March 14, 2012

Today's Young People

For awhile, I've been kicking around the idea that youth are getting more authoritarian or militaristic or something like that. For example, last summer I wrote in my Taki's Magazine review of the pretty good Transformers 3 movie that was #2 at the American box office last year:
The Transformers movies celebrate American imperial muscle. As teenagers grow more diverse, their longings for order have grown more militaristic, more authoritarian. The attitude of today’s youth toward 1960s liberals is more or less: “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost.” They are impressed instead by extremely well-organized institutions such as SEAL Team Six and Michael Bay movie sets.

Audacious Epigone decided to test that hypothesis by looking at whites (male and female) age 18-29 over time in the General Social Survey. Here's what he came up with:

The following table shows the percentages of whites (as previously defined) aged 18-29 who expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the US military, again by half decade: 

PeriodConfident
Late 70s35.3%
Early 80s29.1%
Late 80s37.6%
Early 90s50.8%
Late 90s42.9%
Early 00s54.6%
Late 00s57.0%

So, the low point in the post-Vietnam era was in the early 1980s, perhaps in reaction to the failure of the Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980. Then there was a peak following the successful Kuwait War of early 1991, then a drift downward. Not surprisingly, after 9/11, there was a boost. But, then, no drift downward in the Late 00s, but instead a new peak. So, that might be evidence for a long-term trend as I hypothesized rather than just reaction to events. 

33 comments:

Whiskey said...

The differences are I think, no draft, Democratic Presidents ushering in military action, continued Jihadist terrorism against the US that never ends (1979 onwards), and the US military being overwhelmingly White and Male, and authoritative. Also, fairly successful in what it does.

The military might be winning by default as newspapers, TV, movies, books, become deeply feminized and hard-left (the two go together). The military remains a bastion of White Males, without again a Draft.

My guess is, you are also correct that in chaotic "diverse" stuff younger people like the authority and results of the military.

Anonymous said...

Increase of young, male NAMs.

Mr Lomez said...

I think an increase in "confidence" has less to do with how our own military is perceived than how the militaries of our enemies are perceived. We're a dominant team in a weak conference. And 18-29 year olds have never known otherwise.

ATBOTL said...

Or maybe the military got more competent.

Steve Sailer said...

The military definitely got more competent in the 1980s. There was a huge "misnorming" fiasco from about 1976-1979 when the military used the wrong scores on the AFQT test in deciding who to allow to enlist, and they let in all sorts of dummies. It was cleared up around 1980. You can find out about it in Rand Corp. documents, but the press either never heard about it or has forgotten about it.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's authoritarian *leftism* they favor.The US is now the Evil Empire.

Aside from the relatively trivial fact that it's a jobs and AA program for blacks, women and other favored groups, the mission of the US military is to put the entire world under the heel of secular consumerism

David said...

A factor could be the real and perceived incompetence of many other institutions of society in comparison. Congress sucks, my community college sucks, my Wal-Mart part-time job sucks, my loser friends suck, but the Army looks organized. This attitude necessarily is more widespread as society collapses.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when people sense that there is more danger, there is a biological urge that says it's time to prepare for war. There are quite a few things that could trigger this. For one, it's hardly the 1950s when we could safely leave our cars and houses unlocked. And also, the presence of foreign peoples and cultures might also be a trigger.

It often happens historically that when two or more culture or ethnicities are in close proximity, sooner or later it's a question of "Who? Whom?". This would have happened often enough for it to be hardwired.

The youth of today have also have had to grow up with the policies the baby boomers have foisted upon us. The boomers have enjoyed the fake riches of a huge housing bubble and the wondrous exotic ethnic cuisine that mass immigration has brought, and are now starting to drift off into a blissfully ignorant senescence. They've not had to live with the aggression and competition that the youth have experienced in the classroom, on the street and in the workplace.

europeasant said...

As Idiocracy dawns on us brute force will be the answer for most our disputes.Itz quick, simple and satisfying for most of our young.

Auntie Analogue said...

Seems to me that the more organized, the more regimented, the more curriculum-streamed and activity-packed children's lives have become, the more that children are conditioned to living in a conformist participatory, hup-hup collective. Contrast the much freer-form 1950's childhood depicted in Terence Malick's latest film with today's super-organized, academic-streamed, mandatory participation activity-jam-packed childhood of children, and you can't help noticing that these show two completely different and distinct cultures of child-raising and, for children, or childhood itself. This hup-hup activity-packed culture is now as ingrained for the children of left-liberals as it is for the children of conservative parents, and as Marshall McCluhan was noted for writing, 'The Medium Is The Massage.'

As far as young people's approval of the military goes, it's very easy to root from the sidelines for a team you know you'll never be summoned by anyone to yourself join - this is as true for the rooting for the imaginary Transformers and X-Men as it is for rooting for the US military. It's also true that today's kids are indoctrinated with the "Support The Troops" meme, even though many of the adults who form these "Support The Troops" activities are in fact opposed to US military campaigns.

