Max Sawicky sawicky at
Tue Aug 10 08:25:41 PDT 1999

With heavy heart, more in sorrow then in anger, I must again bong Cmd. Heartfield for his confusions re: the "counter-culture."

>> . . .
But let's face it, the counter-culture of the Sixties is in power today.

Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Germany's green foreign affairs officer, Rudy Deutshke and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Regis Debray

- today these people are all part of the establishment.

What about all the people you never heard of who are pulling weeds while singing folk songs in California?

I've always thought a good contrast could be found in the films "The Big Chill" and "The Return of the Secaucus Seven." The latter ably reflects the political stalwarts of the counter-culture; the former its hangers-on, summer soldiers, fellow-travelers, the ones who smoked but didn't inhale.

There's always the authentic and the commercialized knock-off. If we judged everything by the latter, nothing would be of any value. Even Capital has come out in a boutique edition. LM teeters on the edge of respectability.

And what did the counter-culture bequeath to us:

an oedipal distrust of fathers, a culture that celebrates victimhood, politicians who are not afraid to cry, a disdain for theory, a worship of sensation and intuition, humanitarian intervention, the vicious prejudice against the East inherited from 'Western Marxism', a hatred of mass consumption and the consuming masses, a paganistic hostility to scientific enquiry.

The oedipal bit is unrecognizable. Ordinary rebellion of the young entails skepticism about the wisdom of the fathers. This is pretty old.

There's a little bit to the victimhood angle, though I would suggest victimhood blossomed after some primary legal goals of civil/womens rights had been achieved, political mobilization faded, and the enforcement of rights became a lower-profile, labor-intensive legal exercise.

They are still afraid to cry, especially after Muskie's debacle in the 1980's. They cry now when they lose, when it doesn't matter any more.

Disdain for theory: the c-c contained multitudes, some into theory, others not. A better take would be disdain for theory applied through some kind of centralized authority. Sound familiar?

Worship of sensation and intuition. Worship is a little strong. This went back to the Beats and the romantic poets, in my view. When a yippie march went past our English dept at Rutgers, one of my profs started shouting, "William Blake! William Blake!"

'humanitarian intervention' -- this is totally unfair. The c-c cut its teeth denouncing the sine qua non of humanitarian intervention -- Vietnam. You might as well blame socialism for Mussolini's evolution.

'prejudice against the East'? Patronization of the east is more like it. Adulation of Chairman Mao, the DRV, adoption of eastern mystics and religions, etc.

hatred of mass consumption/masses; there's something here too, albeit exaggerated. Also goes back to the Beats, and earlier. It should also be obvious that this has always stemmed from the upper classes in somewhat different form.

Paganist hostility to scientific inq.: I would locate this more in anti-authoritarianism, as above. Also, anti-intellectualism is pretty ubiquitous in the U.S., not limited to the c-c. Then there was the scienc-y appeal of more eco-friendly technologies.

Remember, I was there. You weren't.

Now, where are my damn glasses . . .


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