THE CLASH OF GENERATIONS
BALANCING GENERATIONAL CLAIMS
The clash between generations is inherent in character of mankind as seen from the famous saying of George Orwell “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” The differences arise due to difference in age, experience, and priorities leading to tension. Every generation has a role to play in deciding the allocation of resources. The resources allocated by old generations for next generation is with an aim to build cohesion. However, the cohesion is at risk because the politics and decision making is in the hands of a few people.
In this essay, we will try to analyze the root causes behind intergenerational tensions, how to build cohesion between generations, how politics can tackle these problems and is democracy the most promising way to create a balance.
In early times, mankind was divided by races but as the Nations drew their boundaries, formal societies emerged comprising either of a common culture or cosmopolitan in nature. It is at this stage that differences amongst sections of the society emerged and came to be discussed about. As early as on 10 December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declaring “All human beings are borne free and equal in dignity and rights.” This document was a key in cementing the position of human rights in international law in the aftermath of World War II. It claimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind. Everyone is struggling for better quality of life yet the huge numbers of people across the majority world of Asia, Africa and Latin America are marginalised politically, culturally and economically. Inequality is rife in a world where a billion people must survive on less than a dollar a day. It would be seen that all are created equal but some are more equal.
Part I: Why cohesion is at risk
Research has shown that there is an inverse link between economic inequality and social cohesion. The 2013 Economics Nobel prize winner Robert J. Shiller said that rising inequality in the United States and elsewhere is the major threat to social cohesion. Increasing inequality harms economic growth leading to high and persistent unemployment. It harms growth not only because it is a waste of resources but also because it generates redistributive pressures and social dislocations leading to clashes, unrest and conflict among generations. Another major reason for growing economic inequality is rent-seeking which arises due to concentration of wealth in the hands of a few leading to speculative demand.
Difference in priorities, views and interests
The three sections of society viz. young, professionals and pensioners have different priorities, different views and different interests leading to tensions....