What happened to you guys? You were supposed to change the world. You were supposed to bring peace and harmony to the world. Remember Peace, Love and Understanding? I thought that you guys would have gained some control in politics and we would not be fighting the religious right in the year 2012. I thought that your love of “chemistry” would have led to a love for science. I thought that you would have……………………..Never Mind.

 

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Comment by Christian Soldier on August 14, 2012 at 8:30pm
I missed Woodstock by three days because I was drafted and subsequently sent to Vietnam. In any case I really grow weary of all the mythology that surrounds what was really a rock concert that got gate crashed big-time.

Before I was drafted I had dropped out of college and would hang out with "hippies" mostly young artist and musician types all without real jobd. A lot of what empowered the so called movement was the war resistance and civil rights that continued to gain traction with youth as the struggle to end the war and attain equality for blacks grew.

Young adults simply could not continence the idea of glibly marching off to fight a war in land that they knew nothing about to supposedly stop a communist menace that seemed to be of far greater concern to their parent's generation then theirs.

I really believe that much of Americas drift to the right wing is the counter-reaction of rich and powerful corporatist who were frankly scared as hell about a radical repudiation of corporate America and its capitalistic values.

As you may remember the nation went into an economic slump in the aftermath of the war. There's nothing like struggling to make enough to live on to distract one from bigger issues of the quality of life, the environment and building an egalitarian world of critical thinking masses.

Case in point today we have clear evidence of global warming, a world wide economic slump teetering on real Depression and the real likelihood of America embracing oligarchy. At this point I feel very sad at the prospects for my grandchildren.

We may not have achieved our goals, but at least we tried.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 14, 2012 at 11:22am

James, "zeitgeist" has complex meaning, but it's an important concept.  Dawkins mentions it a few times.  Literally “ghost” as in poltergeist, or spirit of the times.  It has to do with the combined popular attitudes and feelings about some issue. 

The important aspect that Dawkins describes is that zeitgeist has its own rules and changes very slowly, imperceptibly.  Conversation in restaurants or meetings with friends slowly but surely cause changes.  We can’t really put a date or event on when zeitgeist toward race changed, but surely it’s a different world now from the 50s. 

Imagine if the Atlanta hotel manager told some of modern rappers they’re not allowed to stay at the hotel they just worked in, as he did Duke Ellington.  They’d say, “C’mon man.  What are you from another planet?” 

Just a historical note:  When a reporter asked Ellington what he thought about it, the Duke answered, “What can I do?  I just pout and go home and write me some blues.”

Comment by James Yount on August 13, 2012 at 12:33pm

Richard, Southpark is definitely good at stirring emotions.  I wouldn't take Cartman too seriously though.  He IS the most narrow-minded/bigoted character on the show.  It would be ad hominem tu quoque to dismiss everything he says on that basis though (not saying you did that).


Zeitgeist, great word.  Maybe they did change it. I don't know.  But the mindset that you have to be the polar opposite of someone you disagree with is funny to me.  The 'establishment' is against x,y,z and I know x is wrong so I have to be against y and z also...  In the attempt to get the US to question authority, we seem to have lost the positives associated with respecting authority.  We challenged the idea that our elders are wiser than us and as a result have lost much of the respect for our elders.  The youth today seems to be so consumed with questioning the status quo that they, in many cases, have become disrespectful.

And yes, fur is a bit excessive when there are easily other less damaging ways to cloth yourself.  I could understand if they bred the animals for that purpose and then utilized as much as they could, like we do with cows and chickens.   

Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 13, 2012 at 11:42am

"Just because I don't think the sweeping generalization that all corporations are bad is correct, doesn't mean that I think they're all good either."

Quite so. That South Park episode was quite provocative.  Stirs emotions.  But my main point is that we did change consciousness about a lot of thing.  We changed zeitgeist.

Take wearing furs.  To me, it's a barbaric and vainglorious act of rebellion against nature.  But in the 50s, furs were chic.  I believe we helped change attitudes.

 

Comment by James Yount on August 13, 2012 at 10:32am

You seem to equate everything done in the civil rights movements with the hippies.  I guess I'll ask everyone that lived during that time, were the hippies responsible for civil rights or did they just latch on to the movement?  I've seen a lot of civil rights pictures and I don't know if I would equate everyone in the crowds for civil rights with hippies.  That being said, Richard, I did address your question on the Vale Mine by stating that I don't have to defend any one corporation. Just because I don't think the sweeping generalization that all corporations are bad is correct, doesn't mean that I think they're all good either. 

Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 12, 2012 at 6:40pm

Thanks, Biped.  I appreciate your sincere and astute input.  We have a lot of common views. 

To James, I believe the hippie contributions to American culture was a lot more than those cited.  We changed American zeitgeist toward sex, civil rights, war, clothes, drugs, even language.  Think of some of the words we used:  I’m getting a bad vibe, don’t lay that guilt trip on me, I gotta split. 

 

To me, the biggest cultural change had to do with sex.  Atheist comedian Doug Stanhope has a great line:  grandpa says we were going together for five years before we even finger fukked.  Take it from me, living with that kind of Puritanism sucked and kids today owe us.  Rick Santorum-type sexual repression is no way to live. 

 

We also let the government know we were no longer going to tolerate the draft. Kids your age have no idea of the intrusion into personal life it is and after a lifetime of living free, you refer to Cartman’s cynical and narrow-minded quote. 

