Broad social trends can be difficult to spot, particularly when living through them. Trends are somewhat more transparent from the perch of hindsight, but even the beginnings of historical trends exist in the murky shadows.
It is now popular to look back on the 1950’s as a “simpler” or “more innocent” time when existence seemed more carefree and daily life seemed easier, filled with less social strife. I was born in 1955, so I don’t actually remember living through the second half of the 50’s decade. Apart from a few memories of very early childhood, I didn’t become aware of my own existence until sometime in the 1960’s. I believe most of the current beliefs about the 50’s decade that exists in the vast majority of minds originates from watching media generated in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Our 21st century social problems didn’t happen in a vacuum. These problems have been in play for decades. It is clear our current social pathologies have roots going as far back as the 1930’s and certainly the 1940’s.
The “Greatest Generation” of the Western domain prominent in the 1940’s won World War 2. They saved the world. World War 2 ended, and Western economies boomed as never before. Knowledge increased as never before. Standards of living thrived as never before. However, the seeds of the problem were already present and the weeds of decay were already flourishing in the 1950’s, languishing mostly unrecognized.
The “Greatest Generation” to a large degree failed to transmit their own value systems to their kids in the 1950’s. The evidence for this became particularly conspicuous in the latter half of the decade of the 1960’s. The “Greatest Generation” spoiled their children. They failed to teach them that taking on the voluntary burdens of work, family and general responsibility directly give meaning to an otherwise dead, empty existence.
Fun experiences can and do add spice to an otherwise meaningful existence, but are not helpful or useful as full-time pursuits. Lives devoid of voluntarily chosen, socially-acceptable burdens are lives that are meaningless.
It is difficult to know percentages, however not everyone failed to teach their children the importance of taking on responsibilities. Even so, enough parents spoiled their kids that the spoiling pathology was growing in Western cultures like a metastasized tumor. Divorce and fatherless child rearing grew to pandemic proportions over succeeding generations. For many years it has been easy to see that Western culture has been weakening and is on a definite decline.
With this being said, I believe we are in the middle of some new more positive social trends that are for various reasons rather difficult to spot. Data from the book “National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy” indicates a very interesting long-term trend towards conservatism. Generational political leanings measured at age 18 have a consistently higher percentage of self-identifying as conservatives as each new generation comes forward. The “Baby Boom” generation at age 18 identified as 17 percent conservative. 22 percent of generation “X” identified as conservative. 23 percent of Millennials identify as conservatives. Generation “Z” is far more conservative identifying as 30 percent politically, socially and economically conservative. The trend couldn’t be more clear.
Looking at this from another direction, the percentages of self-identified left-wing liberals is in decline as each successive generation comes on the scene. CNN, MSNBC, etc. will never inform you about these trends.
21st Century Puritanism
The Covid 19 pandemic of 2020 has acted as a very peculiar catalyst that has vastly accelerated trends that were already in progress. For example, the movie industry, infected with far-left ideological propaganda was already faced with steeply declining attendance and box office receipts. The Covid 19 lock downs and forced business closings have profoundly destroyed the movie business. What remains will likely never be the same.
The casino business has also been profoundly impacted, and will likely look very different going forward as contrasted with before the lock-downs. Who could have imagined 24/7/365 casinos that not so long ago were clogged with customers being completely closed down for months on end? Now that they have reopened, business is very slow. Las Vegas gaming palaces are virtually deserted.
Since the 1960’s many colleges were increasingly functioning as Marxist indoctrination centers, at the same time many businesses were jacking up requirements for college diplomas for many jobs. In recent years, college diplomas have become virtually worthless. There are millions of mis-educated former students with college degrees that cannot find the work they believed they were guaranteed by the diploma, at the same time being saddled with non-forgivable student loans. Before Covid 19, many colleges were struggling. The Covid 19 lock downs have pushed many of these Marxist indoctrination centers to permanently cease operations. See the article “A look at trends in college consolidation since 2016.”
The Covid 19 pandemic and attendant lock-downs have profoundly broken many social behavioral cycles. Many restaurants have been forced to permanently close. Vastly more people are cooking and eating at home. Businesses are closing earlier. Gone for now are the “we sell everything” 24/7 Walmart shopping meccas. Gone are many 24/7 restaurants.
When I was growing up in the 1960’s many retail stores were completely closed on Sundays. Many state and local governments had so-called “blue laws” mandating these Sunday business closures. In a weird way the Covid 19 forced business closings and forced reductions in hours of operations remind me of the blue laws and what it was like living with these government mandated closures that are essentially government mandated inconvenience.
Is 2020 starting to become the 2.0 version of the 1950’s?
Despite the reduced shopping hours, many businesses such as Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. are experiencing sales booms as never before. Home improvement is through the roof. Supply chains of some items has been disrupted. Car dealership service departments seem to be booming.
While we can’t know what’s happening right now, I suspect that Covid 19, the lock-downs as well as the riots in left-wing cities and states have caused many people to go back to basics. Thousands and thousands of people are permanently moving out of big cities.
Again, is this starting to look like the 1950’s?