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


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 18-Oct-2010
18-Oct-10 News -- Mass dueling riots in China and Japan

Web Log - October, 2010

18-Oct-10 News -- Mass dueling riots in China and Japan

Barbara Billingsley, mom in 'Leave it to Beaver' dies

Mass dueling riots in China and Japan

The recent row over the arrest by the Japanese navy of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat in waters near islands claimed by both countries has sharply increased nationalism and xenophobia on both sides.

On Saturday, thousands of people in at least three Chinese cities rioted and protested against Japan, shouting "Boycott Japanese goods" and singing the Chinese national anthem, according to the Japan Times. In some cases, Chinese protestors broke into Japanese-owned stores, breaking windows and showcases.

The Japan Times also reports that the Chinese government is calling on the public to express patriotism "rationally and legally." A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman is quoted as saying, "We don't agree with irrational actions that violate laws and regulations,"

On the other side of the East China Sea, Xinhua reports that 3,000 people demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo on Saturday, in a protest organized by "right-wing groups." A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "China urges Japan to earnestly fulfill the related obligations laid out in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and take effective measures to ensure the security of China's embassy, consulates, institutions and personnel in Japan."

There were Chinese riots and demonstrations against Japan 2005, and China's government was able to bring them under control. We'll have to see whether the current demonstrations fizzle, or if they become more widespread.

Will a Republican victory bring compromise between the parties?

On Sunday on CNN, Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins gave a long response to the question of whether a Republican victory in the November 2 elections will bring about a spirit of compromise in Congress. The following is my transcription:

"A divided government forces the two sides to compromise. Both would have some power, so both would have to come to the table. Well, that's the theory anyway. Does it always work? Let's look.

We took a textbook example of a positive divided government, that's the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill were bitter political rivals, but they were personal friends. A lot of folks know together those two rivals came up with a deal on one of the toughest issues anywhere -- social security.

Now let's look at a less positive rivalry. That's the one in the mid 1990s between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gringrch. They had an intense ideological divide. Both of them strategists, and that led to a government shutdown.

Ultimately those two did compromise on spending and on welfare, but there were some very, very sharp stabs and games played in the end.

So is it possible for a Republican house and a Democratic White House could get more done than we see now? It's possible, but it is a lot harder when the two have no relationship. And that is the case right now."

I always say on this web site that journalists have some sort of mental defect that prevents them from seeing even the most obvious generational explanations for things, and this is one such case.

Desjardins leaves out the obvious difference between the two examples.

Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were born in 1911 and 1912, respectively, and were part of the Hero GI Generation that fought in World War II. They had lived through the horrors of the Great Depression and World War II, and so they knew that compromises were more important than war. Thus, they were able to reach agreements on Social Security -- something that's completely unthinkable in today's political climate.

Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, born in 1946 and 1943, respectively, are Boomers. (Note: Demographers begin the Boomer generation in 1946, but in generational theory, people born in 1943 are still Boomers, since they have no memory of the horrors of World War II.)

And like Boomers, they're more accustomed to bickering and arguing, instead of getting things done. Still, they were able to unite long enough to pass welfare reform in 1996, as Desjardins points out.

Today the world is being run largely by Generation-Xers, a nihilistic generation that has contempt for the Boomer and Silent generation, and for any of their accomplishments. If the Boomers are capable only of bickering, then the Generation-Xers are capable only of bickering on steroids.

I've been writing for years that the bickering in Washington was only going to get worse, and it has. I recall someone telling someone, just after Barack Obama was elected, that the bickering would get worse, and he expressed surprise: "Don't the Democrats control the White House and Congress?" And yet, the bickering has in fact gotten much worse.

Desjardins' comments imply that the disagreements are the fault of one-party control of Congress. Next year, they'll be blaming the disagreement on divided government.

The problem is not political; it's generational. People in the GI and Silent generations were able to compromise, while people in the Boomer and Gen-X generations are not.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this will only change when a "regeneracy event" occurs. The regeneracy is an event that reunites the country again for the first time since the end of the previous crisis war. It's an event that's so horrible that the country is forced to unite for its survival. In 1941, the regeneracy events were the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March.

It's impossible to predict what regeneracy event(s) will unite America again, but possible examples are a major terrorist act on American soil, or a major defeat of American armed forces overseas. In any case, the regeneracy will stop the bickering and thrust the America and the rest of the world into the greatest world war in history.

That's the part of the story that Desjardins left out.

Barbara Billingsley, mom in 'Leave it to Beaver' dies

"Leave it to Beaver" was an iconic television show of the 1950s, a show that has been ridiculed by decades by women's libbers and feminists because of the allegedly stereotypical role of women that it portrayed.

The Cleaver family on 'Leave it to Beaver': (from left) Wally, Mom, Dad and 'The Beav' (AP)
The Cleaver family on 'Leave it to Beaver': (from left) Wally, Mom, Dad and 'The Beav' (AP)

Barbara Billingsley, who died on Saturday, was June Cleaver, the wife of Ward Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont, and the mother of two boys, Wally (Tony Dow) and Theodore (Jerry Mathers), nicknamed "the Beaver."

