired to conduct a "Long March through the institutions" -- to infiltrate and seize control over the  American media, universities, and bureaucracies. Those institutions are stacked today with aging Lefties, enforcing Political Correctness in all its maddest manifestations. Black faces dominate Madison Avenue ads, as do white women and teenagers, while middle-aged white males are demonized and ridiculed on billboards and TV. This has a devastating effect on boys looking to their Dads to be role models, only to see Dad put down mercilessly in all the pop media. Kids are very confused as a result. But Politically Correct agit-prop  satisfies the Boomer Left's need for psychic vengeance. PC is now the dominant style of our age. 

When people confront their own mortality, their finiteness, they tend to project their personal fears onto the world. So we have Global Warming panic, Flesh-Eating Germs panic, Nuclear Power panic and scores of other imaginary fears. For anxious people the world is full of scary things, all because of their need to escape the prospect of personal end. The PC world is as full of superstitious phobias as the Mayan world of a thousand years ago; the Mayans controlled their fears by sacrificing children to ensure the sun would rise the next morning. We sacrifice conservatives: Newt Gingrich, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, two Attorneys General in a row.

Oddly enough, this omni-panic goes along with omni-denial, as liberal Boomers turn a blind eye to real dangers, like the looming nuclear proliferation threat coming from Ahmadi-Nejad, the Syrians and the NoKos. On any given day the Washington Post and the New York Times will fire yet another denial out to a skeptical world. What nuclear proliferation? Bush lied! Today, the French Foreign Minister is more serious about Iranian nukes than the leading Democrats running for president of the United States. 

But it's not just nuclear proliferation. On the Gay Left there is denial of such immediate dangers as HIV transmission, with some men having "bug chasing" sex parties with infected carriers. Europe continues to import millions of militant Islamists into its multicultural fantasy land, and now faces demographic extinction; but the Euromedia still live in blissful ignorance. Major Euromedia like the BBC, the Guardian and Der Spiegel  blame America and Israel for their own suicidal multicultural blunders; those scapegoats are making the peace-loving Muslims mad, you see. Such misdirected fears go hand-in-hand with misdirected denial and rage.

Just recently we saw yet another shameful display at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, as the Left united in publicly slandering a four-star General, a man who has seen combat on behalf of the United States, who has served us all his adult life, who literally wrote the manual on counter-insurgency, and who came back to report steady improvement in Iraq. General Petraeus drives the Left barking mad, in good part because he is so un-PC: Another middle aged white guy, super-competent, intelligent, honest, brave and modest, in uniform, telling us what we don't want to hear. Damn! 

American victory in Iraq is a threat to the Left, which has always told us that "wars never solve anything." Google shows almost four million reptitions of that mantra.   Fighting is said to be a universal evil, running right against the rock-hard facts that tell us that civilized -- yes, civilized -- warfare abolished slavery, established peace and freedom in half the world, liberated the oppressed, spread democratic forms of government, and created the basis for world-wide prosperity today. American military strength protects us every single day of our lives.

We forget that at our peril.

No matter: The Left had to slander a victorious American commander in Iraq because he brought the unwelcome news that they were wrong --- again.  They felt betrayed, giggling wildly to the sad pun of "General Betray-Us."  But the American people did not feel betrayed. (Not by the General, anyway.)

The personal death fears of the Boomer Left are a key to contemporary politics. Death fear drives the lifelong quest for Hillary Clinton to be the First Woman President at any cost in personal destruction to her political enemies, the narcissistic need for John F. Kerry to see himself as his mythic hero JFK, and the grandiosity behind Al Gore's Global Prophecy of Doom, now playing to loud applause in Norway. (Where Al will no doubt receive the Nobel Peace Prize for peddling faux science to millions of dupes).

We can also see the Boomer Left's real fear in their constant need to shut out conservative voices, just like they shut out their parents' voices in the Sixties. Conservatives are too much in touch with reality. Conservatives are scary. The Left doesn't listen to conservatives as a matter of noble principle.

