What is (and is not) Britpopper.


I invented the Britpopper meme, due to the persecutions we endure on Twitter, most who can remember and verify this are now lost. I cite @QuasLacrimas as the only surviving witness to the thread of February 2019 in which I said that the reason Britain is so fucked up is because it is the only country in the world run by “Gen-Xers”. In the course of this post you will learn Britpoppers absolutely ARE NOT “Gen-X”, and should NEVER be referred to as such. Because after this revelation, I began to do research, certain things, shadows on the memory of childhood, began to cohere in my mind. Britpoppers are the generation born in a baby boom unique to Great Britain. This baby boom took place in the 1960s (where America saw the beginning of its demographic collapse).

As I said, I invented Britpoppers. This post is not the content of opinion, but the matter of fact. I sense that we are approaching the moment where the Britpopper meme starts to grow exponentially beyond the power of a small group to control its meaning dictatorially. So I have been motivated to define, in as concise a way as possible, the canonical conception of what a Britpopper is. Like the writer in 18th century France, the shitposter has no recognized rights in our society, like Shakespeare and Beethoven in their age, he is treated as any other labourer, there is no way I have to compel acceptance of this definition by galaxybrain journalists. I can’t claim to be a “Historian here”, or exercise legal rights of my work such as copyright. I shall proceed by the charm of the meek and men of genius.

Britpoppers have objective demographic quality. They are not reducible to the Corbynite meme of “centrist dads” – as some have claimed. They are not a state of mind. You define what Britpopper is by looking at what Britpoppers do. The concept exists independent of any ideological or stylistic choice. Some think that Britpopper refers specifically to a group of pundits, but in fact, every individual born in Britain during that time is a Britpopper and facts about their inner psychology can be axiomatically deduced a priori using the science of Britpoppery. Once we observe what Britpoppers do, it will emerge certain things are more, or less, Britpopper than others; but to be born in this cohort is to be Britpopper by nature. The Philosopher Nick Land is objectively Britpopper, with amusing Britpopper traits, but he’s not an especially Britpopperish Britpopper in Platonic terms.

This objective quality in question is the boom in the UK birth-rate in the 1960s. In the USA, the birth-rate began to fall during this time. This is a fact unique to the UK. When you factor in this birth cohort, you start to recognize a feature of generic social life in Britain strangely missing from its mirror image in America. The Britpopper was born in the 1960s. He or she want to school in the 1970s where there were bomb scares and they read Christopher Hill. They went to Oxford in the 1980s, with Boris and Gove and Will Self, where the dreaming spires and… Thatcherism, collided. They loved curry. After university (paid for by the state) they went to London in the 90s and got a job in something that is not quite “the new economy”, but ever so slightly Bohemian, Telly, the music industry, “media”, … Law. They could do this because they were a large and economically powerful cohort. Simply by buying that flat in Camden Town in 1997, they were catapulted into the economic top wrung by 2021.

Britpoppers are these people, those born in the 1960s British baby bulge. They are the face hovering in The Times Magazine margin. The Radical Wine critic, the novelist and ferocious Remain supporter who authored a slightly bonkers book about the history of Prog Rock. The journalist who was THERE when that Wall came down and became a staunch supporter of Tony Blair. The son of a Hereditary Peer who went to a bog standard comp. The busy and impatient reader can stop reading now, and die with good faith knowing what a Britpopper is.

> “But what does this have to do with BRITPOP, guy!!!?”

Ah! The reader will not step into the grave so graciously! Somebody born in 1964 will turn 30 in 1994. The Cool Britannia period is when this cohort joined the workforce in large numbers and began to influence the factories of the culture industry. The O.G (much worse) Harry and Paul is on Telly. Football is new and exciting. Major is being skewered over sleaze. Pret a Manger is cool. Marks and Spencer is even cooler. And this Tony bloke seems rather Impressive, and a breath of fresh air compared to the Toffs at the Top. Naff. Brill. Polari.

>”but I was alive during Britpop and that isn’t what Britpop is, Britpoppers don’t even like Britpop! They like Bowie and Paul Weller!”.  

