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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 2, 2023

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Let's start off (unless someone fires a link earlier) with this one: Millennials are shattering the oldest rule in politics

“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.” So said Winston Churchill. Or US president John Adams. Or perhaps King Oscar II of Sweden. Variations of this aphorism have circulated since the 18th century, underscoring the well-established rule that as people grow older, they tend to become more conservative.

The pattern has held remarkably firm. By my calculations, members of Britain’s “silent generation”, born between 1928 and 1945, were five percentage points less conservative than the national average at age 35, but around five points more conservative by age 70. The “baby boomer” generation traced the same path, and “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1980, are now following suit.

Millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — started out on the same trajectory, but then something changed. The shift has striking implications for the UK’s Conservatives and US Republicans, who can no longer simply rely on their base being replenished as the years pass.

The article goes on to show that previous generations in UK and US have indeed formed a remarkably similar pattern of starting out voting for left side main parties (Labour/Dems) and moving rightwards (to Tories/GOP) with age, but Millennials aren't doing that, and are if anything sticking firmer with the left side parties with age.

When it comes to Britain, in particular, I suspect that Brexit may have a lot to do with this. For Millennial Remainers, in particular, the whole thing has evidently been a horrorshow; from following various FBPE types and hearing from friends who have lived in the UK, the thinking basically goes; for your entire life your country has belonged to the EU, which has given you ease of travel and has seemed to be without issues, and suddenly a bunch of (mostly) Tory-voting boomers decides to take the country out of the Union, and no-one still has managed to explained to you exactly how Britain has benefitted from this, or what fundamental reason for this there even was for the whole Brexit, beyond "Well, it's not as big a disaster as Remoaners are claiming when you look into it" (or, possibly, "Fuck you, Remoaner! Elitist! Take back control!")

With the Tories then increasingly becoming the party of Brexit, it would be little wonder if such types would continue to give Tories the wide berth, even if they start getting to the age where traditionally Tories start becoming more and more attractive, as an option.

Of course, US and UK are a bit expectional in how strongly there's an age-related left/right split with young voting for left parties and the old voting for right parties. It would be interesting to see if this replicates in other countries where Millennials and younger voters have recently been trending rightwards and where centre-left parties have for some time been more popular among the old than the youth, like Sweden. (Indeed, I already saw on Twitter that the effect is not replicating in non-Anglophone West.)

I believe the mechanism underlying that generalization was that people trend leftward who haven’t had to work for a living yet (in school on loans) or whose only jobs have been entry-level jobs where they’re treated as fungible, replaceable components. When someone has to actually interact with the economy with agency, or find people relying on them to be responsible, they end up conservative because they have things at stake and have to game out their future choices in the world they find themselves in.

This theory suggests that something is massively altering the employment landscape, keeping Millennials in entry-level or fungible job positions longer than previous generations, or otherwise keeping them from being economically agentic.

I believe the silent killer of conservatism is young people not moving out of their parents’ homes. Taking out a mortgage on a home was considered a turning point in the American Dream, and even moving in with roommates to share costs was a Big Deal.

Yeah I agree. The ur-emotion of millennials is betrayal by their elders. They feel like their ability to live an economically successful life has been actively robbed from them, climate change foisted on them, etc. Economic failure begets abdication of responsibility and without families to ground you people spiral. I saw a data point somewhere showing a vast gulf in opinion on trans issues depending on whether you had kids or not. If you have children, you are necessarily interested in making the world good and safe for them. If not…

Then add in mass addiction to social media and video games and an epidemic of mental illness (caused by anomie and failure to launch) and here we are.

I remember hearing a review of “Turning Red” as “yet another movie where evil parents apologize to their heroic children,” which was just about the inverse of most media I consumed: parents were wiser than children.

My dad said The Simpsons would be the downfall of civilization. I wish I’d recognized his wisdom at the time.

The Simpsons is incredibly conservative, if you think about it; Homer and Marge are married to each other, they have three kids none of which were born out of wedlock, this is their first marriage for both of them, they haven't had affairs (even if tempted/opportunity put in their way), so far as we know Bart, Lisa and Maggie are straight and cis, Homer is the breadwinner while Marge is the homemaker - extremely old-fashioned.

From "The Simpsons and Cultural Decline" by Free Northerner:

I’ve been watching the first two seasons of the Simpsons the last couple weeks. It’s been years since I’ve watched the show, but I still remember the first ten seasons or so as some of the best TV yet produced.

The first season came out in 1989-90, just 25 years ago, and I remember the show being controversial when it came out; I wasn’t allowed to watch it until some time in high school, about a decade after it first started showing. It was controversial enough that Bush actually used the Simpsons as a negative example of a family. Yet, re-watching now, it’s amazing how tame and traditional it is compared to media offerings today.

Obviously the ‘offensive’ humour in the Simpsons is nothing compared to stuff like Family Guy or South Park, but that’s not the whole of it or even the most important part. It’s not the stated messages, but the basic assumptions in the show.

The Simpsons family is intact and stable, if slightly dysfunctional, and hold to functional, almost traditional, family values. They all love each other, however much they might bicker. Homer is a flawed man, often selfish or stupid, but still loving and caring towards his family. Marge is shown to love and respect Homer, despite her occasional anger at his flaws. Bart disrespects Homer occasionally, but it is shown as a clear deviancy for laughs; it also clearly shown that he does look up to and admire Homer. The kids fight, but at heart care for each other.

...

The Simpsons has a subtext of Homer as patriarch. A few times in the first couple of seasons Homer makes a family decision, whether it is selling the TV to attend counseling, buying a new TV, or choosing a camping spot, to name a few examples. The rest of the family complains or looks unhappy, yet it is not even questioned that, however flawed he or his decision may be, it is Homer’s place to decide these things. The show just assumes the father makes the major family decisions.

...

The episode Homer’s Night Out, centres around a picture of Homer dancing with a belly dancer at a bachelor party. The (non-nude) picture creates a town-wide scandal, brands Homer as a ‘swinger’, and is seen as something fundamentally deviant and abnormal.

...

The show assumes that normal people go to church on Sundays and say grace at mealtime. Prayer is a casually accepted part of the show, as is religion.

...

Other, less remarkable, moral lessons are also included. The pro-family/loyalty message of Life on the Fast Lane. How Marge’s sisters constant denigration of Homer is shown as negative, destructive behaviour. In one episode, Marge is casually referred to as Mrs. Homer Simpson.

All this is not to say the Simpsons is a font of traditional values, it is a liberal show, it does have some fem-centrism, and is rather subversive, but it is a good example of just how fast our culture is collapsing. Just a couple decades ago, the Simpsons was a controversial show that was held up by the president as an example of family dysfunction. Yet compared to today’s cultural wasteland, where broken families are common, disrespect and degeneracy are the norm, and the husband as the head of the family is, at best, a joke, it is very tame, almost traditional.

Just a couple decades ago, the Simpsons was a controversial show that was held up by the president as an example of family dysfunction

That was widely ridiculed contemperaneously. GHW Bush compared "The Waltons" to "The Simpsons"... but the joke immediately (probably before Groening's response of "We're praying for the end of the Depression too") became that the Simpsons were much less dysfunctional than the Waltons.

I remember the comments on EmpLemon's video about "Homer's Enemy" (which also analyzes Homer Simpson as a flawed human being still capable of good, and how he's arguably the Modern American Hero) pointed out how Homer Simpson actually has it good compared to millennials, being that he has a house, a car, a family, and a decent job with a decent salary.

I was born in '89, so I remember my very conservative mother forbidding our family from watching The Simpsons while growing up (and she still seems to think it's terrible as of a few months ago) but I never understood what her objection was to the show specifically. Is there a primer on why the show was seen as liberal or controversial when it debuted? Was it just edgy humor or was there something more objectionable to conservatives specifically about the show?

It's the trope codifier of the father figure as a completely retarded and negligent/malevolent manchild, with just enough of a veneer of a lesson learned at the end of the episode to avoid outright parody.

I believe there is truth in this. But I do wonder, regarding their ability to live an economically successful life, why is it that most millennials are not doing well financially? Is it a lack of going to college? Or is it majoring in a useless degree that (they probably even knew beforehand) can't land you a job that pays anything? Or is it something else? Most of the people I know who complain about millennials' lack of earning ability fall very clearly into the useless degree category, and also knew very well beforehand that their degree was useless. But I probably am in a very strong filter bubble.

Housing prices seem to be a major factor. Adjusting for inflation, my sister and brother-in-law are each earning more than both of my parents combined were when they bought a house, but ended up paying more for a smaller house in a worse neighborhood.

And this isn't even in one of the cities that's known for having ridiculous real estate price increases.

Edit to add: Career-wise, both my father (at that point in his life) and my sibling + in-law would be considered very successful. I'm not at the same level, but still above the curve. Also worth noting that my mother was able to quit her job shortly after the purchase of the house, so my father alone was able to support them + later on kids.

I believe the silent killer of conservatism is young people not moving out of their parents’ homes.

Is that actually happening to the extent that it makes much difference?

