How Things Work: The Law of Generations and the Children of the Rich

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This series is a tip for any would be scholar out there who can labor through more 500 words of analysis. I’m an analyst, not a scholar, and am only looking for leads as to things that might be done to solve various problems. Knowing how things work were always foundational to my work for I found that most of my 21st clients were totally blind as to how things had worked in say, the old Soviet bloc, but also in their own business culture in America just 60 years ago.

The subject here is what is going on in the minds of the generation we are now seeing running around rioting and burning, tearing down statues, with no end yet in sight. Do they cross class lines or generally arise from a single class in our society? Have they always been this way? (Well, yes and no.) Do they grow out of it? (Also yes and no.) Can they be cured? (Actually, yes, if reached early enough.)

But there is a political element, in that what we are seeing today is not merely a manifestation of wealth over-indulging itself out of existence, or at least forbearable existence, (there are all sorts of historical examples of this, the French Revolution a good example, but the existence of an invisible hand manipulating the wealthy class and actually guiding the ground war we are now seeing the streets. It does have a political purpose.

This is relatively new for only in the past 50 years has the political Left been able to mobilize forces to not just incubate this kind of army but to also pay for it field operation, almost as if it were an “invisible state in the sky”. You see, the Left did have think tanks and search units seeking such these sorts of equations and were willing to pay for the research even 50 years ago.

And piecemeal the hints and clues were always there, going all the way back to the 19th Century, but especially since the 1960s, which covers the living memory of the post-World War II generation. Earlier historical clues, although I can recount several just because I’m a student, would be better attended to by real scholars.

What follows could serve as an outline, but I think deeper studies should be made only because the Left, if it could gain power, would like to erase much of what I am pointing out there for the simple reason that’s what totalitarians have always done.

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I’ll leave several breadcrumbs to let you see how many other connections you can make to create a composite picture.

In 1972 I moved my family to an Army military command a 20 minute train ride east of downtown Tokyo. Before that the largest city I had spent anytime in as an adult was at my state university in Kentucky, Lexington, population 55,000 at the time. Seven years; four undergraduate, three Law.

My older sister and I were the first in our family to attend university. An important Law of Generations dot many observers never know to connect, but children of college graduates/professionals view the university experience differently than those who represent the first in their family, its pioneers in advanced education.

Although I witnessed the spoiled and the rich at my university, 1964-1968, working in a college book store just across the street from the main administration building, and since they, along with graduate-assistants from some liberal arts departments, were the chief source of shop-lifting and bad checks in our store, I did form early opinions.

The Vietnam War began my freshman year, and much to my surprise wasn’t over when I graduated in ’68. (And it still wasn’t over when I graduated from law school in ’71.) But campus signs of the war weren’t very visible; a change in dress by some, music, even language. I rented a single room, so saw no television until I got married in ’68. Or drove a car for that matter. So the radio and newspapers were my sole source of current events. Neither the war nor politics were central to my world view until 1968.

We had a large out-of-state population because of low tuitions, so a lot of kids from the northeast came there who were from more affluent families. They dominated the sororities and fraternities; flashy cars, walking around money, and that buttoned-down Four Preps look that was fashionable in those day. I didn’t date any of the girls since I couldn’t find a bicycle-built-for-two that I could pedal over to the dorm to pick her up with. It would be ’67 when suddenly a lot of girls started showing up in the store in jeans, loose fitting shirts and no brassieres. (It was the first time in my life that I’d taken a negative attitude to the no-bra look.)

It was the anti-War look; long hair and scraggly beards for guys, unkempt everything for girls and lots and lots of potty-mouth. And of course, shoplifting. But on a campus of 15,000 probably less than a thousand. I never saw them in groups of more then 5 or 6, but did know they had taken over my favorite with-in walking distance bar that suddenly featured music from Canned Heat. But in my senior year, Spring semester 1968, probably less than 100 took over the Administration building and a classroom buildings nearby. Across campus it was like nothing had happened, but state police were stationed along that single drive I walked by daily, and my new bride’s best friend’s boyfriend (Sandy) was one of them. So I got a ringside seat where they set up their HQ, on the basement floor of the History building, and sat in on their talks… all because I was a friend of Sandy’s.

You’d see the state troopers stationed outside on the 6 o’clock news, but if an arrest was ever made, I never heard about it. But to sit in amongst them, as a 22-year old senior, was enough to make your head swim. Sheer adolescence. I never heard the “f-bomb”, and their second favorite word, “pig”, used in so many creative ways, yet saying nothing, except to point out some exploit, such as spitting on a “pig” as they walked by a trooper posted outside, and the way that pig had to stand and just take it. Mostly 18-19 year old girls, mind you.

I have no idea what their political aim was, but in 3 days or so they walked away.

I would have to travel and live in Japan for three years to make sense of what I had seen in America during the Vietnam War.

Japanese society and customs were very different than our own in the 1970s, and I presume always were. It was all male-centered to the nth degree. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore would never have made it as a TV-married couple in Japan. There the wife faded into almost obscurity once she married; staying home and raising the children, while the husband was off raising hell with his buddies from work. It didn’t matter whether it was a third-shift line crew at a Toyota factory, or a white collar staff member at a corporate office. Or its chief executive.

