[OPE] The gloomy generation...

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Sat Jul 05 2008 - 05:42:41 EDT

In an Al Jazeera interview, Noam Chomsky was asked:

So, the question is, do Americans have any legitimate hope of change this time around? And what is the difference in dynamic between America's presidential "cup" in 2008 compared to 2004 and 2000?

Noam Chomsky: There's some differences, and the differences are quite enlightening. I should say, however, that I'm expressing a very conventional thought - 80 per cent of the population thinks, if you read the words of the polls, that the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves not for the population [and] 95 per cent of the public thinks that the government ought to pay attention to public opinion but it doesn't. As far as the elections are concerned, I forget the exact figure but by about three to one people wish that the elections were about issues, not about marginal character qualities and so on. So I'm right in the mainstream. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/06/2008624202053652281.html

Pew research reports that:

Public attitudes toward Congress remain very negative. Currently, just 41% of the public expresses a favorable opinion of Congress, with 51% unfavorable; that is identical to opinions of Congress in July 2007. http://people-press.org/report/426/democratic-partys-favorables-rise-congress-still-unpopular  The latest Pew survey finds that the [baby] boomers' glum assessments about their lives overall are matched by relatively high levels of anxiety about their personal finances. Some 55% say it is likely that their incomes will not keep up with the cost of living over the next year. That majority makes them the exception among all adults. Only four-in-ten younger Americans (44%) or older ones (43%) have that concern. The anomaly here is that boomers are in their peak earning years. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/880/baby-boomers-the-gloomiest-generation

A recent EU poll (I  do not have the reference handy here just now, it was reported in the press here) finds that a majority of Europeans think that conditions of life will get worse in the next twenty years.

The question remains how people who are basically pessimistic and gloomy in their outlook about the future in that way could effect progressive social change, since that would require at least a hope in the possibility that things can change for the better, that it is possible to improve things. Of course, a "mood" is just that, an emotional mind-set which can in principle change rapidly, in response to new events and circumstances. But if you don't believe in the possibility for progressive change, you are also not really motivated to bring it about.


You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene

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