Boomers, Millennials and the Sovereign Individual

The Boomer, with their minds that seemingly crave work for its own sake, determine whether one is successful by what they own and determine whether one is authoritative and in control by the amount of awards and letters next to their name; the boomer, in short, is completely controlled by bureaucratic abstraction, the niceties which they developed to prove to themselves that they were doing ok and that everything they were doing was good, proper and correct.

Except, such things as goodness, properness and correctness aren’t universal or cosmic, they’re developed under the systematic control of some culture or other, whether or not those morals and etiquettes are agreeable to you isn’t entirely your choice…until you really start to question your absolute base assumptions.

As to why the boomer generation are as they are, I simply don’t know, but this essay isn’t about dunking on the boomer generation, it’s about questioning the notion of the ‘boomer’ and where it comes from. I briefly defined the boomer generation in the opening paragraph, a generation which adores control, authority and status whether they believe it or not and a generation which adores material comforts over anything else and can only understand much of the world via some form of materiality. They’re often called out for their incessant desire to be awarded, their incapacity for empathy, their mindless consumption and their status grabbing games, and yet, if you look at these things one-by-one, you’ll notice that no generation has ever really differed, has it?

Many millenials will berate the boomer generation for needing countless objects, things and trinkets as a means to fulfill their desires and their life, and yet, the millennial generation is ignorant to their own abstract-material worship. The boomer’s clarity of purchase (cars, houses, handbags etc.) makes them easy targets for the label of ‘mindless consumer’, but at least they’re only consuming a clear material end as opposed to a lengthy identity. Where the boomer consumes the object as the desire in itself, the millennial consumes what the object represents and assimilates it into their identity. Say what you like about the boomers who proclaim ‘I drive a Porsche!’ it seems clear to me that they see it as an externality as opposed to extension of their self.

People will now be calling me out for muddling up desire, getting it all wrong. Post-structuralists and post-modernists will be up-in-arms, ‘These acts of consumption signify the desire-structure!’ Yes they do. Everyone desires and what everyone desires is relatively empty, fleeting and changing, you can’t get a hold on desire as much as you can get a hold on what the object of desire represents.

The boomer desires the status handed to them by a large corporate event, the millennial desires the status handed to them via countless likes and retweets on a post-ironic meme; the boomer desires an accountable award for each course they undertake, the millennial desires to know they’ve completed X amount of TV series etc. The list goes on, each has its counter…and why is that?

It’s because there’s no such thing as generations. Or at least, there’s no inherently verifiable difference between generations except on an aesthetic level, which is to say, there’s no difference of essence. In Rome there are written complaints about teenagers joy riding in their chariots, the Victorians rallied against the new classical music liked by the youth, people went crazy over the thought of a car hitting 30mph, each war has had its anti-war demonstration, each king his jester, each generation has had its ‘We’re the best generation and here’s why’ essay and each generation has had an essay just like this one, explaining why there’s no such thing as a greatest or worst generation, because generations are made up of individuals, movements, leaders, companies, events and catastrophes.

Generational thinking is for those who believe generations exist, those who believe that things can be neatly summed up into chunks and explained in comparative and binary manners, namely, the herd. Outside of the sleeping herd are individuals and individuals like to think. The notion of the sovereign individual isn’t one that’s really sympathized with anymore. Many people believe it to be a Randian notion or a pro-capitalist notion, the idea of the entrepreneurial thinker who’s out only for himself. In reality the sovereign individual is someone who simply doesn’t get caught up in the form of thinking which has one believing in generations, or catch-all isms and universals.

Being an individual is hard work, especially in a world and society that doesn’t respect such an idea. There’s a certain amount of scorn targeted at those who would rather go it alone and do all the work themselves, it’s seen as not-sharing, as opposed to self-improvement. It’s also difficult to be a sovereign individual because everywhere you turn is another torrent attempting to drag you into its binary, collective and complacent ways of thinking, the ones which wish to atomize your thought into a multitude of pithy currents which can never adhere to a whole, a collective that wishes not for you to use yourself, but to use you as its own collective-self. A thousand institutions that structurally cannot work without the formal notion of collective, group and communal action being agreed as good prior to undertaking any work.

When I hear ‘boomer’ or ‘millennial’ all I hear is laziness, ignorance and resentment. It’s a form of language used by those who are content with the top layer of thought, the easy route. They don’t want to try understand people, ideas or vectors of energy, nor do they want to ask why, how, who or any question at all, they are complacent with confinement. They don’t want to understand, they want simply to know, and their definition knowledge consists of collective blocks being placed together neatly. Knowledge isn’t something that can be owned, only worked with and understood. To own knowledge is to end thinking, is to stop the journey and accept conclusions and truth. Once you’ve accepted a truth, you’re already latched to a one way track heading straight towards intellectual death.

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