For a long time, the generation wars have focused on the Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964) and the Millennials (b. 1981-1996), whilst there has been little said publicly about the incoming generation, Generation Z (b. 1997-2012) - for obvious reasons: until recently, they were all shut away in schools, too young to have formed a coherent generational profile or to have made any impact on the world stage.
However, with the eldest Gen Z-ers now in their mid-twenties, a picture has begun to emerge, and - in the words of many Generation Z-ers themselves - it's a worrying one.
I happen to know many fine and splendid constituents of this cohort, as I spend a lot of time in pubs (working! Honestly, tsk, you people...), and, since moving to the area just over three years ago, have got to know quite well the staff in our local pub, who are virtually all in the 18-25 age-group.
They are the first to describe many of their contemporaries as "snowflakes", "woke", and would no doubt agree with the newly coined acronym for this cohort - YIPs. Young Illiberal Progressives.
"You're not allowed to have any different view," confirmed one of my Gen Z associates recently, when I further enquired about her experiences with college classmates. "They just shout you down, even when you've hardly said anything."
This experience is reflected by many of the parents of this generation, with one writing a recent opinion piece entitled, "Cancelled in my own home by my four YIP children who insist ALL my opinions are offensive!".
Lucy Cavendish, who has four children aged 15-26, says of them:
"They most definitely are YIPs — Young Illiberal Progressives. Members of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012), who consider themselves righteously correct on all matters of social and sexual politics, while refusing to tolerate the views of others — least of all their mother.
It doesn’t matter what you say or how liberal you think you are, you are always 100 per cent wrong. "
"In fact, I am often on my children’s side, if only they could see it. The pity is, their YIP-ish tendencies mean they view me as so totally out of touch and ancient, I am barely worth listening to. As a member of Generation X, I must surely hold terribly unreconstructed opinions that shove me firmly into boxes labelled ‘Karen’ or ‘Gammon’ or some other signifier of crusty obsolescence.
In fact, I often get shut down before I’ve even said anything. ‘What do I think of statues being pulled down?’ one of them might ask me.
‘Well what I think is...’ and then before I’ve expressed any view at all, whichever child has asked the question starts lecturing me on the horrors of colonialism."
Cavendish, an old-school liberal, who certainly sounds exceedingly tolerant and patient with what she puts up with from her children, laments that it has not always been this way. She says:
"I long for the days when my children were younger and we’d all sit and actually talk... As the children got older, we moved on to religion, politics, history, but still everyone — including me — got heard. Yes, sometimes we’d all get so overheated I’d have to resort to the wooden spoon rules i.e., you’re only allowed to talk if you’re holding the wooden spoon, and you could only hold the wooden spoon for two minutes before handing it on. But at the end of discussing even the hottest of topics, we’d all happily resolve our differences and cuddle up on the sofa to watch Midsomer Murders.
I miss those times. I miss us feeling a cohesive unit. Now we can’t seem to agree on anything."
The article attracted over 300 comments which were, broadly, completely in agreement. One particular commentator succinctly - if sinisterly - summed it up:
"Oh my goodness, this is so much like my own household. I sympathise totally and agree it is so frustrating. They refuse point blank to listen to any other opinions and the mere notion that they may not be factually correct about everything is deemed completely impossible. I can't help but feel that we've raised a generation of bullies that will stop at nothing to ensure we all live by their rules and demands. This generation without realising it are a bunch of dictators."
I found this particular comment a deeply uncomfortable read - more so than the actual article - because, unfortunately, I think this commentator has nailed it - and, given our experiences of bullies and dictators over "the pandemic", and the kind of autocratic, tyrannical society we know the overlords have in mind for the future - I don't think it's any coincidence they have sculpted the incoming generation to be this way.
Please note, the last of Generation Z come of age in 2030 - the year Agenda 21 (otherwise known as The Great Reset) is due to be complete.
Generation Z has been manicured and manipulated to be this way so that authoritarian control tactics and despotic diktats are not the sole preserve of rogue prime ministers and power-p*ssed policemen - the "authorities" cannot effectively control the entire population, as there are too many of us and not enough of them. So, instead, they have trained up an entire generation of gatekeepers - zookeepers, if you will - to keep the herd in line and under control with the dictator's tactics of choice: brutal suppression of free speech and diversity of ideas - and, of course, fear.
What I see when many people describe their encounters with Generation Z is that these people are so incensed, so vociferous, so utterly, furiously unwilling to hear a different view - that others, even their own parents, are scared of them. Nobody wants to relentlessly be involved in vicious and confrontational clashes whilst being howled down, so, if that is what one is repeatedly met with, one simply stops speaking up and challenging. Instead, one learns to start keeping quiet, living on tenterhooks and walking on egg shells, to appease the tyrant and keep the peace.
