Friday, April 30, 2010

Musings: "Dirty Fucking Hippies"

I was intrigued by an Anonymous comment left on yesterday’s post:

Joan said "I found it amusing that Diane is a former Taylor Camper. Doncha just love the evolution of those great ''60s values?'"

Taking the evolution of one individual's values and implying an entire generations values evolved in a like manner indicates unfounded bias. John Harder of Zero Waste Kauai was also a former Taylor Camper, and still seems concerned about the planet.

What have you got against the '60's generation? Anti war, civil rights, women's rights, black and Chicano power, gay, lesbian and transgendered rights, free speech, questioning authority, alternative media and the environmentalism were all resurgent movements in the '60's.

I may be wrong Joan, but it seems the values you express in this blog are largely from the sixties or don't you agree with these sentiments


And then the commenter left a link to a youtube video that presented still images of war, environmental devastation, capitalist excesses, political corruption and other ills of the past 50 years, accompanied by a gritty narrative that lays out the ongoing decline, punctuated by the frequent refrain: “the dirty fucking hippies were right.”

It’s true that I share the values that the video reflects, and that "the dirty fucking hippies were right."

“But what bothers me about the ‘60s,” I told my neighbor Andy, when we met up on the road while I was walking Koko this morning, “is the way it created all this momentum and then just stalled out.”

“That’s because so much was done in the ‘60s,” Andy said, naming off the same things that Anonymous had cited, although I did have to point out that feminism and questioning authority got their start well before the 1960s. He then talked about how the ‘60s generation had broken open a closed, conservative society and achieved long-lasting social changes that are still in place today.

“I don’t disagree that major changes did occur,” I said, “but it’s not like all the problems have been solved, as the video points out. And with some things, like the environment, things have actually gotten worse. So what happened to the values and movements that birthed the push for social change?”

“The generations that followed didn’t pick up the ball,” Andy said. “We started it and got it all going and it was up to those who followed to carry on.”

“That’s the other thing that annoys me about the ‘60s generation,” I said. “There’s this smug attitude of oh, we did so much, so now we can just kick back and drive our Lexuses and drink our lattes and build up our 401-Ks. Meanwhile, they failed to mobilize or inspire subsequent generations to carry the torch, including their own kids. The ‘60s generation turned out to be the biggest consumers in the history of the planet, aside from perhaps their kids.”

Andy said he could agree that if the ‘60s generation had failed in any way, it was in spoiling their kids, giving them too much (and, IMO, failing to make them work for it). But he wasn’t willing to agree that the ‘60s generation failed because the movements it started stalled out, or that activists sold out.

Yes, it’s true that many activists are still active, and Andy and I both acknowledged that we were dealing in generalities. But it is also true that many of those from the ‘60s generation have drifted into materialistic complacency.

Andy pointed out that the right has been extremely aggressive in demonizing the ‘60s values and the people who held them, which had the effect of pushing them further to the fringe and making it difficult to pick up new converts. There's definitely something to that. Just look at the War on Drugs, which was launched by Nixon, and as the video noted, the word peace has become a pejorative in this era of Homeland Security and the War on Terror.

And part of the problem lies in societal complacency, Andy said. Subsequent generations took feminism and equal rights and other such accomplishments for granted, forgetting the struggles that created them. People still hold the values that led to those changes, he said, but they don’t have the passion accompanied the movement to implement them.

Then he observed that part of my problem is I hold the belief that everything can be fixed, so I think the ‘60s generation failed because we still have so many ills.

I’ll admit I’m a utopian, but isn’t that a ‘60s value? And I’ll also admit that I do wonder how people who embraced those values deeply at one time seem to have just let them fade away, much as I wonder how people can shift from being a Democrat to a Republican.

“You guys should be out there fighting,” I admonished Andy, who said he still was, to a certain extent, but the fact is, he’s tired.

And that brings me to my original point. If you failed to instill your values and passions in future generations, and you’re too tired to carry on, no wonder the world isn’t getting any better.

I probably could have developed this more thoughtfully and deeply, but I’m rushing to attend a seminar on fair housing laws, which is probably one of those legacies of the ‘60s.

But lest the ‘60s generation get too cocky about their accomplishments, I’ll leave you with the words of Taylor Camp chronicler John Wehrheim, who also provided me with the link to this very amusing article:

"We threw the baby out with the bathwater. It was all over as soon as the counter-culture idealism and art of the sixties was packaged and marketed as a billion dollar entertainment industry and our heros and idols changed from barefoot gurus with begging bowls and chillums to rock stars in limousines chugging Dom Perignon and hooving coke."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your friend Andy hit the nail on the head--We got tired--children came along---went to war---WE GOT TIRED.

Anonymous said...

Finally somebody said it. A lot of the hippies I see on the Northshore are actually self-centered, unaware,..."dirty fuckin' hippies."

Casey said...

