Cuspers – a new generational category proposed – updated to 2018 (Part Two)
By Mark Wegierski
(The notion of “cuspers” was initially proposed by this author on the blog of the Hudson Institute’s American Outlook, April 23, 2004.)
The “cuspers” had been born in a time of great social turmoil, and when they reached the age at which earlier generations had typically entered the main job-market and started families, they often encountered a series of frustrations. The highly evocative book, by Adrienne Miller and Andrew Goldblatt, The Hamlet Syndrome: Overthinkers Who Underachieve (New York: William Morrow, 1989) looks at many of these types of problems. With quick career advancement – even for those with university degrees – often blocked by the prevalence of “the damn yuppies” and stable family life undermined by the unhappy consequences of the concatenation of sexual and social revolutions since the 1960s, many of the “cuspers” turned to embittered politics. The “angry white male” phenomenon of the early to mid-1990s, and the unexpected Republican majority in Congress under Newt Gingrich in 1994, were possibly expressions of “cusper” angst. In Canada, there was the rise of the Reform Party, initially a Western Canadian-based protest party.
The prosperity of the later Clinton years tended to dissipate much of the anger building up among many disaffected persons whose concerns were not being acknowledged in the mainstream media, except in highly caricatured form.
However, the apparent economic troubles of the George W. Bush period – which were arguably exacerbated by such phenomena as outsourcing; high, uncontrolled immigration; and mass H1-B visa hiring -- lead to renewed frustration among persons who were then in their forties, and simply could not afford to lose their jobs. And what has followed under Obama has been seen by many as little else than an extension of these previous trends. For example, the frustration among many native-born American computer programmers and engineers, is now undeniable. And many “cuspers” who have finished “useless” liberal arts degrees – sometimes simply out of a feeling of “love of scholarship” -- and hold “politically-incorrect” views, have actually been in a twilight limbo – in terms of conventional career-advancement – for years on end. Most persons in the entire post-Sixties’ period have also had to struggle to construct a decent, stable family life, in an often-hostile environment (such as a close to fifty per cent divorce rate).
Perhaps the hope of some “cuspers” today is that some of their ideas (such as those partially seen in the ever-popular “retro” music of the Eighties) may attract some of the succeeding generations to adopt a similar “creatively-nihilist” critique of current-day, consumption-addled society. There have been some survey results around the turn of the millennium, that have shown that American teenagers of that time had a surprisingly deep identification with religion and with the importance of fidelity in relationships, as well as some surprisingly “realistic” attitudes to certain issues, such as the necessity of America to fight terrorism. It has been suggested that the fact that today’s teens pretty well know that they are “abortion survivors” has led to increased social conservatism among them. The same society that produces highly disturbed teens also nurtures ones that are manifestly willing to die for their faith – both of which were seen at Columbine.
The aftermath of “9/11” might have introduced a brief surge of some moral clarity to America – something which many “cuspers” – despite their frequently nihilist posturing and moodiness – have often hungered for. Two great movie experiences of the early Twenty-First Century, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Passion of the Christ, may have been pointing the way towards a social and cultural rebirth for America and the West. And in 2015, there may have been occurring a similar cultural rallying in the U.S., around American Sniper.
In such a re-birth, some “cuspers” may be hoping to assume a vanguard role in society which they see as having been long-denied to them. Now in their fifties, the cuspers are growing increasingly desperate, and various strongly dissident movements are arising in America. From 2006 until the 2015 federal election, the Conservatives in Canada were said to have been comparatively successful in guiding the economy, but now the Liberals under Justin Trudeau are in charge, and the economy is tanking – thus also necessitating desperate resistance in America’s northern neighbor.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.