It can be considered that there is a strong relation between the changing age makeup of the population in the 20th century and the of the post WWII era.
First the baby boom – a sudden jump in population. Of course this alone is not enough. This generation was born into a new world order, where the Old System had proven its self-destructiveness. However thanks to this sudden jump in population, a whole and numerous generation were there to pull in this new direction. Not only did it demand for itself a whole raft of rights and privileges and freedoms, it had the numbers to back it up. In the new consumer age, devised by post-war economists to capitalize on US strengths, this generation voted with its wallet and displayed considerable power in changing social norms.
But what now. The baby boom generation has grown up, and thanks to the medical progress they remain numerous and active. Unfortunately, the emphasis on personal liberties of the 60s and 70s bred a certain selfishness into the Me-generation. Once they had achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and comfort, they dug in.
I believe this has a significant impact on the political swing to the right we have observed in the past decade. the baby boom generation have added to their numerical strength their maturity and accumulated wealth, plus considerably lower birthrates after them. So we are now top-heavy: young people may have all the vigor of the baby boom generation, but they do not have the tidal wave like force of that generation which broke the status quo. While on the other hand that generation has become wealthy and powerful – large swaths of most developed country governments can be identified as baby boomers. Their desire to hang onto this comfort in understandable – as is the fear and insecurity that can accompany it. The power is there to impose this on all who follow – the beating of the consumerist drum. Just as there were those in the 60s and 70s who beat the drum of conformity and conservative values. However while back then they were drowned out by the rising tide of youth, now youth struggle to be heard.
That’s not to say young people don’t have forms of expression – on the contrary there are more now than there have ever been. The explosion of the digital age has created forms of interaction older generations struggle to even understand. But despite this they have relatively little impact on the broader politics. In i see this disconnect fueling a good deal of discontent. It would not be surprising even to see a parallel politic spring up in the digital arena, where the old school powers suffer from the internets fundamental democracy. Whether this will be translated into change AFK is a different matter however.