Many people on the sees the 1960s and 1970s as being the time when western civilisation started to fall apart. It is therefore often assumed that the baby boomers, a spoilt pampered generation, were the ones responsible for all the subsequent disasters.
But is this really true?
There’s no question that the 60s and 70s were catastrophic. And the masses of dirty stinking hippies were certainly no friends to civilisation. It could however be argued that the student radicals of the late 60s were simply a symptom of a disease that was already far advanced, rather than the cause.
It’s worth pointing out that the governments that did so much to wreck western civilisation, the Labor government of Harold Wilson in the UK and the Administration of Lyndon Johnson in the US, were not elected by baby boomers. They were elected by the previous generation, the so-called Greatest Generation.
And much of the damage had been done long before the 60s. The transformation of European societies into bloated socialist welfare states was well underway by the 50s. implemented by governments (like the Attlee Labor Government in Britain) that had been elected before the baby boomers were even born. The rot had started even earlier in the US with the election of the socialist Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. In fact you could plausibly date the beginnings of the rot in the US to the rise of Progressivism decades earlier.
Whatever madness afflicted the western world it clearly was well and truly established long before the baby boomers were out of the nursery.
Where did the madness first start?
I’ve always been inclined to think that democracy played a key role. Choosing governments on the basis of a popularity contest among the mob seems a very dubious idea indeed. Democracy however does not provide the complete explanation. However much damage the mob has done it’s clear that the ruling classes played a major role in undermining our civilisation.
The Romantic Movement seems like a good candidate as the beginning of the process of disintegration. The essence of Romanticism was the privileging of feelings over reason and common sense. You have only to read the poetry of Keats, Shelley and Byron to be disturbingly aware that you are dealing with the products of very unhealthy minds. There’s the same wallowing in emotionalism that has become such a feature of what passes for civilisation today. The ideas of the Romantic Movement infected the minds of the ruling classes, turning their brains into soggy mush.
The Romantic Movement produced some great poetry and some great painting but it cannot be denied that it represents a fundamentally warped and diseased view of the world. It represents the first step in the establishment of the cult of feelings. Through its offshoots, such as the Aesthetic Movement, it would poison the minds of successive generations of the ruling class. It would also, ironically, prepare the ground for the rise of the avowedly anti-rational cult of Modernism.
The baby boomers certainly contributed their share to the destruction of our civilisation but their forefathers had already undermined the foundations.