As you said, it is tough to generalize something so big as a generation. Still, I see the evolution of culture from 60s onward as the emergence of personal liberty. In the 60s, it was about empowering the disenfranchised, but later it was about the liberty to experiment with different lifestyles. Some aspect of that is the "hooving coke", etc..

In that sense, there was no change after the 60s. It was just a different manifestation of people exercising their newfound liberty. It just so happens that personal liberty can be a messy thing.

Anonymous said...

Mankind is too stupid and greedy to do what needs to be done and will meet the fate that it deserves. But, eh, Kauai will still be here when us human roaches are long gone.

Craig said...

Aloha Joan,
Right on!!! There is much media hype these days claiming the "Hippies" are responsible for all the nations present ills; that irritates me. I want to write a book entitled "Don't Blame Us Hippies". The '60s boomers encompassed many types, one being the hippie of which I am proud to say I was and still am, although I never believed in the label. My "hooving coke" days were over before it became vogue in the disco era of the mid '70s and '80s. That's when things went to hell. Our parents, in the '50s, raised boys to go for gold...be a doctor, lawyer, etc. and girls were taught to go for gold by marrying a Doctor, etc. Hippie philosophy is a lifestyle and mindset that doesn't subscribe to '50s ignorance. Hippies didn't invent the Games MONOPOLY or LIFE which brainwashed the boomer generation and drove most to rogue competition and materialistic capitalism. Therein lies the Nation's problems. Post '60s, many pseudo hippies turned yuppie and went back for the gold...the hippie mindset was not a genuine lifestyle for them, no judgment intended. True hippies are still true hippies...not "dirty fuckin' hippies but caring persons involved in World solutions with the same passion we had in the '60s. Some became successful financially, some not but, the lifestyle, mindset and...The Song Remains the Same...

Anonymous said...

hippies invented divorce; drug use too :)


"Hippie philosophy is a lifestyle and mindset that doesn't subscribe to '50s ignorance"

-- is "productivity" still OK?


a smashed post WWII world helps explain much the prosperous US 50’s and 60’s. i wonder where that dynamic fits within the discussion. anyways, the structural drivers of that prosperity seems to be something the hard core political right keep forgetting when they talk about the ~ “good old days” or whatever (back when you could sexually harass all day, drink on the job, not think about black people, get constant middle management raises, gays hid from view, white christian america, etc? <-- on some level it seems whats what they are talking / thinking about, subconsciously at least). kinda like Mad Men :)


dwps

Anonymous said...

If you're a true bleeding heart sixties liberal and I mean that in the best way how can you not despair even though a black man occupies the white house? I mean Obama being prez is like a miracle until you realize the brilliancy of the right: let a super smart black man become president when things are totally fucked up and give him such a hard time that he can't as successful. They will have killed two birds with one stone: the country will never again elect a black man or a super smart democrat. When the frat boys retake the white house and congress, our descent into hell will be all the faster. And you will wish a hippie was running things.

Anonymous said...

"If you're a true bleeding heart sixties liberal and I mean that in the best way how can you not despair even though a black man occupies the white house?"

-- i'll offer a response. lets take a look at the world since, say, 1970. its my understanding (and i am pretty sure i am right, but fact check corrections are welcome) that both in the US and globally humans are doing much better (less infant mortality, fewer crimes against human rights, people are living longer and healthier lives, people are more prosperous generally, literacy is up, more women have more rights, etc etc). still wars? sure. Americans fat? yep. the world has more US-style consumers? ya. do the poor in west virginia or liberia get the help they need? not so much. but the big picture trends are favorable. and while late in coming, there is a genuine worldwide focus on developing and applying environmentally sound practices and energy generation. and politically, in the US (which seems to be your focus), it is a good sign that a black guy was elected (and thankfully he is equipped to do a good job and has largely done a good job in these difficult 2 yrs). is it all roses? heck no...the political center, for example, has been disappearing since the early 90's, and that is a big problem. and please don’t think that the religious right is some sort of unstoppable juggernaut. i could go on for a few pages but will stop here

there is a strong basis for tempered optimism. it is not hard to see

thanks


dwps

hip hip hooray said...

rapprZ"If you failed to instill your values and passions........... no wonder the world isn't getting any better"?????? I almost can't believe anyone who seems to think they're so "fucking " smart could write, let alone think such BS. It's a big world in case you haven't noticed, and it's been going on for COUNTLESS generations. Me thinks it sour grapes for Joan Conrow. You missed the 60's generation, born a little too late, and can't get over it, so you stay a closeted "dirty fucking hippie". Take a trip and (beyond your morning walks) see some of this wonderful world. I'll be the first to admit there are lots of problems, but to say it aint getting better because of my generation failure is ignorant beyond words.

Anonymous said...

Re: "...And you will wish a hippie was running things."

A dirty fuckin' hippie runnin' things? I think not.

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