I know Finland is a bit of an exception, with almost everyone moving out on their own around the age of 20, but AFAIK there hasn't been any meaningful change in that in recent years.

In Poland... some excerpts from a random article

According to Eurostat data, 47.5 percent of Poles aged 25-34 live in family homes. "That's almost 2.6 million people, 172,000 more than in 2019." - HRE Investments expert Bartosz Turek pointed out.

The issue does not primarily affect students. (...) in the last year the percentage of adult Poles who lived with their parents rose most sharply in the 30 to 35 age bracket. "The data confirms the impact of home loans becoming much more difficult to obtain in 2020"

The situation worsened in 2021. "We saw a dynamic recovery of the economy and the loosening of valves on housing loans. As a result, banks received at least tens of thousands of loan applications, which would normally have been realized in the first year of the epidemic." However, the massive increase in demand contributed to increases in housing prices, making real estate unaffordable for many young people.

(...) in the last year the percentage of adult Poles who lived with their parents rose most sharply in the 30 to 35 age bracket. "The data confirms the impact of home loans becoming much more difficult to obtain in 2020"

The situation worsened in 2021. "We saw a dynamic recovery of the economy and the loosening of valves on housing loans. As a result, banks received at least tens of thousands of loan applications, which would normally have been realized in the first year of the epidemic." However, the massive increase in demand contributed to increases in housing prices, making real estate unaffordable for many young people.

However, he pointed out, the massive increase in demand contributed to increases in housing prices, making real estate unaffordable for many young people.

According to Turk, the situation could be improved by the government's credit guarantee program for homebuyers - the so-called no-down-payment loan program, which is due to take effect in six months. "The reason is simple - no-down-payment loans can shorten the path to one's own apartment by as much as several years. After all, that's how much time the young need to collect the necessary contribution to the loan."

Big lol at some real estate investment firm's representative praising government for ~subsidizing housing*. That will surely not increase demand (and prices) further.

* it's not just no-downpayment. They also make the loans have 2% interest for the first 10 years (by paying the difference).

I believe the silent killer of conservatism is young people not moving out of their parents’ homes.

I dunno, what about the countries (ie. Southern Europe) where staying at your parents' place comparatively late compared to Northern Europe / Anglo countries has been the norm for a long time?

Again, France, where youth unemployment is high and FN does better among young voters than the establishment or left parties?

People always propose explanations like this without considering if they have any predictive power. So going by this, I should be able to look up the countries with the lowest rates of home ownership and highest youth unrmployment and find the wokest population, right? Do you think that will be true?

I think that’s Spain, which is hurtling leftwards in a vaguely woke way, although their narrative is different for obvious historical reasons.

The bigger test is France- declining real incomes, an extremely Trumpy right that’s doing better with the young than the old, and large ethnic tensions.

Remember, we’re talking about American conservatism: market economics, high freedoms, granular locality of political decisionmaking. Try looking up the counties in America with the lowest rates of home ownership and highest youth unemployment.

This theory suggests that something is massively altering the employment landscape

Boomers refusing to retire and blocking the chain of career advancement? "Boomers screw everyone, yet again" is a popular sentiment. Perhaps for a real reason.

I'm going to go back to my theory that Conservatism is returning to what things were like in your lifetime or your parents lifetime, and Reaction is pushing back before living memory. I've argued it extensively here before.

The net result is that where before you turned 40 and got comfortable and started to say "Gee, I'd like the world not to change too much, I like it the way it is..." there was a party you voted for. Nixon, Reagan, Dubya all won elections in the US promising less change, keep things the same. I'm not sure that much of the modern Right Wing today promises keeping things the same, keeping them how they were when I grew up. Many seem to urge us on towards change, towards tearing up the social contract I grew up with, towards Retvrn to something I don't know, something new and scary. When I was a kid abortion was legal, my elementary school principle was Black, my dad's best friend on the charity board was gay. If you try to abolish the policies that allowed those things, or if I am convinced that you will even if you won't, my natural conservatism won't help you, it will hurt you. At times, there is no conservative option on the ballot in American politics.

I think this jibes with your Brexit theory of young Brits: traveling the EU and working or partying as they pleased was their birthright, it's what they grew up with. You can't sell conservative to them and say, oh we're going to destroy the world you grew up in. That's a contradiction in terms.

Millennials won't, can't!, become conservative if you don't put conservatism on the ballot.

In a sense, this means that the IDW/"anti-woke" thing is probably closest to what would be the basis for a successful current small-C conservatism. After all, in the end, IDW means retvrning to the tradition of the 90s, or even the early 00s - sure, there's gays and immigrants and so on, but gosh, wasn't it also funny when you could still make jokes about them in South Park and things weren't so woke?

Abortion is still legal in the majority of states

You think the GOP hates black principals? Wha

Gays can’t work for charities either?

I’m not sure what your arguing here. Do most millennials think republicans are the worst version MSNBC portrays them as? That’s depressing but would explain a lot

If you take the conservatives one is likely to see without searching them out[Media personalities (Tucker), influencers (shapiro), controversial politicians (trump/boeburt)] at their word: Absolutely yes.

Eg, Global warming isn't real, non-hetero's are all groomers, mexicans caravans 10000 strong are coming over the border to rape your dog, etc.

non-hetero's are all groomers,

Can you point any big commentator saying anything resembling that? I know progressives love too pretend "ok, groomer" is a slur against all non-straights, but you explicitly mentioned "taking them at their word".

mexicans caravans 10000 strong are coming over the border

I only seem to remember one drama about a caravan. It was years ago, don't know about 10K but it was pretty big, and some "paper of record" was explicitly taking the other side of the issue, writing articles about how awesome the caravan is, and how evil the Trumpists are for not wanting to let it in. Is the official progressive position now that it never happened?

There’s pretty regular caravan drama, actually, but taking Republican public figures at their word is not exactly ‘they’re coming over to rape your dog’, nor is it that they’re Mexican(although if the median American has less understanding of the distinction than politicians and pundits I can’t blame them). It’s usually a narrative of ‘their are too many crossing all at once’.

Trump waved a rainbow flag. Shapiro has never denied climate change, just that it isn’t an emergency. Mexican caravans do exist and come across the border and are worse than ever, why is that upsetting to find out for a millennial? Do millennials think borders are oppression?

I've written extensively on the recent gubernatorial election in my home state, the state in which three generations of my family have been born and where my wife and I own a house up the street from where I grew up, where I've been registered as a Republican since the day I turned 18. Between Mastriano and Shapiro Shapiro, the Democrat, was the one who would conserve the state I grew up in.

  1. Mastriano planned to cut public school staffing by 2/3. I attended public schools throughout, and got a great education in my local school district, I graduated with 30 college credits and my classmates wound up at a variety of ivy league schools. Houses in my school district, like mine, routinely demand a 20+% premium for the schools. Mastriano and his plan would have reduced my largest assets value, and destroyed a local institution I loved. Not conservative. Shapiro pledged to introduce vouchers for those who wanted them in failing school districts. Great! Compromise!

  2. Mastriano stated repeatedly and clearly that abortion should be banned with no exceptions. So while, yes, abortion is under no immediate threat in my state, that is a result of the R candidate losing last November. If he had won, he would be seeking legislation banning abortion while doing everything in his executive power to make it difficult. My dating life would have been different had it been as high stakes as Mastriano desired. Shapiro wanted to keep things the same.

  3. Mastriano stated that gay marriage should be illegal in all cases, and hinted at sodomy laws being reintroduced. Once again, on the ballot, do uncle James and uncle Craig get to stay legitimately married in their home state, a wedding I went to in Jersey when I was 12.

So, explain to me why the GOP can't be identified with their candidate for the highest office in the fifth most populous state? A purple state with a deep Republican bench in the state Senate and local executives, a state where moderates should do well everywhere but inner city Phillie and Pittsburgh.

I desperately want to vote for competent conservative candidates! I don't want a single day in my kid's school wasted on trans ideology! But my life is basically pretty good, I don't want to turn the world upside down. If all the R on the ballot offers is revolution, it's gonna be tough to vote for him.

Mastriano planned to cut public school staffing by 2/3. I attended public schools throughout

Do you have data showing the number of such employees when you attended school vs today? Also what fraction of them are actual teachers and how many are bureaucrats that have their job due to the needs of other bureaucrats?

My dating life would have been different had it been as high stakes as Mastriano desired. Shapiro wanted to keep things the same.

I don't see anything "conservative", at least as understood in America, in widespread premarital sex, with people with whom you intend to part ways in the morning. Thinking this is lifestyle for which the state should permit the sacrifice of unborn children, doubly so.

The major issue with this ratcheted model of progress is that anything that takes more than a generation or two to lead to ruin is able to avoid the political immune system that is supposed to catch such things. All citizens disarming might be locally beneficial even for some time, and many generations of people correctly pointing out that it's a tremendous risk will look like lunatics right up until the tyranny starts and by then no one will even know when the mistake started.

Now, some of that may even be right.

It takes exactly one issue of this type that I'm right on to lead the entire country to ruin.

