What sort of values will be embraced by the young generation and become the new American norm?
Will we ever resolve the bitter cultural conflicts of our present age? Is it really up to the next generation to find a new values norm, and what will they come up with?

Here are my impressions, based on nothing more than intuition and my limited experience, and colored by my personal biases.

I think we're currently at the high-water mark of a conservative, free-market age. With the market losing credibility and labor suffering, I suspect there will be a revival of the liberal, progressive-type thinking of the New Deal era. I think the next generation will become more involved in labor activism and support for government programs, but America will still remain less socialist than Europe.

Sympathy for the Arab world will fade with the rise of the young adult generation, who will be pro-Israel and pro-military, while still being pro-welfare. The experience of terrorism, dating back to the 1999 Columbine High massacre, will cause this generation to favor gun control. All of this will lead to pressure for expansion of government spending.

There will be a resurgence of Christian respect for life, which will promote opposition to abortion and the death penalty. Abortion may not be banned, but rates will continue to decrease and it will be more and more stigmatized. But the more fundamentalist Christians will be disappointed by increased tolerance for homosexuality and pornography, and by the embracing of certain New Age and pagan idioms.

Environmentalism will finally come of age, maturing from a popular ideology to a powerful political movement. The next generation won't tree-sit or firebomb biology labs, though. Instead, they'll set about inventing the ways to satisfy the anxious Greens while still promoting the comfort and affluence Americans value so highly. All sorts of eco-technologies will be created to save the Earth, whether or not they're really necessary.

As for drugs, I'm not sure. Maybe marijuana will finally be legalized as would only make sense, or maybe it will fall out of favor and the Drug Warriors will be emboldened to crush the older generation of stoners in a brutal offensive. Or maybe troubles with Islam and La Raza and civil disorder will preoccupy the authorities and the party people will be left in peace. Either way, the incidence of hard drug use will decline, and some softer drugs will become more acceptable - maybe tobacco will shed its woes.

Whatever values the kids embrace, those who oppose them will find themselves outnumbered and outmanuevered. The choice will be between irrelevancy and assimilation: resistance will be futile!

- Steve Barrera
October 2002