Goddamned hippies in Austin, Texas
Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast:
The revolts in the West require nothing of the courage displayed by Egyptians or Syrians or Tunisians standing up to tanks and bullets and torture. But they have a similar dynamic. They have occupied public spaces in the center of cities, as if to reclaim ownership of a society they feel has been privatized into nonexistence. This is not Protest Wall Street; it is Occupy It. It does not march through; it stops and sits and waits—as if the genie of Tahrir Square could not be kept bottled up in Egypt for very long. The very act is empowering, a form of theater as well as politics. But the theater works only when it reflects underlying truths—truths that cut through cultural divides. Because this is not the 1960s. These are not the children of the affluent acting out for sexual and personal liberation. They are the children of the golden years of hyped-up, unregulated, lightly taxed capitalism—now facing the same unemployment and austerity as the rest of the world.
And that’s why polls have shown unusual support for the basic complaints of the hippies. The Occupy movement has, according to recent polling, significantly more general support than the Tea Party, and its specific demands are highly popular. Huge majorities agree that corporate special interests have too much clout in Washington, that inequality has gotten out of control, that taxes can and should be raised on the successful, that the gamblers of Wall Street deserve some direct comeuppance for the wreckage they have bestowed on the rest of us. Polling data do not show a salient cultural split between blue-collar whites and the countercultural drum circles in dozens of cities around America. And the facts are behind the majority position. Social and economic inequality is higher than it has been since the 1920s, and is showing no signs of declining.
Clearly Andrew Sullivan knows little about the hippie movement, which shared a long common border with the human rights movement. The hippie movement challenged more than mom and dad saying no sex. It challenged corporate (not just parental) authority and the military industrial complex including their close companion, racism. It was however, as Sullivan may be trying to say (but his contempt for hippies holds him back), formed largely of children of the well to do who did not want to continue the lie. The working class which was still somewhat healthy was pretty easily used against the hippies. But the 60s were an important educational step for challenging authority and educating people about the government myths, and the Occupy movement does well to looks at their history. The Tea Party is not a very useful movement to copy because its ideology is identical to that of the authority it criticizes: i.e. racist capitalists.
So there are very good reasons for the Occupy movement to show respect for the 60s activism. What is different today is that the deterioration of society has advanced to the point that there are no good jobs left other than prison keepers. The unions (which are one of the few democratic elements of our society) have now been made largely illegal in the US and are under threat in Canada. It is clearer now that we are all in the same boat and the working class and New Age hippies are speaking a similar language.