But we can look at people's prediction posts and see how easy it is for them to get anything wrong for the one lousy year. For smart, conscientious people, making predictions they have no stakes in. Doing it one, two, three generations in advance? Madness. Predicting those sorts of future means making thoroughly unfalsifiable claims, and I'd prefer we treat people who claim to know what'll happen in ages beyond the one we live in accordingly.

This of course also applies to the suggested changes as well. If we're going to claim to be unable to predict what will come from our meddling I'd quite prefer us not to meddle until we do. There is a much to lose.

More comments
  1. Natural conservatism will favor gun ownership up to and until the point of disarmament. I basically own guns because I've always owned guns, back as far as I've known my family. The rest might just be rationalization backfilling preferences. This is why my most urgent 2a issue is to spreading gun ownership more widely. I'd happily trade a ten year universal background check bill for a decade of nationally funded high school rifle shooting teams at every American school. Get more kids shooting, more kids will become attached and open to gun ownership.

  2. It's not the only way to argue a right wing point. But it's a natural status quo advantage historically enjoyed by the right, which the right forfeits when it fails to represent the world as it is. Once the status quo is lost, the right and the left are on an even footing arguing hypothetical utopias instead of factual reality.

By your definition, I'm a progressive, a revolutionary even.

I support overturning the antiquated Roe v Wade and Civil Right Acts, and beyond that the antediluvian 19th Amendment...

I support getting rid of outdated institutions such as the CDC, the FDA, the AMA, the IRS, the Fed, HUD...

And of course oppressive agencies such as the FBI, CIA, ATF...

A contradictory mix of monarchist, anarcho-primitivist, Amish-fan and comfortable excessively online Westerner.

I don't want a single day in my kid's school wasted on trans ideology!

Problem is, you want social liberalisation (access to abortion in case you knocked up that temporary girlfriend; gay marriage for your uncles) and that doesn't just stop at the step of the ladder you are on. The next step up is the trans ideology, just as the step below that was the gay rights, and the step below that was the contraception and abortion access.

Fiscally conservative, socially liberal gives you the guy who conserved the state you grew up in, but his party is the one waving the Pride flags (some out of convenience, some out of conviction) and by the time your kid grows up, then "trans ideology in school" will be "conserving the state I grew up in".

Sure, but I think we're (including my learned friend @Syo above) going afield from the original argument in OP and my response to it.

OP states that Americans are not voting conservative as they get older. A number of other commenters made the point that young people aren't achieving the kinds of lifetime milestones that they'd want to conserve; I'm making the point that even among the subset of 30-40 year olds in America that have achieved those milestones, the Republican party is failing to field candidates or a platform that wish to conserve the world that helped them achieve those milestones.

If the traditional mechanism is young poor 20 year old liberal becomes fat happy married rich homeowner and thus conservative because he wants to preserve the things that made them happy for their (biological or constructive) children; well I'm 31 and I'm a fat, happy, rich, married, homeowner and in my most recent gubernatorial election the Republican party failed to field a candidate that wanted to protect the way I grew up, the things that made me fat, happy, rich, married.

You can argue that the way I grew up was fundamentally disordered and unsustainable, but that's a very different argument, and it's not an argument to conserve it's an argument for change. It's not protecting the real, it is advocating for the hypothetical. That might be the future of the Republican party or the Right more broadly, but that means tactics will need to change: you cannot count on the Coalition of the Comfortable if your plan is to make everyone who likes the world as it is deeply uncomfortable.

Sounds like you have a very red democrat in your state, who had to go far to the right to ensure victory, whereas the GOP felt secure enough to take more extreme positions. I’m not sure if Pennsylvania can really representative or not, I’m not American, but a democrat being in favour of school vouchers seems extremely unrepresentative of a what your typical dem politician is like

It was moreso that we had an extremely smart and intellectually consistent Right wing republican happen to win the primary (Jan 6th attendee who calls himself a Christian Nationalist) and the centrist Dem saw an opportunity to curb stomp him by getting a lot of R state level endorsements. As a result of those smart politics, Dems might get control of the state house for the first time in a long time; it almost certainly saved a US Senate seat for the Ds.

PA is more representative than any state in the union. It has both rural and urban areas, and was the likely flip state in the electoral college for 16 and 20 according to 538. Nowhere else is more representative. Keystone state, baby.

I think the concept of people changing their politics as they age is probably less useful than people staying the same and the politics changing around them. People don't really change their politics that much as they age (usually), but the issues that are important and what side a given position is on changes rapidly.

In this case, whatever event or realignment that will move the millennials "to the right" hasn't happened yet, or maybe isn't complete.

My personal argument is that Trump was the beginning of a basic generational political re-alignment that has yet to shake out. Once it does, we'll probably see the Millennials "on the right" more or less as the issues of the day work themselves to a competitive stalemate along new lines.

I think the concept of people changing their politics as they age is probably less useful than people staying the same and the politics changing around them.

I agree, and it points to one possible explanation that hasn't been floated, which is that despite dominating the culture wars, left politics has not been particularly effective at changing policy. Thus the positions that they adopted while they were young are roughly the same ones that Democrats are pushing today. In this case, the explanation is that it's not the people that have failed to change, but the politics.

The left has won at least as often as they’ve lost. I think a better way to put it might be that the left has not been effective at changing the Overton window.

I'd say they've been very effective at changing policies, but the policies they want don't produce the results they thought, which discredits the policy, which provides impetus to shuffle the deck of left-wing-complaints for a new issue.

So: #MeToo!~ Smash the patriarchy! Believe all wammen! Wait.......not over Democratic officials!

Better try: #BLM!! Mah structural racisms! White people step back! ACAB! Wait......why is the murder rate rising?

Shit, how about: #Translivesmatter! There's an epidemic of violence against trans disabled BIPOC two-spirited sex workers! Wait.....why are they sterilizing kids?

This process will continue until the game theoretical competitive maximum is reached, and half the population winds up on the "You want to do WHAT now?" side. Also known as "conservatives". It is the nature of human beings, especially the sort that become "activists" to push the boundaries until they cannot. This is why roughly half the population is always "conservative". Activists raise and push issues until they hit too much pushback, then those collection of positions becomes the "left-right" divide for a while. And that is why Cthulu swims left. No matter how successful conservatives are in stalling an agenda, there's always another right behind it. The left controls the initiative, the gates to the elites, the media and "The Science". They choose the battleground, conservatives just fight on it.

Older people are more likely to be married, have kids and property they wish to protect. So they become more conservative.

As I understand it, these general trends (getting married, having kids and homes) are on the downtrend in the UK (and other parts of the industrialized world).

As such...millennials have less reason to be conservative and more to go for more robust attempts to fix this by robust redistribution policies (which are more left-coded)

tl;dr: They have nothing to conserve.

Yep.

It seems doubtful that age by itself trends to conservative thinking (okay, I do believe people's tastes become more calcified which may be a factor). But marriage, child rearing, wealth accumulation/home ownership all increase with time, and those would cause someone to prefer conservative policies.

On the flip side, if Millenials are indeed less rich, less likely to be married and have kids, less likely to own a home at the same age as earlier generations, and thus view themselves as being unfairly locked out of wealth and power, then I would expect them to favor more redistributionist policies and/or revolutionary politics.

As I understand it, these general trends (getting married, having kids and homes) are on the downtrend in the UK (and other parts of the industrialized world).

As such...millennials have less reason to be conservative and more to go for more robust attempts to fix this by robust redistribution policies (which are more left-coded)

It's an attractive explanation, but the same trends are also evident in non-Anglo parts of the industrial world, and the trend doesn't show up in the same way, at least yet.

Particularly in France, FN is as I understand it doing very well with younger voters, and it seems pretty trumpy.

Conservativism is dead. With the leftist capture of the institutions, the right which remains isn't the viable conservatism that old people would cling to; it's just a remnant, like a burned-out factory in a steel town. So the millennials have no conservatism to go to. Eventually there will be a new New Left which will make them conservative by contrast, but Millennials will never move right.

When it comes to Britain, in particular, I suspect that Brexit may have a lot to do with this. For Millennial Remainers, in particular, the whole thing has evidently been a horrorshow; from following various FBPE types and hearing from friends who have lived in the UK, the thinking basically goes; for your entire life your country has belonged to the EU, which has given you ease of travel and has seemed to be without issues, and suddenly a bunch of (mostly) Tory-voting boomers decides to take the country out of the Union, and no-one still has managed to explained to you exactly how Britain has benefitted from this, or what fundamental reason for this there even was for the whole Brexit, beyond "Well, it's not as big a disaster as Remoaners are claiming when you look into it" (or, possibly, "Fuck you, Remoaner! Elitist! Take back control!")

Pure culture warring.

  • -16

I'm describing, not necessarily endorsing.

But it is what you believe, isn't it?

  • -13

people are allowed to express partisan viewpoints. Doing so is not waging the culture war.

Do I think that it would have been better if Brexit hadn't happened? Sure, though of course I have somewhat different reasons than pro-Remain Britons, not living in Britain myself. However, I deliberately phrased my post in a descriptive way, since that's what my intent was; describing a certain point of view that I consider to be related to the subject in discussion, ie. why the Millennial British are not going for Tories even as they start turning older.

