Today's Young People

For awhile, I've been kicking around the idea that youth are getting more authoritarian or militaristic or something like that. For example, last summer I wrote in my Taki's Magazine review of the pretty good Transformers 3 movie that was #2 at the American box office last year:

The Transformers movies celebrate American imperial muscle. As teenagers grow more diverse, their longings for order have grown more militaristic, more authoritarian. The attitude of today’s youth toward 1960s liberals is more or less: “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost.” They are impressed instead by extremely well-organized institutions such as SEAL Team Six and Michael Bay movie sets.

Audacious Epigone decided to test that hypothesis by looking at whites (male and female) age 18-29 over time in the General Social Survey. Here's what he came up with:

 

The following table shows the percentages of whites (as previously defined) aged 18-29 who expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the US military, again by half decade: 



Period Confident
Late 70s 35.3%
Early 80s 29.1%
Late 80s 37.6%
Early 90s 50.8%
Late 90s 42.9%
Early 00s 54.6%
Late 00s 57.0%
So, the low point in the post-Vietnam era was in the early 1980s, perhaps in reaction to the failure of the Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980. Then there was a peak following the successful Kuwait War of early 1991, then a drift downward. Not surprisingly, after 9/11, there was a boost. But, then, no drift downward in the Late 00s, but instead a new peak. So, that might be evidence for a long-term trend as I hypothesized rather than just reaction to events.