October 06, 2015

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On Oct. 6, 1967, Haight-Ashbury’s countercultural equivalent to a neighborhood “€œbusiness association”€”€”the San Francisco Oracle, Ron Thelin’s Psychedelic Shop, the Switchboard“€”held a sunrise service at Buena Vista Park to observe “€œThe Death of Hippie.”€

Pallbearers carried a gray coffin piled with “€œlove beads”€ and other already stereotypical “€œflower power”€ tchotchkes through the streets before lighting it on fire.

The Diggers handed out a dense yellow “€œstreet sheet”€ that promised, between scads of “€œpoetic”€ nonsense and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, to (all-caps) “€œEXORCISE”€ the now-world-infamous crossroads where “€œthe tourists came to the Zoo to see the captive animals”€ on a corny guided bus tour called “€œThe Hippie Hop.”€

It hadn”€™t taken long for this literal corner of man-made “€œparadise”€ in San Francisco”€””€œparadise,”€ that is, as long as your personal definition of utopia embraces scabies, rape (statutory and otherwise), mediocre music, body odor, and unpleasant, sometimes fatal drug misadventures”€”to devolve into a corrupt, commercialized, comic-relief parody of itself.

And yet, alone in the American annals of “€œprogressive”€ “€œexperiments in living”€”€”and quite unlike its immediate predecessor, Beat”€”the hippie movement didn”€™t die.

In fact, W.J. Rorabaugh, professor of history at the University of Washington in Seattle, argues in a widely noted new piece that the “€œHippies Won the Culture War.”€

“€œIf the hippies really did win, it hardly seems fair because, in many ways, the “€™60s never really happened.”€

To most Taki’s readers, Rorabaugh’s thesis is hardly, well, revolutionary. I daresay we all have a smattering of mid-career David Horowitz, Peter Hitchens and/or P.J. O”€™Rourke, and any number of other anti”€“Frankfurt School “€œwe told you so”€s shoved on our shelves.

Because it is an article of faith among “€œcons”€”€”from “€œpaleo”€ to “€œneo”€”€”that everything horrible about our present era was invented in the “€™60s. (In these very “€œpages,”€ Steve Sailer took that one step further and argued that everything horrible about the “€™60s was invented by our old friends the Germans…)

But are all these people”€”right and left”€”wrong, or at least, wrong-ish?

Rorabaugh’s boilerplate begins:

As blue jeans, beards, body adornments, natural foods, legal marijuana, gay marriage, and single parenthood have gained acceptance in mainstream American society in recent years, it is now clear that the hippies won the culture wars that were launched nearly fifty years ago.

But as Charles Murray has noted, America’s Ruling Class doesn”€™t necessarily practice the “€™60s ethos it still preaches, teaches, and screeches from lecture halls to the Supreme Court bench; a tattooed, pierced, drugged-up single mom waddling around high-median-income Stamford, Conn., looking somewhat confused is probably just in town to tape The Jerry Springer Show. Don”€™t panic, yacht-club members: She”€™ll be gone soon!

And ends:

The first Apple was built in a computer hobby club in Menlo Park, California just a couple of blocks from where Jerry Garcia had lived only a few years earlier when he had created the Grateful Dead.

But Silicon Valley residents”€”most famously Steve Jobs“€”notoriously discourage their own offspring from using the gadgets they market to the rest of us.

Rorabaugh, while not entirely approving”€”he duly notes that the benefits of the era’s “€œsexual revolution”€ were confined almost exclusively to the spear side”€”generally views the hippies”€™ “€œculture wars victory”€ as a good thing: an Apple in every home, a Whole Foods on every corner, and pot for everybody who’s not chicken.

Whereas it always seemed to a Gen-Xer like me that the hippies were actually trying to kill us, and still are.

Sure, they started small: Altamont. The Weathermen and the SLA. Manson.

Remember: More people died in Ira Einhorn’s apartment than at Three Mile Island.

But speaking of (nonmythical) mass-causality disasters, would we have had AIDS without the hippies”€™ “€œfree love”€ crap?

Will longhairs ever admit that their “€œpeace movements“€ and environmentalism have helped murder millions of foreigners?

That their “€œhealth food”€ mania keeps another batch of said foreigners poor and hungry?

And Rorabaugh doesn”€™t mention the hippies”€™ long and passionate embrace of the occult, which insinuated itself into mainstream movies, music, books, and even comedy, to no discernible good end.


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