June 19, 2017

"But the scene has changed... and political activism is going out of style. The thrust is no longer for 'change' or 'progress' or 'revolution,' but merely to escape..."

"... to live on the far perimeter of a world that might have been... The flourishing hippy scene is a matter of desperate concern to the political activists. They see a whole generation of rebels drifting off to a drugged limbo, ready to accept almost anything as long as it comes with enough 'soma.' Steve DeCanio, an ex-Berkeley activist now doing graduate work at M.I.T., is a good example of a legion of young radicals who know they have lost their influence but have no clear idea how to get it back again. 'This alliance between hippies and political radicals is bound to break up,' he said in a recent letter. 'There’s just too big a jump from the slogan of "Flower Power" to the deadly realm of politics. Something has to give, and drugs are too ready-made as opiates of the people for the bastards (the police) to fail to take advantage of it.' ... Meanwhile, like most other disappointed radicals, he is grimly amused at the impact the hippies are having on the establishment. The panic among San Francisco officialdom at the prospect of 200,000 hippies flocking into the Hashbury this summer is one of the few things that ex-Berkeley radicals can still laugh at. DeCanio’s vision of the crisis was not written as prophecy, but considering the hidden reality of the situation, it may turn out that way: 'I can see Mayor Shelley standing on the steps of the Civic Center and shouting into TV microphones, "The people cry bread! Bread! Let them turn on!"'"

From "The 'Hashbury' Is the Capital Of the Hippies," by Hunter S. Thompson, published in The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 1967. (You can also find that essay in this collection of Hunter S. Thompson essays, which I recommend.)

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and it is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. I'll be carrying on a retrospective. My usual "50 years ago" blog posts are "50 years ago today" and hit the precise date. I'll try to do that once summer comes, that is, tomorrow. Over the weekend, I had posts for each of the 3 days of the Monterey Pop Festival, but today I'm reaching back to May 14th. Why? Because I was researching the NYT archive for the emergence of the word "hippie" (or "hippy" as Thompson has it). This isn't the oldest thing I found, but it's the first one I really wanted to share.

What I like about it is its resonance today: Left-wing activists intent on roping young people into their agenda of "change" and "progress."* Young people skeptical of being put to use and dreaming of happiness. A profusion of drugs offering to take the world in a love embrace.
_______________

* Thompson put those words in quotes, and it still seems like the right thing to do, doesn't it?

71 comments:

Michael K said...

It's all about drugs. I finished "Days of Rage" and it was even there about drugs,

I remember those days well. I was an intern. Watched some smart kids destroy themselves.

Once written, twice... said...

Ann, I guess the Civil Rights Movement that liberals tried to rope you in to care about was not progress or change you could give two f**ks about.

William Chadwick said...

The love beads and incense were replaced by the truncheon and the riot gun. From "flower child" to "liberal" fascist . . . sad.

Once written, twice... said...

Liberals pushed cleaning up the environment, equal rights for women (and then gays), and many other causes that probably made you yawn.

Ann, you always have the strong critique of liberals excess, but almost never that of conservatives. Why is that?

neal said...

Those with land and title camp. Everyone else wonders why the camping is the only commons.

Probably sit around and tell ghost stories. Stuff that does not fit or settle down into some damned contractual arrangement.

If that was settled, no one would need to keep watch.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Once written, twice... said...
Ann, I guess the Civil Rights Movement that liberals tried to rope you in to care about was not progress or change you could give two f**ks about.
6/19/17, 4:43 PM

Lemme get this straight, Onesie:

This is you...being nice...so Ann won't ban you?

Oh, carry on, do.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Hippies!

I know them well -- grew up with them. Participated in the long march from NYC to Univ of Michigan to San Francisco in the late 60s.

They had ideals, no doubt.

But a lot of it, dare I say most of it, was utter bullshit. A lot of it was a pretext for nerdy young men to simply get laid. Get 'em stoned, yap about politics, get 'em in the sack.

The other large part of it was to avoid work. Who wants to get a job, man? That's a real bummer -- it cuts into my leisure time and dope use.

And, lest we forget, the true believers, the ones who really did try to wreck America, bombed a heluva lot of college campuses and murdered people. (See, the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, SLA, Jim Jones).

So I have a mixed review of the Hippies. The music was cool. They did some good things with organic food, I reckon. They did some good things about the environment, I reckon. They assisted in the push for civil rights, I reckon.

But, there were tons of casualties. Broken families, an epidemic of drugs. The creation of the welfare state. The tacit support of the rise of Pol Pot in Cambodia and the North Vietnamese regime, who murdered what, a few MILLION innocent people.