About the corporate big-wigs, you’ll have to go to VeteransTales.org to read the tales some of the high-dollar prostitutes told my best friend, Major Guy, and I at a Tokyo Russian restaurant/bar. It was called Manos, and had been run by two brothers from Pittsburgh who had served in the old OSS in World War II. It was strategically situated just around the corner from the Soviet embassy. Manos was the ichiban (# 1) place for higher ranking corporate officers to meet foreign prostitutes, for whom they seemed to have an obsession. The girls at Manos were stunners; Australia, White Russian, European, American, even Indian. Major Guy (RIP) worked in Army G2 and his “job” was to liaise ranking military officers with “the girls”. Tough job. Since they were also way above our pay grade, it was also a fun place to chat since the girls all missed male conversation in English  (We even took our cynical wives to meet them once, as well as her father.)

The takeaway that pertains to the elite class and their children is that Japanese men of the highest rank were, in short, rutting, grunting pigs. In the years we visited there I never heard a girl speak of a single “gentleman” and never once mention a moment of romance. They made Harvey Weinstein look like Errol Flynn.

In America, this kind of heavy-handed neglect was a sub-text for our Feminist Movement, but culturally it was never as imbedded as in the Far East. (Hint: a nation of immigrants, America’s cultural views on male dominance, entitlement by virtue of wealth, and child rearing, all arise from dozens of different foreign sources; hence “melting pot”.)

Also through Guy I met with an very interesting Japanese lady, Mrs Yashima, an “activist” I think you’d call her. Not unlike the suffragettes on the early 20th Century in America, she was the wife of a big military supplier in nearby Machida. Along with other wives they had formed a club of sorts that provided entertainments for the wives of corporate leaders in the Tokyo-region. She wanted to pick our brains, so we met several times over tea. Tired of sitting at home, their children grown and in college, they had organized their own happy-hour events for various-sized groups. I think they had private “Full Monty” shows years before the film was released.

In turn, I asked her about the student riots that dominated Japanese media, and I’d seen fairly regularly since I arrived in Japan in 1972. The riots were either about the war in Vietnam, the United States in general, and of late Environmentalism (the building of a new airport north of Tokyo) and anything Godzilla- or nuclear power-related); America viewed them as Soviet inspired.

The kids just went wild, but in an organized way. I never knew if any were beaten or injured, but plenty were arrested. But the people and the media did not seem particularly outraged. But the police had particular prohibitions with “the snake dance” (Zenga-kuren) which may have been a model for use in America. This is from 1967, but interestingly Google says very little about it (?).

Mrs Yashima explained it as a phase that certain student groups “just went through”, which makes more sense today than it did 45 years ago. She said that the Japanese education system was tiered and the children of each class went to schools within their class. People who tested well in the sciences, engineering and medicine went to other schools. And of course, being world-class manufacturers, Japan was also heavily into trade schools. (Since I had worked with Japanese lawyers…bengoshi…I knew them to be social ranks below where they are in America. In business meetings they were the ones who ran to get coffee for their bosses, and this distressed American lawyers greatly. Thought of as clerks, they were not upper class then.)

Yashima-san told me that these students knew that once they graduated from college and they joined the “corporation”, their lives as individuals were largely over, consigned entirely to the company. She described this in an especially gloomy way. Those last years of college were their last hurrah of freedom, so to speak.

(It always puzzled me that kids could just turn radicalism…and teat-fittery…off and on so easily, but in the straight-jacket world of the Japanese corporate world of “kairetsu“, or regional version of globalism (which I’ll discuss later) the change may have been seamless.)

But by design, the rest of their lives, even their entertainments were already drawn out for them, unless they could rise to the top echelons, at which time they might be able to come to Manos and take 30-minutes of pleasure with an Australian blonde.

At same time the wives were home tending the kids. Mrs Yashima said this was traditional, and regular. Even a factory worker would spent only 2-3 nights a week at home. I once saw what looked like an entire shift from factory in Sapporo, 25 men or so, invade a night club, each wearing kepis with the company logo. And of course, powerful corporate men also had a mistress (sometimes handpicked by their wives) that required a couple of nights attention.

After I returned to the United States, to private law practice in Arizona for a few years, and then the corporate world for a decade before heading to the USSR as a private consultant for nearly 20 more, watching both my sons go through college, each in their own directions, I never really paused to try and close the circle of what I had learned in Japan about wealth and class with what I am seeing now.

I never thought class mattered that much, while apparently it means very much, especially to the “manipulators” who have done the most to turn these “children of the damned” into life-long “haters”, per Ayn Rand, in 1971. (Even if you don’t like her, as I don’t, her’s is a very good observation for people who’ve actually seen a thing or two up-close.)

I never measured things in terms of class, (how you were raised), or by generation, (how old you were when you actually saw things occur). In terms of class I was born, raised, and will always remain middle class, and view the world through essentially the same prism I did when I was 18. All that changed were the dots that needed to be connected so I could better understand how things work.

Class in America isn’t broken down quite that way as Japan was, for various reasons. But the fact that the manipulators figured this out 50 years ago, while we were still getting our bearings, tells me we’re a step or two behind.

Next: Many wealthy kids’ parents in America do not intend them to have to work. (There’s an old English gentleman’s rule involved) or at least have a highway paved in gold for their trek to the top.

 

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