@FCfromSSC is correct: expressing a partisan opinion does not make it culture warring.

It is possible that millennials are becoming conservative at exactly the same rate as previous generations even though they are not voting for conservative parties at the same rate as previous generations. Parties are not static ideologies or sets of policy goals. Parties compete for voters, modifying and triangulating their platforms and rhetoric over time.

In the US, Republicans and Democrats have fought each other to a pretty consistent 50/50 stalemate in nationwide votes for several decades, modifying their views on all sorts of issues along the way to maintain that equilibrium. As the overall population has gotten older over time, the equilibrium "stalemate age" (the age when a voter is equally likely to vote for either party) also gets older over time. To put it another way, as the electorate ages it becomes increasingly "cost effective" for the Republican party to cater to older voters, which makes it easier for the Democratic party to attract and retain people in their 30s who might otherwise be potential Republican voters.

I think it's worth recapping American political history during the period during which Millennials became politically aware. While there was contention surrounding the election of George W. Bush, things went back to normal pretty quickly. The most exciting thing to happen during the early Bush administration was the Hainan Island Incident, and that was viewed by the media more as a test to how the president would respond rather than a serious culture war item. Then 9/11 happened, and Bush became incredibly popular, even among liberals. These high approval ratings would slowly atrophy over the next 2 years but were still around 50% at the time of the 2004 election, which he won by a decent margin. But this wasn't enough to stanch the bleeding. While the Iraq War is largely blamed for this downfall, particularly the unexpected insurgency and misconduct issues like Abu Ghraib, these only seemed to alienate liberals. What did him in among Republicans was a series of unfortunate events that occurred in the fall of 2005—the insufficient response to Hurricane Katrina, the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination debacle (Miers was a close associate of Bush whose qualifications for the court were highly suspect, and the nomination was withdrawn in the face of bipartisan criticism), the Social Security privatization plan, the Medicare Part D rollout, and the Plame Affair (which resulted in the indictment of the Vice President's National Security Advisor and implicated Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove). Any of these incidents wouldn't have been more than a minor scandal (particularly the Part D rollout, as problems are to be expected when introducing a complicated new government program), but since they all happened within a span of weeks they made the whole administration look incompetent. By the 2006 midterms even staunch Republicans had begun distancing themselves from Bush, and he spent the last years of his term as a sort of zombie that everyone hated but nobody really cared about. By the time of the 2008 financial crisis he was already so unpopular that it didn't seem to effect him much, especially with everyone's eyes on the next election.

So now we come to the 2008 election. Every pundit agrees that the Republicans need to move on from Bush and the neocons (though it should be mentioned that Bush wasn't a neocon himself), but there is disagreement on which direction the party should take. And by disagreement I mean that nobody has a fucking clue. Most Republicans in the primary try to distance themselves from Bush but endorse similar policies. There are two outliers. The first is Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who represents the voice of the Bible Belt. The guy has no money or institutional support but makes a splash because Evangelical Christians had been rising as an electoral force for decades, before finding a kindred spirit in Bush. They have now proven that they are a constituency that can't be ignored, but the traditional GOP base has no room for someone as blatantly theocratic as Huckabee. The other is John McCain, who has staked out territory as a "Maverick" by bucking his own party over the past fifteen years, but still being incredibly conservative in other areas. He wins the nomination but suffers from three critical weaknesses: The first is that he wants to send more troops to Iraq. The second was that the GOP was in the doghouse and he was running against a younger, much more charismatic, Barack Obama. These were important at the time but have little relevance to your question. The more salient problem, though, was that he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin initially seemed like a good choice—his campaign was already at a disadvantage so picking a woman with executive experience might win him some votes, and her lack of national prominence meant she had few enemies or skeletons in her closet. The problem was that she used her role in the spotlight to blatantly wage the culture war while demonstrating that she lacked basic policy knowledge. When newscaster Katie Couric asked her which newspapers and magazines she read, her response was "all of them", a response she refused to clarify upon further inquiry. Centrists who feared that Obama's superstar status was a mask for his lack of experience and vague policy proposals now found they couldn't vote for McCain, as it would put a demagogue like Palin one heartbeat away from the presidency. McCain lost in a landslide.

Now it's 2009 and while McCain is back in the Senate like nothing happened, Palin and Huckabee are on speaking tours in an attempt to stoke the flames of the culture war. The Tea Party has come into existence, a loose movement that is ostensibly in favor of returning to the libertarian principles of the Founding Fathers but is in reality a lowest-common-denominator culture war movement. The salient feature of the Tea Party is that they aren't just opposed to Obama and the liberals, but also to Establishment Republicans, who they brand "RINOS" (Republicans in name only) and blame them for enabling the liberal agenda. Over the next several elections, numerous Tea Party backed candidates will be elected to office, many of them replacing more moderate Republican forebears. In 2012 the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney to challenge Obama. Romney only won the nomination after a slogfest with approximately 742 other candidates, most of whom were culture warrior flashes in the pan like Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachman. Romney himself was a traditional New England Republican who had served as governor of a liberal state. But in the political environment of the time, he had to pay lip service to more traditional conservative ideas. This put him squarely in a position where he had no real chance of winning; he was too traditionally conservative to win over liberals who were tiring of Obama, and too close to the Republican Establishment to inspire anyone on the fringes. It was an election of two boring candidates, and to the incumbent went the spoils.

Given that Tea Party rhetoric seemed to be paying better electoral dividends than traditional Republicanism, candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination would all have to move in that direction. The problem with Tea Party rhetoric, as I alluded to earlier, was that it seemed geared to primarily stoke the culture war. It was ostensibly libertarian, but not in any truly principled way, only to the extent that it would serve culture war ends. So taxes and regulation were obviously bad, but not to the extent that anyone would promote policies that would actually impact anyone. Keep the government out of my Medicare. What's more important is that you brand Democrats as socialists for proposing any additional spending. Call for tax cuts and a reduced deficit but make no attempt to touch programs that are actually expensive, just programs that your opponents pushed through. Add in a healthy dose of Judeo-Christian reverence (to appease the Huckabee camp) and nationalism. Almost every GOP candidate in 2016 was running on some variation of this theme, but Trump found the magic formula—he ditched principle altogether. All the traditional politicians had tried to incorporate the new ideas into a consistent platform. Trump just went for applause lines. Back in 2007, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo ran for president on a campaign of reducing immigration and kicking out illegals. It went nowhere. Looking back at his old speeches, it's clear that his problem was that he made actual, principled arguments against immigration. Trump knew that there was little call for that. It's much easier to say that the Mexican government is sending rapists and that building a wall will cure all our ills, and tell your critics to piss off rather than try to actually address their concerns.

I'll stop there because we all now what has happened since then and it's more current events than history. The point is that since the oldest Millennials came of age there hasn't been a time when it's been attractive to become a conservative, and the prospect has gotten continually worse as they've gotten older. During the early 2000s, the primary criticism of Bush had to do with the Iraq War. Now that our Middle Eastern adventures have ended, it wouldn't surprise me if some older Millennials turned to traditional neoconservatism as an antidote to contemporary progressive politics. The problem is that the Republican party has spent the past 15 years distancing itself from neoconservatism and making all the old favorites never-Trumpers. The party has come to represent few of the things more moderate liberals find attractive about some conservative candidates and nearly all the things they find repulsive about them. Contrast this with Boomers; if you were 30 in 1980 you spent your early adulthood in a dismal 1970s economy and probably staked a lot of hope in Jimmy Carter. After his lone term is worse than anyone can imagine a fresh conservative party comes in with new ideas and by 1984 makes the '70s a distant memory. Or imagine you're a Gen Xer, who came of age at a time when Clinton became one of the most successful presidents in recent memory by outflanking his opposition on the right. So far in the 21st Century, the Republicans have yet to produce the kind of Reagan/Clinton figure who wins reelection easily and leaves office at the height of his popularity. The Republicans have been trying to reinvent themselves for the past 15 years, and until that happens, it's going to be very difficult for someone who started off as liberal shift to conservative. For Millennials, that ship may have already sailed.

Thank you for this very clear listing of recent political history most important to Millennials. I’ve nominated it as a high-quality contribution.

I perceive this as being written through the lens of the centrist/media worldview, and it is valuable to me in learning just how much history is written by those who’ve got power, and how culturally pervasive their opinions are.

As a “xennial cusper,” I came into political awareness in high school with the Rush Limbaugh TV show, the leader of the culture war for 35 years and the grandfather of the Trump movement. From the start, I was taught to keep my eyes peeled for fake news pushed by coastal liberals as fact, from the Clinton aspirin factory “wag the dog” to the Trump Russian kompromat dossier.

It would be a whole day’s work for me to list the alternate conservative/libertarian history of your post, but I don’t believe there’s a market here for such posts.

While an alternate conservative/libertarian history of the post would be interesting, it would also be irrelevant.

We're discussing why Millennials are not becoming conservative, and only people who are already conservative would have access to that history, anyone else would just have access to the media worldview, and would never hear the other side of the story.

Yes, we are the counter-culture now.

I for one would be happy to read the alternate conservative/libertarian version if you bothered to write it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one here who would be.