You gotta measure both the benefits and the costs. The latter was pretty darn high, and they were too stoned to realize it.

Far out, Man!

David Begley said...

Ann Althouse wrote, "Left-wing activists intent on roping young people into their agenda of "change" and "progress."* Young people skeptical of being put to use and dreaming of happiness."

Today it is Green energy, global warming, sustainability and food (organic and vegan).

Saint Croix said...

Speaking of San Francisco, they are now locking up reporters and the attorneys who defend them.

Why are these liberals so hostile to free speech that they are now issuing prior restraints?

In a word, abortion.

The "summer of love" is actually the summer of sex and abortion. 1967 was the year I was born, and it was also Reagan's Darkest Hour.

Achilles said...

Once written, twice... said...
Ann, I guess the Civil Rights Movement that liberals tried to rope you in to care about was not progress or change you could give two f**ks about.

You mean when the country stood up to the democrat party and forced them to give up Jim Crow?

Michael K said...

the Civil Rights Movement that liberals tried to rope you in to care about

I assume you mean the Civil Rights Movement that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with Republican votes. That Civil Rights movement?

Achilles said...

Once written, twice... said...
Liberals pushed cleaning up the environment, equal rights for women (and then gays), and many other causes that probably made you yawn.

Ann, you always have the strong critique of liberals excess, but almost never that of conservatives. Why is that?


Nixon created the EPA.

Conservatives just nominated the most pro-gay president ever.

Would you like me to link to democrat treatment of Kellyanne Conway, Condoleeza Rice, or Sarah Palin to demonstrate "liberal" treatment of women?

Once written, twice... said...

Yes, liberal Democrats, with the help of liberal Republicans, passed civil rights legislation over the strong objections of conservative Democrats and Republicans. After that conservative Democrats either switched parties and became Republicans or they were replaced in the next elections by conservative Republican challengers. The same happened in reverse to liberal Republicans of that era.

tcrosse said...

The Movement was happy to exploit armies of witless hippies as cannonfodder.

Once written, twice... said...

LBJ said with the signing of the Civil Rights Act that it would cost the Democrats the south. He was of course right and it reverberates to this day.

But it was worth it.

wild chicken said...

I didn't get to SF until 1968, but what I found as a hippie wannabe was simply a really neat, fascinating city. Totally unlike LA and without the Hollywood crassness. It wasn't as gay then. Lots of friendly straight acting guys on the cable cars. Sigh.

I just couldn't figure out how to live there. And I was too conservative by nature for the politics. I ended up in Montana. As far away as I could get and make a living.

Birkel said...

LBJ was right that the 1965 Civil Rights Act would flip the Georgia Legislature in 2008.

43 years.

Causation that can be proved, by Leftist lights, 43 years later.

If only I were able to give up my reasoning, logic and intelligence, I too could believe the sort of nonsense Leftists assume as given.

Bill Peschel said...

A little context: This was four years before HST published "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and began his long slide.

I had read his anthology of journalism ("Great Shark Hunt" right?) years ago, and remember being impressed with his solid reporting skills. He was the same in his '72 book on the McGovern campaign. He worked his ass off and broke down how McG and Frank Mankiewicz built a guerilla campaign that toppled Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey. It's a great book.

Rather than drag this thread off-topic with vitriol, I'll do it by mentioning that my wife's reading Galbraith's "The Culture of Contentment." I'm thinking about translating it into English.

But what's shocking is she's reading out passages that sound like this New Dealer who wrote FDR's speeches could see the time when a Trump-like figure would appear. And he wrote this in 1992!

As for liberalism, they ran into the March of Dimes problem. Once you've solved polio (or in their case, equal rights for women and minorities, the dissolving of censorship, and an expansion of the welfare state), where do you go next?

As for conservatives, what is there to conserve? Religions are mostly in ruins, patriotism is a joke, our military is used like mercenaries (16 years in Afghanistan, for what again?), and the words and deeds of our two major parties do not align because the people who pay for political campaigns have an entirely different agenda from the voters.

Birkel said...

LBJ was right that the South would still vote for a Democrat in 1996 but would somehow flip because of a law passed 31 years before.

Facts are sticky things.

pacwest said...

"Get 'em stoned, yap about politics, get 'em in the sack."

That about covers it. Farm out. Right arm.

Birkel said...

