Millennials and Zoomers (Gen Zers) are perceived as entitled generations, and we’re constantly infantilized for our different perspectives. That’s because earlier generations have completely bastardized democracy for us.
Millennials and Zoomers only know a post-Cold War global order and were born into a world where democracy and free markets are championed as the source of human prosperity. We call bullshit and know that the world shouldn’t and cannot continue to be like this.
We’re the generations that will be living through the impending disasters of the 21st century. And, what’s worse is we know that our parents and grandparents created this world for us… willingly and consciously.
Millennial & Zoomers See The Flaws In The System
The Cold War ended the year that I was born. It wrapped a neat bow around the ideological conflicts that defined the 20th century as capitalism, free markets, and democracy became the order of the day all over the world. I only know “freedom,” I don’t know socialism, and I certainly don’t know fascism. There’s never been a better time to be alive, right? We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity and don’t know anything of the strife that previous generations had had to face when they fought for our freedom… right?
Except capitalism isn’t sustainable and our democracies are fundamentally flawed. Millennials and Zoomers don’t believe in democracy and millennials are the first generation to be financially worse off than our parents.
The New Age of Prosperity
In 1990, the World Bank reported that 1.85 billion people lived in extreme poverty, and that figure had dropped to 767 million by 2013. So more than a billion people now live on more than $1.90 per day. That works out to about $60 per month…
If that’s what counts as prosperity, we have a problem. And World Economic Form stats show that the middle class is shrinking, all over the world, even though China has a growing middle class (a country that is still run by the Chinese Communist Party…).
It is clear that Millennials and Zoomers are losing faith in the system of democracy as well, considering the level of control that corporations and wealthy oligarchs. In the US, the poster child for western neoliberal democracies, voting rates have never exceeded 50%.
There is a sense of nihilism amongst our generation. A Deloitte survey conducted last year showed that climate change is still the leading concern among Millennials and Zoomers, but that more than half don’t believe that the situation is reversible. 48% of Zoomers and 44% of Millennials reported that they are stressed all the time and mental health issues are on the rise, along with dissatisfaction in the workplace.
We’ve lost hope because we have lived through 3 different financial crises in our lifetime, the dotcom bubble, the global economic crisis and the crisis we’re currently enduring as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Millennials and Zoomers know that this brand of ‘democracy’ is unsustainable.
Millennials & Zoomers Are Entitled To Sustainability
Are Millennials and Zoomers entitled? Yes, I’d say so. We believe that, in this age of abundance, everyone is entitled to their fair share of our collective wealth as a species. And we also recognize that resources aren’t infinite and eventually our planet will turn on us. Covid-19 is the first of what we can expect to become an avalanche of global environmental catastrophes and we feel that we’re entitled to a brighter future.
And I, for one, believe that such a future is possible, where technology, rather than serving as an agent for skyrocketing levels of inequality, can become the great equalizer and we can learn how to harness renewable resources to facilitate a reasonable standard of living for all.
We are about to enter a pivotal moment in history, not just due to climate change and late stage capitalism, but where almost all human jobs will be automated, with Robotics Process Automation (RPA), 5G, Self-driving cars, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and a plethora of technological advancements that are leading us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Businesses will be able to thrive on an unprecedented scale, but they won’t be able to sell anything if they have no customers and have hoarded literally all the wealth. But it also presents an opportunity for lives of leisure, where human beings can be freed from the shackles of working for a living at all.
We Deserve Democracy
Millennials and Zoomers, despite our reluctance to vote and lack of faith in the political system and the prevailing economic chokehold that has come to define most of our adult lives, are incredibly politically aware. We are focused on social justice issues, gender, racial and economic equality. We are a tolerant generation that champions LGBT rights and veganism has never been more popular.
And we also know that when one person suffers, it’s bad for all of us. We’re a generation of empathy. The Internet has fundamentally transformed the limits of what is possible. We have the ability to form a political movement. A sustainable world is possible, securing a reasonable standard of living for literally everybody is possible.
We’ve run out of faith in the system, but we make up the critical mass of the global population right now and we have the tools at our disposal to push a global agenda to make sustainability THE fundamental value guiding our politics.
On a legal level, constitutional democracies are still prevalent all over the world and we have the numbers on our side. Democracy is not the enemy, it’s the vehicle that we can use to defeat the enemy. Except we need to entrench values that focus less on our individual rights and more on our collective rights – because we’re all in this together.