The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #77597 Message #1390078
Posted By: Peter T.
27-Jan-05 - 05:09 AM
Thread Name: If You Were There...The Sixties
Subject: RE: If You Were There...The Sixties
I don't think drugs were the problem, though Little Hawk makes some important points about what they interfered with, but I think they were a symptom of the inability of the movement to figure out a decent politics to move us from personal exploration to social change in an organized fashion -- this was in large part because of the sheer hardness of the situation being faced: the American anti-socialist tradition, the war in Vietnam, the assassination of the really first rate figures just when they were evolving into masters (King, Kennedy), and so on. The exploration, for many people, found itself played out in drugs, weird clothes, and the music -- because there was no real political framework in which to turn that energy into action. There were shards of it, but it never really quite came together, which was why at the end of the 60's things began to shatter and go grim. The real tragedy was that there was a momentary opening in the fabric of things, and it closed faster than anyone dreamed, One bitter fact was that our so-called wise elders were unable to give any advice that was worth anything -- young people were desperate for a vision, and what did they get? Marcuse and other second rate thinkers, anarchists, Carlos Castenada, and crap like that. The intellectual bankruptcy of the thinking class was never more obvious than then: that was the betrayal of the young, and mt own belief is that we somehow sensed that, and that was what angered us about our elders, not the stuff about not trusting anyone over 30.
The vehicle that did hold everything together, that really made people feel that anything was possible, was the music. What people who did not live through that period cannot quite connect with was the way in which we were carried along by the extraordinary creative development of the Beatles, Dylan, and some others. Their creative development was broadcast almost immediately -- we kept getting new messages from the front every few months or so from these people who were transforming themselves. That is the real story of the time (and why I am here, anyway). The idea that artists, by their creative exploration, could influence and change the society immediately, was a long standing dream -- and it came true! In crappy and creative ways, but it did.
Happily, some of the energy was channelled into good areas: the feminist movement, the environmental movement, and so on. People forget how dreadfully stifling the society was in which the 60's grew up.