 

Let’s consider civil rights.  The 50s generation saw nothing wrong with Jim Crow.  What a disgrace and what does it say about the American people?  Duke Ellington couldn’t stay at an Atlanta hotel that he and his band packed for the weekend.  The hippie movement was a spring broad for civil rights because we instigated social change.  When you get high you see things differently; that’s why it’s illegal.  Mj breaks through the conditioning and indoctrination.  Answer this one:  why is booze and cigs legal but grass not?  Nobody ever got lung cancer from smoking grass.  Corporate plutocrats need to control consciousness to keep the feverish economy rolling.  Look at the commercials on the TV.  Every 15 minutes, over and over, with imbecilic “messages.”  How much time is wasted staring at the nonsense? They’re an insult to the human brain and the American people take it like laboratory mice. 

 

Here’s a personal story from this last week:  I was soaking in the Jacuzzi at my local Y when a young black guy descended the steps.  He was around 6’10”, not an ounce of fat on him, chiseled, ripped and handsome.  He told me he just got back from rural China giving a presentation on American basketball.  His name was Jay Ward and once played pro ball with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 80s.  Plus, he was well spoken, educated and rich.

 

You neglected my other questions, (about the Vale Mine, for instance) but please answer this one:  How the heck is some red neck shit-kicker from Alabama superior to this guy just because of race? 

 

You don’t see the changes we brought about because many of the injustices have disappeared and you take it for granted that it was always the way it is now.  There’s a lot more to it than getting high and smelling bad.

Comment by James Yount on August 12, 2012 at 4:01pm

Biped - Your last paragraph represents my personal sentiments too. I'm trying to keep an open mind and imagine possible positive outcomes that the movement might have had.  I keep coming back to Eric Cartman though:  "Hippies, they want to change the world but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad."

Comment by Sentient Biped on August 12, 2012 at 3:48pm

These are waters I probably should not wade into....

I enlisted into the army during the Vietnam era, as a medic.  My teenage brain said, even if I was against that particular war, for me to stay out of harms way, while others died was a morally complicated place.  My compromise was to enlist, but in a role that I hoped would save, rather than take, lives.  It was not that simple, but the young can be foolish.  I thought there was some honor in it.  While I did not go to Vietnam - Saigon fell while I was in boot camp - I did find myself in harms way a few times.  I was lucky, and did not get myself killed.  I know some Vietnam conflict veterans.  The men who I know are good and nice and try  to do the right thing, and some of them got screwed in the process.

I was never a flag waver.  I was/am liberal, against US involvement in almost all foreign wars.  I am against death penalty.  I think racism is still prevalent and needs to be fought.  I want marriage equality to become the law of the land.  I would love to see Cheney/Bush in prison.  But back when people were "dropping out", "turning on", and whatever, it was hard for me to get past the idea that there was just narcissism and extended adolescence.   Others joined Peace Corps, or did what I did, or just got on with life, or whatever.  Of course, some went to business school and got MBAs and got rich, too, which has always been the case and still is.

There was a lot going on those days.  There was the civil rights movement - people died for that, and society changed for the better, by far.  If you don't think so, read about Jim Crow and "Slavery by Another Name" (google on it).  There was the movement for women's rights, without which today's world would be far different.  There was environmentalism.  There was also serious anti-war effort coming from mainstream people - such as the most influential newsman of the time, and politicians, and again, people in the civil rights movement.

This sounds judgmental on my part, but I don't mean for it to be.  We all have our paths in life, and plenty of people judge me, too.  But in response to the stated question, it's hard for me to picture that the hippy movement was about changing the world, as it was having a good time and getting wasted.  As long as no one intentionally hurt someone else, it's OK by me.

Comment by James Yount on August 12, 2012 at 3:28pm

hmmm, maybe it's just a different mindset then.  I do see technology as our gateway to better understanding ourselves and the universe.   Darwin and biology have taught us our origins and, in essence, helped to explain why we act the way we do.  Physics, mathematics, and similar sciences have opened up the universe for us and demonstrated just how small we are.  The biggest achievement, I believe, came from Socrates.  He showed us that we can test our ideas with logic to better determine which notions are the best representations of reality.  The building blocks of science.  If I can credit the hippies with anything, it is that they helped Americans to question authority.  To question.  Maybe this is why a lot of scientists and innovators are ex-hippies.  If that's the case, then the movement hasn't disappeared but rather evolved into something that is more useful for today's environment.  Perhaps the free thinkers have traded in their overalls for lab coats.

Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 12, 2012 at 3:13pm

James, it's difficult to get the whole picture without having expericenced it.  With respect to my hippie days, at the time I was irked, frustrated and discombolulted by the war and the draft.  To think I studied biology in college to learn the sanctity of life and then, on gradation day, the SSS puts a rifle in my hands and sends me to the other side of the world to “kill gooks.”  It wasn’t a matter of philosophy at the time.  Hippyism was simply a stage of my life that I look fondly on now.  At the time, you were either a “flag waver” or “hippie.”  Please take the stress of the times into account before making judgments and picture yourself pulled out of class to fight in Afghanistan or some equally ludicrous battle zone. 

 

It’s interesting to compare the late 60s with the present.  I’ve never seen such a polarization since then. 

 

One important thesis of my book is that humans mustn’t rely on technology to solve our dreadful problems and issues.  Technology is wonderful, but the inner man hasn’t evolved much since Nero said, “give them bread and circuses.” 

 

Surely, no god (especially no technology which only increases the danger)  is coming to save us from extinction; the answer must come from the inner man. 

 

I consider myself an anti-supernaturalist.  But at times I divine glimpses of a spiritual humanity. 

 

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