When You Say ‘Millennials’ Do You Mean Your Rich Friends?


If you haven’t read Jesse Meyerson’s article published on RollingStone.com in early January, you should go read it.

Or, if you’re a Millennial and don’t have the time to go read it, here’s a summary:

The piece is titled “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For” and it’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Guaranteed work for everybody.
  2. Social Security for All
  3. Take Back The Land
  4. Make Everything Owned by Everybody
  5. A Public Bank in Every State

You can imagine what kind of reaction this got from the Right, which is so used to calling Obama a socialist that their ad hominem attacks just didn’t seem to do the trick anymore.

Forbes.com took a deep breath, at least, and put out a retort titled “Sorry, Rolling Stone, Millennials Won’t Fall for Those Reforms”—essentially consenting to a game of tug-of-war with the liberal media, where my generation is the rope.

But the problem is: Who the hell are the Millennials? I mean besides people around my age? “I’d perhaps believe Millennials are dying to dig ditches in a bureaucratic chain gang,” writes Maura Pennington for Forbes, “if I didn’t know so many who have started their own businesses.” Maybe the misunderstanding has to do with the kinds of Millennials that Pennington hangs around with. Sure, I have a couple of friends who started a business. A composting business. And they’re also socialists. On the other hand, I also just rode in a temp agency van down to Soldier Field to shovel snow for $11 an hour with twelve other guys glad to have any kind of work.

Let’s go back to that tug-of-war game. My generation is not the rope. My generation is actually the two teams yanking the nation’s resources around.

There’s a cover-up on behalf of Forbes and Rolling Stone, however unintentional. They don’t want to talk about class conflict and so they don’t want to admit that the Millennial generation isn’t just going to migrate toward the truth—neither Pennington’s nor Myerson’s truth. We—the Millennial tug-of-war team on the Left—are not really talking about “economic reforms,” as Myerson packaged it. We’re talking about…Should I say it?…Revolution. Take back the land? That kind of an idea has zero chance in a congress that thinks food stamps are some kind of a luxury we should do without for the sake of economic recovery. Make everything owned by everybody? We in Chicago can’t even convince our mayor to keep the public schools open.

I’m proud that Occupy Wall Street was inspired and organized by my generation (with no small contribution from our seniors, of course). I feel a certain kinship with Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and I’m on board with Sydette Harry, who wrote a piece for Salon called “Not all millennials are white and privileged.” But Mark Zuckerberg, etc., and everyone who wants to be them can have their own club. The capitalist class hatches eggs unto itself and just because all us Millennials are the same age doesn’t mean we’re not divided along the same political and class lines that have always been there and will be there until we do something about it.


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