Seconding interest in reading such a post.

That's a good description of what I've observed of American politics.

To riff on this, I've recently been thinking a lot about how the Right tends to win elections. It seemingly tends to always boil to two particular claims, which could be expressed as slogans:

  • the Left will lose your money - we'll be responsible with it

  • the Left will make you unsafe - we'll keep the threats at bay

In other words, in the end, it boils down to safety, both material safety and personal safety. Currently, the right-wing parties are doing quite well in the polls for the upcoming Finnish elections, and there's simultaneously a lot of ongoing debates that favor the Right because they can be turned into safety debates on these fronts:

  • the left-wing government has got the country into debt (after Covid and Ukraine, yes, but also to implement other programs) - this will lead to the "road of Greece" and an economic catastrophe (MATERIAL SAFETY)

  • the left-wing government has signed treaties to preserve too much of the Finnish forest, shackling the forest industry from creating wealth and jobs (MATERIAL SAFETY)

  • the left-wing government has not done enough to combat crime or send away criminal immigrants, leading to street gangs (PERSONAL SAFETY)

  • the left-wing parties only started the process to join the NATO when forced by the Russian invasion, leaving the country in a limbo (PERSONAL SAFETY)

And so on. Not that I'd agree with the made claims in this format, but they're certainly currently having an effect. Of course, the government in turn benefitted from the early years of COVID epidemic, managing to keep the disease numbers low with comparatively modest measures compared to many other countries and thus turning this into a safety issue of its own kind as well, but that's gone too, with the excess death numbers rising and COVID generally receeding from consciousness.

I'd argue that these safety issue are particularly among those that play a process in people starting to grow more conservative in their 30s and 40s, this being connected to them earning more money, getting kids and becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for crime and unrest in their own neighborhoods. Moreover, there's what could be called an 'altruism shift' - while there's a natural tendency towards altruism and caring for others in most/all people, when they have kids the natural target for this altruism becomes doing everything you can to aid your own kids in growing, instead of the more general kind of save-the-world altruism that people might have when they are younger and/or childless.

However, the American and British right simply have failed in one or both safety fronts, multiple times. Whatever one might say about Brexit, even if one doesn't take the harsh tone described in my original post, it isn't very easy to demonstrate exactly how it has made the British people safer, either on material or personal safety front. It's become pure culture war - and while culture war can have handsome electoral dividends, someone always needs to find a way to turn it into a safety issue in some way for benefit. ie. immigration is pretty easy one ("The left wants to take false asylum seekers to live on your tax monies and do crimes!"), but Brexit is harder.

The American right is doing a bit better, but even there, much of its activist energy seems to be spent on things like the trans issue, again not an easy one to turn into a safety issue, though the whole "anti-groomer" thing seems to be an effort to do that - and also (in an electoral sense) botching the COVID response thing, giving the Democrats themselves a powerful safety issue ("the Right wants to spread a dangerous virus because they listen to loony conspiracy theorists - we'll keep the virus at bay") for a while. Still, I would guess that the current inflation spiral and the post-Floyd rise in crime rates were enough to at least give the Republicans the House in the elections, though it would be harder to just ride those same issues all the way to presidency, unless they are reignited again in a big way.

The republicans can easily put together a narrative about safeguarding the public from inflation, they would just need a plan to implement.

They don’t have one.

The Republican plan is to not spend 6 trillion dollars while inflation is happening.

You know that's not true.

Their plan is to spend about the same amount because most of the budget is sacred cows, while also increasing effective monetary supply by cutting taxes; because that's been their plan for 40 fucking years.

Exactly. A genuine plan to reduce inflation would either be incredibly unpopular or would go against the GOP agenda. Or it would be an outside-Overton-window solution that probably won’t work in the long term(eg gold standard).

There's a difference between passing the government budget and passing the government budget plus another 6 trillion in BBB/equity bs.

A Right narrative for Brexit’s “failure” is that of COURSE the EU is punishing Britain for leaving, with punitive measures subtly built into every trade issue.

Geopolitical power plays are a great narrative. Just as Communist China claims the famine which killed nearly a hundred million was mostly the result of the west’s embargo, Britain’s conservatives can claim unpleasant EU trade unfairnesses will continue until either Britain once again allows Belgium to be its sovereign or the EU collapses under a dozen Greeces.

They can, of course, claim that. It just doesn't seem to be working very well for them, at the moment.

Incredible post and reminder of the past couple years.

One thing I'll point out slightly in support of your point is that many millennials' "political awakening" didn't encompass this entire time period.

I know plenty of them who were very comfortable in their ignorance all the way up to 2016. I wouldn't say it's a majority, but many don't even have true firsthand context for Bush/Obama's first term!

Good point, Never forget that some people are completely lost. I was talking to a very close, extremely academically and personally successful friend of mine, she was sure she had voted for John McCain. I told her we were 16 that year. She thinks maybe she's confused with a class mock election in AP gov.

I feel like you're neglecting/underselling the impact of TARP and the 2008 bank bailouts. This caused a major schism within the GOP between "Wall Street Republicans" and "Main Street Republicans" that became the impetus for the both the Tea Party, and Evangelical Wings of the party striking off on their own and trying to nominate thier own candidates. The main reason that McCain won the nomination is that he was one of the few "mainstream" big-name Republicans who had questioned the wisdom of the bailouts and had urged restraint beforehand, and as such he was seen as one of the few individuals who could plausibly unite the disparate factions.

Other than that, excellent write up.

The TARP bailouts were an important flashpoint, and I may have considered including them if I wasn't running up against character limits, but there are a couple problems here. First, McCain was already the nominee by the time bailouts were a consideration, so they had no role in his winning the nomination. Second, McCain famously suspended his campaign to work on a bailout deal. Third, as politically contentious as the situation was, McCain openly sided with Obama and president Bush in his support for the bailouts, and ended up voting for them. The main reason they don't really fit within the argument I'm making, though, is that opposition wasn't limited to the Right. If you were a lefty millennial who was pissed off about the bailouts there were plenty of other lefties who shared in your frustration. Hell, it was the basis of the whole Occupy movement. So while I agree that TARP was a catalyst for the current issues in the Republican party, I don't think it offers much in the way of explaining why Millennials haven't moved rightward.

Millennials aren't doing that, and are if anything sticking firmer with the left side parties with age.

I would be interested to see if this holds when you control for "stage of life" rather than age. I would be very surprised if Millennial homeowners, married Millennials, and Millennials with children weren't significantly more conservative than their generation, more broadly. This is because I would bet heavily that the Churchillian "young liberal -> old conservative" spectrum has at least as much to do with the changing levels of responsibility that people go through as they age into adulthood as it does with the actual passage of time.

Millennials, overeducated and under-worked due to some combo of secular western parental trends, the 08' recession, and the unfortunate conjunction of economic opportunity and extremely high cost-of-living in the major U.S. metropolises, are way behind previous generations in taking on the full responsibilities and social roles of adulthood (self very much included). Less married, fewer kids, less money, fewer assets - it all plays a role.

I think your explanation is totally true, but I wonder how much of it is just increasing education more broadly.

Possible, but wouldn't that have meant that the Boomers would have been substantially less conservative than their parents as they aged, given the massive expansion in the higher ed system during their day? Similarly for the X-ers, who (despite being a small generation and notoriously slacker-y) were also highly educated?

I’ve long had a pet theory that the future of politics would look like a young vs old war for the spoils, but that’s not what’s happening in non-anglosphere countries with similar demographic trends.

So it seems to me like there’s something distinctive about the Anglo sphere causing it, and well, millennials are largely worse off than their parents were at their age while having a strong feeling that it isn’t their fault. I’m sure that’s universal outside of economies that are growing fast, but one of the distinguishing features of the Anglo sphere, politically, seems to me to be this idea that bad outcomes are somehow your fault- for using substances, dropping out of school too early, not working hard enough, having kids out of wedlock, whatever- on the right. Whereas anglosphere left wingers see it as a systemic problem- of course things aren’t working out for you, you’re black/gay/a woman/whatever. Obviously liberals have a concept of what comes around goes around, but it’s more like karma where evil people get their comeuppance, not a conservative idea where people who make bad decisions out of laziness or stupidity get bad results. And obviously one of those comports with the millennial narrative better than the other, and the demographic of millennials excluded from the second narrative- white men- voted Republican at every age.

Relatedly, one ideological gap between both most US/UK conservatives and Continental European/Asian/Latin American conservatives is said to be individualism. US conservativism in particular has long been low tax individualism: my choice, my way, my freedom. UK conservativism has always had that element and it came increasingly important from Thatcher onwards. At least in Continental Europe, which I know relatively well, conservativism has more of a "conform, do your duty, and adopt our Culture (with a capital C)" tendency, with a tendency towards caution and rules. These are rare things that Merkel and Le Pen have in common with each other, but not Trump or Johnson.

Personally, I prefer individualistic conservativism, but I'm a libertarian not a conservative. And in uncertain times, I can see why most people would prefer various types of cautious collectivism over daring individualism. To some extent, the older I get and the more I want to "settle down", the more I feel the same way.

