Ian McEwan wrote in ‘Amsterdam’ of the 68 generation.
How prosperous, how influential, how they had flourished under a government they despised for almost seventeen years. Talking ’bout my generation. Such energy, such luck. Nurtured in the post-war settlement with the State’s own milk and juice, and then sustained by their parents tentative, innocent prosperity, to come of age in full employment, new universities, bright paperback books, the Augustan age of rock and roll, affordable ideals. When the ladder crumbled behind them, when the State withdrew her tit and became a scold, they were already safe, they consolidated, and settled down to forming this or that – taste, opinion, fortunes. pp.11-12
When I was added to this blog I said I had about 5 posts I was going to make immediately. I didn’t make them. One was an observation with regards to Obama defeating Clinton in the primaries for Presidential nominee way back, fado, fado.
A lot of people had observed that age was an issue. That Obama was young, and this was something really unique and attractive about him.Â But others observed that Bill Clinton was actually a younger candidate, he was 46 when inaugurated whereas Obama will be 47. The issue wasn’t simply that Obama was young though, rather what was attractive about him was that he was not a ’68-er.
Since the 1960 western politics has been dominated by its legacy, with the growth of civil unrest and class struggle throughout the 70s and the honest belief held by many that the 70’s would bring issue in Socialism in the west. ‘The 70s will be socialist’. While since the fall of the Berlin Wall we have seen the same people fight out the same battle after the battle was lost. So we had the student revolutionaries of the 70s make up Blair’s cabinet, the young hotshots of the Reagan Revolution make up Bush’s cabinet and even Daniel Cohn-Bendit throw his weight in with the now almost forgotten ‘Third Way’.
Obama for all his faults was not part of this. He is a different generation. And with that got the support of many of those who in 2000 were out for Nader and in 2004 were out for Howard Dean. (The anti-globalisation generation.)
One of the few promising things of the last 2-3 years is how the 60s have faded into distant memory. As have the defeats of the 70s and 80s. Remember in 1996 when Britpop was all go and Blair was being elected, the rather bizarre parallels being drawn with 1966, when London was swinging? But in 2008, the 40th anniversary of 1968, we heard remarkably little paralleling of anything with 1968, and we say very few commemorative events. Rather with Obama we had the ridiculous statement in his acceptance speech ‘It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.’ The 60s are over, the dream is over because it has been achieved. Of course, it hasn’t been achieved. But the dream is over. 2008 marked the end of 1968. And now we can work on new better dreams that respond to our lives today not those lead in the 60s.