Millennials having no stake in capitalism

millennials capitalism

Though I was no fan of Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s, one thing she understood was that people needed to believe capitalism was THEIR system. So, she set out to give people a stake in the system. Today, in sharp contrast, millennials seem to have almost no stake whatsoever in capitalism. And guess where that leads? Yep, disaffection with the aforementioned capitalism.

Thatcher wanted to end the ‘mixed’ economy of post-war Britain. That’s where the state owned vast swathes of the economy including energy, telecoms, utilities and transport. She presented the sale of state assets as something liberating, a chance for the public to own a slice of the economy. Some people would have said that they already did through state ownership. But Thatcher wanted people to have shares – and believe in financial capitalism.

The Wider Share Ownership Council was set up to “create a nation of well-informed capitalists, enfranchised in the economic life of the country and supportive of a free-market system”. It didn’t matter that as industries were privatised, wealth inequality actually grew despite the increasing number of shareholders. And many held the shares more like Premium Bonds than equities. They didn’t go on to develop sophisticated stock market portfolios as Thatcher might have hoped. But many Britons bought into the myth of ‘popular capitalism’. And I suppose that’s all that mattered.

I was a financial journalist in the 1990s and people in the City privately mocked or pitied those members of the public who did try to play the markets. Lambs to the slaughter was the usual analogy. At the end of the so-called ‘dot-com boom’ around 2001, there was a 90% club of shareholders who had lost that percentage on the average share in their portfolio. Same thing happened in 2007/8. Private investors got fried every time. Institutional investors bailed out way before.

Millennials and post-millennials don’t tend to have share portfolios – not the ones I know anyway – and neither have they bought their own council house. Because those were sold decades ago in another of Thatcher’s popular capitalism moves. And many can’t afford or don’t want to take out a mortgage. Even if they tried, they’d probably be turned down. So no stake for millennials in the property or equity market.

And now, post-Covid, many millennials have a further reduced stake in capitalism on account of having no job. Young people who thought being a gym trainer or working in the ever expanding hospitality sector was a career for life have been cruelly disabused. Some have even resorted to back-breaking labour on farms to make ends meet.

And pity the poor ‘strategist’ or ‘creative’ – who now finds capitalism doesn’t need their strategic insight or creative flair. In recent years, I’ve met so many people claiming to be strategists that I call myself a ‘tactician’ with pride.

The dream, or nightmare, or myth of popular capitalism has definitely crashed and burned. There is no 1980s privatisation giveaway. There’s no keys to your own home. And now it’s a P45 and good luck for the future. So when I hear some people wondering why capitalism is in the dock – well ask yourself: what stake do millennials have in the system? And then the answer should be clear to you.

Welcome to OK Baby Boomer!

Baby Boomers

Young and old – the year 2020 saw us all go through the hell of the Coronavirus.

It’s experience that has impacted every one of us. On social media, I’ve seen people I know grieve for a grandparent – one aged 90 years old – who succumbed to the virus. But also children and teenagers have been felled cruelly before their lives had really got going. Not since the Victoria era have we seen the tragic site of little coffins being carried at funerals.

At the height of the Coronavirus, families came together to support each other and the divisions of Boomer, Gen-X, Millennial and Post-Millennial seemed so irrelevant for a while. Young health workers strove to save the lives of elderly patients while parents took their children back into their homes to keep them safe. We all needed to pull together.

However, all was not sweetness and light. There were some on Twitter who promoted the hashtag #BoomerDoomer and other similar unpleasantries – hoping that the virus would wipe out our generation. How did they justify this? Oh, well, apparently anybody over the age of 55 was to blame for global warming, poverty and right-wing populism. Therefore we had it coming to us.

The inert and non-judgmental nature of a virus was lost on these people. Instead they reverted to some medieval idea that disease and pandemics are some kind of righteous punishment on the wicked – namely Boomers in this instance.

Many of those pushing this inter-generational hatred are “Doomers” – a nihilistic sub-set who overlap with InCels and other social misfits. They have a highly pessimistic view of society and its future and an exaggerated sense of what they know – and what anybody born before 1964 doesn’t know.

Like typical 4Chan sad sacks they troll folks on social media celebrating the Coronavirus, for example, as some kind of apocalyptic end of times for Boomers. Presumably when we’re all wiped out, they will emerge from their fetid bedrooms, lay down their tepid takeaway pizzas and inherit the earth. Glad I won’t be here!

Now I know most young people have no truck with that kind of Doomer hate speech. And they realise that this is an attempt to divide us all along generational lines. After all, if we spend time beggaring each other and chucking insults, we’ll forget the real enemies of democracy and social justice.

And I couldn’t help noticing that many of those pushing the #BoomerDoomer hashtag had five followers and appeared to be based in Macedonia or Russia. Hmmmm?

Not that there hasn’t been some friction between Boomers and Millennials online. One side calling Millennials snowflakes and the other side retorting with the snarky rejoinder – OK Boomer. That was the flavour of debate in 2019. Pretty unedifying really.

So – I think it’s time to fully lift the lid on what Boomers are really all about – before the Grim Reaper scythes us. Let’s answer the myths and misconceptions that frankly do my head in.

Fortunately for all of you – I’m a terrible hoarder. I have a massive “archive” of political, cultural, musical, school, college and clubbing stuff that will show you how we revolted, demonstrated and with punk in the 1970s, stuck two fingers up at all that was wrong with society.

This blog will give you a real sense of the sounds, sights and maybe even smells of the post-war era. It’s a tale of youth cults, political upheaval, demonstrations, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. And I’d like you to contribute with your own stories from that era.

We transformed the world. The 1960s signalled the start of a struggle for racial and sexual equality and the recognition of LGBT rights. The 1970s was when the fight got going in earnest. The 1980s was both a reaction against the radicalism of the previous two decades but also a time when social progress continued regardless. And the 1990s was one victory after another for a more equal society.

I’m not going to bore you with lectures – but entertain you with images and stories that will bring the above to life. The post-war decades were bursting with optimism and a belief that change was possible. Maybe if we want to recover our sanity – we should all reach back into those times and find the strength and ideas to move forward.

Now – for your edification – some of you may want to know the difference between a Boomer, Doomer, Bloomer and Zoomer. So – to enlighten you on these terms and the toxic generation war politics they encourage – here is a very good YouTube video that sets it all out.