Few events are more defining for millennials – the biggest, richest, most educated generation in history – than that fateful day on September 11, 2001, just as a new millennium had brought widespread optimism.
A veil of darkness descended on earth with a generation feeling cheated of their peace – a unique brief period in living memory between the fall of the berlin wall and 9/11 when there was no worldwide hot or cold war. A darkness of which we are periodically reminded as people get senselessly killed in our streets, in our clubs, in our cafes, in our travels.
The shock and disbelief gave way to anger shortly after 2003, with the millennials now adults and making their way to university. Just as tension was bubbling and it seemed they might take to the streets, Tony Blair, probably the most hated man in Britain, resigned in 2007, just two years into his third term. Reporters were saying officials are advised to not use the term terrorism. Obama rose to offer change and hope.
Instead, we were offered the biggest crash and worst economy in 100 years, just as we were entering the workforce. Students occupied spaces or rioted in an animalistic expression of rage in London 2011. Arabia burned with hope turned to war.
Cometh the Hour Cometh the Man
Žižek rose, yet he offered tried and failed communism, but cometh the hour cometh the man, Nakamoto, who offered something new that seemed promising. People, especially young people, flocked, with price reaching dollar parity, then $100, then equal value to gold.
Bitcoin introduced a generation to libertarianism or classic liberalism, the opposite of Žižek, and a political philosophy most suited to a time when the state seemed to exert more and more control. That philosophy seems to have led, for the first time, to grassroots support for a Republican candidate, Trump, among the young and students who fill public spaces with Trump memes.
Moreover, they have elevated Milo Yiannopoulos, who is known to use bitcoin, and give ear to his deconstruction of identity politics and gender studies to argue that they are used as a form of control and instead of uniting us, divide us fully into black or white, straight or gay, man or woman.
New Art and Ancient Gods
This new energy has given rise to the most beautiful art exhibited at Burning Man – a grassroots festival popular with techies – which has returned an ancient tradition of celebrating the sun’s highest point in the sky by burning something, thus in a way reflecting the sun’s fire.
The popularity of the event – especially among millennials, the 20 somethings – further indicates a backlash against monolithic religions whose introduction coincides with one thousand years of darkness from the fall of Rome to renaissance when Galileo declared e puo si muove.
It further indicates a rediscovery of the Gods of Ancient Greece, whose richness in metaphor and meaning, as well as their embodiment of human nature and qualities, led to the creation of the most beautiful art, literature and the invention of philosophy, democracy, the advancement of maths, astronomy, and so on.
A New Optimism
In combination, this creates a new picture of optimism as millennials take new positions of responsibility. Instead of burning buildings or taking to the streets, the young now tap onto their computers and code things, create art, build start-ups, and aim to disrupt everything so as to make them better, including politics as shown by the rise of Trump.
The blockchain’s invention has now created a space where we can once more dream of intelligent machines which smart contracts allow to hold value, of new forms of organization through the DAO, of new funding systems through crowdsales, of open and free exchange of value and trade.
It brings a new sense of optimism that things can be done better and hope that a new world full of art, invention and creativity, where peace once more reigns, can be ours. And, in a metaphorical way, it embodies a re-statement of our values that we so strongly held and were widely taught prior to 9/11. Peace, first and foremost, no wars of choice, an interconnected world, better, higher, faster towards those flying cars we were promised.
Images from Shutterstock.