Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nothing links new Baby Boomers to the old : its always about content , not container

A new , relatively little known , baby boom is underway - in terms of babies produced per family of baby-makers , one that is far far bigger than the better known and older Baby Boom.

By the conventional measure of 'Baby Boomer' impact, this then should be big news.

But the conventional explanation for the importance of the post WWII Baby Boom is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

It was not our sheer massive size that made Noir's Children, (those of us born between 1940 and 1956) so important in historical terms.

But size does matter for today's baby boom, despite it being smaller in absolute size than the post war boom.

Confused ?

The post war baby boom was a society wide event : so it only produced differential consequences when set against the generations before and after it - not within its current generation.

But today's baby boom is limited mostly to religious fundamentalists : Christian evangelicals and the Orthodox sections of the Jewish and Moslem faiths.

Eventually, by sheer weight of numbers, these children of the religiously orthodox could dominate the religiously moderate or unchurched - at the ballot box, in the job market, as consumers.

Today's baby boomers are important because of their relative growth , as set against the growth of the child population as a whole.

I am far from denying the importance of the size of the post war Baby Boom as set against the previous generation and all later generations to date.

But note well my qualification: I now limit its impact, looking backwards, to only the previous generation.

Because if we are looking for truly massive baby booms within western culture , the mid Victorian era is a very good place to start.

The post WWII baby boom was really small potatoes in terms of total numbers of kids per couple.

More a tendency for more couples to marry and for far more to marry early, then to have 2.5 kids in a few short years right after marriage.

Set this against the immediately earlier generation, with fewer couples ever marrying, and most marrying later in life , and then having only 2.0 kids - spread over many more years.

(For the sake of my argument, don't take my various numbers of children per couple as gospel - they clearly varied between various countries - its the time compression trend that I regard as more universal and more crucial.)

But in mid Victorian times, better weather, better food supplies, better public health had all led to a rising chance that any child born would actually live to adulthood.

But parents hadn't sensed this change fully and they went on trying to have the traditional ten pregnancies.

That led to a truly massive baby boom that is still echoing on.

But it never got a name because its impact doesn't seem to have been that apparent to contemporaries - despite its much bigger size than the post WWII baby boom.

I suggest the key difference is that the post war Boomers felt and acted differently enough from all their elders (elders all the way back to the beginnings of the Enlightenment Project) to represent a real rupture in History.

Yes, every generation reacts against its parents and grandparents --- but fundamentally rejecting the key tenets of 500 years of continuing western culture is, by any definition , a truly rare event.

When my generation failed to reproduce the ongoing Enlightenment Project , it was doomed to die out with the last surviving pre-Boomer.

My age cohort - by its mild but firm total disinterest in and rejection of the Enlightenment Project killed it stone dead.

My proposed title for my age cohort - dismissing the term "Baby Boomer" as near empty of explanation - "Noir's Children" - hints as to why my generation fundamentally rejected Modernity.

As well as to the true reason why History cares - and should care - about us postwar Baby Boomers cum Noir's Children ...

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