Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grandparents from BOTH sides of NYC's political spectrum sought to define the futurama world of Janus Manhattan's children

From personal experience (as a small child) I know that the very young sincerely believe that their parents are decisive in shaping their young world.

But when we are all grown up and young parents of our own , we realize how wrong we were.

For in fact, a 25 year old new parent is generally at the very bottom of the adult world's food chain, at work and in society in general.

Youngsters need to look instead at grandparents, their own and others, to see those with all the top jobs and most of the national wealth - the ones who actually set the parameters of our childhoods.

(In truth, growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, I wasn't even sure that grandparents ran the world - it seemed more to be somebody's great-grandparents !

National leaders in their mid eighties were by no means uncommon - not at all like today's norm when political leaders and company CEOs are all used up and spat out by age fifty.)

1940 New York's Two (2) Futuramas

1939-1940's Futurama I was a rare formal attempt by some powerful grandfathers (but reflecting the views of the general middle class public) to predict (and thus to hasten) the world of tomorrow, aka the 1960s, that they dearly wanted to see for their grandchildren.

Today we know those grandchildren as 'the postwar generation' or as 'the boomers'.

Even conservative commentators agree that the ungrateful grandchildren of those elite 1940 grandparents basically rejected their proposed brave new world - a high tech world best seen in the 1964-1965 Futurama II - for the seedy charms of Victorian Era Haight-Ashbury.

But is this in fact true ?

Could it not be instead that the 1960s boomers were as divided in their response to the 1964-65 Futurama II as their grandparents were to the 1939-1940 Futurama I ?

Janus Manhattan's Children , the book, will consider whether 1940 New York City was ever as united around the themes of that year's World Fair as is often made out - just as it will consider whether as many Boomers were as counter cultural as it seemed in the late 1960s.

Boomers - aged between 50 and 75 - are the dominant voting bloc in the world because those years of a person's life are when they form by far the most reliable voters, particularly today when only half the population bothers to vote.

So their choices will govern how we all face the existential crisis of the Sixth Extinction.

They are by no means as united as it often assumed - boomers head up both the global warming warning camp and the global warming denying camp for example.

They are divided because people are always divided - and perhaps never more so in 1940, when their grandparents made many of the decisions that still haunt our world.

To save the planet we need to understand the boomers - and to understand them, we need to ignore their parents and try instead to understand their grandparents.

To understand Sixties counterculture, we need to start by looking at who in 1940 New York opposed the values embodied in that year's World's Fair.

Just as to better understand the "scientism can solve any potential problems" of climate denying boomers like Stephen Harper, George W Bush and Tony Abbott, we need to look at the "future's so bright, we gotta wear shades" optimism of their grandparents' generation, best expressed at that same 1940 World's Fair...

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