Like a snowball through an open window:
The young are so turned off by how Ottawa operates that only a sweeping reform will suffice. Pierre Trudeau’s vision for stirring new interest in politics was “the just society.” Justin Trudeau’s should be “the new democracy” or something of that sort. It’s an appeal that cuts across party lines, regional lines and age barriers.
Oh, Larry. It's been nearly half a century and you're still worshiping at the Trudeau shrine. More than this he is still worshiping the greatest of all Sixties Idols: Youth. Boomers are obsessed with youth, though not necessarily their own young who they regard as a disappointment. This is a complete reversal to how most societies have worked historically. The traditional deference was to the old, they being the most experienced and possessing the greatest maturity. At least one hoped.
The Boomers took power arguing that their very youth provided a special insight to the times. All the usually regarded shortcomings became advantages. A lack of experience was proof you were not cynical, instead of being a sign of ignorance. A willingness to take unreasonable risks for the most ephemeral of benefits was no longer a clear example of immaturity, it was further evidence that you were not bound by old ways and views. Juvenile impulse replaced calm reflection.
The intellectual cesspool of the Sixties had been forming for several decades beforehand. Arguably the rot goes as far back as Kant and Rousseau. When it exploded all at once, powered by the unprecedented affluence of the time, the result was an orgy of bad aesthetics and worse morality. When the illogic of many of the youthful rebels was pointed out the retort was usually that the critics were just old and rigid. They failed to grasp the higher wisdom which only the Youth possessed.
This is an example of what Ludwig von Mises called polylogism. Instead of reason and logic being universal methods of thought accessible to all humans, the polylogist argues that different groups think differently, not because of the values they have accepted but because of their inherent make-up. The Jew thinks differently than the German because of "blood and race." The proletarian will by virtue of his nature think different than the bourgeoisie. The Cult of the Youth is polylogism with a tie-dye T-shirt.
The problem here is that a polylogist does not believe that members of one group can properly grasp what another group is thinking. The traditional polylogist typically held that these beliefs were immutable over time. The Cult of Youth holds that your brain stops reasoning properly as you get older. By older they do not mean ninety or a hundred. Remember: Don't trust anyone over thirty.
It might seem a little odd that Larry Martin, who wasn't a spring chicken even back when I was a spring chicken, should be cheer leading the hustling off of the Boomer class. He is, however, merely following the logic of the Cult of Youth. The noblest thing an old fogey can do is to get out of the way of the young. Our time is finished, which means it is time to move on. Note the missing element here: Ideas.
While Larry Martin speaks of the idealism of youth, an exaggeration as most youth are and have always been apathetic, and even offers Justin Trudeau the slogan of "new democracy," he doesn't really spell out what he means. This is likely because he doesn't know. He is invoking the Boomer liturgy and hoping it works. Youth is better than age, democracy is better than undemocracy and new is better than old. Wash, rinse and repeat until desired results are achieved.
The slogans, however, need a narrative. Most human beings need stories in order to understand ideas and events. This happened and then the other thing happened, all because so and so wanted it to happen. The narrative here is an old one. The young have wonderful ideas but the old stick in the mud Establishment is preventing things from happening. The gray old men destroying the young and colourful.
It's a story that stretches credulity. Martin even goes so far as to imply that Michael Ignatieff was destroyed by the grey old men of the Liberal Party Establishment. Ahem. Whatever you might say about Lord Iggy he was hardly a rebel trying to shake things up. Rather he was one of the grey old men of the Liberal Party Establishment, following the pattern laid down by Mackenzie King himself: Do nothing by halves / Which can be done by quarters.
Having spent two years and a bit feigning anger at Stephen Harper, while offering little in the way of constructive criticism, he was rightly regarded by much of the electorate as an interloping irrelevance. Next to the Prime Minister's cautious competence, Lord Iggy seemed another grey man trying to engage an apathetic public. As now seems inevitable Justin Trudeau will soon ascend the Liberal leadership, a party far weaker and less viable than that which his father took over two generations ago. He'll likely follow in Iggy's footsteps rather than PET's.
Aside from his relative youth, what does Justin Trudeau bring to the table? We don't know what he thinks, except that it is likely to be politically correct to an aching degree. If an original thought ever passed through his head it soon fled from loneliness. A pastiche of cliches delivered with the over the top gesticulations of a silent movie star. The Rudolph Valentino of the Facebook Age.
The great complaint made by those who remember the politics of the Sixties was that then, to a greater than extent than now, politics was about something. Not just intrigue and positioning. Not just spin which has always been with us. Men of intelligence and principle, even if most of the principles were bad, could get a hearing. What Gertrude Stein said about Oakland applies to Justin Trudeau: There is no there there.
No amount of burning incense at the Altar of Youth will change that basic fact.