In the Sixties the Boomer Left discovered  the answer to war and human conflict, and indeed the secret of eternal life. Then reality came along with one shocking blow after another: JFK was killed, RFK was, too, Dr. King went down, and Vietnam happened. The Left twisted all those events. You will not read in their memoirs that JFK was killed by a Communist loner, that RFK was murdered by a Palestinian militant, and that our retreat from Vietnam was followed by the biggest crashing domino in the horrific history of Communism: Pol Pot's genocide of his own people in Cambodia. None of those facts exist for the Boomer Left. They never happened.

The fear of death is a basic human obsession. It may be the basic human fear. Judging from the archeological record, modern humans arose between 40 and 70 thousand years ago, when our ancestors began to decorate graves with red ochre, buried personal weapons and jewelry with the bodies of the dead, and gave them food and servant companions for the journey. Symbolic objects arose 30-70 millenia ago, and were constantly employed to ward off the fear of dying. The symbolic undoing of death is a universal marker for Homo Sapiens Sapiens today.
The Boomer Left created its own fantasy world without death. Well, they were hardly the first. The Egyptians built their pyramids and funeral mastabas, generation after generation over three thousand years, culminating in the super-sized Great Pyramid at Giza. They were all dedicated to the immortality of whichever pharaoh died and was buried there. Ancient grave mounds can be found in Scandinavia and the Americas, as a kind of proto-pyramid. By the beginnings of intensive agriculture and settled cities, six to ten millenia ago, we find humans grasping for eternity by way of great monuments in India, South-East Asia, Sumeria (Iraq) and China.

Conservatives don't have the answer to the fear of death; it's not the sort of thing you can find settled answers to. But we respect the ways in which humans have learned to cope: By religious faith -- the constructive kind, not the suicide-murdering version -- by contributing positively to the world in any number of ways, by raising children, by passing on what wisdom we have learned.  Conservatives don't believe in denial, by and large. Historically, Anglo-American conservatives have been skeptical about grandiose "solutions" to human frailties; but not closed-minded to reasoned progress. Balancing skepticism and open-mindedness is a conservative value.

The greatest flaw of the Boomer Left is to see life through plainly false ideas. Start with a false premise, and you'll end up with false conclusions. Begin with the conviction that we can turn all human conflicts into peace and love just by willing it, and you end up convinced that those who don't agree with you must be evil, or must be forced to obey. Start with the false certainty that youth is eternal, and you end up undermining responsible parenting and kids. Assume  that cultures are easy to change -- and not the treasured heritage of a hundred generations -- and you end up importing millions of dangerously indoctrinated militants into your peaceful land. Or take it on faith that brain-altering drugs are harmless, and you end up with vulnerable people hooked on smack and crack, killing each other to feed their habit. Or fall for the idea that women are better than men, and you ignite a war between the sexes, and lead children astray.

The biggest error we tend to make is to confuse the Boomer Left with the Boomer Generation as a whole. The Left has managed to peddle that illusion. As usual, liberals fool themselves into believing that they are The People; But the conservative revival in the United States shows it isn't true. It's good to keep in mind that General Petraeus is also a Boomer. 

Conservatives represent what Sigmund Freud called the "Reality Principle," the principle of sane adulthood. Starting in the Sixties, the Left began to deny the Reality Principle, leading to a kind of mass neurosis. Whole Leftist philosophies, like post-modernism, explicitly deny that reality is real. Terms like "Reality Principle" and "mass neurosis" have therefore lost popularity;  but they capture the essence of the problem.

To be sure, conservatives are vulnerable to all the usual human frailties. But to be "conservative" is a near-synonym for being grown-up. A big part of maturity is to come to terms with one's own limits -- without neurotic denial, without blaming and raging at others, and without undue fear.

General Petraeus, as a US combat leader, has come to terms with his own fear of death in a civilized and disciplined way. But last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee kept on swerving into black comedy when Democrats reminded him that people die in war. It was cringe-making, sink-through-the-floor embarassing.

As a grown-up making thoughtful decisions under the most difficult circumstances, Petraeus is clearly the moral superior of all the neurotics who slandered him last week. We survive and thrive as a civilization only because of people like him.

One of these days it would be nice for the grown-ups to take the culture back.

James Lewis blogs at
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