In Defense of Millennials, Part 2

If you’re on the ‘right’, it’s temping to bash millennials, but it’s worth noting that alt-right millennials, thanks to postings on 4chan, Reddit, and Twitter, swayed voters and the ‘national dialogue’ and helped put Trump in office. Although millennials supported Hillary by a much larger margin than Trump (55% vs. 38%), Trump’s millennial base was far more persuasive despite their smaller numbers. All generations have losers and idiots (for boomers, it’s aged hippies; for millennials, it’s SJWs). But dismissing all millennials as ‘brainwashed liberal idiots’ is falling into the tempting trap of reductionism and overlooks the many millennials who aren’t.

In 2015, I wrote a post defending millennials, and now that millennials helped get Trump elected, maybe I was right to not give up hope on this generation when many others on the right did. In 2014 and 2015, I wrote many posts about the post-2013 SJW-backlash as related to #gamergate, which like the at-right was primarily a millennial-driven movement against far-left liberalism (or as some call ‘regressive liberalism’). And also, many gamergate people joined the ranks of the alt-right, and a lot of the memetic and social networking methods used in gameragte were employed by the alt-right. So gamergate may have laid the foundation for the alt-right, which followed just a year or so later.

There is evidence the latest generation, Generation Z (those born after 2000, and who are often lumped with millennials), may be the most conservative generation since WW2.

Furthermore, there is evidence millennials are more conservative than Boomers or Gen Xers were at their age, according to a study.

In 1976, when Baby Boomers were donning their caps and gowns, 21% of high school seniors identified themselves as conservative. In 2014, when it was the millennials’ turn to graduate, 29% did so, the study authors report.

Meanwhile, the percentage of high school seniors who identified as liberal was 35% in 1976 and 34% in 2014.

The obvious flaw is that terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ were different then than they are now. A liberal 40 years ago may be considered conservative or moderate today.

The good news is, by virtue of the normal distribution, there are millennials, perhaps as many as tens of thousands, who care about philosophical inquiry, not what’s on TV or the latest celebrity gossip. NRx and Dark Enlightenment, for example, have a lot of millennials as ‘members’, such as college students, who are curious abut this fledgling intellectual ‘movement’.

A theory as to why alternative ideologies and movements (such as NRx, HBD, rationalism, libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, alt-right, red pill, MGTOW, etc.), that don’t fall within the mainstream left-right dichotomy, appeal to millennials is because – thanks to the Flynn effect, readily accessible information online, and ‘intellectualism culture’ (this includes culture both online and offline valuing and elevating intellectual pursuits) – millennials are possibly smarter and better-educated than older generations and thus are more inclined to wander off the beaten path to explore these new and possibly taboo ideas, whereas their parents, who may not be as smart or intellectually curious, prefer simper and reductionist narratives (good vs. evil) and activities. (Parents: voting is a civic duty; Millennials: democracy may not be the best solution, because voters may be uninformed, ‘bribed’ by politicians who promise benefits, or democracy doesn’t solve society’s most pressing problems but rather exacerbates them.) This is also related to the post-2013 backlash against ‘low information’, which includes reductionist narratives and media sensationalism. This is both good and bad: It’s ‘bad’ because it spawns SJWs, who suck up Cultural Marxism from the universities and spit it back at society; but as stated above, it’s ‘good’ because we also get the alt-right, as well as #gamergate, as a counterweight to far-left liberalism. It’s like a barbell.

Also, many millennials are struggling, many through little or no fault of their own – a job market that is perpetually anemic despite record-high stock prices and surging profits and earnings. Just telling millennials to ‘suck it up and quit complaining’ is something I would have written years ago, but not now seeing that I understand the issue better. And also, it’s not just liberal arts majors who are having a hard time – even STEM majors are faced with a more competitive economy, student loan debt, and difficult job market. And I have some empathy for millennials who major in history, literature, philosophy, or economics, which may not pay as well as STEM but are still intellectually rigorous and ennobling. There is value in those degrees – the pay may be less than for STEM – but there is value nonetheless.

Millennials assumed that the same advice that worked for their parents, who were serendipitously blessed with four decades of post-WW2 prosperity, would work for them, too. When 2008 came along, all that changed – permanently. Their parents had it easy (good paying-jobs strait out of college or high school), with generous benefits and early retirement. In post-2008 society, where the supply of labor for most jobs vastly exceeds demand, ‘value creation’, not merely ‘showing up’, is valued, and this is much harder. In earlier generations, it was ‘good enough’ to be average; now you have to be exceptional to get your foot in the door, because as stated above, everyone is getting smarter, so that means more competition, in addition to competition by automation and inexpensive foreign labor. Sixty years ago, knowing how to read, write, and do basic math made you ‘above average’; compare that to today where AP-courses are the norm. Many millennials who supported Obama realize that the economic ‘hope and change’ he promised was – as the ‘right’ correctly predicted – a dream or delusion. This disillusionment contributed to the rise of the alt-right and Hillary’s loss. (Hillary won a smaller percentage of millennial votes than Obama, 55% vs. 60%. Also, Trump’s support among minority voters was higher than for Romney.).