One might argue that even individualistic US conservatism has often worked the best when its individualistic themes have successfully been recast as safety issues. Ie. opposition to gun control takes off once the argument becomes that widespread easy gun ownership actually makes the society safer (at an individual level - you can own a gun to keep your house safe from criminals - and at a societal level in a more-guns-less-crime way). Low taxes are, of course, always popular in their own way among individuals who pay a lot (or at least a fair amount) of taxes, but a low-tax policy can also be portrayed as an economically irresponsible economy-destabilizing budget-buster, especially if it is not coupled with also-unpopular cuts; however, this dilemma was momentarily solved once the argument was found that it was possible to cut taxes and increase revenues (whether that actually happened or not). And so on.

One might argue that even individualistic US conservatism has often worked the best when its individualistic themes have successfully been recast as safety issues. Ie. opposition to gun control takes off once the argument becomes that widespread easy gun ownership actually makes the society safer (at an individual level - you can own a gun to keep your house safe from criminals - and at a societal level in a more-guns-less-crime way).

This definitely would make the argument for guns easier if it were true but then you're depending on something that may or more not be true for your coalition to hold together. And people like me who don't really care at all whether guns increase or decrease near term safety are stuck watching the policy hinge on a debate that seems entirely orthogonal to the actual reason 2A was put in the constitution.

And, as usual in the USA, terminal values partisans have hijacked the public debate and are now feuding with each other about who’s side benefits are more important.

You saw this in the school funding debate as well, where Youngkin promised large pay raises to teachers(what the public actually wanted) without also enacting the rest of the progressive education agenda(which is what the people writing education funding requests that talk about poor teacher pay actually want).

The skin-in-the-game element seems obviously a factor. But there's another major one in play, and that's the sheer memetic dominance the left is throwing around. I occasionally check /all as a guilty pleasure, and I aggressively prune it. The second time I see some dumbfuck political crap (do I even have to specify that it's progressive crap?) I filter out the subreddit. 50+ subs filtered out, and the other day still had the front page with 5/25 posts that were just random, content-free slams against conservatives. Most media, most news, most of academia are in the "fish doesn't realize it's wet" phase. I'm an older Millennial, and my cohort has a sense that old people just sit and wat FAUX NEWS all day, but the awful truth is that most of us are trapped in a comparable echo chamber with a flipped valence and a bigger aquarium tank. Reddit, twitter, netflix, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, etc. It's just in the atmosphere. You pick up progressivism via osmosis.

So we have people who are having fewer of those conservative-making experiences (being responsible for stuff) while being bombarded with unprecedented amounts and degrees and styles of propaganda. And every person who might start to have a moment of awareness that maybe this nice sounding idea is actually kind of impractical has fewer real life friends and family to discuss it with (especially older ones!). And when they turn to the internet, they either get sucked into a redpill community or face a torrent of SMALL DICK NO BITCHES conformity-policing and flinch.

People are exposed to that elsewhere too but arent turning progressive. It seems more likely that "conservatives" have shat the bed spectacularly in both the US and UK, allowing for this memetic takeover. There is dominance but the reason it is allowed and works is because of the clownshow on the right.

People are exppsed to that elsewhere too but arent turning progressive.

Remember when countries with no black people were having BLM protests?

It seems more likely that "conservatives" have shat the bed spectacularly in both the US and UK, allowing for this memetic takeover.

To an extent, yes. But another part is the defection from classical liberal norms from progressives. In retrospect, conservatives do rather look like clowns for not banning leftists from the universities and Hollywood, don't they?

Remember when countries with no black people were having BLM protests?

Yet they aren't turning progressive electorally.

Not yet

Literally the opposite is happening.

Yet they aren't turning progressive electorally

What does that mean? "Conservative" Britain is literally siccing the cops on people for misgendering.

both the US and UK

Remember when countries with no black people were having BLM protests?

We also get right-wing news of "random black person in the US commits X crime" variety. In Poland, where there are ~no black people.

It's just US cultural dominance.

Random current example. Title is "United States law collapsing and crime rising". (well, not news exactly, just video)

Remember when countries with no black people were having BLM protests?

As far as I remember, there were maybe one or two such protests in Finland, and they were typical fairly small solidarity protests that are very typical in European left scene regarding whatever issue is globally at stake in the media. Ie. one day you're organizing a BLM protests, another day

it's about Polish abortion laws, then on yet another day it's about Kurds in Syria or whatever.

On the scale of things the European BLM protests were very much a minor affair (outside of maybe UK?), yet they seem to be one of those things that continue to loom large on the subconsciousness of this forum, even though even among things that might serve as indicators of the spread of progressive American values globally or the general Americanization of European mind or so on, there are many better examples.

Worth noting is that this observes that younger people aren't voting more conservative as they get older. I suspect that if you were to track their views longitudinally they would be getting more conservative, it just isn't translating into political preference.

A lot of this boils down to generational and regional factionalism, at least in the US. Millennials tend to regard the GOP as the party of rural reactionaries and selfish boomers, not stability and responsibility. In much the same way that economic enticements have failed to sustain Democratic support amongst poor rural whites in the face of barely disguised contempt and yawning cultural gulfs, the urbanized, educated millennials intuit that the Republicans are not Their Guys, even if they have more preference alignments than they used to.

My note: Conservative parties use to run on the progressive status quo of the recent past. The "good old days" were always no more than 30 years ago. Now the "good old days" are 60 or 70 years ago. This means any Millinials who long for the "good old days" of thier youth are not going to vote for a neoliberal party advocating for a world they never knew and will instead vote for the neoliberal party that advocates for one they are more familiar with.

How much of this is commercial, though?

I'd argue the trend towards conservatism with age is significant intertwined by building up a stake in society through ownership of property, high income, preserving one's offspring, looking to avoid taxes and the like. Young people are suffering arrested development in prettymuch all of those fronts and experiencing an extended adolescence

For Millennial Remainers, in particular, the whole thing has evidently been a horrorshow; from following various FBPE types and hearing from friends who have lived in the UK, the thinking basically goes; for your entire life your country has belonged to the EU, which has given you ease of travel and has seemed to be without issues, and suddenly a bunch of (mostly) Tory-voting boomers decides to take the country out of the Union, and no-one still has managed to explained to you exactly how Britain has benefitted from this, or what fundamental reason for this there even was for the whole Brexit, beyond "Well, it's not as big a disaster as Remoaners are claiming when you look into it" (or, possibly, "Fuck you, Remoaner! Elitist! Take back control!")

I would say that it's less been "evidently" a horrowshow and it's more that they've been told that it's a horrowshow. Anyone who wasn't plugged into news media would probably struggle to articulate any way in which Brexit has actually materially affected their life. Marginally more waiting times at airports to go on holiday?

Freedom of movement is almost never used in practice, indeed 55% of brits never move very far away from where they're born;

https://www.showhouse.co.uk/news/55-of-brits-live-within-15-miles-of-hometown/

Most of my investigations of people who whine about the ending of FoM reveal that they, yep, still live in the UK, despite the fact that they had what, 5 years to get out for free after the Brexit vote?

Anyone who wasn't plugged into news media would probably struggle to articulate any way in which Brexit has actually materially affected their life. Marginally more waiting times at airports to go on holiday?

If it doesn't affect your life in any other way expect to make you wait more time at airports, it has affected your life in a negative way, no? Which then just leads back to the issue of your country making this change for absolutely no reason that no-one has been able to explain beyond "gave Boris a chance to play PM for a bit", with large promises of extra cash for NHS and various other benefits that didn't come. Which is my point; why should millennial Remainers vote for Tories if what they get for voting Tories is... that?

Freedom of movement is almost never used in practice, indeed 55% of brits never move very far away from where they're born;

But I was not talking about 55 % of Brits. I was talking about Millennial Remainers.

If it doesn't affect your life in any other way expect to make you wait more time at airports, it has affected your life in a negative way, no?

Compared to all the doom and gloom that everyone was predicting, the answer rounds down to "no".

Which then just leads back to the issue of your country making this change for absolutely no reason that no-one has been able to explain

There's plenty of reasons. It's just that the Brexiters were betrayed.

Again, all of this is at the crux of the issue. If even the Brexiteers cannot offer better answers to questions like "What good did the Brexit actually do to anyone?" or "Why didn't the promises made to achieve Brexit come through?" than "Well, it wasn't as bad as the Remainers claimed" or "Brexiteers were betrayed" or "The fault lies with EU coming after Britain for doing Brexit", well... none of those really answer those questions?

If the question is whether Brexit was good or not, "not as bad as claimed" or "well, you see, there were problems but it wasn't due to Brexiteers" are, at the very least, not particularly arguments for it being actually good. If a general loses a battle then he has lost a battle, no matter how much his latter memoirs talk about how the battle wasn't lost as badly as others claim or how his superiors shared the blame or how the enemy used unfair tactics or whatever.

I disagree. Simply put, I'm happy to concede the way Brexit was done was pointless, but that doesn't change the fact that in the best case Remainers were wrong about the consequences of Brexit, and in the worst case were just lying about them to discourage it.

