Is “OK, Boomer” a Radical Critique? Two Responses
By Chris Crass-Joe Lowndes (November 12, 2019)
I’m grateful that the first time I heard of “OK, Boomer” and was responded to with “OK, Boomer”, I was having a friendly and beautiful debate with a 13 year old member of the Democratic Socialists of America, about socialist electoral strategy. I said “Yes, we want Bernie Sanders to win the primary,” and then we debated with me saying “We have a responsibility as socialists to defeat Trump and work to elect whoever wins the Dem primary, while fighting for who we want, Bernie and/or Warren”.
It was awesome to have a brilliant, passionate 13 year old socialist, the son of friends of mine, tell me “OK, Boomer” in a debate about socialism and social change.
My inner 15 year old anarchist, smiled and said, “You use to say the same thing.”
My 46 year old self said, “Thank god for our capacity to evolve our politics and strategy, and thank god for radical youth pushing for us all to stay grounded in vision and militant action, as well as developmental strategy of what is as we work for what can be.”
Note: I know I’m not a boomer. I’m a hardcore Gen Xer who worked for years as a video store clerk and was part of building up the Gen X anarchist Left. But for some in Gen Z, me and anyone over 25 can be called a Boomer. And with the dismissive attitude of a teenager – it’s a cultural experience!
I’m fine with “Ok Boomer.”
I know it substitutes generation for all other forms of domination in assigning responsibility for a wrecked planet. And I know that it is ageist in a particularly American fashion.
But all slogans and memes are shortcuts by definition. And in any case I don’t read it as signaling, as some people do: a vengeful totem feast by the young.
Maybe it does however (in the exceeding mildness of its phrasing) announce a radical paradigm shift long overdue – that everything that the middle decades of the 20th-century United States thought of as constituting the good life has to be radically re-thought or rejected before it totally destroys us.
Regardless, young people have the right to express their anger, grief, and profound sense of loss for the unimaginable future they face as they figure out how they will do so. In that sense, “Ok, Boomer” as “Get the fuck out of the way” seems entirely appropriate.