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Echos past

By Signal 11 in MLP
Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 05:14:40 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

This is just MLP, but it's important MLP, I think. A lot of us feel that we live in a time where organizing for change isn't possible - that government and big business are too big and too well organized for us to stand a chance.

Back in the 60's, a few other people felt the same way. And they did make a difference.


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Echos past | 24 comments (13 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
Good choice (3.66 / 6) (#1)
by Arkady on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:21:02 PM EST

It's nice to see the Port Huron document make a revival into the online world. Thinking about it now, I kinda surprised none of us posted it in response to Rusty's "We the People" post. It certainly would have been topical there.

Thanks for bringing it up.

Cheers,
-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


Voted +1, but A LOT is 2 (two) words!!! (1.42 / 7) (#3)
by DAldredge on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:54:18 PM EST

Voted +1, but A LOT is 2 (two) words!!!

The word is American, not USian.
American \A*mer"i*can\, n. A native of America; -- originally applied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America, and especially to the citizens of the US
Editorial? (none / 0) (#21)
by Signal 11 on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 07:19:21 PM EST

Next time you'll probably want to select "Editorial" instead of "topical" - it helps me when I want to read the feedback on how the article was written, instead of the content itself.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
whatever (3.50 / 10) (#4)
by /dev/trash on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 12:06:23 AM EST

funny I see a lot of those idealistic youth of the 60's knee deep in corporate American these days.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
Hail, hail (3.66 / 9) (#5)
by tokage on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 12:09:54 AM EST

I agree with Arkady:) it's a classic. I find it so strange how the ethos of the 60's (or the way I imagine them to have been, being only 22 and not alive then) have been forgotten. All people now associate it with is the music(which was good), drugs, free love. They forget about the people who truly believed in societal change for the better, the ideals which fueled the fires of the passions of the time. It's something I don't think most people in my generation understand. Everything in our culture feels detached, the tragedies we hear about in the news not related to us. We're constantly bombarded by louder and more garish advertising campaign, techniques for opinion shaping of the public mind. We get reduced down to statistics and demographics, our anger at the way corporations treat consumers, while exploiting people for labor or the natural resources their lands contain is meaningless to them, despite what their customer care propoganda would have you believe. We continue living our lifestyles of excess, for whatever reason.

That's something that really bothers me. How did the generation of the 60's go from peace and love, to selling out for a movie on saturday night after a quick bite at Chilis? How can you go from believing that united, you can change the face of your nation, and create a better world for everyone, to being content working your 9-5 and hoping for a large Christmas bonus? My generation is disenchanted, partly because we live in a society where you're just another consumer, statistic, demographic. Promises made by politicians are just noise, created to get them in the position they desire.

This is more related to America then elsewhere, I hear about several cool countries, Sweden and the Netherlands come mind. My next big move is going to be out of the country, so perhaps you'll see me logging on from a .nl in the next 6 months or year. :)

A friend of mine believes the Internet will host the next revolution. I hope this is true, but all I see is mindless advertising, banner ads, websites full of fluff, bright colors and annoying java with no content. There are millions and millions of web pages, but the percentage of meaningful and interesting sites to the ones full of pictures of peoples' cats is very lopsided. This is partly why I love the GNU movement, the concept of free and open software distributed to whoever wants it.

Anyway, kudos to the 'idealistic' freedom and peace mongers of yore. (if 40 years ago can be considered yore:)

I hope that a change for the better doesn't entail the destruction of the current system, and the anarchy that would result, but I fear it does. More likely, I believe we'll eventually exhaust our natural resources, experience mass starvation and death, anarchy and collapse of all forms of government, while trying to develop methods of harnassing resources from space. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll develop a way to colonize other planets, so we can repeat our mistakes and destroy another ecosystem. Who knows, maybe in 50,000 years, we'll even learn to live peacefully with ourselves, in tune with our environment and content, able to live our lives bettering ourselves.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

What happened? (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by sugarman on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 01:22:15 AM EST

How did the generation of the 60's go from peace and love, to selling out for a movie on saturday night after a quick bite at Chilis? How can you go from believing that united, you can change the face of your nation, and create a better world for everyone, to being content working your 9-5 and hoping for a large Christmas bonus?

They grew up.

Or, in other words, the horror of the war and Vietnam, and the shock to system that the collective American psyche took when they realized they might not win every fight had them start looking inward, and they decided that it was time to look out for their own.

Kids, mortage, responsibility, all caught up with them. Happens to most everyone sooner or later. It's the nature of an aging population. You start getting more cautious and more protective. Human frickin' nature.

