Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 29-Jan-08
Reader comments on the Nihilism of Generation-X

Web Log - January, 2008

Reader comments on the Nihilism of Generation-X

Who's more at fault for our problems - Gen-Xers or Boomers?

My recent article, "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X," brought several comments from web site readers. I'm going to answer the most interesting comments here.

Related Articles

The housing bubble began in 1995.: This means that the housing crisis will last for almost another decade.... (8-Sep-2009)
Laughable SEC report on Madoff absolves SEC management of blame: "Confusion" and "inexperience" of young SEC staff members are blamed.... (6-Sep-2009)
Stories of massive generational fraud and corruption continue to pour out: Long-time readers of this web site know how much my life... (14-Apr-2009)
The economy, the stimulus plan and the budget plan all continue to unravel: Markets keep falling as world economic trends continue to plunge.... (2-Mar-2009)
Neil Howe calls Early Gen-Xers the "dumbest generation": I disagree - Boomers are the dumbest generation.... (10-Dec-2008)
'Liberation Hero' Robert Mugabe now destroys Zimbabwe with cholera: Adding to his record of mass torture, slaughter and economic destruction,... (8-Dec-2008)
A generational view of China's growing melamine food disaster: On Thursday, the FDA issued a nationwide alert, banning Chinese dairy products... (17-Nov-2008)
How Boomers and Generation-Xers brought about the dumbing down of Information Technology (IT) : Software development has adopted a Java cookbook approach that leads to project failures. Also: How Digimarc Corp. self-destructed with management's cookbook programming mentality. (1-Jul-2008)
Questions for readers: Managing Boomers vs Generation-X in the workplace.: Also an ethics question: When do you tell the boss that the project is crashing and burning?... (5-Jun-2008)
Teen "emo subculture" creating violent fault line in Mexico City: The depressive 'emotive' music style is also being blamed for suicides in Europe.... (25-May-2008)
Software development projects for Moody's, Digimarc, Y2K, DEC further illuminate Gen-X nihilism: As Boomers and Gen-Xers have taken charge, software development standards have suffered.... (23-May-2008)
China and Taiwan: Understanding two different war paradigms: None of Obama, Clinton or McCain have any idea of this.... (23-Apr-08)
NY Governor Elliot Spitzer: A Generation-Xer gets his comeuppance: Rarely has someone's fall from grace been met with so much glee.... (12-Mar-08)
Reader comments on the Nihilism of Generation-X: Who's more at fault for our problems - Gen-Xers or Boomers?... (29-Jan-08)
The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X: Who's more to blame for our troubles: The Boomer generation or Generation X?... (21-Jan-08)
Markets fall as investors are increasingly unsettled by bad economic news: Hopes for quick return to "normal" bubble growth are fading.... (21-Nov-07)

"As an Xer, I actually enjoyed reading your perspective on this.

I found your computer industry experiences enlightening. Thanks for sharing that. I read The Soul of a New Machine 25 years ago and enjoyed it immensely, as it described the kind of workplace where real work got accomplished and rewarded by real managers. As you point out, such an environment no longer exists anywhere due to the generational configuration that is present. And a good question to ask would be: What generation was not present in the workforce at that time? The Xers, of course, so that does validate your point to some extent.

I dropped out of the workforce 5 years ago, as it appeared that things were getting and would continue to get worse, much worse, as the Xers were beginning to move into management slots and the rest of the Silents got pushed out by the Boomers. That turned out to be the case in my former workplace and I got a lot of phone calls for 2 or 3 years after I left. Leaving was for the best.

As far as Xer managers go, it's also been my experience that they are particularly insidious as managers, even worse than the worst of the Boomers. The Boomers will promote the most incompetent and despicable Xers they can find, as they are only comfortable supervising individuals who are even more incompetent and despicable than they are, and there are plenty of Xers to pick from who fit that description. This then feeds the fury and/or fears of the remaining competent employees, particularly the Xers. The best Xer employees don't want or even bother to aim for promotions anymore. ...