Obviously, this is a very terrifying development. Please don't tell me "all generations have always been like this and always treated their parents this way", because they absolutely haven't. Yes, teenagers and parents have always argued, but not like this. This is new - for thousands of families, including very privileged and middle-class families, to feel too scared and inhibited by their own children to have a discussion with them, is not something we've seen on this scale before.
The members of Generation Z that I know who are not like this, also confirm that this is something different, that they - especially those with older brothers and sisters - know it hasn't always been like this, and that this is a new and sinister change.
The question is, why aren't certain members of Generation Z like this, whilst others are? I had already constructed a robust theory on this, which, with no prompting, the 23-year-old manager of my local pub confirmed.
"It's university," he said firmly and without a moment's hesitation. "That's what does it to them."
He is right. Certainly, the process starts at school, but for those who leave at 16 or 18 and get out into the real world, these tendencies tend to rather quickly ebb away. But for those who go on to university - including and especially ones who go to a university in an alien city, far away from home - this completes their transition into militant thought-policing psychological thugs, who will stop at nothing to crush any and all dissent.
Consider some of the recent stories coming out of universities, such as as lesbian feminist, Professor Kathleen Stock, being hounded out of her position for questioning transgender ideology (she says the lack of protections for free speech on UK campuses are such that she will never be able to work in a British university again); a lecturer being suspended and formally investigated for merely inviting a more conservative voice to speak on campus, and countless other lecturers, students, and speakers harassed, vilified, de-platformed and "cancelled" for holding the "wrong" (e.g., different) views.
Being immersed in such an extraordinarily oppressive climate of totalitarian intolerance for three or more years is, inevitably, going to have a profound impact on all who experience it. This is particularly because, unlike school pupils, university students cannot escape home to oases of sanity - their family, old friends - at the end of the day. They instead spend all their days and all their nights with the same people in the same environment, and whether you're writing an essay, chatting at the SU bar, or making tea in your shared halls - the thought-control, rabid intolerance, and relentless, menacing policing of each other, is ever present. Every brutal dictator in history would be rubbing their hands with glee.
I have written before about the extremely bizarre, and almost entirely Anglo (British, American, Canadian) phenomenon of 18-year-olds suddenly abandoning everything they have ever known to go to a totally alien city in which to attend university, and this being seen as unnegotiable and essential for anyone ambitious or bright - that to stay in your hometown with your family and friends, and attend the local institution, would be a mark of small-minded failure.
I have puzzled over why this cultural trope is pushed quite so aggressively in sixth-form colleges across the land (and it is), when it has so many obvious disadvantages (and if they are not obvious, please do read my long-form essay on the subject).
Well, now we know. You cannot effectively "re-educate" (indoctrinate and brainwash) people - turn them against their own families and all the values they were raised with, in order to become fundamentalist foot soldiers for the new regime - without forcibly removing them from their familiar environment and submerging them in the new society. They must be in a completely controlled and impenetrable cocoon (as universities are: try getting into any university building without a digital ID card) where there is no escaping back to familiarity and "the old ways" at the end of the day. You go back to your barracks. I mean, "halls".
It's not incidental that the one member of Generation Z I know who is at university, yet is nothing like a "YIP" (she cannot stand them), did not go away to a random city to study, but stayed at home and goes to a local institution. Going to university, but not "living in", and retaining a separate life outside of the campus walls, means the stranglehold these cultural gulags have when young people study, live, eat, sleep, and play there, is lost.
A university cannot do what it wants to do to people over the mere seven or eight contact hours they have at lectures every week. Brainwashing takes longer than that: the subjects need to be utterly immersed in the "new thought" all the time - hence, young people are moved to alien cities, isolated from family and friends, and intensively "re-educated", with no real capacity for escape. It is, after all, vigorously discouraged to go to an institution from which one could easily visit home (I grew up on the Keele University campus, and not only did none of my contemporaries go there, but none went to Manchester or Birmingham, either, both about 40 minutes away on the train, for the simple reason that they were considered too close to home).
Of course, by virtue of exceptionally effective marketing, the fully immersive university experience is promoted as by far the ideal, as a kind of extended 18-30 holiday with a few cultural expeditions thrown in: an amazing and unique experience that you will largely miss out on if you don't live in.
