Toward a Practical Definition of the Baby Boomers

by Pilgrim's Pride | September 23rd, 2012


When the term was coined by the marketers of Madison Avenue, it referred to the children of the WWII generation, meaning specifically those who “came of age” during the war, i.e., 16 – 22 year olds who were drafted, not older men who were already established.

Their first children were born shortly after coming home, obviously, but a 25 year old vet might have a 20 year old wife who could bear children into her 40s, i.e., 1965.

I myself was born in 1964 but my parents had nothing to do with WWII.  Indeed, my mother was a “war baby” – her father was recalled to active duty in the USN (thus my birthplace literally in US Naval Hospital Philadelphia) … and my father was born in the Great Depression in 1936.  His father, a coal miner, was exempt from the draft as a critical industry worker and also because he was at the upper end of draft age limit.

The Baby Boom as Seen by Demographic Ages

The Baby Boom as Seen by Demographic Ages

The other important thing to know about the Boomers is the implicit importance of WWII propaganda in their lives.  Their parents, the so-called “Greatest Generation” (self-applied…) were immersed in anti-Nazi, pro-Soviet propaganda.  They literally define themselves that way.

Their children were born into this sea of propaganda and never left it.

The older WWII vets, like my grandfather and his wife, already had fully formed opinions etc and were not so affected by the agitprop.

Now you know why Boomers see every bad actor as a Nazi and why they are so favorable to Communism.  Herr Hitler was the bête noir and Uncle Joe was well, Uncle Joe the Good Ally.

It helps that the Huddled Masses were effectively “sanctified” and “baptized” into their Americaness thanks to the war.  How many Hollywood propaganda films featured a company of soldiers named Romano, Kowalski, Schmidt, Esteban, and O’Leary?  Fighting that war validated their winning USA Lotto tickets responsible for bringing their fathers here a few short years earlier.

Because the Boomers as a cultural phenomenon are a construct of young WWII vets’ impressions of geopolitics and subsequent entitlement mentality, NOT ALL PERSONS BORN DURING THAT PERIOD SHARE THEIR WORLDVIEW.  This is a generalization based on demographics and psycho-social factors that are not universal, merely widespread and a majority.

6 Responses to “Toward a Practical Definition of the Baby Boomers”

  1. I was born in ’46. I don’t recall that anyone that I knew in my parents generation had a favorable opinion of the Communists. Of course they saw the Nazis and Japanese as the greater enemy. I grew up playing ‘war’ against them.

    “Now you know why Boomers see every bad actor as a Nazi and why they are so favorable to Communism.”

    Maybe some do, but the early Boomers who spent childhoods in the ’50s, hiding from atomic bombs under school desks, saw Communists as the bad guys (for real).

    That said, I can’t account for the shameful behavior of my generation in the Sixties, when the seeds of the todays problems were sown. I know the intellectuals in this country have always had a liking for Socialism/Communism, particularly in ’30s and the Depression. In my recollection of the Sixties, Socialism was just part of the buffet, along with opposition to Vietnam, drugs, sex, communal living, rock and roll etc. Socialism was actually way down on the list of interesting things to talk about and do.

    I’m not sure that most Boomers are all that enamored of Communism, though the media/university/democrat crowd certainly is. One way or another, I doubt that the WWII generation had much to do with that.

    • Just curious — what was your father’s situation during the war? While I was careful to disclaim that this is a universal segmentation model, it helps to know the exceptions — you see, I’m working on a related theory, what I call my “Alternate Generations” model that explores the other-than-chronology factors of generational identity.

      And the comments are good to hear. Anything that invalidates the present Boomers is goodness!

      Pilgrim’s Pride

      • He was in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. He flew 21 combat missions.

        By the way, when you look at his generation consider the Great Depression. I think it had at least as much influence as the war. Probably more in everyday life, including rearing children.

        • Indeed it did Michael. My father was born in ’36 and the experience of the Depression formed him as a man. To his last day he was frugal, cheap even, and worked from sunup to sundown as much by habit as desire (it wasn’t for money at the end, just satisfaction).

          I count myself fortunate to have such a man as my dad. His lessons were good and true and, to our misfortune, will be immensely practical once again as our economy implodes on itself.

          This will have the effect of separating the men from the boys, so to speak, as the Boomers, a member of a herd their whole lives, will find self-reliance and independence too much to bear at last.

          It’s not the date of one’s birth that matters — it only matters what kind of man he had as his father. The experience of our men made them better men while the experience of the Boomer men made them lesser men. I do hope you can follow the subtleties of this reasoning!

  2. Frank Prince says:

    I too was born in the 40′s, 1949 to be exact. I have to agree with Michael H. on his comments. My father was born in 1918, lived through the Depression with his family in Bayonne New Jersey.He joined the Army in 1937. When WW2 broke out he joined up again and wound up on the second wave on Omaha Beach. Was in the Battle of the Bulge with the 2nd Infantry Division then on to the Reine river. He and my grandfather were both Democrats, I am not. I do not care much for the Communist/Socialist/Liberal community. during the 50′s, I was fearful of the Russians and their threat. I would shutter at night when I heard an airliner fly too close to our house, always thinking that the Russians were here to bomb us. I can never forget that fear.

    • Frank, my grandfather would be the same age as your and Michael’s fathers. At 23, 24, or more those men were significantly older by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack with a fairly developed sense of themselves as men.

      Consider the more stereotypical GI: 17, maybe even 15 with wink to the recruiter and a bit of a white lie.

      That age differential is an insurmountable gulf to a boy even then. The human mind is simply too immature at that age to grasp many concepts basic to the mature man. Sex, duty, family, etc. While a boy might certainly act in the manner of a man, he certainly does so by imitation not developed understanding.

      Thus the gulf between the so-called “WWII” generation and their superiors: they came in as boys and the Service made them men — not “life”. Their behavior was a matter of imposed discipline without benefit of experience in the school of life.

      There is a documentary you must absolutely watch if you are not already familiar with it: .

      It explains the herd-like nature of the Boomers’ grandparents, facilitated in no small way by one Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and the father of modern marketing. He was also retained by the U.S. government to develop propaganda strategy for use on the domestic American population.

      It may very well blow your mind. It blew mine and I studied this stuff most of my adult life.

      So, to understand the Boomers and why you obviously stand-up American men are not actual Boomers despite the accident of your birth dates, understand that your grandparents and the Boomers’ grandparents could not be further apart in temperament, experience, expectation — and indoctrination.

      Yours (and mine) are creatures of toil and sacrifice. Theirs are creatures of the Roaring Twenties and the Gay Nineties and it makes perfect sense once you understand how that influence is passed unto even the third and fourth generations.

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