Anyway, your article helped me see the dynamic that is really present. The Xers are just as much to blame, maybe more. But the sad fact is that the Xers who have power are a more despicable subset of Xers as a whole.

This description of Boomer managers is consistent with the stereotype -- true for the most part -- that Boomers are incompetent boobs who are easily led.

Through the 60s-90s, the Boomers were never able to do anything other than to complain and criticize, and allowed the Silents to lead and take care of everything. Since the Silents pretty much retired in the 1990s, Boomers were still unable to do anything other than complain and criticize, but they still were promoted into senior management positions. Without Silents to make the major strategic decisions, became dependent on the opinions of others, and Gen-Xers filled that gap.

You say that, "The Boomers will promote the most incompetent and despicable Xers they can find, as they are only comfortable supervising individuals who are even more incompetent and despicable than they are, and there are plenty of Xers to pick from who fit that description."

What you're describing is a generational variant of Gresham's Law, which says that "Bad money drives out good money." In this case, "Bad Gen-Xers drive out good Gen-Xers." The bad Gen-Xers, who are the most dishonest, nihilistic and destructive, are the ones best able to convince the malleable Boomers to promote them.

That's why it seems that to a lot of people that Gen-Xers are ALL bad. Of course that's not true, but what happens is that the bad Xers seem to rise to the top in this era of Lenscap Stupidity by the Boomer senior management. For example, not all Gen-Xers are like nihilistic, destructive, self-destructive groups at, but that group still has inordinate visibility because of the weakness of the Boomers leading the Democrats.

"A few years ago, I worked with a guy who was a Silent/Boomer, born in 1943. He was sort of a mix of both. We became friends. The only reason we were friends was that we both hated the Boomer managers we worked for, especially one born in 1947.

Anyway, he had come up with several terms to describe what the Boomers do. The first was "false lighting," which he sort of described as creating a derogatory and incorrect impression of an individual and trying to highlight that as much as possible. The second was "questioning motives," which meant that the Boomer managers tended to focus on behavioral stuff that they could arbitrarily distort and mischaracterize, rather than work performance."

Those two phrases capture what Boomers do: criticize and complain.

However, I'd have to add that that I've found that Boomers DO appreciate work performance, even though they don't demand it, and often don't understand it.

The Xer managers are more likely to ignore, denigrate and sabotage work performance.

"Among those Boomers who want the system to collapse there are those who already got their goodies, yet think the system is somehow immoral, and wish it would end.

And among Xers who yearn for collapse, there are those who are frustrated that they didn't get theirs, and see a collapse as a leveling of the playing field.

There are, of course, the two additional cases, Boomers who don't get much out of the system, and Xers who have done well already, and who therefore share the views of the other generation in the previous case."

I don't see this as the most important distinction.

One could argue, for example, that I would "want the system to collapse" because I haven't gotten my "goodies." I would strongly disagree with that characterization, but even if it were true, I would never do anything to bring about the collapse. Boomers are complainers and talkers, but not doers. Boomers are not destructive, except through inaction.

Xers who yearn for collapse are doers, not talkers, and would actively take forceful steps to bring about that collapse and destruction. In fact, that's how the meaning of "nihilism" came to mean collapse and destruction of everything, as the "Gen-Xers" of the day in the Bolshevik Revolution destroyed every Tsarist instution, leading to the bloody deaths of tens of millions. Today, They've already destroyed the world financial system. That's the difference between Xer Nihilism and Boomer stupidity, and it's the point that I was addressing in the original article.

"There was never a declaration of war on Iraq passed by Congress. In addition, we have already met the objectives set out by Pres. Bush in this conflict. Saddam Hussein is dead, buried and his gov't is no more. What we are in now is an occupation which is draining our treasury by the day. ... Somehow, no one in our administration ever read Sun-Tzu.

That's all in the hand that was dealt to us. Remember that we're not just a country - we're policemen of the world. Like it or not, that's our duty and our destiny, and we have no choice but to fulfill it.