Bill Peschel

You correctly judge that there is little left to conserve. However, as a classical liberal I believe there are many things to expand. A traditional view of personal freedom is one thing that a traditional liberal can support. Attendant with that, a reduction in the size and scope of federal government is necessary. Limited government is the bulwark or individual liberty.

Classical liberalism is the only system that can be sustained over a long period of time, in my estimation, and it gave Americans and the world many things over the years it was tried. The other option is the caste system America currently has.

n.n said...

Progress is monotonic [unqualified] change. Perhaps they are reducing redundancy in their signaling postures... or, a baby escaped from the abortion chamber to tell the tale of beating hearts. I can imagine that would be an extraordinary epiphany for women and men on the twilight fringe. Also, social justice adventurism without the cover of a compliant press is remarkably violent. War! What is it good for? Indeed.

Michael K said...

After that conservative Democrats either switched parties and became Republicans or they were replaced in the next elections by conservative Republican challengers.

I see you subscribe to that old leftist myth that Democrats "became" Republicans.

What happened was air conditioning. The South became an economic powerhouse after a century of stagnation.

Republicans moved south and built that economic powerhouse.

The left knows nothing about economics and I am not surprised that you know nothing about industry or business.

Read about the The Research Triangle

You could even enquire about why Japanese car makers built factories in southern states instead of Michigan.

Why not read, "Crash Course" about how the Japanese expected the plants to be unionized but were surprised to see the workers vote down unions.

Or about how the UAW killed the quality circles for the Saturn.

You won't though, because you like fairy takes.

Michael K said...

Fairy tales, of course.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, I guess the Civil Rights Movement that liberals tried to rope you in to care about was not progress or change you could give two f**ks about."

What part of the Civil Rights Movement are you thinking about in 1967?

Ann Althouse said...

MLK had moved on to that "Beyond Vietnam" speech....

What else? Black Panthers?

Michael K said...

"MLK had moved on to that "Beyond Vietnam" speech...."

I thought that was a catastrophic mistake at the time. LBJ had the FBI all over him.

It didn't matter because worse things happened to him.

Meade said...

Joan Baez is the only activist hippie (or left-wing academic) I know of who continued to walk the talk of anti-war, peace, and love after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam caused the rise of the Khmer Rouge and the autogenocide in Cambodia during the 70's.

Once written, twice... said...

Yes Ann, racial injustice in this country was wiped away after 1965.

Darrell said...

I'm watching a two-part BBC documentary on the Summer of Love and the hippies that survived are just as useless as they were then. LBJ should have provided them with unlimited free drugs, uncut.

n.n said...

Reagan’s Darkest Hour

Abortion is a natural rite and a wicked problem that progressed with normalization.

even the bill’s Democratic sponsor confessed to being surprised that physicians so liberally interpreted the law

We can't even see to the edge of tomorrow, let alone to the edge of time and space. Still, principles matter and a conservation of principles that are internally, externally, and mutually consistent will control the chaos and smooth the path.

tcrosse said...

Yes Ann, racial injustice in this country was wiped away after 1965.

Which country ? USA or Argentina ?

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes Ann, racial injustice in this country was wiped away after 1965."

You referred to the Civil Rights Movement. Stop moving the target.

I agree that loving one another is important, and many hippies saw racial justice from that perspective. Many of us believed that Jimi Hendrix embodied the way young people would think about these things that older people saw in old-fashioned terms and that race would be transcended. It might have happened if politicos hadn't seen their interests in maintaining commitments to racial identity.

Ann Althouse said...

This is 1967: Come on people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together/Try to love one another/Right now...

Ann Althouse said...

Many of us believed that had much more potential that "movement" style politics.

Birkel said...

It might have happened if people were transformed by magical forces into something different than we are.

Unicorn farts, maybe.

Ann Althouse said...

The truth is... I still believe that.

It's the hippie answer and it's the Christian answer.

Ann Althouse said...

The unicorn is Jesus.

Birkel said...

Free rider problems still confound magical thinking.

Birkel said...

Which kingdom will they inherit, Althouse. I'm led to understand it's not this one.

Perhaps your deep understanding of Christianity will convince somebody.

Bay Area Guy said...

My rough view on this important issue is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary, and that Barry Goldwater was wrong to oppose it.

I have, however, read good pieces by Thomas Sowell, that blacks were making excellent strides, and that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 thwarted these strides. So, it may be a closer call.

However, the Great Society's subsequent creation of the Welfare state was devastating to blacks. It essentially reversed the incentive to marry, stay married, work, and raise your kids. Instead, it subsidized single Moms with kids. Simple government rule: If you want more X, subsidize it. If you want less X, tax it.

