Those of use who were coming of age in the 1960s were tormented by dire predictions of catastrophe from all points. From Paul Erlich’s Population Bomb, the Ozone Hole, Peak Oil, Acid Rain, Silent Spring, deforestation of the Amazon rain forest, Global Cooling, which later morphed into Global Warming, and now Climate Change.
That’s not even close to being a complete list. Mark Perry wrote an AEI article titled 18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first earth day in 1970. You’d think today’s Millennials would look back on all that nonsense and be a little more cautious. But no, if anything they’re even more all in for environmental doom.
It’s not that the Baby Boom Generation started a trend. Doomsday predictions have been a plague on human happiness since civilization began. The Encyclopedia Britannica has chapter on 10 Failed Doomsday Predictions from the ancient world.
The Baby Boomers (my generation) had parents who desperately wanted to protect their children from the hardships they endured in the Great Depression and World War II. A consequence of those parents was that the Boomers had such easy life they had to find a sense of purpose and some mental stimulation somewhere. Sadly, one way they found it was to take up the Doomsday cause, which they did with alacrity.
Their parents saw the post World War II era as a Golden Age. Their children, to the extent Tom Hayden and his followers spoke for them, saw it as an era of decline and deterioration. Hayden was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who wrote the 1962 Port Huron Statement. This political manifesto became an agenda to make war against the future, which they saw as foreboding widespread social breakdown. Actually, they weren’t completely wrong about that. They (we) caused a lot of it.
It’s easy to recount all the failures of the Doomsayers. It’s more interesting to explore the deep psychological condition that makes people want to believe in a dystopian future.
Looking back it’s easy to see the tremendous accomplishments of human innovation and ingenuity that allows people of all socio-economic status to enjoy comforts and conveniences once available only to the very wealthy. Yet many if not most people can be made to see decline and deterioration in the future. Even people who see a bright future for themselves will ofter imagine a dark and dire one for others.
Prophets of doom always gather a following. Why? What’s up with that?
Hell, I don’t know. I’ll just end this post right here.
I’m back. With intelligence guided by experience some answers can be found.
The fact most millennials are nitwits is a partial explanation, but only that. People who aren’t nuts were falling for predictions of doom long before the millennial hoard was born. It must have something to do with the innate human need for identity, number three I think on Mazlow’s hierarchy of innate human needs.
There’s still a roadblock to clarity here, though. Falling for flapdoodle nonsense is more understandable for people in ancient times who were consumed with their primary needs for survival and so would be more vulnerable to mind control by prophets of impending annihilation. Millennials don’t have that excuse.
With them, it’s a desire to feel more powerful and smarter than all social drips who don’t see the bright shining truth the Doomers are selling. (I like that term I invented there, “From Boomers to Doomers.”)
The Doomers want power and a sense of intellectual superiority over the lunkheads who refuse to do as they’re told by smart people like Doomers. They have a strong need to see themselves are pretty darn smart dudes and dudettes. To them, Pollyanna was stupid, Cassandra was smart.
I don’t know what they’ll do when it all fails and becomes clear everything they believe is a load of crap. That need to feel smarter than others might have to find another source venue. Please millennials, be wary of some charismatic guy offering you Kool Aid.