Thursday, November 19, 2009


Political Mayhem Thursday: Why RRL is a Hippie, and Why That is OK

More than most of my students, I have some idea of what hippies were like in the 60's. In fact, it's safe to say that I knew a few of them pretty well, in fact. They did seem to share some basic values, though. Here are some of them:

1) They believed you should look how you want instead of conforming to what society might demand.

2) In matters beyond personal appearance, they believed in personal freedom. They wanted to smoke. They wanted to drink. They wanted sexual freedom. And they did not want to get hassled for it.

3) More than anything, they did not trust the government. They did not think the government was capable of doing good, and wanted the government to stay off their backs. This, of course, is consistent with 1 & 2 above.

Which of those does RRL disagree with?

If by "hippies," RRL means radicalized college students, we do have something close to a manifesto for them-- the Port Huron Statement, which you can read here. (Upon re-reading it, I was surprised to see the reference to my hometown of Grosse Pointe).

Written by Tom Hayden, the Port Huron Statement is a principally a statement of ideals, and somewhat wishy-washy as a plan of action. About the ideals, though... which ones do you disagree with?

I think the common right/left divide is insufficient, as each side of the axis could also be plotted along several more, between "politically free" and "totalitarian" and "socially conscious" and "individualistic."

Obviously, a conservative, totalitarian, socially conscious society looks like fascism. A leftist, free, individualistic (hippie) society is left-anarchistic.

RRL probably falls along the conservative (read: capitalist), individualistic and free axis, or something along the lines of the modern Libertarian party. This is an old tradition, fueled by such radicals Locke, Bentham, JS Mill and Rosseau, or the "hippies" of their day.

So, RRL, I can lend you some orange and white tye-dye. Never mind the smell. It's, uh... cloves.
RRL rules.
Uh-oh, I think I'm with Lane on this one. I might use some different labels, though. The political spectrum really has to encompass both the X and Y axes. Maybe the Z axis, too, for Ron Paul supporters. Several good "political quizes" ask the respondent for their views on certain issues, and then plots their "position" on a Cartesian plane. It's overly simplistic, but this little gem still holds some water.

Not to speak for him, but perhaps RRL advocates for more gov't involvement in maintaining the social fabric than the Hippies did. They might not have gotten their action agenda together, but Hippies were all about flaunting the establishment. Today, for example, they might support gay marriage provisions, because whatever you want to do is groovy, man. Someone like RRL would might oppose, because maybe whatever you want to do is not so groovy for the overall social order.
Why I Hate Hippies: The Port Arthur Statement


This is tremendous. An opportunity to identify my reasons for hating hippies. So, lets get started:

1. There are the obvious reasons that must be addressed. The smell. Hippies don't believe in hygiene. They think that patchouli is a reasonable substitute for soap. They fail to understand that if you wear Birkenstock sandals for 300 days in a row that they smell like crap. They wear the same shirt over, and over, and over again and seem to believe this is acceptable. They refuse to wash their hair, usually letting grow into something clumpy and unfit for life.

This lack of personal hygiene is evidence of a general lack of regard for others around them, the "squares." I'm not down with that.

2. They like terrible music. The Grateful Dead made two great records, "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty." The rest of their albums were terrible. Their live shows are worse. They spawned a whole collection of other terrible bands: Phish, String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, etc. Sure, some of the original hippie bands were good, but Jefferson Airplane eventually turned into Starship and wrote "We Built this City" and that should tell you all you need to know about what happens when hippies get old.

3. I don't like students. The hippie movement was a movement of a bunch of college students. You know how you can tell: 1. they tell you they're students over and over again; 2. the stuff they say and write reads exactly like what you expect for a 20 year old to say/write after smoking too much marijuana, eating a bunch of ramen noodles, and discussing "their feelings, man, about the, ummm, government, man." Students don't know nothing. I was a student, and I didn't know nothing. They are sheltered inside a world in which life often begins each day around noon and ends each night around 4 in the morning. Where you're going to score your next dime bag or six pack is often as important as your thoughts on the issues of the day. And we're supposed to take these people seriously. When people talk about getting out the youth vote I often wonder why we are so interested in having 18 year olds decide our future.

