1950s Nostalgia Threatens the World

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Never at a loss for a generalization that explains everything, the Globe and MaiI's Doug Sanders has this week indicted "the baby boomer generation" for desiring to "return to a safe, clean, happy, prosperous, non-existent 1950s"—a species of nostalgia, he claims, that informs "a potent political impulse among this cohort, often overwhelming any desire to build a better world today." The Globe headline is unambiguous: "The glitzy menace of 1950s nostalgia threatens the world." Wowzers.

Predictably, Saunders' main targets are Donald Trump and the "three-quarters of Republicans [who] believe life has become worse since the fifties." But he also singles out leaders from the former communist bloc—Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán, most notably—men who openly despise the liberal-democratic spirit of the Sixties and would be only too happy to crush "the entire elite of '68," as Orbán himself put it. All in all, Saunders reminds us, the Fifties were definitely Squaresville. "There was little to admire in that anxious, restricted, shell-shocked decade," he avers.

But wait. Weren't the leading lights of the Sixties Generation so beloved by progressives like Saunders also boomers? And were they not also rebelling against the staid social conformity and Cold-War hysteria of the Fifties? Come to think of it, aren't Barrack Obama, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Theresa May, Tony Blair and Angela Merkel boomers? And is there not some distant, vague, almost-forgotten correlation between their principled defence of the politics of "openness and pluralism" that Saunders reveres and the liberal ideals of the 1960s?

It's all very confusing—blaming selfish, sociopathic boomers for everything under the blistering hot, climate-destroying sun. It's enough to make you want to hop in your '57 Chevy, crank up the Buddy Holly, and head out to the malt shop.