I know that's an over-simplification, but I think its true.

--sugarman--
[ Parent ]

Perspectives (4.62 / 8) (#9)
by Brandybuck on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 01:46:41 AM EST

How did the generation of the 60's go from peace and love, to selling out for a movie on saturday night after a quick bite at Chilis?

If you think they sold out for "a quick bite at Chilis" then you don't understand them at all. First, it wasn't every youth in the sixties that wanted to rewrite the world, only a few of them did. And not all of them wanted to rewrite the world the same way. The sixties gave birth to both modern socialism and libertarianism. It was the generation of "god is dead", pop religions and "Jesus freaks".

Second, they didn't sell out, they tempered. Every generation of youth goes through periods like the sixties in some way. It's the nature of youth. It was more pronounced then because of the baby boom. One vital step of growing up is creating your own values. We all progress from "daddy knows everything" to "daddy is an idiot" to "daddy knew a lot of stuff after all".

This is more related to America then elsewhere, I hear about several cool countries, Sweden and the Netherlands come mind.

Hogwash! This is just youthful discontentment talking. For every wonderful thing you hear about Sweden or Netherlands, there is something counteracting it you don't hear about. There are no perfect countries. You will never find a utopia. If you want to change the world, start with your own neighborhood.

More likely, I believe we'll eventually exhaust our natural resources, experience mass starvation and death, anarchy and collapse of all forms of government...

Keep an even perspective. The end of the world has been predicted for over a thousand years now, and it hasn't happened yet.

[ Parent ]

9-5 (3.33 / 3) (#12)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 06:29:07 AM EST

Working your 9-5 and hoping for a large Christmas bonus (i.e. being a productive person and living a normal life with your family) is a hell of lot better than chasing some theoretical "peace and love". That is how it happened; simply because most people prefer that. Thank God.



[ Parent ]
The Conquest of Cool (4.66 / 6) (#10)
by Simian on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:42:22 AM EST

Anybody read The Conquest of Cool by Thomas Frank, editor of The Baffler?

As I read it, he makes the case that the sixties were an odd coincidence of genuine political turmoil and a simultaneous power play amongst the young executive class in the advertising, music, and fashion industries. Frank traces the history of business literature to show that a lot of the consumer-side of hippy culture was predated by a rebellion in management philosophy against the 'organization man' of the fifties.

I buy it hook, line and sinker. I think that's what makes the sixties so complicated to understand--characters with quite different motivations are saying very similar sounding things. Young executives were frustrated by the monolithic hierarchy that sat on top of them in corporate culture, and even younger teenagers were similarly frustrated by the stolid 'lifestyle' (that word's a real product of the sixties, right there) foisted on them by their parents. So these two groups joined in an end run around one particular constellation of capitalist culture.

By taking this point of view, I think you can gain a real insight into the fact that the sixties gave birth to a successful revolution--a revolution in marketing and corporate ideology.

You can also then start to pick apart the sixties and see how the real concerns of blacks, latino migrant workers, 'third world' countries emerging from colonization, and other countries being sucked into further colonial wars (ahem...Vietnam, to name just a few, have been rhetorically swept under the rug by an iconography of the sixties dominated by the rise of rock n' roll, volkswagen beetles, and bell-bottoms.

I have mixed feelings about the actual Port Huron statement. Although the SDS was a real force on campus and even beyond, it foundered rather easily on factionalism (the perpetual monkey on the left's back) and never achieved the coherence of the German-French student movement. (Although in both cases, the Communist Party can fairly be blamed for the eventual collapse of the movements.)

In Europe, there was a very strong tie between not only students and workers, but also between students and immigrants. The Green party in America will accomplish nothing without attention to these groups.

IMHO.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
Emotion vs thought (4.57 / 7) (#11)
by Beorn on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 05:07:36 AM EST

I don't think there's much to learn from 60's political ideologies, other than analyzing what went wrong. It seems to me that most political movements of the 60's were mainly reactionary, people saw that something was very, very wrong, and reacted to it, but without really thinking through what they were doing. There is nothing profound to organizing a protest against discrimination of women, or unwinnable wars in the asian jungle. It requires some courage and revolutionary spirits, but not thought, it's mostly an emotional reaction.

And because these movements weren't based on any real thought, they degenerated easily into all kinds of fanaticisms: anti-reactionary reactionism, groundbreaking theoretical madness, anti-fascist fascism.

