“At the 1960therefore, there was some resistance in the culture at large”
Lots of men and women believe the opportunity to say”I told you so” is a source of enjoyment. This is not necessarily the situation. Occasionally one’s penetration is much more mournful than simply satisfying.
A case in point: Back in September 1982, in a note about the inaugural issue of The New Criterion, the overdue Hilton Kramer, the founding editor of this magazine that I direct, wrote:”We’re still living in the wake of the insidious attack in mind which was among the most gruesome features of this revolutionary movement of the 1960s. The cultural implications of the leftward turn in our political life are much graver than is generally assumed.”
Really. A fantastic indicator of the achievement of a cultural revolution would be that the degree to which it succeeds to render the thoughts and values it put out to subvert not only”debatable” but inert. A counterculture has truly triumphed as it stops to experience substantial resistance, when its worth appear not only victorious but unavoidable.
That’s where we are now.
America’s cultural revolution, started from the late 1960s rather than really ceased, has ever been a Janus-faced phenomenon. 1 face was that the Boomers’ euphoric hedonism and disregard for its ethical guardrails of tradition and power — that the”revolution” of simple sex and bad taste that currently defines our ideology and cultural structures.
Another encounter was dour and barbarous, masking a raw thirst for electricity beneath a preening moralism. This side of this revolution could be discovered in several countercultural phenomena, not least the juvenile activism and noisy openness for violence which were such conspicuous characteristics of their era.
Now, the revolution is introducing this face to a complacent America.
In the late’60s and’70s, countless bombs were detonated as many radical groups completed their campaign against”Amerika.” According to The Los Angeles Times,”at California alone, 20 explosions per week rocked the country throughout the summer of 1970.”
Just how many will we see in the summertime of 2020? ) Not too long before, the barbarous radicalism of this 1960s looked behind us. It appears to have come roaring backagain.
In 1968, Leonard Bernstein amused the Black Panthers to get a design in his Park Avenue duplex. Tom Wolfe famously satirized the episode in his book “Radical Chic.”
The Black Panthers were murderous thugs. However, to a specific portion of New York culture, they have been exciting ethical fashion accessories. The Weathermen and Black Panthers are reborn now as antifa and Black Lives Issue, a lavishly financed ensemble, whose creators have been self-confessed”Marxists” bent on destroying America.
But today, in 2020, more than in 1968, the left-liberal institution is tripping over itself to adopt the toxins.
Does that mean we must accept figurines and other monuments to the last being defaced, toppled, destroyed? Does this imply that we must stand by as police channels are incinerated and Bobby Seale’s phone to”barbecue some pork” — i.e., murder some authorities — is resurrected on our city roads?
In 1968, it had been mostly fancy folks such as Bernstein and Susan Sontag who observed that the Panthers and other toxins. There continues to be some resistance at the culture at large.
Now, the long parade that started from the 1960therefore has moved wholesale throughout the schools, schools and the mainstream media. It’s currently marching through the corporate world. Firms as disparate as Facebook and Brooks Brothers have issued abject letters of surrender to the rioters and looters who invaded America’s leading cities.
We’re supposed to feel the riots and anarchy we’re seeing across the nation is valid in reaction to the passing of George Floyd. However, Floyd’s death was only the pretext for anti-civilizational lawlessness.
In 1939, Evelyn Waugh noted that”the more complicated the society, the more vulnerable it’s to strike, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat.” He added:”At a time like the present, it’s notably precarious. If it falls, we will see not only the dissolution of a couple of joint-stock businesses, but of their religious and material accomplishments of our history”
I feel that is accurate. That’s why, taking a look at the reprise of 1960s destructiveness in our roads, I’m not likely to say”I told you ,” but instead:”We have to do something about it. Now.”
Roger Kimball is editor of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. Twitter: @RogerKimball