In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘Why are Millennials so boring?’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 5 August

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Douglas Murray in UnHerd

on generational puritanism

Why are Millennials so boring?

“This generation, destined to rebel against libertinism and nihilism, must develop a very clear sense of purpose. It cannot adopt the luxurious and decadent position of going wherever words and ideas take it. Rather it can go on journeys only if those journeys are likely to take it to the places it has already decided to be the correct destinations. Which brings me back to puritanism. Millennial culture is nothing if not puritanical. It finds people on tracks that they should not be on and castigates them. Conversely, it identifies the true and correct paths that people should be on and praises them for staying there.”

2. John Harris in The Guardian

on the greatest trick the Tories ever pulled

Blame the scroungers. Blame the migrants. How Britain fell for austerity

“To some extent, Tory Brexiteers have pulled off the most devilish kind of trick, sowing discord and resentment via austerity, presenting Brexit as some kind of answer and reaping the rewards. In this reading, however irrational it may seem, much of the enduring support for leaving the European Union – up to and including the no-deal version – is a misplaced reaction to poverty, inequality and cuts. I have been to plenty of places – Wigan, Merthyr Tydfil, Stoke-on-Trent – where this rings true, and people do talk about voting leave as a reaction to years of economic neglect. But it is not the whole story, foundering when it comes to why millions of people in comparatively affluent places voted leave. And herein, perhaps, lies something too often overlooked: that in many cases support for austerity and Brexit are one and the same thing – proof that, with the Tories’ encouragement, a whole swathe of public opinion has long since turned cruel and inward-looking, and it will take a hell of a shock to push it somewhere else.”

3. Kathleen Belew in the New York Times

on the El Paso and Dayton massacres

The Right Way to Understand White Nationalist Terrorism

“Too many people still think of these attacks as single events, rather than interconnected actions carried out by domestic terrorists. We spend too much ink dividing them into anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic attacks. True, they are these things. But they are also connected with one another through a broader white power ideology. Likewise, too many people think that such shootings are the goal of fringe activism. They aren’t. They are planned to incite a much larger slaughter by “awakening” other people to join the movement.”

4. Emma Duncan in The Times

on higher education

It’s time to stop obsessing about Oxbridge

“The more I’ve pondered our obsession with Oxford and Cambridge on our country, the worse I think it is for us. The intense competition to get into those two universities shapes the whole of our education system. It encourages us to impoverish ourselves by sending our children to expensive private secondary schools, to coach our children to exhaustion and to drill them for exams. It fuels our snobbish tendency swiftly to judge people on irrelevant criteria and raise them up or write them off in seconds. And, because our population is growing and Oxbridge is taking fewer British students, the competition is getting more intense. Now, even if it were bad for our society, it might still make sense for us all, as individuals, to do our utmost to get our children into Oxbridge. But I don’t think it does.”

5. Tanya Gold in The Daily Telegraph

on the dangers of daytime television

From Trinny and Susannah to Donald Trump, reality TV has ushered in an age of spite

“Psychotherapists fear social media, because everything that leads antagonists to peace, is absent online – you cannot read gestures online. It is a perfect cauldron for fury; the like-minded gather to demonize the other side, and galvanise each other. The cult of individualism and its twin, advertising, are likewise complicit. We are not so much fellows as customers: customers with competing desires. So I would not lay it all on Trinny and Susannah, and say they destroyed the remnants of the postwar consensus when all they meant to do was to incite women to wear cashmere neutrals.”

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