The tendency of each generation to look fondly on the "good old days" and to disparage the next generation is well-known. I remember reading some poem from ancient Egypt lamenting the moral failings of the younger generation, and it sounded exactly like something that might be written today.

But has the opposite ever happened? Has any generation, on average, developed a consensus that the next generation was more ethical, more worthy, or simply better than they themselves had been?

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    I think it could be quite common feeling in several countries in the 1930s. – Anixx Sep 28 '14 at 11:34
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    I think this is perhaps one of those pseudo-questions that is really trying to make a point. For one thing, I doubt highly in anybody's ability to find an objective way to measure and answer this. (There could be polls on this. Hoping to be proved wrong here). OTOH, I'd personally readily say that about my kids' generation (Millennials vs. X'ers) – T.E.D. Sep 28 '14 at 17:07
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    Not a fake question, and while it would be impossible to poll every member of a previous generation, there could easily be a papal address lamenting the current generation in favor of the younger Crusaders, or a speech by Cato praising the morality of the junior senators, or an American journalist reporting on a trend of resurgent activism among the youth compared to their parents, any one of which might have references and implications that the speaker's view is widely believed among their peers. – Nerrolken Sep 28 '14 at 17:15
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    @T.E.D.: According to Strauss and Howe (below), your generation's feeling toward Millennials parallels that of the Lost to the World War II generation. More to the point, the "Rendezvous" and Lost put their money where their mouth was through pro- "GI" legislation. As for the close votes, this question can be answered objectively through "expert" sources. – Tom Au Sep 30 '14 at 20:11
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    I admit I probably would have voted to close the question if I've seen it before the answers, but I think the two answers it got are sufficient proof that it can be answered with "facts, references, or specific expertise". Voting to re-open. – yannis Oct 8 '14 at 17:17

In their book, Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe (S&H) postulate that the World War II (or "Greatest") generation was seen as "better" by the two preceding generations, largely because they fought and won World War II.

The immediately preceding generation was the "Lost" generation (of FitzGerald and Hemingway), who saw themselves (and were seen by others) as a "wasted" generation. Hence, they admired the World War II generation, whom they thought were "better" by comparison.

The generation before the Lost was FDR's generation, which Strauss and Howe call the "Missionary" Generation, and what I call the "Rendezvous" (With Destiny) generation in my own book. These people (and the Lost) were the parents of the World War II generation, and "showered them with praise and reward" (S&H) for bringing about their own "Rendezvous With Destiny" (America as the world's greatest power with them on top). This "praise and reweard" was expressed in legislation such as the GI Bill, and various other "veteran's" programs enacted after the war.


New Soviet Man was a phenomena in Soviet culture and art in the post-1920 period. It finds its most heightened non-ironic form prior to the economic crisis of the mid 1950s.

Versions of the New Soviet Man myth can be seen in the film version of Dr. Zhivago. Burnt by the Sun plays with the same tropes (a daughter with soft feet into adulthood).

The ironic form is reasonably obvious. A day in the life / Gulag Archipelago give this precisely, with the Zek / Thief dynamic.

Andrle and Fitzpatrick's work on new Stalinist operatives, the class of 1936, is also useful for the ironic version.

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    it was the official line, I seriously doubt anyone actually believed it... – jwenting Sep 29 '14 at 12:06
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    @jwenting you're judging it now, with the knowledge that the CCCP has ceased to exist. Communism had a strong draw - just look at all the European communist parties. Even in the early 30ies where reports of cruelty from Stalin were widely known (citiation needed; I think I saw that in a description of the Spanish revolution) people fought for it. Education and Hero of Work medals incentivized correct behavior; experiencing the daily hardship let that wear off over time, but it's reasonable to assume that for some time there was widespread belief into this. – user45891 Sep 29 '14 at 15:34
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    @user45891 yes, it does, to people not living under it. The useful fools are easily deceived, always have been, and tend to be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. – jwenting Sep 30 '14 at 1:57

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