The Post–Cold War Order’s Dirty Thirty

It’s been thirty years since the end of the Cold War. How does the post–Cold War world order’s own emotional journey of its childhood and adulthood compare with our own:

1989–1994/96: First 5–7 years great, everything is happy.

1997–1999: At some point between 8 and 10, we lose our innocence for the first time—walking in on parents/realizing you sort of allowed ethnic cleansing to happen in southeastern Europe.

2000–2003: Early teenage years—a lot of questions, awkwardness and growth.

  • If a traumatic event happens during that time period, you might never fully recover from it (parents divorcing, 9/11)

2003–2007: Mid-late teenage years—you start to develop really strong political opinions without realizing that they’re bad political opinions.

  • Patriot Act, The Surge, etc.
  • Reading the Communist Manifesto for the first time

2008–2011: College/Recession—Your financial circumstances worsen significantly due to a predatory economic system. You possibly contract an STD/swine flu.

2011: You graduate college and have a short-lived spurt of hope and optimism/Arab Spring.

2012–2016: Your optimism comes crashing back to earth as you learn to navigate the real world a little bit. Get a job, maybe move to a new city. Save up a little cash. You think you’re starting to figure things out.

2016–2019: Quarter-life crisis. Brexit, Trump, etc. You’re not sure you’re doing anything right, so perhaps you just say “fuck it” and make drastic, systemic changes. You scuttle things that were once really important to you (election integrity). For a brief moment, you reflect on the way you’ve treated women in your past. And suddenly you’re really into foreign films?

2020: You feel a big milestone coming up, so you try to find some minute accomplishment you can achieve so you feel like you’ve done something by 30. You don’t even succeed in doing that.

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