Oh, Whiskey: in case you haven't noticed, the military is no longer white male dominated but has instead caved to feminist dogma. When I was in the service in the early 1970's pregnant members of the armed forces were routinely discharged, now male soldiers are forced to attened belly-&-breast-pillow-donning pregnancy empathy classes so that they'll empathize with their pregnant fellow soldiers and refrain from expecting pregnant soldiers to carry out their full share of a soldier's duties. All together now: "Awwwwww-wwwwwww!"

Brazilian said...

The '80s Hollywood machine made their part.

Anonymous said...

Even a solid neocon like Kagan recognized that there were some definitely Red State developments improving the military after Vietnam. He hated to admit it, but he acknowledged that a big (and unheralded) part of it was the rise of evangelical Christianity in the Army: it pretty much put a stake in the heart of the old O-club booze culture that predominated in the peacetime officer cadres of the first three quarters of the 20th c. (see e.g. From Here To Eternity), and put officers and their NCOs side-by-side in bible study groups. Once officers and non-coms were socializing over scripture, it made it a lot easier for them to communicate frankly about improving processes in the workplace (barracks and training grounds). A lot of civilians don't realize what a barrier there was in earlier days, even at the height of the Cold War.

The 21st century US military thus is "Roman" in a way that people who yammer about American imperial muscle usually overlook: our "Centurions" can talk with one of our "Legatus legionis" in a peer-to-peer way in the same manner that, say, a Vespasian would seek the frank advice of some battle-hardened pleb with 20 years' service in the legions.

Chicago said...

Hollywood seems to have cooperated with the government in promoting gung-ho fantasies amongst the gullible youth out there. Reality, hey what's that? Clinton, Bush or Obama certainly don't have their children going into the military and taking any chances, they know that's for other people's kids.
There may be more confidence in the capability of the military but not much for the political class who are the ones in charge, hence the Afghan fiasco.

beowulf said...

The military reform bill pushed through in 1986 by Barry Goldwater and Sam Nunn is a big reason the military is more competent. /wiki/Goldwater%E2%80%93Nichols_Act

And frankly we should still be drafting young men. The human mind can only take so much combat stress before it snaps. I wasn't surprised to read that the Afghanistan spree killer had just started his 4th combat tour. Even beyond mental health, its more equitable to draft 4 men to serve one tour each than to demand that one volunteer serve four tours himself.

Selective Service (by Act of Congress of course) should call up a couple hundred thousands men with the draft lottery to go through a 4 or 5 month infantry basic training program and then send them home to burn off the rest of their 8-year contract as non-drilling Army Reservists (in Army terms then, I'm advocating a Program 9-G Draft).
http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/blarenlistmentprogram-8.htm

So no further military obligation, unless there's another war. If millions of draftee reservists and their families had an intense personal interest in where and when our next splendid little war will be, Congress would think twice before putting it on the schedule.

Justin said...

Pride goeth before the fall.

Anonymous said...

I think part of this is due to the changes in the American mindset that occurred in post Vietnam era.

As a European, I'm always slightly shocked at how ass kissing Americans are to their military. I agree that insulting the military is wrong, but the obsequiousness really is something to behold.

I think there are two possible reasons:

An American friend explained it as part of the guilt felt at how Vietnam veterans were treated. It's morphed into an inability to see a difference between "I don't think you're a hero" and "let me spit on you and scream at you on the street".

Another point is how the military is used as a proxy in the US's ongoing tribal warfare.

For all my kvetching about obsequiousness, the Americans who don't like the military always seem to use it as a way of insulting the people who join it, and those peoples' families and friends. Or the image of those people they've built up in their heads.

So maybe this trust is simply an (over?) reaction to the more obnoxious leftist culture warriors. "The military" is a codeword for "a certain type of people", and is treated accordingly.

Anonymous said...

That would fit with Andrew Bacevich's argument in The New American Militarism--definitely his best book.

Henry Canaday said...

In addition, children from broken families or from never-formed families, both of which we have many more of now, may be attracted to the military for its sense of order and mutual loyalty. For males, combat arms can also provide a productive outlet for anger.

It may not be a coincidence that the strongest resistance to the military was expressed by the early boomers, who, on average, came from the most intact and generous families America has had.

Anonymous said...

I'm still undecided whether Strauss and Howe's Generations model has any merit. But to their credit, this is exactly in accord with their predictions.

-osvaldo M.

jody said...

or it could be overkill US military build-out, despite no obvious rival. which is what it is. US spending as much on it's military as every other nation combined, AFTER the cold war has ended.

a navy that can sink the combined navies of the world in under 1 month. an airforce that can establish air superiority over the combined countries of the world in under 1 month.

it lacks an army that can invade and hold any real opponent's nation. although it doesn't need to do this since it has like, 100 bases all around the world. right now. this second.

