Sixties nostalgia

Scott Johnson at Powerline has a quite illuminating column today based on coming across a copy of Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man. He asks whether anyone reads it any more but as a coincidence perhaps, I was looking at my own copy just yesterday and thought I might give it a read for old time’s sake. A very powerful book in its time but today would hardly cause a ripple since its ideas are now absorbed into the thought processes of Presidents and Prime Ministers all across the Western world. But Scott also goes through a list of books each one of which was an important part of my own education, except for The Strawberry Statement for which I have no memory. How could I have let that one go by, but I can recall others he left out. Here is Scott’s full list:

Paul Goodman, Growing Up Absurd (published in 1960, restored to print in the NYRB Classics series, in which we learned how corporation deadened our souls).

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (gone but not forgotten, Fanon makes a cameo appearance in Dreams From My Father, but of course).

R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (mental illness is good).

Carlos Castenada, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (the first in Castenada’s endless series of fictional sociological studies of an Indian shaman working wonders with psychedelic drugs…heavy!).

Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (hey, it inspired Jim Morrison…the book has an interesting chapter on Jonathan Swift).

James Simon Kunen, The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary (turned into a lousy movie, now a collector’s item…damn, what did I do with my copy?).

Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (sick, sick, sick, and still in print…I recall that Eric Hoffer nailed it as ‘soul on horse manure’).

There are two sorts of people on the right today, those who were once on the left and those who weren’t. It is those of us who once were who are the ones more terrified about the left because we were there and know just how much there is to fear about the kinds of people we were but thankfully no longer are. I only wish there were a lot more like us and a lot less of the others who stayed as they were then. I used to think that the world would be a better place once we were finally gone from positions of power and influence but the startling reality is that our miseducation of the generation that followed has created a monster even more awful than we were ourselves. Gillard is infinitely worse than Hawke while Obama makes me wish we had Bill Clinton back again.

And when you finish Scott Johnson’s column, you really should go onto the column by Dan Henninger that inspired it. It’s short but here is the para that matters:

The original argument for the Obama presidency was that this was a new, open-minded and liberal man intent on elevating the common good. No one believes that now. This will be a second term of imposition. As he said in the inaugural: ‘Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.’ That is Marcusian.

Don’t know what Marcusian means? Then I worry you may not know just what you are up against.

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10 Responses to Sixties nostalgia

  1. Is “Marcussian” a synonym for “Orwellian?”

  2. William Bragg

    Ho hum: more overblown ‘the end odds nigh’ scaremongering from Kates, where the problem is that most people just can’t see as clearly as he can.

  3. .

    Gillard is infinitely worse than Hawke while Obama makes me wish we had Bill Clinton back again.

    Ho hum: more overblown ‘the end odds nigh’ scaremongering from Kates, where the problem is that most people just can’t see as clearly as he can.

    It sure is. He has precognition as far as Roxon and Evans are concerned.

  4. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    I worry you may not know just what you are up against.

    Having seen some of it too, Steve, I feel similarly to you. I have not read all of your list (just glanced through Marcuse and Castaneda and knew about Fanon’s ideas and listened a lot to others about these things). During my first marriage I mixed with people who have read these books and more (Chomsky and Roland Barthes and Gramsci come to mind), who come from that era, or who have been mightly influenced by its later penetration into the general culture, and still are. William Bragg, you seem to be an obnoxious example of one of the latter or perhaps even the former.

    Then there is the flood of post-modern stuff (Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard are names I recall, there are many more), that in a broad cultural sense hung off all of this prior ‘anti-establishment knowledge’, so ably captured now by the ‘vironmentals.

    These true believers are mentally still adolescents. That is a worry.

  5. M Ryutin

    The Henninger column was a real shock to the system, with its mention of Marcuse (I, too, have my One Dimensional Man still at home – his image of capitalism using its steam valve to let off [radical] change-pressure has never left me as a concept) plus his prominent position in the Frankfurt School having had such a devastating effect over decades. To see him linked like that to current Obama processes makes the loss of perceptive people like Andrew Breitbart far more devastating.

  6. Uber

    I guess now you have an inkling of how Christian apologists feel about rampant secularity. In a prophetic, typological sense it’s a little like living through the end of the world.

  7. Uber

    Ah Lizzie, are you really on ‘our’ side? Name dropping and unsubstantiated personal attack are a wonderful portrayal of genius, loved by the left. Did you wake up one morning and decide to be a conservative?

  8. stackja

    Marcusian is communism! That has succeeded, of course.

  9. Robbins Mitchell

    The only thing remotely “memorable” about “The Strawberry Statement”…such as it might be….is “All we are saaasssyyyyiinnnnngggg,is give peace a chaaaannnnncceee”…repeated ad nauseam by a clutch of utterly self absorbed college kids….everything else is extraneous,

  10. Kurmudge

    I’m supposed to feel guilty because I never wen through a puerile and juvenile stage of ’60’s touchy-feely peace and flowers when I was a teenager? In order to serve mankind, I had to be just a stoopid as my HS classmates were in order to properly understand the nihilistic leftist culture that is Obamaland today?

    Sorry- I try to avoid being a moron at all ages.

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