I was born in 1953, which makes me one of those celebrated (or occasionally reviled) individuals known collectively as "baby boomers", products of the post-World War II upsurge in the birth rate that left a permanent kink in the population curve. My particular timing leaves me with Sixties values skidding into Seventies realities, an uncomfortable position by any reckoning, and as the Nineties come to a close, my reward for not having died yet is a worldview two parts nostalgia and three parts irritation.

The nation, of course, is far older than I, and yet it persists, even more than I, in trying to maintain some sort of childlike innocence in the face of way too much evidence to the contrary. In the Fifties, my parents (and possibly yours) had lots of emotional investment in the notion that the government was the only thing standing between us and the godless Reds. Ten years after, their children (and possibly you) were seized by the notion that both we and the aforementioned Reds were being victimized by the military-industrial complex, but that we could easily resist with a little help from our friends. "War is over if you want it," said John Lennon, and he wasn't being the least bit ironic.

Two more decades have passed, and whatever values we picked up along the way have now been supplanted by blind faith in the marketplace. Oh, there are a few variations on the theme — once in a great while, a labor union makes enough of a point to make you want to look inside the grave of John L. Lewis to see if the spinning has stopped, and more often than not, your friendly neighborhood right-winger repudiates the laws of supply and demand as regards "indecent" published works — but for the most part, there is but one green and/or golden God, and Alan Greenspan assures his profit.

None of this would create a problem, I suppose, were it not for those maladroits who can't adapt to the realities of a global marketplace. In other words, me. Actually, I'm fairly indifferent to the corporate state as a concept — whatever you or I may think of, say, Exxon, we can be reasonably certain they wouldn't find any justification for "ethnic cleansing" and similar nationalist notions — but I bristle at its attempts to subsume all our other institutions. My life, such as it is, deserves to be measured by something besides consumption levels. Let the record show that no matter what entity was paraded before me as a deity, I maintained the proper level of heresy. A nasty job, to be sure, but someone has to do it.

The Vent

8 November 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill