When the New York Times posts an article headlined "Corporations Find a Friend in the Supreme Court" with a subheading saying that the Supreme Court is the most pro-business bunch of justices since WW II, you begin to get a sense of “we’ve been here before.” That sense of deja vu is an important aspect of what it means to study generations. The leading generational theory out there right now postulates that there are four generational archetypes that repeat themselves over and over again. In the Supreme Court example, the G.I. generation was at approximately the same point in its life cycle when their justices began making more pro-business/pro-corporation decisions as Millennials are when they are making some of the same kinds of decisions.
Millennials are a “civic generation” archetype as their G.I. predecessors were. Gen X is a “reactive generation” archetype as “the Lost” generation of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and others who came of age in WWI. The Baby Boom is an “idealist” generation par excellance like the Awakening Generation that whipped up religious and intellectual fervor to create the American Revolution; and the generation being born today will likely look like the over-medicated and psychologized Silent generation that solidified what it meant to be “culture” even into today with things like rock n’ roll and modern art.
The theory seems to point to similar events happening in the lives of the generational archetypes. Today’s pro-business Supreme Court may simply be responding to the same kind of economic urgency that was present and demanding a response from the Supreme Court in the 1940’s, like a massive unemployment rate for younger citizens. Baby Boomers and the founders of American politics both were responding to a religious and secular explosion within their cultural eras.
If anything, this pro-business and pro-corporation Supreme Court is probably good for the United States. Civic generations tend to be “joiners” and tend to work together better than they will ever work alone (see my earlier post on the “Microwave Generation”). A pro-group/corporation judicial branch will be necessary if this generation is going to do the “system building” work that their G.I. great great grandparents did.
What do you think? Do you see generational deja vu? Do you see it in politics? In the church? Looking forward to your responses on facebook and here in the Disqus comments below.