We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Monday, August 19, 2019
Woodstock and the American counter-culture
I was astonished at the accuracy of the description of the American counter-culture that grew out of the Beat culture of the 1950s and continued with the hippie culture throughout the 70s and a bit beyond. (I was near or in San Francisco for much of the hippie counter-culture scene.) I, who had been influenced by Marxist writers, often wondered about how this essentially cultural movement could be harnessed to challenge the existing class structure in the USA. As it turned out, the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements only radicalized some fringe movements like the Black Panthers and Weather Underground.
It seems now, which I often suspected then, that the ruling capitalist class was sufficiently powerful to contain this counter-cultural rebellion within certain limits. Certainly the Anti-Vietnam War Movement was somewhat helpful in bringing the war to an end, but that is the extent that imperialist capitalist ruling class was thwarted in the USA. Most of the energy that fueled this movement was the draft which at that time required every young man to participate in the war, except for those with draft deferments.
One must keep in mind that after WWII the very intact US economy was booming, and our ruling class shared its benefits, to a limited extent, with its worker wage-slaves. During the Vietnam War, in order to pacify US citizens, our masters sustained our economy with the Guns and Butter program. However, the Vietnam War nearly bankrupted the nation after our capitalist masters lost this costly effort to re-establish the US Empire's domination of southeast Asia. But under the growing US/Anglo/Zionist Empire and their neoliberal strategy, our masters survived and flourished, and went on to fill our atmosphere with carbon and commit many other crimes against humanity in their mad pursuit of profits and power.
Such a historical view influenced me recently to view the movement of human history as being primarily materialist in the philosophical sense (this was what Marx was trying to do). Over my lifetime I was primarily interested in determining the reality of our class system of capitalism in order to use it to attack the system and liberate a true democracy. But this was an idealist view of reality. Now using a materialist view of human events suggests that human extinction is the inevitable fate of humans. Because the operations of capitalist countries, mostly under the domination of the Empire, has so loaded the Earth's atmosphere with carbon that despite any efforts that humans might make in the future, I'm convinced this fate is now baked-in (def.). Fortunately, I won't be around to see most of the calamities that lie ahead.