Readers of Socialist Review will be very familiar with the ruling class’s “divide and rule” tactic, where they use nationalism, racism, sexism and homophobia to create scapegoats and divisions in the working class.
Ageism, too, whether directed against the young or the old, is often used in this way, to create intergenerational conflict and divert attention away from the real source of our problems: capitalism.
One recent example has been the attempt by sections of the media to paint the Brexit crisis as a conflict between stereotypical “progressive young Remainers” and “reactionary old Leavers”.
Another example relates to the campaign against climate change. As an older person, I have nothing but admiration and praise for the young people who have done so much to kick-start the recent protests.
But we need to challenge the arguments of those who are claiming that we “baby boomers” are the ones responsible for stealing the future of the younger generation.
It is not the mass of ordinary older people who have caused the environmental crisis, it is the capitalist system, which ruthlessly exploits both people and nature in its relentless competitive drive for profit.
Every generation has those who act as apologists for the exploitation, oppression and destructiveness inherent in the capitalist system, and those who fight back.