This cynical PR is so effective that young people go for it in their millions, believing they have freely chosen it for themselves and have not been manipulated or proselytised by a grand social engineering campaign than began before they were born. This, obviously, makes sense - clearly, if you want to incarcerate the young in communist indoctrination camps away from their families for up to eight years (undergraduate degree, Masters, PhD) - it's much better to trick them into thinking they've chosen it for themselves - and that they therefore have to pay for it. If churning out all these graduates was really useful for society, the state would pay as an investment - as it used to.
It no longer does, because, these days, most graduates are not useful economically - at least, not any more than they would have been without a degree - and an increasingly large number never work in a field related to their degree, or even that requires a degree at all. In fact, we are now in a situation where the majority of university graduates (nearly 60%) do not hold a graduate job.
So, that begs the question of why all these degree mills are churning out quite so many graduates, if their degrees aren't reliably enhancing their employment prospects... and I think we have definitively answered that question: the environments known as universities are no longer higher education emporiums, furnishing students with a rich body of knowledge and skills that will qualify them for better or more rewarding work. They are are now Stalinesque re-education camps, indoctrinating obedient enforcers for the next stage of the agenda. That is the reason - and it is the only reason - Tony Blair wanted at least 50% of school leavers going to university. Mr. Blair - who became Prime Minister in 1997, the year the first members of Generation Z were born - is now seeing the fruits of his labour, as the UK achieved his envisioned target in 2019.
Well, how did they do this? How did a country transform a higher education entry rate of roughly 20% - 2 in 10 - in the 1990s, to more than 50% - 1 in 2 - in just two decades? There are only two ways to do that:
1. Dramatically increase the ability of school leavers so more qualify for university, or;
2. Dramatically decrease the entry standards of universities, so more qualify for admission.
Needless to say, our devious, corner-cutting, penny-pinching social engineers, went for the latter. They massively expanded the university sector whilst "dumbing down" the education system, and making exams easier and easier.
There is understandable resistance from people who take exams that they are not getting easier, that they are as hard and as rigorous as ever they were, but I can assure you that this is not true, since if I was, I certainly would not have a Maths GCSE to my name.
I'm terrible at Maths. Awful. Always have been, to the extent I genuinely think I might have some form of 'dyscalculia' (yes, it's a thing...). Therefore, and as widely predicted, I failed my Maths GCSE quite catastrophically, just scraping an E.
15 years later, I decided to retake it, and I engaged the assistance of a personal tutor who was (somewhat embarrassingly) exactly my age.
"Oh, you'll definitely pass it this time," he assured me confidently, upon our first cnsultation.
"What?" I said. "How do you know? You haven't seen me do any maths yet. Trust me, I'm terrible."
"Because," he said authoritatively. "The exams are so much easier now than when we did them. What did you get last time, an E? Well, if you perform exactly the same this time, you'll get a C - possibly even a B."
I was staggered and didn't believe him, so (against all his advice) booked myself in for the Foundation Paper, where the highest possible grade attainable is a C. And lo and behold... I got a C - still not understanding Maths any better than I had the first time around.
"I told you," said my tutor, when I informed him of my success. "You should have listened to me and done the Intermediate [the higher tier paper]. You would have got a B."
So, we can argue the toss all day about whether exams really have got easier or whether 50% of 18-year-olds have just inexplicably become majestic academic superstar geniuses, but I know what my conclusions are... the establishment needs 50%+ of them in university, and by far the most expedient and successful way of ensuring that is to drop the standards. That is not to tarnish anyone's achievements or belittle their hard work, it's simply stating an (important) fact - it's a lot easier to get into university, and to graduate from one, than it once was.
Despite the fact standards in academia have collapsed so dramatically (and anyone who's been teaching for a long time will confirm that), universities have cunningly managed to hold on to the reputation they once deservedly had, of being highly prestigious and elite institutions that only admit the very best. It was once the case that "winning" a place at university (as it used to be called) meant something significant, and indicated that a person was unusually talented and bright.
It means no such thing now. There was a joke in my hometown (and, like all the best jokes, it's funny because it's kind of true), about the local university, that, "all you need to get into Staffs is a bus ticket."
As we have discussed, universities are now a kind of extended adolescent day-care for the under-25s, and anyone who's prepared to stump up the fees will be able to find one that will take them. Indeed, it's actually now harder to get a job at McDonald's than it is to get into Harvard.
The fact that university admissions are (in many cases) so lax, and many degrees no longer worth the paper they're printed on has not (yet) been enough for the cultural attitude towards degree-holders to completely change - or for the attitude of degree-holders to change to lesser mortals without them, University graduates are strongly encouraged by the institutions to see themselves as "something special", who understand how to have the proper thoughts and opinions because they are "educated", whereas anyone who hasn't been to university is an unreconstructed pleb whose opinions come straight out of the greasy fish-wrapper their non-sustainable fish supper came in (if, that is, they can read at all).
