The Cultural Revolution

SUBHEAD: There is something satisfying about hanging the dictator in the public square, but not so about burning nonbelievers at a stake. By Juan Wilson on 3 October 2011 for Island Breath - ( Image above: Poster for movie "Turn on, Tune In, Drop out". A phrase coined by Timothy Leary and inspired by Marshall McCluhan. From ( I think that James Kunstler's article "Here Comes the OWSers" is essentially correct. He is on target identifying the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations spreading across the country as a movement of dissatisfaction that is deeper and wider than most (especially the corporate media) understand. This "American Fall" is as profound as the "Arab Spring". The young are realizing that they have not been prepared for, or been given a share of, the future they have inherited. The sooner those who govern and "represent" us realize this and accept going after those most culpable of cheating them out of their lives the better. I take exception to two thrusts in Kunstler's essay. Potbellied Hippies First is that Kunstler thinks the guilt is generational; meaning that it is because one was a "baby boomer" (born ~1946-1964) that distinguishes the innocent from the guilty in this sorry affair of greed and gluttony. I happen to think the guilt is cultural. By that I mean that there was a genuine counter-culture generation that spanned from the Beatnik era through the Hippie era (~1955-1975) that rejected the suburban consumerist values which Kunstler also condemns. That counter-culture was truly pointing to a way forward. That is not to say there were not imitators, posers, hangers-on and pretenders amongst the counter-culture of the time. There were and worse (i.e. Charles Manson). But the Manson Family was not the spirit or meaning of the time. More to the point was Alan Bates and The Farm ( That is where we are going, despite the interruption of the Ronald Reagan '80s, the Clinton '90s and Bush '00s. I think John Michael Greer, the Arch Druid of North America and another of our favorite observers of the scene, hit the mark with his "How Not to Play the Game" ( In that article he identifies the era of late 1960's to the mid 1970's as the peak of interest in "appropriate technologies" for dealing with the future we now face (think of the paper version of the Whole Earth Catalog). Then many knew that we had a chance to curb population, energy consumption and environmental degradation. Too few people acted on it. So Jimbo - don't blame the real hippies. They were onto something with their mantra, "Tune in, Turn on and Drop out" - Timothy Leary, 1967. Secondly, Kunstler seems to delight in the possible crucifixion of the banksters, especially Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan and Angelo Mozilo. He imagines that if Eric Holder at the Justice Department doesn't wake-up that the Occupy Wall Street crowd will throw a nylon rope over a lamppost for each of them. I really not a fan of mob rule (which even true non-representative democracy can descend into). Often unspeakable things are done in the name of justice, or social improvement. I'm sure the crowd in Milan were cheered by the sight of Mussolini hanging in the street in the spring of 1945, but let's hope that that is not the priority of the people facing down the financial oligarchy of America. Not long after that Premier Stalin used the might of the Red Army to eliminate millions of peasants in Soviet Union living and farming their own land to create the industrialized Communist collective agricultural farms that failed so badly. I'm old enough to remember the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960's. That was Moa Zedong's attempt to hold true to the socialist revolution and reject the bourgeois elements desire of capitalist urbanism. His effort was reduced to the gangsterism and a anti-intellectual class struggle not unlike the Cambodian Civil War (1970-75) between the communist Khmer Rouge and their government. That struggle resulted in "The Killing Fields" - a time when teenage gangs would execute a teacher or civil servant because of their education. The mere fact they wore glasses might be enough to condemn them. What I fear most in the wake of a class war in the United States is the kind of populist jingoism driving the Republican party these days fed by intolerance, fear, and religious zeal. .


Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder if greed is like alcholism; not really a moral failing but a real disease. Thanks for pointing out there are still a number of us refugees from the 60's who do not own banks or work on Wall St. I take some refuge in the fact that our generation while certainly having ongoing and growing impact was not about to solve ongoing human insanity of wars, racism, theft etc., that have persisted for millions of years, in our lifetime. We have all been waiting 40 years now for that 100th monkey effect of concerned awareness to jell and take action. I wish that instead of now in Wall St where it just may have happened; it had happened 10 years ago before we murdered a million Iraqis. It seems economics motivate us more than bloodshed or maybe its just that Wall St. is easier to take than the pentagon?
Kelly Ball

Anonymous said...

glad you also caught that "nylon cord" quip of kunstler. when i read that i also had an immediate and negative reaction. WTF, Kunstler? Sadly typical of his often insightful, but also too often hysteric, with a nasty twist thrown in for bad measure. "Grow up, Jimmy K!"

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