I can assure you that everyone in the administration is familiar with Sun Tzu. In fact, when Chinese president Hu Jintao visited President Bush in Washington almost two years ago, he brought a gift with him: A silk copy of the Art of War.

"You posted an article about how an Xer woman had apparently brought false domestic violence charges against her Boomer husband and in response he had killed her by smashing her head and then he committed suicide. My guess is that in many cases Boomer feminist lawyers suggest such things to "get even" with Boomer men. The same kind of dynamics play out in the workplace when incompetent Boomer women who have been promoted under affirmative action programs make decisions to promote Xer women who then carry out similar false, sadistic and hateful actions in the workplace. That's what most of the phone calls I received for 2 or 3 years after I left were about now that I think more about it."

I spent over ten years doing research on gender issues, and I've heard stories of that type over and over. At the time I did that research, I didn't realize that it was a Gen-Xer vs Boomer issue, but now that's a lot clearer.

There are many excellent women managers and senior managers -- I've worked for many of them in my career.

But as in other areas, Gresham's Law applies, and the bad Gen-Xers drive out the good Gen-Xers, and many woman have been promoted to positions where they're totally incompetent in order to meet a gender quota. The absolute worst is college "women's studies programs," where the only qualification to be a professor is, as far as I can tell, the knowledge of a 5th grader combined with an estrogen-based hatred of men.

Working for a competent woman manager can be a joy; working for incompetent woman manager can be a hell worse than death. And if you don't believe that, just ask any woman working for one.

"I find your overall thought-process compelling and even applicable to my life. I wanted to respond to your article about the Nihilism of Generation X (of which I am firmly a member, being born in the mid 1970's) stating that was an unfair depiction of my generation as a whole. But then the French trading catastrophe came to light, and upon re-reading your article, I have to concede you are on to something. Just please don't paint every member of a generational group with the same brush--there are leaders that will emerge from each generation to clean up the mess. I thank you for mentioning Eisenhower as an example, and when the time comes (i.e. after the huge mess is made), I hope Generation X can step up to the plate and produce a leader as solid as he.

I have no doubt that you will produce such a leader, though if you don't, then the country won't survive. Your generation may produce some villains, but it will also produce what will go down in history as the greatest leaders of the time.

"This subprime crisis in general has the capacity to bring this country and the worldwide economy to its knees as you have explained much on your website. However, in order for it to do so, it needs to cause a true panic that has thus far been avoided (albeit narrowly). I suspect the "drunken euphoria" you alluded to previously and the overall ignorance of very real risks in the markets are due in large part to lenscap stupidity. To put it bluntly, Boomers would just as soon stick their heads in the sand about risks to their retirement money, which would not survive a prolonged downturn at this point, and this will prevent a real panic from taking hold as long as Boomers are still in their high-paying jobs and continue to put money away into 401(k) and the likes. If anything, their propensity to stick their heads in the sand (because in their minds, the return to austerism they had to endure in their childhood years is too painful to face) will keep them plowing money into the markets regardless of risk levels."

That's absolutely not true. Everything will change overnight with the "regeneracy."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're already seeing the first signs of the "regeneracy." This word is used in generational theory to refer to a time when the country suffers an enormous shock, the political bickering stops, and the country unifies around its leader. It's called the "regeneracy" because it's the time in the generational cycle when national and societal unity is regenerated, and the country is unified once more.

There are, unfortunately, many enormous shocks yet to come -- a major stock market crash, and some kind of military disaster, perhaps a terrorist event on American soil or a military disaster overseas. These catalysts will completely move the country toward a unified goal of survival, and preservation of the American way of life, and we will be led into the Clash of Civilizations world war.