I'm not really exaggerating, either. This is precisely what many of today's young graduates think, a fact that was illustrated to me recently when I had the great misfortune to get into a conversation with one. A friend of a friend, he had picked up on the fact that I was a "conspiracy theorist" and quizzed me about why I had the temerity to contradict all the great "experts" on the merits of the experimental gene therapy (of which he had had four).
I was in the midst of explaining to him why it's not a good idea to take health advice from people who think the world is overcrowded, or to accept experimental injections made by serial felons who have no liability if their product goes seriously wrong, when he suddenly abruptly interjected with:
"Sorry, but did you go to university?"
Rather thrown by the seemingly random change in subject, I said,
"Er... yeah? Would you like to know my star sign and mother's maiden name as well?"
It just seemed such a random question, but far eclipsing my surprise he'd asked, was his surprise that I'd answered in the affirmative. He looked absolutely flummoxed, and I suddenly realised - he had believed that this was his "trump card" - that, by virtue of "exposing" me as an uneducated reactionary who had never attended a hallowed hall of higher learning, he would therefore "prove" that all my thoughts and opinions could be summarily dismissed as I was clearly a moron (/ gammon / Karen / etc).
"Well...well... which one?!" He attempted in a last ditch attempt to discount me (there are many layers to university snobbery, and a distinction made by such snobs between "real" universities, and - ugh, ghastly! - ex-polys).
"Which two," I corrected him. "The University of Liverpool and the State University of New York. Any other random biographical queries, or can we get back to what we were actually discussing?"
He went strangely quiet after that... (actually, he eventually stormed off in a huff!).
This was a very revealing - and chilling - incident, because it revealed both how university students are being trained to view the rest of humanity - basically, as second-class citizens not worthy of any serious consideration or respect - and also that he could not fathom it could be possible for someone to go through the university system, and not think exactly like him - that's why it was such a jarring shock to him when I confirmed actually, I had attended a university (and a "proper" one, to those for whom such things are a concern).
(So - tedious declaimer time - obviously I'm not saying EVERY person who goes away to university becomes a militant mind-controller, but one can't construct a meaningful analysis of social trends talking in exceptions, one must talk in generalities and overall themes.)
Leading on from this is the experience I had about ten years ago when I worked briefly for a start-up that was developing an alternative qualification to a degree for young people that helped make them more employable. The start-up had come to realise there was a huge gap in the market for such a thing, as employers were increasingly complaining that graduates were unemployable - that many were lazy, undisciplined, and entitled, and sorely lacking in many of the skills that would make them an asset to a workplace team.
Employers commented they often preferred to hire school-leavers over university graduates, since school-leavers lacked the enormous entitlement being in possession of a degree seemed to often confer upon graduates, making them unwilling to start from the bottom, or accept they had much to learn from those already on the job - including those lacking in academic qualifications.
In short, they brought the same attitude into the workplace that I had encountered in debate - graduates think they are a cut above, even when there is no tangible evidence to suggest this, simply because they have attended a university, and so feel qualified to look down on others - and therefore, police their thoughts and behaviour.
I have found observing this new generation to be a very interesting exercise, because I have close personal comparisons - new friends who've never gone down the university route (or have stayed at home if they have), and instead have got out into the real world in normal, people-facing work as soon as they can, versus people connected to the background I originate from, who've done the "university in random city" thing, leading to dubious "unpaid internships" in niche fields which don't introduce them to a genuine diversity of people or breadth of views (unfortunately, the creative, arty industries to which many of these young people aspire are terrifyingly uninform in their social and political views).
Because I've been here (in the pub - I write to you from my pub desk as we speak) for three years, I've seen the evolution of the staff, from shy 16-year-old schoolboys, tasked with picking up dirty glasses, into confident young men, who have risen to managerial positions - and that evolution is because they haven't been sequestered away in artificial environments almost exclusively surrounded by people within three years of their age, and whom all have identical views on everything. Rather, they've encountered the whole rich tapestry of human life (as you do working behind a bar), and - as this is the hospitality trade, where manners and people skills are all - have had to learn how to be consistently civil and friendly, even to people who have what some might consider wildly "offensive" views.
I have been very impressed at how mature and capable the young team are in this very well-run and popular pub, and that is because they have had to be, rather than being granted the extended adolescence "going away to uni" can often present. I note that in recent years, the UK has adopted the previously American-only trend of referring to people 18-25 as "kids". Someone who is quarter of a century old is certainly not a child, but because we've created artificial adolescence-extensions which can hamper natural adult development, they increasingly come across that way.