Grow up. Get grip. Britpopper is not just about the music man, it’s the whole shebang of corny social-democratic confidence in which the era is enveloped. Britpopper works. It rolls off the tongue, and if it should rustle the jimmies of those who think Britpop is still far too youthful and relevant to be associated with the Ottolenghi cookbook and Blairite multicultural mural then it does its job nicely. But still, you want something Intellectual from me, if I am to keep my rights to the Britpopper concept. You want to see the monkey dance. Very well, gentleman.

I propose every generation has a Heroic Period, where is values and ideas are formed and carried by pure grace, but cannot influence the world; and a Mythic Period where it can impose the narrative of its Heroic Period on the culture at large, but by which point the world has changed so that these ideas stand as something alien to it. We tend to judge the Boomers by the legacy of the 1960s counter-culture. Yet everyone knows the avrg Boomer was nowhere near the centres of power in 1968, or even, really, 1976. The person who was in the hivemind’s hot seat in 1968 was Harper Lee, and Charles Manson. Children of the Great Depression who had a bone to pick with the militarized society they could never acquiesce to through the redemptive experience of War, because they had not fought the War. This was the Heroic Period of the Boomers, wherein they formed an idea of ‘Progress’ and ‘The Future’. The Mythic Period of the Baby Boomers was the 1990s, where Dr. King and the Beatles were first put on the school curriculum.

For Britpoppers the 1990s was when They carried the grace of youth, and were able to form an aesthetic picture of the world with the greatest purity, and lack of interference from outside pressures of upsetting change. Britpop is the soul of Britpoppery, its what the Britpopper thinks ‘Modernity’ is – it is always fundamentally, 1996. It’s the “times” we need to “get” with. Modernity is not what we think about the present, but what we consider to be future. And our idea of the future is the fatal executioner’s blade through which we become outdated. The Britpopper is well aware that its all kicking off in the Middle East, or that Cofvid Nineteen is the biggest crisis… since the war. What makes him a Britpopper is he thinks the solutions to this in terms of devolved parliaments, Lords reform, joined up thinking, the E.U, comprehensive education, ‘more women’ in politics, pragmatic compromise and localism. A “reactionary” for a Britpopper will always be a beetroot nosed, pinstriped Thatcherite with views on gays and women. Klaus Schwab, a man who was a teenager when Stalin sent tanks to Berlin, is a “progressive” because he talks about “the green industrial revolution”.

The period when Britpoppers actually reached a HEGEMONIC position, where the Muswell Hill house began hitting the big figures, when Oxford class of ’86 were sweeping to ministerial roles in the Cabinet (Gove, Johnson, Cameron, Grayling), when AbFab is recommissioned – was the 2010s. This is the Mythic Period, where, for a brief moment, the generation sits on the throne of collective consciousness, and can tailor everything else to its chosen vibe.

The Britpopper Mythic Period was 2007-2019

The Britpopper Heroic Period was 1984-1997.

The CORE Britpopper Generation were BORN: 1958-1971.

Generations are defined by shared experiences. Aside from the eternal complaints of ‘the old’ about ‘the young’, the first people to consider themselves a ‘generation’ in the modern sense were probably born in the second decade of the 19th century in France. Napoleon’s spectacular wars had left France bereft of men. Flaubert, Musset, the Goncourt brothers – all showed an awareness that they constituted a unique generation, something not shown by Englishman of the same period. It is from these sorts of gaps that ‘generations’ with distinct consciousness arise. Where from being too few, or too many, a select age group experience certain things at a certain time as one – giving them a unified mental perspective. Evidence for this is found in the fact the discourse of generations only really takes off in the Anglosphere with the mass slaughter of the First World War. It is doubtful whether those of us born in basically stable demographic patterns such as the 1970s or the late 1990s can really ever call ourselves a generation. ‘Gen X’ and ‘Zoomer’ exist to designate gaps where something ought to be, rather than something objectively identifiable.  As Western populations are currently defined by dearth, rather than superfluity, the gulfs that create modern generations are those of (likely planned) increase, while the Napoleonic and First World War generations were defined by sudden reductions.