"I think an increase in "confidence" has less to do with how our own military is perceived than how the militaries of our enemies are perceived. We're a dominant team in a weak conference. And 18-29 year olds have never known otherwise."

precisely. they never knew the cold war or time periods before that. when the US faced real oppponents.

rob said...

Another factor is that the vast majority of Americans have never been on the receiving end of an air campaign, much less an invading or occupying army. It's real easy to think of the military as fancy costumes and the American Way: it ain't my family that'll be 'collateral damage', and my sister won't get gang raped. I don't even know any family stories about the civil war. One can bet that older German women remember Russian soldiers' victory bacchanals, and they're probably smart enough to realize that their husbands and sons probably didn't behave much better in Russia. Even the British remember that war can involve bombs dropped on them, not just 'over there.'

Another factor has been the change in propaganda: when the, uh, Puritans decided that the US military was necessary to protect their Puritanael homeland in the Mideast, Puritans in the media and entertainment industry stopped all the anti-military propaganda they saturated us with for decades, and turned on the ooh-rah propaganda.

DanJ said...

Let's blame mass entertainment!

I seem to remember that in TV series and movies of the 70's and 80's, military types and policemen (especially policemen) were mostly portrayed as misfits or idiots.

Today they are routinely portrayed as brave, resourceful and incredibly smart. That has to show up in the attitudes of the public, sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Winning team against weak opponents plus the image, even though it isn't the much of a reality any longer, of an organizations still dominated by a masculine ethos.

Next question?

Anonymous said...

"As Idiocracy dawns on us brute force will be the answer for most our disputes.Itz quick, simple and satisfying for most of our young."

Yes. And it's a dumbed-down, Hollywood idea of a super competent military that young dullards find comforting. They love the idea of the spooks who can find Jason Bourne in thirty seconds; rather than the ones who took ten years to trip over Bin Laden.

But more alarmingly, the young neo-con mentality admires the Western military sword regardless of how and where it is wielded.

Gilbert Pinfold

Wahrheit said...

Sailer: The military definitely got more competent in the 1980s. There was a huge "misnorming" fiasco from about 1976-1979 when the military used the wrong scores on the AFQT test in deciding who to allow to enlist, and they let in all sorts of dummies.

Hell, I was there, USN 1977-81. It was pretty bad, the amount of marijuana smoking was massive (no test yet) and I'll never forget the sailor who told me that "come the Revolution" the rich people would be working on farms...at the time I blamed Carter, but the test score thing is revelation.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Ron Paul immensely popular among military dudes?

Anonymous said...

Well, this is one way the Republicans who are not so bright can get the young people back. Republicans support military spending more than Dmes. Repubicans spend a lot on economics and the social issues now authortarian military is something they don't do well anymore as the did in Ronald Reagan's day. Believe it or not the Iran crasis in the 1980's help Reagan win Democratics because he was thought tougher than Carter. Not all young folks are pacifists.

libertarian said...

Isn't Ron Paul immensely popular among military dudes? According to his 30-city street team and social media rapid response network, yeah, he's totally the bees' knees with all of our Fine Young Enlisted Men & Women

Reg C├Žsar said...

Clinton, Bush or Obama certainly don't have their children going into the military and taking any chances, they know that's for other people's kids.
--Chicawgo

Clinton, Bush and Obama have five girls, and no boys, among them. Kind of like the Johnson-Nixon era.

Marlowe said...

Wahrheit said:Hell, I was there, USN 1977-81. It was pretty bad, the amount of marijuana smoking was massive (no test yet) and I'll never forget the sailor who told me that "come the Revolution" the rich people would be working on farms...at the time I blamed Carter, but the test score thing is revelation.

It seems America narrowly avoided a Kronstadt rebellion or a re-run of Battleship Potemkin.

Anonymous said...

and they let in all sorts of dummies.
angel cake, they are plummeting the standards of not only enlisted, but for officers, to let in NAMs and in fact, orientals.

Physical standards are lowered for womyn.

Next on the hit list NAVY Seals...

As with FDNY, it's the left's way of saying 'thanks' to the few competent institutions left in government.

jody said...

wait a minute. i may have to take back what i said. steve, get a load of this guy. from CBS:

http://tinyurl.com/6sgcom6

23 year old iraq war veteran kills 6 people in orange county, telling police he cut their heads off because he saw terminator 2. WTF.

he claims he joined the marines to kill, but was disappointed when the corps assigned him to spend all his time in iraq driving trucks. so back in the states, he would look at penthouse magazine to get worked up, then go kill.

why isn't this serial killer national news? his name: Itzcoatl Ocampo. i think that says it all.

Anonymous said...

the fact is the left is no longer against the military since it owns the government that order the military what to do. if leftists in government tell the military to allow gays, it allows gays. if leftists order the military to promote interracism, military promotes it. so, kids like the military since kids are into celebrity culture dominated by bono and the like.