This lead to the epidemic of out of wedlock births, which hit the black community hardest.

The societal/cultural push for easy sex coupled with the disintegration of the monogamous married ideal, wrecked a lot of young black lives.

Can you imagine not having a father to protect, guide, teach, love and provide for you?

By necessity and/or tragedy, some people have to grow up without fathers. God bless 'em, God bless the single Moms who raise them, and God bless the surrogate "Dads" who sometimes fill the void. But, this was a man-made catastrophe created by short-sighted leftwing idealogues.

Far Out, Man!

Darrell said...

The BBC lets you know from minute one that this was all about Marxism---from the Be-In--the gathering of the Tribes. Politicos and hippies like Nature Boys. Eric Burdon saw Jesus. He saw his drummer turn into Jesus before his eyes when he was dropping Acid. He saw his own tears fall on a shag carpet and then realized that all the strands of the carpet were people and his tears were feeding them! Like wow, Man!

Michael K said...

"Barry Goldwater was wrong to oppose it."

Hubert Humphrey asserted that, if it resulted in quotas, he would eat the bill.

He was dead before he had to follow up.

djs said...

Ann. This is just what you're looking for as you start your Summer of Love. http://unz.org/Pub/Ramparts-1967mar-00005 It's "The Social History of the Hippies" by the then editor of Ramparts, Warren Hinckle. From March 1967. It's all right here: can they be a political force or not?

Fernandinande said...

Ann Althouse said...
This is 1967: Come on people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together/Try to love one another/Right now...


Murder rate in 1967 was 35% percent higher than in 1950, and 38% higher than 2014, regardless of smiling.

Birkel said...
Perhaps your deep understanding of Christianity will convince somebody.


My Little Unicorn.

chickelit said...

The best year to be a hippie was 1965, but then there was not much to write about, because not much was happening in public and most of what was happening in private was illegal. The real year of the hippie was 1966, despite the lack of publicity, which in 1967 gave way to a nationwide avalanche in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Saturday Evening Post, and even the Aspen Illustrated News, which did a special issue on hippies in August of 1967 and made a record sale of all but 6 copies of a 3,500-copy press run. But 1967 was not really a good year to be a hippie. It was a good year for salesmen and exhibitionists who called themselves hippies and gave colorful interviews for the benefit of the mass media, but serious hippies, with nothing to sell, found that they had little to gain and a lot to lose by becoming public figures. Many were harassed and arrested for no other reason than their sudden identification with a so-called cult of sex and drugs. The publicity rumble, which seemed like a joke at first, turned into a menacing landslide. So quite a few people who might have been called the original hippies in 1965 had dropped out of sight by the time hippies became a national fad in 1967. ~Hunter S. Thomson

Funny how the real year of the hippie (1966) was the best year for pop music.

chickelit said...

Althouse wrote: Many of us believed that Jimi Hendrix embodied the way young people would think about these things that older people saw in old-fashioned terms and that race would be transcended. It might have happened if politicos hadn't seen their interests in maintaining commitments to racial identity.

I agree. But your big mistake was to transfer that hope to Barack Obama.

chickelit said...

Because I was researching the NYT archive for the emergence of the word "hippie" (or "hippy" as Thompson has it).

Carlos Santana's band switched from being a blues band to one backed by Latin rhythms around that same time. Apparently, the young women in Golden Gate Park moved their hips in completely different ways to Latin beats vs. rock 'n' roll beats. Were hippie chicks "hippy"?

Darrell said...

They were "hip." Today, they call it "woke."

Darrell said...

Meaning they had been indoctrinated in the finer points of Marxist-Leninist assholery.

Once written, twice... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Once written, twice... said...

I think there is a huge misperception that the anti-war movement and the liberal social justice movement greatly overlapped with "hippies." That is not true. The people I saw showing up were from progressive churches, teachers, and non-hippie students, amount other groups.

Those who were of the "if we think real hard we can stop this rain! No rain! No rain!" variety of hippies were not political and in the 1970s just as likely became Republicans. (Who of course liked to talk about their "wild hippie days.") Ann, it is my impression that you were in this group.

Many of those who where serious about social justice issues did not subscribe to the "hippie ethos," which, let's face it, was pretty shallow. Instead, they went on to found and work for thousands of environmental groups, and woman shelters, and public interest groups, or carried on their desire to work for a better world through their life and work in other ways. You meet these people everyday and they would never identify themselves as "hippies" besides saying there had longish hair.

