Marc Flacks on the concept of generations

- a contribution to the "sixties-l" listserv

Date: Tue, 4 Jul 1995 18:04:35 -0400 (EDT)
To: sixties-l
Although I personally continue to see the
usefullness of the generation concept, it is important to keep in mind
that gen.s are not monolithic by any means, and that demography is not
destiny.  Karl Mannheim makes the great point ("The problem of generations")
that, just as one's class location by no means guarantees a progressive
class consciousness, a "generation location" of itself, does not
determine a particular way of thinking.

You asked why I think generational politics might be a force for the revitaliz-
ation of left solidarity. I don't have an answer, really, for how
cross-generational solidarity can be enlivened, but it's fairly obvious
that a politics based on generational commonalities could go a long
way to overcoming divisions stemming from race, class, gender, region,
etc., which have lately plagued the left. One wouldn't to deny the
importance of such differences, of course, but it would also be nice
to find some common ground. I sense that you're wary of another
generation gap, wherein those over say, thirty, would be treated
as the common enemy of the young. As I've tried to suggest, the generational
politics I'm imagining would not direct itself against the middle-
aged and the old (a la "Lead or Leave"--the neocon genXers against
the National debt), but against the cultural commodifiers who
package people's identities from above. In short, a generational politics
which sees itself in continuity with the sixties youth movement,
rather than in reaction against it.

Marc Flacks


End of SIXTIES-L Digest 395