The point is that has a certain demographic ballpark, but should someone have roughly the same experience as the Britpopper, they can be a Britpopper. If Caitlyn Moran, born 1975 started her career in the actual Britpop era to become a stereotypically Britpopper columnist writing about feminism and living avec les kids in North London, is NOT a Britpopper then the whole concept falls apart. At the other end of the spectrum we have David Aaaronovitch and Alistair Campbell, born in the late 50s, but indisputably Britpopper. The EXACT point where one ceases to be BY NATURE a Britpopper is the 3rd of October 1971. These are exceptions to the rule. The absolute cut-off points are remembering the coronation of Elizabeth Windsor and not remembering the election of Margaret Thatcher. anyone who considers Nintendo or the ARGOS catalogue among the vocabulary of childhood, is not a Britpopper. The Britpopper was already in an earning job with a house by the year 2000 A.D. The junior faculty member with an MPhil 2001 b.1976 is not Britpopper and never can be.

Like I said, this is not some culture wars, politics junky, narrative-clutch; I am doing Social History… Demographic science! Britpoppers are not in themselves left wing or right wing, though a competent pursuit of Britpopper studies will quickly realize some positions simply Are Not Britpopper, while other positions inherently Are. Nonetheless, using nothing but the historical facts of what Britpoppers experienced, we can say some concrete things about them.

The most important difference between Britpoppers and Boomers is that Britpoppers, unlike Boomers, have no memory of post-war economic growth. Their earliest memories are of the 1970s with its power cuts and strikes. Britain was severely underdeveloped in comparison to other Western European countries for a variety of reasons until the 1980s. Only Fools and Horses was popular not in “the Anglosphere” (pppffft!) but the Eastern Bloc. For Britpoppers, 1997 is objectively the peak of human history. They sincerely believe in Whig History and the faith of Steven Pinker. They’ve never known an alternative. Everything before that is either Thatcher (bad) or The Seventies (worse), or in periods of especial crisis…back…to the 1930s (very bad). One of the examples of the many ways this unfortunate mindset has manifested itself is the widespread credulousness during the Brexit debate of claims that if Britain left the E.U – the lights would go out and Grapefruit would disappear from the shops. The Britpopper can only remember a time when we were “in” Europe and the 70s.

Britpoppers grew up in a Britain that was 90% white and intercontinental air travel was inaccessible to most. They consequently see foreign influences as ipso facto “diverse” and exotic in a way subsequent generations do not. Belief that immigration is good is not Britpopper, belief that immigrants make London a “global city” (as opposed to staid, homogenous Tokyo) and that Indians carry in them an innate ability to make curry, is Britpopper.

Britpoppers are also the last generation of people in the U.K to care deeply about the Class System. This is very different from actual economic inequality let us be clear. Here is a quote from a representative British BOOMER, Martin Amis:

“The year was 1981. We were in a tiny Italian restaurant in west London, where we would soon be joined by our future first wives. Two elegant young men in waisted suits were unignorably and interminably fussing with the staff about rearranging the tables, to accommodate the large party they expected. It was an intensely class-conscious era (because the class system was dying); Christopher and I were candidly lower-middle bohemian, and the two young men were raffishly minor-gentry (they had the air of those who await, with epic stoicism, the deaths of elderly relatives).”

A Britpopper could not accept this. Observe the attempt by the in fact upper class and wealthy Amis to insist the class system was “dying” and so affirm Boomer Existential freedom. The class system…dying!? But what about the Toffs at the Top? The Britpoppers are the generation of Patrick Melrose, the Royal Wedding, Downton and POSHcorn. The Britpopper obsesses over his class status, whether its allegedly working class roots or his present upper middle class condition. Hence the Britpopper cannot see topics such as civil service reform in anything but in the light of class signalling. Thinking Carol Ann Duffy is inherently a good poet for being “accessible” in contrast to the “elitist” Geoffrey Hill is Britpopper.

This is closely related to the final universal trend we should care to note, the Britpoppers are all defined more or less by being educated following the replacement of 11+ selection based on examination with selection based on property (“comprehensive” education) by the Wilson government. As a result, there’s a kind of pervasive anti-intellectualism to Britpoppers, to be smart in some sense is to be a privileged toff. The autodidactic eccentric is the enemy of the Britpopper. Their ideal is a sort of podgy, faux-savvy conformism. The likely laddy who supports the Arsenal and likes Oasis, and just makes those chinless wonders look so out of date by understanding we actually have to work WITH the system and be team players rather than causing Argy Bargy. Individuality affirmed by conforming to the system, in sharp break with Boomer Existentialist freedom. The Britpopper summed up in a phrase –

“Not a good look.”