Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Generation Q

Friedman identifies something in his column a couple weeks ago that David Brooks wrote in Atlantic Monthly in an article entitled The Organization Kid almost a decade ago (see my old posts from way back), which made Brooks my favorite magazine writer long before he gained fame as a NY times columnist, a position whose deadlines seem to cause a major decline in quality of output.

But I dispute Friedman's thesis, even more now than I did Brooks, that kids today are impressive but passive. Maybe I'm just a product of this generation, but I don't believe we need more activism at this stage. Because on the whole, the system works. (Friedman of course probably has climate change in mind, but having spent a year learning every facet of it, I am more confident than ever that the system is working on that front as well. I welcome anyone who wants to challenge that assertion.)

I think people have decided that marching in the street and sit-ins for the issues of today are wasteful and self-indulgent. The recent Columbia student hunger strike protesting changes in their curriculum seemed ridiculous; Time magazine was almost mocking them by quoting student Emilie Rosenblat: "The day after the revolution is just as important as the revolution
itself. Our work is just beginning."

I think people realize that more good can be done doing Teach for America or starting a company. Retail activism. (I like that term) Social entrepreneurship.

For those theoretically minded, the constructivist paradigm has been fully suppplanted by neo-liberalism. People (at least in the US) no longer need to try changing norms/institutions/rules of the game, but instead, are playing within the current capitalist market driven paradigm to effect change.

Of course, if we believe our Hegel or Schumpeter or Marx or Kuhn, this stage won't last either, at some point, we will move on. But until then, Viva la Market Economics!

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