"While you're right in an academic sense that the subprime crisis should cause a crisis, I am not totally sold on the fact this will be the pivotal event to cause the generational crisis you refer to. While the risks are still there, the crisis may indeed unfold quickly. But if it does not, the stage will be set for a stock market bubble to rival that of the late 1990's to last 2, 3, maybe 4 years. It could be that bubble bursting sometime between 2012 and 2016, as outlined in Robert Kiyosaki's book "Rich Dad Prophecy", that causes the real unraveling to take place. Right now, our Boomer-led government can borrow more money to bail everyone out to keep people's heads in the sand (i.e. get re-elected). But when the tide of money flows into Social Security changes next decade, our government won't have the ability to do this so will have to let the unravelling take place no matter how painful it is."

There isn't a snowflake's chance in hell of anything like this happening.

It's not the subprime crisis that's causing the financial crisis; that's just a symptom.

The underlying cause is the totally debauched, depraved and abusive use of credit, as implemented by Gen-Xer "financial engineers" who, with full knowledge of what they were doing, defrauded investors and the public, creating enormous credit, real estate and stock market bubbles that are now leaking like mad.

This fraud was made possible by the "Lenscap Stupidity" of Boomer senior managers, who went along with the fraud so that they could benefit as well.

What you don't understand is that it's the constellation of generations that's driving this. You have vicious Gen-Xers with no adult supervision from their Boomer managers. This combination is lethal.

Even if there were no bubble today, the bubble would now be created by this generational constellation.

So it's not the subprime crisis that's causing disaster; and even the bubbles themselves are not the root cause. The root cause is the lethal combination of nihilistic, destructive Gen-Xers and stupid, greedy Boomers.

"I think your ideas have a lot of merit to them, but if subprime turns out to not be the straw to break the camel's back, I hope your repeated warnings that it would be will not discredit your ideas overall."

Think of the coming disaster as a 20-mile high tsunami heading for us, launched decades ago, about to wash over the entire country. There is nothing that can stop it. All you can do is prepare for it. Don't worry about me; worry about yourself.

"According to Strauss and Howe, we should see a boomer in the white house this year. Clinton, Edwards, Romney, Huckabee,Thompson and Guliani fit the bill. However, we could see a Silent or X-er in the WH in the form of McCain or Obama. Who do you see taking the oath of office on 1/20/09?"

I don't think it really matters, since events will be driving policies, rather than vice versa. If I had to choose who I was most comfortable with, given that I know what's coming, I would think the best choices are McCain or Clinton. Either one would hopefully provide some adult supervision to keep the Xers from making too many impulsive decisions. On the other hand, maybe an Obama would be more decisive. How's that for a wishy-washy response?

"Thank you for your response to my inquiry. I believe and feel in my gut that we are facing major changes in the near future. If the US Govt does keep its promises, they will be paid in virtually worthless or near worthless dollars. I do not count on these promises for my own future, because I am skeptical and have been for a long long time, but I feel bad for people who do. I love my country but the government is wasteful, full of liars and ignorant on many levels. I just don't understand how some of these govt officials live with themselves and how they keep getting away with such stupidness. I'm probably showing my GenX attitude too much, so I'll just say Thanks again for your work and I look forward to reading your website posts daily."

And what's more, it's not just our government, but governments around the world, in all the countries that fought in WW II as a crisis war.

The survivors of WW II did some great things -- they created the United Nations, World Bank, Green Revolution, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and so forth. They created these organizations and managed them for decades with one purpose in mind: That their children and grandchildren would never have to go through anything so horrible as World War II.

Now all those people are gone, and the people left behind have no idea what's going on or what to do. The result will be massive, brutal, and bloody. I estimate that some 1-3 billion people will be killed. After it's all over, then there will be a new generation of survivors who'll do some great things, and the cycle will start all over again.

Unfortunately, it turns out that that's what life is all about.

"While you, rightly so ( and I am a proud X-er), speak of our negative tendencies, X-er's do have some good qualities to them. As you well know, we are survivors and pragmatists to the core which will come in handy as this crisis get worse."

The survival of the country and its way of life depends on you and your generation. You'll be responsible for every victory and every disaster. I hope you succeed in everything you do. (29-Jan-08) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.