Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I hate the 60's

The local PBS channel currently is showing this documentary about Peter, Paul and Mary and their music and social activism.

I find myself with the acute need to retch about every... oh, 3.7 seconds or so.

The only close acquaintance I had with these people before seeing this hagiography was hearing "Puff the Magic Dragon." I was vaguely aware they were one of those folk revivalists of the sixties, and assumed they probably also spent a good amount of time covering the same 20 Dylan songs and marching in every horde of impetuous and arrogant young 20-something along with Baez and all the others from amongst the hordes of the white, well-off and much too earnest suburbanite boomers.

Now, when I was about 13 (a scant decade ago), I had an ambivalent feeling towards the 60's. I never once subscribed to its specific politics, but the whole youthful idealism and hippie abandonment of authority yet appealed to my most immature of impulses. Over the next several years, I became more and more disenchanted with the whole affair. Hippies and Vietnam War protesters and college activists took on a more and more sinister taint. I saw the real ugliness there. And I'm not just talking about pathetic losers like Abbie Hoffman or violent psychos like the Weathermen. Even amongst so many of the people who weren't screaming for their fellows to off the pigs, I could detect a distinct undercurrent, a lethal mixture of naivete and ruthlessness. Robert Bork, love him or hate him, was nevertheless dead on (from what I can tell) when he wrote that significant portions of the 60s youth movements were ripe for producing a Hitler - a charismatic Generalissimo that would lead the fervent and willing to real extremism and bloodshed.

And then there were those who were just shiny, happy and completely clueless. Of course, there aren't any easily definable boundaries, and there's a gradual spectrum, not a bright line, between those two (for instance, even the comeonpeoplenowsmileonyourbrother-types could be frighteningly anguine about excusing the most brutal of crimes as long as they were perpetuated in furtherance of some bright utopian vision).

Peter, Paul and Mary seem to be fairly decisively in the clueless, smiling flower child camp. But no matter what specie of old New Left I come across these days, I always have to apply significant will-power to keep from throwing something at the TV.

Truly, I have no patience for these people anymore. I figure at this point that they warrant their very own ashheap of history, having been passed on so decisively by every objective barometer that reality can throw at them. Yet on they plod, still belting out the worn Dylan songs (another infatuation of my youth I find hard to stomach recently) about changing times and blowing wind. Only the times apparently haven't changed for them since 1963, and they keep blowing the same wind.

And so the civil rights movement (an admirable beginning) begets the anti-war movement begets environmentalism begets the anti-nukes movement begets anti-globalism begets more environmentalism begets another anti-war movement. And with each successive permutation, they end up looking sillier and less relevant and more in the dark.

Mayve I should just put it into words they'll understand:

And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin' were never what you thought them to be in the first place and you're just embarrassing yourself now that you're so friggin' old and have no excuse for being so ignorant. amymore, so shutupshutupshutup!