June Cleaver was a stay-at-home mom who was always there for her kids, with love, sage motherly advice, and good cooking. This model of motherhood was scorned by feminists in the decades to come as the product over oppressive, abusive men who wanted to keep their wives in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

Like many obituaries, the NY Times obituary was a bit snarky:

"Along with the mothers played by Harriet Nelson (“The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”), Donna Reed (“The Donna Reed Show”) and others, Ms. Billingsley’s role became a cultural standard, one that may have been too good to be true but produced fan mail and nostalgia for decades afterward, from the same generation whose counterculture derided the see-no-evil suburbia June’s character represented."

However, as I said when I appeared in Stephen Bannon's movie, Generation Zero, almost nobody today understands what was going on in the 1950s.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the 1950s was a Recovery Era where the country was excitedly celebrating its victories over the Great Depression and the Nazis in World War II.

A 1950s mother would have grown up during the Great Depression, surrounded by homelessness, starvation and bankruptcy. If she herself hadn't been forced to live under a bridge and depend on soup kitchens for food, then she undoubtedly had many friends who had been forced to do so.

Then, as the Great Depression ended, she saw her brothers, father and uncles tortured and maimed on the Bataan Death March, and then shot down like fish in a barrel on the beaches of Normandy. Out of patriotism, she had been forced to take "Rosie the Riveter" type jobs that she hated.

So when the 1950s arrived, a home with a white picket fence where a mother could stay at home with the kids and be safe and dry and warm and reliably supported by a working husband was a gift from heaven. This was a gift that mothers of the 1950s wanted to give to their daughters. They had suffered through starvation, homelessness and slaughter, and they had won, and they wanted to give their daughters the gift of the fruits of that victory.

Unfortunately, their daughters didn't want those gifts. Their scorn and contempt for those gifts gave rise to the women's lib and feminist movements of the 60s and beyond.

But there's an ironic twist to all this. The pendulum is swinging back, and young women today are not only choosing to stay at home again with the kids (see "'It's going to be the 1950s all over again'"), but they're also becoming much more reserved in terms of style and behavior (see "Victoria's Secret changes from 'too sexy' to 'ultra-feminine.'")

So Barbara Billingsley's character, June Cleaver, did not represent an obsolete era after all. Don't be surprised if, in the next decade, there's a new "Leave it to Beaver" type show on, with mothers who are only too happy to stay at home and bake cookies for the kids.

Additional links

For months, we've been reporting on al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Yemem (Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP) and in northern Africa (Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, or AQIM) training and making plans to target Europe. Now Saudi Arabia's intelligence services have warned of a plan to target Europe in the near future, and France in particular. Al Jazeera

Southern Yemen has seen a growing number of attacks by militants from Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 8 soldiers were killed last week in al-Qaeda ambushes. Air strikes against Al-Qaeda targets on Sunday killed a civilian and an unknown number of militants. Security measures around the British and US embassies in Sanaa, the capital, have been tightened. AFP

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has warned against a rise in extremism if the Mideast peace talks collapse, in an interview on Israeli television. The peace talks are currently stalemated because Israel has not extended the moratorium on East Jerusalem settlements that expired on September 26, and the Palestinians will not participate in peace talks unless the moratorium is extended. AFP

Many Arabs regarded President Bush as a "political madman" with "a blood-soaked history," and were happy to see him go. In retrospect, bush's policies corresponded to those of moderate Arab states on most strategic issues. Obama, on the other hand, has mishandled the affairs of the Mideast in two ways. The first mistake was his openness with Iran and Syria, which the moderate Arabs consider an act of betrayal; the second mistake is that he doesn't issue clear instructions to the leaders of the Mideast countries. The result is that Obama's policies are undermining moderate Arab regimes. Al-Arab (Qatar), translated by Memri

With 10 of France's 12 oil refineries shut down by strikes, and with pipeline sabotage by public sector unions, it had been feared that Paris's airports would run out of fuel on Monday. However, the pipeline is now back online, and it's hoped that there will be enough fuel available. However, aviation authorities are asking planes to refuel abroad, if possible. Radio France Internationale

In Tajikistan, newborn children are increasingly being given Arabic names rather than Persian names, and older people are beginning to change their names in the same direction. This is a sign of increasing influence by Sunni Muslim Mullahs and Imams, and a break with Iran. RFERL

Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi is being condemned by the Vatican for telling a "Jewish joke." The joke is about a Jew that charged another Jew 3,000 euros a day to hide him during the Holocaust. Berluscon's punchline is: "The Jew says, the question now is whether we should tell him Hitler is dead and the war is over." Haaretz

Sophisticated skimming devices have been devised that criminals can place right over the card reader slot on an ATM to capture the information on the magnetic strip of a debit or credit card. In other cases, a hidden pinhole camera watches you and steals your pin number. If an ATM looks suspicious, then just walk away. Wall Street Journal (Access)

Five free ways to improve your typing skills online. Mashable

Anthropologists are saying that women can tell from other women's voices how much of a threat they pose to their relationships. Duh. Telegraph

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Oct-10 News -- Mass dueling riots in China and Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Oct-2010) Permanent Link
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