I would have been horrified - horrified! - to have been referred to as a 'kid' even at 18, never mind 25, but - just like our American cousins - now many in that age-group even refer to themselves this way. I do not believe this is a positive development.
"But they are kids," older persons may protest. "They're young and inexperienced."
No, they're just young, and some of them are inexperienced (by no means all - a 25-year-old could easily have a decade of work experience behind them and be married with children and, indeed, I know a not-quite-25-year-old who is).
But labelling them "kids" is not helpful, first of all because using that word for everyone under 26 conflates a 25-year-old with a 5-year-old, and secondly because, it infantilises people when they are at a critical developmental stage where decisions made can and do affect them for life. So to generate the idea that what they do doesn't really matter because they are "just kids" encourages them to be less accountable and less responsible, whilst allowing the older generation to patronise and dismiss them as not yet being "serious people".
Yet I can assure you the 23-year-old who runs my local pub impeccably, and with all the hefty responsibility that entails, is just as "serious" as any person of any age, and much more competent than many a good deal older than he is.
This whole idea of someone remaining "a kid" until they are 25 has evolved solely to facilitate the notion of most of them staying at an extended school until then. If we thought of younger adults as being actual adults, not large children, we might find it quite odd for them to be still attending school, hence, we have to describe them in a different way to make us culturally comfortable with it.
This has not always been so, of course. Universities didn't used to be "for kids", they used to be for adults, but the purpose of what a university is actually for has revolutionised dramatically over the last three or four decades (just as it was intended to do), and, having grown up on a university campus where my father and grandfather taught going back to the 1950s, I can confirm first-hand just how much they have changed - in particular, the face of the average student.
When I started to become friendly with students in my mid-teens, in the late '90s and early 2000s, they did not think of themselves as "kids" and were generally quite robust and self-sufficient. Obviously, they were no angels and drank too much and ran out of money and so on, and there was the odd explosive crisis (such as when we all found out James was cheating on Cathy, the b*stard) but they generally thrived as independent adults and were emotionally and psychologically capable of dealing with the stresses of day to day life.
Fast forward 15 years, and it's a completely different story. I was sitting downstairs in the Keele Students' Union not too long ago, having a lunchtime coffee, and couldn't help but overhear a group of students talking. There were five of them, four girls and a boy, and they were all loudly comparing the various mental health diagnoses they had received and cocktails of medication they were imbibing.
One girl said blithely, "well, I've got bipolar, a problem with my serotonin, occasional violent rages..."
"Yeah, I've got major anxiety and depression, been on all sorts but we're just trying a new combination of meds now..."
And on the conversation went. This was not some hush-hush, clandestine professional support group for those unfortunate souls battling mental illness, this was a casual (and loud) conversation in the middle of the day in a coffee shop, and was marked by an unmistakeable competitive element of who could outdo who with exotic diagnoses and powerful chemical cocktails.
University is now an environment that breeds mind-control and intolerance whilst encouraging pride and competition in mental distress, to a cohort of young people who's brains haven't finished developing yet, yet are on often on mind-altering drugs (ok, so maybe they always have been in the latter case, but at least recreational drugs are fun).
If that's not serious social subversion right there, then I don't know what is.
The high emphasis on mental illness having a kind of cachet is instrumental in getting these people to see themselves as victims (same with the #MeToo witch-huntery that infests university campuses, to the extent I know some male lecturers will not see female students alone unless the office door is left wide open, to prevent them being falsely accused of anything). They need to see themselves that way so they feel seething anger and resentment with the dominant culture that has "so badly failed" them, so they are zealously dedicated to constantly attacking and railing against it - and, eventually, razing it to the ground.
"Look at what this evil, patriarchal, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic culture has done to you, you poor, innocent victim!" is the relentless messaging. "Look how much you've suffered and how oppressed you are because of the evils of your ancestors and culture! Don't you want justice? Don't you want revenge? It's time to destroy this old order of evil oppressors once and for all - and then we can have our tolerant new utopia where there is no suffering or conflict, because everyone thinks and behaves in exactly the same way!"
So to sum, the evolution of Generation Zookeeper (keep the herd in line) is no accident, and has been long in the making, deftly and deviously designed to dovetail - when the last of them come at age - just at the point the overlords envisage their remaking of society as being complete. 2030: a totalitarian oppressive dystopia where our thoughts and actions are not solely policed by the actual police nor any official agents of the state, but a generation (as many of their own parents describe them) of tyrants and bullies.
From what I have written above, the solution to this situation is quite obvious. Parents of Generation Z, please do not send your children to university (at least, not one a long way from home)...
Send them to the pub..!
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