The older generation of today (called the “Boomers”) grew up during the heydays of the post-war prosperity of the 50s through the early 70s. They are beset by this romantic notion that their good times were the result of the virtue of their “sheer backbreaking toil” and “indomitable work ethic”; the “hard work” of “real men” as they were. They accuse the embattled current generation besieged by falling wages, rising prices and failing healthcare to be weaklings, snowflakes, spendthrifts, whiners and pussies who want everything easy and free, and scoot at the first sign of hardship. Apparently, they expect today’s generations to make “great sacrifices” (like working for a pittance or even free) to emulate what they believe was their life. Except that it wasn’t. All this is just the hypocrisy of Boomers refusing to acknowledge their privilege.
It was the right opposite actually. The Boomers were the most pampered generation in human history The fact remains that most of their wealth came not from the indomitableness of their hard work, but aided by the tail winds of sprawling government subsidies, price regulation, public sector industries and strong, bargaining unions, the very thing they accuse the Millennials of abusing. The irony is that the Millennials have none of these luxuries in today’s hypercapitalist society that offers none of the safeguards the Boomers enjoyed.
For Boomers “work” was a secure, cushy, 9-5 affair. The US government of the time regulated and controlled prices, effectively subsidising housing, free education, transport, health, etc. Strong unions ensured that the kind of shit that goes down in today’s tech firms does not happen. A family could afford a house on a single job! This is how boomers prospered. However, the Boomers who benefitted immensely from all those government-aided programs then conveniently choose to “forget” all that and turn extreme right wing to shit on Millennials who only expect to be compensated fairly with a living wage for the work they do.
The thing about privilege is that it makes people loathe the very causative factors that enabled them this privilege. People feel that acknowledging that their fortunes can be attributed to things like luck, privilege and third party help would make them seem undeserving as they didn’t “work” for it. They, especially the Boomers, hence beat their drums about how “hard work” made their fortune and that hence “work” is the means to the end of a human life. If the millennials and their kids have it tough, it is simply because they are not ready to “work hard”.
All this is why Boomers pretend they can’t understand why anyone would refuse to work “extremely hardcore” 20 hours a day without expecting anything but blood, sweat, tears and the glory of extractive capitalism in return. After all, they did clearly sacrifice their lives to build this greatest country from shining sea to sea (Lol they didn’t).
It is heartening to see the antiwork movement turning into a global force that extends beyond the shores of America.