While emotion is dangerous in ideology and science, it is the driving force of art, and that is the real legacy of the 60's. Music, movies, poetry, pictures. The Port Huron statement isn't half as profound as the discussions in the Why Freedom thread, but artistically the 60's is a high peak in world history, imho surpassing anything we're creating today.

I see some similarities between the awakenings of the 60's, and the awakening of thought fueled by the net now, but the 60's movements were about emotion, and the net is mostly a rational tool. I hate identifying myself with a generation, but if the legacy of the 60's is art, the legacy of k5, usenet, BBS's and a million online communitites will be ideas.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Movements... (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Luke Scharf on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:30:12 PM EST

...the net is mostly a rational tool. I hate identifying myself with a generation, but if the legacy of the 60's is art, the legacy of k5, usenet, BBS's and a million online communitites will be ideas.

Slashdot.

I hate it when people get into bashing Slashdot, but there is something that we should learn. People like to get onboard with a movement (anti-war, feminism, free software, Linux, whatever) - it's exciting and empowering. That doesn't mean that it's well thought out.



[ Parent ]
I'll tell you what happened (2.66 / 3) (#22)
by End on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 11:49:12 PM EST

All those revolutionaries grew up, lost most of their hair, had kids, and became the establishment. Where do you go from there? It's kind of hard to rebel against anarchy.

-JD

Politics, art, and pop-culture vultures (4.66 / 3) (#24)
by kmon on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 04:22:57 AM EST

The first time I started a "real" job (in the past year or so), my buddy, who is an anti-establishment type looked the way I was dressed after having got out of work and said, "Is that really the way you want to dress for the next fifty years of your life?" He was implying that I was selling out my ideals for money right now.

Later, in a more conciliatory mood, he said, "You're just trying to blend in and change the system from the inside, right?" I told him I thought that was impossible, and I wasn't going to lie to him or be a hypocrite by saying that I was trying to change anything.

The boomers are still in denial. They did good (although not revolutionary) things in the realm of social justice. Although someone else here put it best, saying that taking a stand on women's or minority rights is hardly revolutionary.

They fought the establishment only to control it in later decades. The revolutionary thing about the 60's is that the people who wanted change were experts at public relations. They could win people over to thier side, and it was the right side. Today, the same people who won the PR wars of the 60's are batting for the other team. They're the ones who're forcing bland mass-market pop culture down our throats. They're the politicians who don't do the right thing, they do the popular thing. They're the one's who re-shrinkwrap hippie culture and sell it to thier kids. ("Hey look!", says a fifty year old Gap executive, "Bell-bottoms are cool again!" "Save your soul! By a new VW Beetle now in smoke(aka gray) color!") They're the one's who know that they can keep society docile by massaging image rather than by making accomplishments. Just look at ads for oil companies that show a man and his son fishing on a pristine lake. ("Thanks to Mobil-Exxon-British Petroleum, we'll be able to make new fish from petrochemicals that are almost as good as the fish killed by polluting solar electricity. We're making your world a better place.")Like vultures, the people who glommed onto hippie society 30 years ago are picking the bones of a long dead ideas that they don't think even apply anymore.

Like a washed-up prize fighter, the boomers re-live the glory days of the 60's. "We ended Vietnam! We gave women and minorities rights. We made major advances in music that utilizes simple chord progressions!" But what have you done for us lately? You've bought yourself a Lincoln Navigator, and have stock options for your new do-nothing dot-company. The generation who "ended Vietnam" is now naming generations "X and Y", and we can't forget about Motorola's "Generation D". These are the people who think the word "Synergy" is a cure all, because their yoga instructor used it once.

The thing here is that I've seen more and more slick advertising campaigns aimed at the generation that grew up in the 60's that cast their successors in a dubious light. I'm just starting to think they're just now realizing that they didn't change the world. They just took it over. Like the generation they thought they toppled, the boomers too will one day pass the reigns of control onto a new group of individuals. This thought terrifies them. At one point, Noam Chomsky said, wisely, that "All revolutionaries are closet aristocrats." I think this idea is most demonstrable in the actions of the baby boomer generation.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think that the ideals in the Port Huron Statement are necessarily wrong, its just that I'm afraid that the framers of such words have expressed them without integrity.

I apologize for the heavy dose of rant introduced into this response, but these are a few things that I've needed to get off my chest for awhile now. You probably shouldn't expect another screed like this from me for at least several minutes ;).
ad hoc, ad hominem, ad infinitum!
Echos past | 24 comments (13 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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