I'm not sure why other haven't said t yet but wasn't the obvious point that self determination is a terminal good in it's own right? Perhaps the patriotism has been totally drained from the millennial British marrow but do you really need to measure the utility of your nation to not be subsumed by a much larger entity in order to value it? Self determination is an abstract value I suppose but it seems incredibly short sighted to place zero value on things that don't directly translate to immediate material benefit.

There is being frustrated with your politics not being popular enough to come into power, as a kind of vaguely libertarian leaning person trust that I understand this, but it's quite another thing to want and outsider organization to control your country in order to force an politics that is not popular on the people just because it seems to, for the moment, align with your politics. This is not a democratic impulse if that is still a thing that matters to people.

How far do you take the idea that self-determination is a terminal good? Like, would it be better for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom because that would mean they have more self-determination? Would it be better for individual states to leave the United States because it would improve their self-determination?

Unless self-determination is a good that, at any quantity and put to any purpose, is always worth a trade off against a material benefit you're going to need some justification for why we should give up some material benefit to get more self-determination. Are any Brexiters even attempting to make that case?

How far do you take the idea that self-determination is a terminal good? Like, would it be better for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom because that would mean they have more self-determination? Would it be better for individual states to leave the United States because it would improve their self-determination?

If put briefly I'd probably answer yeschad.jpg to your examples but more nuancedly, at least in the US context, I think it'd be sufficient to just scope the power of the federal government to what it actually needs at that scope. And institution to keep the different states working together cohesively is good and necessary. Maintaining a combined military force for protecting the common interest is good and necessary. That same organization being empowered to put me in a cage for years because I ingest a plant no one in my community would ever object to or have the wrong shape of gun that the leader of my community also has is not good or necessary and the only reason it has that power is that these unpopular people in my community found out they could get their way against the local interest by appealing to a higher authority that happens to be gerrymandered just so that they can then force their views on other people.

I get that this isn't a super bright line and people will have different opinions about what the scope the outside layers of the onion of politics actually need but I am confident at least in saying that wherever the line is we crossed it so long ago and come so far that I can not see it from where I am.

Well, the powers of EU are considerably lesser than those of US federal government (in practice and even moreso in theory), so what's the problem for the UK, then? The rest of Europe does certainly not appear to see this sovereignty issue this way, and for many Eastern European countries, one of the ideas for joining EU was that it would actually increase their sovereignty (ie. serve as something that would wrench them from the presumed Russian sphere of interest).

Of course, evidently there is a number of people in GB who see Brexit as a sovereignty issue and voted Leave due to this... but then again these people are not really the topic of interest vis-a-vis the article starting this thread, either.

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I disagree, if I was a Brit, it would be right about torches and pitchforks time for the Tories.

I disagree that it's a weakman. They promised taking back control, and they're using their freshly gained independence to copy-paste EU policies anyway. At that point you're better off just staying in the EU.

The Remainer arguments aren't weakmen either. Papers of Record and The Experts were warning against disaster (food and medicine shortages for example).

Both sides were making serioous arguments and were wrong and/or lying, so they deserve to be set adrift, not to be shrugged off as "weakmen".

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Huh, I would have put the Millennial generation at 1980-2000, but whatever. So their ages are (very early) 20s to 40s. The older ones, yeah, I'd expect to swing more conservative as they age, but then again extended adolescence seems to be the new thing, so perhaps the Millennials don't really feel like they're adults until they hit 30ish, and they still haven't shifted much by the time they're 40.

See how the voting patterns shift when that generation starts to hit their 50s. Just by simple movement of the Overton Window, they could 'correct' to being more 'conservative' even if their views haven't changed that greatly.

Good point. Millennials are also inheriting later, like everyone else.

On the other hand, there is a growing mismatch between the average age of inheritance (I think it's up around 60 now, very roughly?) and the average age of fertility. This could mess with the "classic" process of wealth + parenthood = greater probability of conservativism, since parenthood might come at a different period of life from wealth, if parenthood happens at all...

I'm convinced that the shift towards Conservativism is more about accumulation of wealth than anything else. I'm a young millenial/elder zoomer and finding myself more and more resentful of landlords, the Government and the elderly. Partially as a result of working retail, but also taking a dislike to the Elderly who insult me and my generation. And they all vote Tory. The Tories in the UK are the party of the elderly.

I work in a well-paid job (albeit itinerant and lacking the job security enjoyed by past people at my stage) but I feel the same way, even though I have voted Tory in the past, though not since the Cameron years. I thought that Theresa May was too illiberal, Brexity, and grey-vote for me. You can imagine how subsequent events have not changed my mind.

I already saw on Twitter that the effect is not replicating in non-Anglophone West.

You can already see it on issues like migration and to a lesser extent more general "woke" cultural issues. I noticed in particular that according to the survey data, Italy's youth are way above the historical average in terms of how right-wing they are. Ditto Hungary. This should mean:

A) these general patterns will not go away (e.g. Orban/Meloni are not flukes)

B) this could lead to significant political tension in 10-15 years from now between the non-Anglo West and the Anglos.

Italy as a member of a coalition, however, could be very important. Of course at the moment the V4 block is riven over Russia policy and France hasn’t gone to the right yet. But we can imagine a future where Hungary and Poland have kissed and made up, FN is the dominant force in French politics, and Italy is the second most important member of a powerful right wing coalition.

Italy is also a sore loser, so…

Simpler question: Why would Millennials, in the United States, vote for the Republican Party? On what prominent issues do the official Republican party line and Millennials agree? It's not gay marriage. Both the 2020 Republican party platform and Rick Scott's Rescue America Plan say marriage is between one man and one women. Meanwhile Millennials support gay marriage 74-26. What policies does the Republican Party have on offer that might be worth the state illegalizing your marriage? Or the marriage of a friend? It definitely isn't abortion. Again, both mouthpieces of the Republican Party call for the criminalization of abortion. Pew doesn't break out generations specifically in its abortion polling but legal abortion in most or all circumstances is supported 62-37 by those between the ages of 30 and 49 (so some overlap with Gen X) and is supported 74-25 among those 18-29 (so some overlap with Gen Z).

I feel like any question of "why doesn't <group> vote for <party>?" needs to start from an analysis of the policy preferences of <group> and <party>. If there's little or no overlap between the two, why should we expect <group> to vote for <party>? I'd be interested in anyone going through either of those documents and finding a position expressed by the Republican party that has majority support among millennials.

As for why this is the case, I think purity politics (of the kind that produce accusations of RINOism, the Tea Party, the House Freedom Caucus, etc) have effectively arrested the historical leftward slide of the Republican party. New generations keep getting more liberal on issues but the Republican party is so effectively in the thrall of the older more conservative part of its base that it cannot alter its policies to appeal to younger people.

It's not millennials as a whole, it's millennial women, and college-educated single millennial women specifically.

https://thefederalist.com/2022/04/12/while-everyone-else-is-kicking-themselves-for-voting-for-biden-college-educated-women-are-doubling-down/

There's a Pew/Gallup poll out there that I can't find showing that millennial men are similar to previous generations at the same age - but millennial women have moved 40+ points to the left.

However the gender division goes, the question, again, would be; why is this effect only showing in Anglo countries, not the continent?

The Penfield Mood Organ and Me: Are We Already Transhuman by Chemistry and Mnemonics Rather than Engineering?

Background: Read or re-read the first scene of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Read the whole book, one day, but just the first few paragraphs should do us for the moment, this scene is almost a standalone story and got me thinking, leaving aside the rest of the book. I was also inspired by this post on theMotte and the discussion around it to think about what responsibilities we have to dial up what mood at what time.

TLDR: Phillip K. Dick gives us the Penfield Mood Organ, a magical yet dystopian device that can stimulate the brain to put the user in different moods as appropriate, from Interested and Businesslike to Erotic Mania to Self Accusatory Depression. I thought through all the artificial tools, chemical and electronic and mnemonic, that I use to put myself in the mood I want to be in for any activity. Where do we draw the line between the dystopian Mood Organ, which would destroy some essential concept of humanity or natural life by putting a mood in my mind artificially, and the “normal” and traditional use of chemicals and other tools to create moods in the human mind?

I came home stressed out and tired from work one night, but still had plenty to do around the house. We had a dinner party planned for the next evening, and I was anticipating another busy day at work the next day, I would be lucky to have enough time to shower and clean myself up before the party, let alone to clean, so I would have to clean everything tonight if I wanted to get it done at all. Not being much in the mood to clean the house, which is hardly one of my favorite tasks to begin with, I popped in my earbuds and queued up an audiobook I hadn’t listened to yet, and took a couple of hits on a marijuana vape pen to calm my nerves and make the book a little more interesting. Just a couple of hits of the right stuff are perfect: calms the stress of the day, makes the book feel a little more profound, makes cleaning a little more pleasant. The book was a sci-fi classic, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I understand was later made into a movie a lot of guys like, so I was figuring on escapism and good writing while I worked.