Once written, twice... said...

But Ann I don't want to rain on your "back in my wild hippie days" nostalgia posts. We can all agree that you were so crazy and cute back then!!

Once written, twice... said...

(Sarcasm off)

Bad Lieutenant said...


The people I saw showing up

Incredible, you're this much of a jerk and you're OLD??? TTR I figured was like 30s, Fred like 20s but you're an Alte Kocker?

Darrell said...

The whole point of the goings on in 1967 was to bring the various non-political hippie groups into the Maxist-Leninist political movement to increase their numbers by an order of magnitude. The Human Be-In in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Polo Fields on January 14, 1967 was the kick-off event. The organizers made sure they had enough LSD doses to give every hippie a taste and political indoctrination would follow. Later events like Monterey Pop kept the "troops" entertained. 70,000 individual doses of LSD were prepared for that by underground chemists.

Meade said...

"woman shelters"

Do you mean women's shelters?

Once written, twice... said...

Meade, my old frail fingers are typing on a cell phone. My eyesight is also none to good.

Meade said...

Also, progressive churches? I remember liberal churches. Radical priests. But I'm pretty sure, in 1967, no one was using the term, progressive, the way you are now.

Darrell said...

It took a long time for women to realize that they were the cum buckets of the New Left.

Meade said...

Girls Say Yes To Boys Who Say No.

Darrell said...

Lift up your dress if the answer is "No!"

Meade said...

All The Way With LBJ.

Once written, twice... said...

Meade, I am pretty sure I wrote my comment today and not back in 1967. Otherwise, that would be really far-out and groovy.

Bay Area Guy said...

1964: All the Way with LBJ

1968: Hey, Hey LBJ - How many kids did you kill today?

Meade said...

But, Once Jay Retread, the people you "saw showing up were from progressive churches"... Which 1967 churches do you now consider to have been "progressive" by today's standards? The only people self-identifying as "progressives" in 1967 were Maoists. And I don't remember them going to church at all. Or do remember seeing different where you were?

Birkel said...

The two big religions, Christianity and Marxism, in one thread.

I guess which one is false depends if you are in the other camp.

Big Mike said...

What I like about it is its resonance today: Left-wing activists intent on roping young people into their agenda of "change" and "progress."

As I've often said before, change is easy. Change for the better -- progress without the quotation marks -- is very, very hard and well beyond the capabilities of 21st century "Progressives."

Daniel Jackson said...

"A profusion of drugs offering to take the world in a love embrace."

Born To Be Wild.

"Let your motor runnin'"

I honestly thought this thread was about the political failure of the left in the latest French elections. Why not? Since only 42% of the eligible voters bothered to go to the polls, I figured this was as insightful an analysis as any.

In fact, the Summer of Love of 1967 lead to Spring of Revolution in 1968 in both the US and France, the outcomes in the two countries were completely different. The Student Revolution in the US fizzled out with most returning to gradual school and the world of work. In France, no. The Revolution won and the Party of the People began a New Republic. Pretty much based on the combustible mixture of 1967: Weed, Whites, and Wine. Add heroin to the French party.

The French Left went a full fifty years mixing drugs and power to the people: excellent welfare, free medical, social assistance support for sitting about cafes, and an educational caste system to keep the useless idiots in their place.

But, as Thompson so eloquently predicts, the druggies and the politicians are a bad romance. France is now under a state of emergency so the drug and political economies can no longer mix in public, which explains why there will be no great manifestations against a government enfranchised by 4 out of 10 French voters.

"The flourishing hippy scene is a matter of desperate concern to the political activists. They see a whole generation of rebels drifting off to a drugged limbo, ready to accept almost anything as long as it comes with enough 'soma.'"

This "rule" was held at bay in France for fifty years; but, in time, with the stalwart 40% no longer wanting to support this coalition, even the French Hippies have finally begun to drift off into their continued search for soma. All the more so since the usual French Connection sources are too hot to score.

Richard said...

Went to MS in 676 and 68 to do civil rights work at Rust College. We had no hippies. Those clowns were too stoned and too self-centered to be any use. We had a bunch of liberals and some of them would become lefist/progressives.
Some of us enlisted.
To what should be but never would be the great shame of the left, once the US was out of Southeast Asia, no atrocity was too awful to draw the left's attention. Only, as has been said above, Joan Baez continued to walk the walk. That she actually believed The Movement would and was meant to bring peace and justice to SEA will tell you where she got that stunning resonance.

Meade said...

It's still not a good idea to trust anyone over 30.