Tuesday, August 14

The decades in since 1967 have seen advances in racial and social equality

There was a sense of heady optimism during the Summer of Love that the flower-power generation could change the world.

But as many drifted into middle age, they must have wondered about past ideals: Saddled with mortgages, they spawned kids who watched too much TV, played too many video games and suffered from more obesity problems than any previous generation.

The baby boomers also bought more pre-packaged food, riddled with chemical additives, than ever before in history. Food packaged in non-biodegradable containers, brought home in plastic bags.

While many were first stirred to environmental activism after reading Rachel Carson's seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, it took years before the effects of global warming became too serious to ignore, now serving as a wake-up call to the boomer generation after years of rampant consumerism.

So, 40 years later, did the boomers change the world?

In some ways they did, says University of Victoria historian Dominique Clment, who's written a new research paper titled An Anachronism Failing to Function Properly: How the Baby Boom Generation Transformed Social Movements in Canada.

Sixties youth were the front-runners of a historical time when political activism and radical ideas were pronounced, his paper says, and while the generation was not revolutionary, it had a revolutionary impact.

The boomers fought for racial and social equality, gay rights, women's rights, student rights, and campaigned against war and poverty, Clment points out."The size of this demographic bulge, combined with widespread social and economic changes unique to this period, was bound to have a profound impact on social movement activism," he says.

One of the most identifiable impacts of the generation can be quantified by looking at the proliferation of professional social movement organizations (SMOs), which he defines as a formal organization that identifies its goals with the preferences of a social movement and attempts to implement those goals.

The proliferation of SMOs in Canada in the '60s and '70s was astounding," Clment observes.

The number of women's groups in B.C. alone, for example, jumped from two in 1969 to more than 100 by 1974."The student movement and the New Left peaked in the '60s and early '70s as the boomers entered and graduated from college and university," he says."

The boomers also left their mark on the women's movement. Disgusted at the rampant sexism among student radicals, women formed the first women's liberation groups in Canada."At the same time, the first gay rights organizations were formed in Vancouver and Toronto, and a national association began in 1975.

Greenpeace started in Vancouver in 1971, the birth of the modern environmental movement, and between 1960 and 1969, four national aboriginal associations and 33 provincial organizations were born, he says.Clment points out that boomers also created African-Canadian SMOs across the country while advocates for children's rights, prisoners' rights, animal rights, peace and official languages organized in unprecedented numbers.By the mid-1980s, the federal secretary of state was providing funding to more than 3,500 social movement organizations, Clment says.................continued at link below

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