The first chapter of the book opens with the protagonist arguing with his wife, a domestic squabble made sci-fi through the Penfield Mood Organ, a home appliance which could through “Penfield Brain Waves” put the user into whatever mood desired. The protagonist wishes to dial a Businesslike Attitude appropriate to the day’s work, his uncooperative wife wishes to dial a Self Accusatory Depression, they wrestle over which moods they are going to dial, maybe they’ll make themselves angry for the argument. This little vignette shook me, maybe the weed covering the stress opened my mind too much, as I realized all the things I did every day to put myself in the right mood artificially for every task. The weed, even the book I was listening to that had so shocked me, had been meant to put me in the mood to clean; and I can’t tell you how many times I’d fought with my wife when I came home around then and found her rewatching something on Netflix that I found likely to be pinning her in a depression. I was shook, it wasn’t helping me do dishes or vacuum, I switched to a Blocked and Reported episode, where I heard about some nonsense going on Twitter, this was a while ago I don’t even remember what the drama was, and probably no one else does other than the people actively involved and I’m sure even they have a different view on the matter now. This was the mood I needed (thanks @tracingwoodgrains), light and distracting, and it put me in the right headspace, I cleaned the house.

The book barely expands on the Mood Organ, but it didn’t need to, just that one background scene about their marriage made me think about all the things I use every day to put myself in one mood or another. I pictured the Mood Organ as something like one of those fancy Grundig shortwave radios I bought at an auction and thought was really cool but never actually used for much; but my real Mood Organ is more of a duffle bag, or perhaps a filing cabinet. So what’s in my bag of tricks? What moods can I dial up? What methods do I use to do it?

In this drawer we have chemicals, substances. Caffeine in various forms, the double latte I make every morning for my wife and I to drink in bed and enter a Businesslike and Professional mood before work; the much better extra foam latte we might order on a coffee date at our local after church, meant to be enjoyed for a leisurely half hour with conversation; the Celsius or pre-workout I chug before going for a new 1rm; the Kirkland knockoff Five Hour Energy that I keep in my glovebox as a “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” supply of energy for work or a long drive. Alcohol in various formats: white wine for a romantic evening; good whiskey and cognac to be sipped with friends; Jaeger to be shot to get wild and pretend I’m still a college student; beer to get just the right buzz for a social event or ballgame.

Then there’s the marijuana section: a knockoff Pelican case filled with vape cartridges, edibles, little tubes with different strains of bud for different effects. I used to think weed was just weed, but as I’ve become a connoisseur I’ve realized how different one or another hits. Lemon Fuel or Robot Girl are energizing, great for a fun Moon Board workout or cleaning the house; BlueBerry Kush or Schnozzzzzberry put me couch locked, sleepy; Durban 95 has my mind racing with new possibilities and interpretations of everything I see, enough and it is almost hallucinogenic. And the delivery matters: the vape pen or tincture I can dose precisely, taking just one or two hits to get a mild buzz going without obstructing anything; an edible is a wild ride going wherever it wants to go for hours; the mechanical vape is somewhere in between, depending how much I load I can stick to a more energizing strain but I have to vape quarter of an oven at least and that can be too much for some things. Get the dose just right and I’m having a good time, vacuuming the house and doing laundry or hanging out with my parents watching an old John Wayne movie with no indication anything is amiss. Get it wrong and I’ve blown it, I’m sitting on the couch reading theMotte and giggling. All the different applicators and strains producing different moods for different tasks, carefully chosen and dosed by experience.

And then there are the pills, not something I use a lot of but something I’m experimenting with a little. Modafinil, a pile of little quarter pills I cut up for tiny doses, which is magic when I’m tired and need to go for a long drive or work late, so much cleaner burning than caffeine, though I’m cautious so far to avoid hurting my sleep cycle and have barely touched it yet. And, for when I want to dial up 069 Ecstatic Sexual Bliss for my partner and I, a couple little packets from Roman with generic Viagra and Cialis in them. I didn’t medically need the pills, but as I said to a friend Barry Bonds won multiple MVPs before he took steroids; it’s nice to be able to dial up perfection whenever I want it without worrying.

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2/2 Continued

Over here on this shelf we have the phone an amazing mood organ all by itself. Spotify playlists are set for workouts, long and short, intense and recovery. My primary workout playlist is songs I like to sing along to, with a good helping of comedy because nothing makes me push through a pump like laughing at Imagine What I Could Do To You. But there’s also a 10 minute snatch test playlist, that contains only songs with no intros or bridges, all killer no filler. I play instrumental deep house or prog rock when I’m typing, classical or jazz when I’m relaxing, and a big Cole Porter songbook playlist for romance. That’s just the music. Headspace gets me to sleep every night, and theoretically has a bunch of other features I don’t use. There’s also podcasts, which can inform me or entertain me, distract me from boring tasks; infuriate me with Culture War bullshit or make me feel superior dunking on my outgroup. TikTok is a unique mood organ, it both reflects and stimulates moods, but ultimately all it does is pin me to my seat and waste time, the mood of inspiration that Roman History guys try to create is fleeting and false even by digital standards. I won’t get into theMotte and what it does for me. If I’m horny or I want to be, snapchat and telegram beckon with partners current and recorded, available at a moment’s notice. And Netflix offers me thousands of options for moods from tragic sorrow to optimistic inspiration to comedic soothing.

Beyond that, we have the mechanical and mnemonic tools I use to control my mood. My accupressure mat can relax me, can put me to sleep for a 30 minutes nap reliably. Some of my clothing, I’m a big believer in look good feel good play good, when you put on a sharp suit it’s a mood, when you put on your lucky shirt you hit a PR. My rosary beads produce a mood, so does carrying my ccw, so does the art on my walls and so do the shoes I wear. Candles, soaps, massage guns, even just knick knacks and tchotchkes that make me remember great moments in my life.

Now you start adding all this together, and it really becomes possible to dial up moods, and I do it all the time. I wake up and have a big day at work, I’m putting on a sharp clean suit and drinking a double espresso, listening to The Economist podcast to feel informed quickly. I’m stressed and want to hang out with my wife, I’m putting on comfortable clothes, lighting a candle, turning on a Tribe Called Quest playlist, loading Blueberry Kush into the vape, and watching a comedy. My wife and I are having a "special guest star” over, we’re pouring wine and putting on Cole Porter, I might surreptitiously pop a Tadalafil Citrate for confidence and top performance. I’m getting psyched to hit a big total in the gym, I’m dry-scooping pre workout and blaring Amon Amarth and Bolt Thrower.

I’m dialing up a mood every single day, maybe a little more laboriously than punching a number into your Penfield, but how different is it in principle, ethically? Let’s return to Deckard and Iran and compare. Is he right to ask her to dial up the mood he wants rather than what she wants to dial? What does it mean to tell someone to change their mood, is that overriding their natural emotions? If it’s horrifying for Iran to dial up a depression, is it horrifying for my wife to re-watch The Office for the umpteenth time? Alternately, if we say that’s what Iran wants so she should be allowed to do it and it is horrifying for Deckard to try to stop her, is it wrong when I criticize my wife for re-watching The Office when she’s upset on the basis that a show that shallow and over-done won’t snap her out of anything but just allow her to wallow? If it’s depressing and unnatural for Deckard to dial up a business-like attitude when he needs it, is it depressing for me to drink a coffee and put on a suit to get myself in the mood for work? If the idea of a woman dialing up erotic abandon artificially is dark and sort of ruins the point, how much Cole Porter and white wine and tadalafil ruins the point in the real world?

Some would probably answer yes, and some would probably answer no, to each of these questions. I’m not sure how I answer them! But, (and this was a side effect of dialing up “Open Minded and Creative” at the wrong moment, right?) it’s a question I’ve been thinking about ever since it first occurred to me. Part of me thinks that this is enhancing me, making me more human, making me more of a tough lifter guy when I need to be, more of a lawyer when I need to be, more of a lover; work hard and play hard and relax hard. Campbell cites the idea that we’re all always playing roles, and speaks of a courtly Japanese affectation of referring to all actions as play: “I’m playing at running the company” “He is playing at driving” even “I heard your father is playing at being dead.” Maybe this is just one more prop to help me play my role every day.

And part of me wonders if I even know what real is any more. My world is so mediated that I can’t even recognize it. Facing the world without caffeine would be honestly unrecognizable some mornings; I realize that for others that is a world without weed, a world without alcohol, a world without prozac or nicotine or dmt. At some level it horrifies me, but I don’t know what that level is. I can’t find the limiting principles.

And then the problem of others. Let’s say we’re all playing our role, who is the director? Who gets to tell who that they aren’t trying to play their role right, that they shouldn’t be dialing up anomie and empty pleasure but ferocious ideological aggression? What right do I have to tell people they should or shouldn’t have what feelings at what time, or what tools they can use to induce those feelings?

I’m curious to hear the answers of others, and to hear what’s in your Penfield Mood Cabinet.

Great post thanks for writing it! My Mood Cabinet is pretty similar to yours weed/alcohol/audio stimulus. One you did miss but I think will seem obvious once I say it is food. And I think this probably has some important interactions with obesity in the west. If I'm in a foul mood I'll reach for comfort food, which contains the whole idea in the name. I don't think any of this is really transhuman so much as a natural and ancient human tendency done with modern tools. Consider the various definitions of "habit".