4. “We can no longer rely on competition of the many to insure that business enterprise is responsive to social needs.”

That is from the Port Huron statement. I think it is self-evident why I don't agree with this.

5. “The allocation of resources must be based on social needs.”

Yeah, also from the Port Huron statement. Again, being that I'm not a communist, socialist, or fascist I don't agree with this either.

6. “Private property control (the real estate lobby and a few selfish landowners and businesses) is as devastating in the cities as corporations are on the national level.”

PH statement again. Yeah, hippies are anti-property rights. Guess what, I'm in favor of property rights.
7. “Education is too vital a public problem to be completely entrusted to the province of the various states and local units. In fact, there is no good reason why America should not progress now toward internationalizing rather than localizing, its educational system -- children and young adults studying everywhere in the world, through a United Nations program, would go far to create mutual understanding.”

PH statement. Hippies are anti-federalism, anti-localized control of education, and apparently in favor of allowing the UN to run our education system. I can't even describe to you the myriad ways that I'm against this nonsense.

8. “The Military-Industrial Complex. The most spectacular and important creation of the authoritarian and oligopolistic structure of economic decision-making in America is the institution called ‘the militaryindustrial complex’”

Ummm, there is no such thing as the military industrial complex. The military needs things. Corporations sell those things. This is wholly unremarkable.

9. “We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love.”

Yeah, this kind of encapsulates my big problem with hippies, and with socialism, communism, and other leftist political systems. They basically rely on the belief that people are good. That people want to "love" one another. So, it is ok to let the government run the economy, because the government is made up of well-intentioned, good, "loving" people, just like all of us. I disagree. I think people are inherently bad. I think we have selfish needs, and we will try to achieve those needs in selfish ways. That doesn't mean I think we need to be controlled, but it does make me wary of government control because it isn't without those same motives.

Hippies take the position we should all just love each other. I agree, we should. And we should all be rich and ride on unicorns along rainbow highways. Sadly, it is unrealistic and foolish.

10. The PH statement talks a lot about the importance of labor. I'm obviously not in favor of that.

11. Hippies want individual freedom to smoke drugs and gather in drum circles, but they have no problems in restricting my freedom to own property, start a business, make a profit, and live as I want to. I want freedom for all (even hippies).

12. I'm not a libertarian. Libertarians are ridiculous and silly people, much like hippies, because their ideology is equally unrealistic. This isn't 'Nam, there are rules, and we must have some.
As a footnote to the original Port Arthur Statement, two things:

1. I don't oppose gay marriage. What you do in your bedroom is your business man. I will say I'm against federal action on the issue because I believe in federalism, but if they made me vote on it I would vote in favor of personal freedom.

2. "Obviously, a conservative, totalitarian, socially conscious society looks like fascism."

Nope, that isn't obvious at all. I think a liberal, leftist, totalitarian society looks like fascism. Lets take a look at some of the NAZI party platforms:

"Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery."

"Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits."

"We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts)."

"We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries."

"We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare."

I don't know, but those things don't seem "conservative" or "classically liberal" to me. They seem like socialism, which is what every fascist that we have ever seen in this world has been.
May I point out that today's LARIAT (Baylor's newspaper) boasts this poorly worded headline about you today:
BU prof talks on drugs at Harvard.

I've heard you talk, and this explains A LOT!
I was also identified as a former "persecutor." Which is true.
Fascism is the combination of authoritarian nationalism with a corporate economic structure where the executive functionaries within a government control the means of production for the interests of the national government. Soviet socialism (a leftist authoritarian state) combines authoritarian nationalism with a socialized economic structure where the central government manages the distribution of resources, including the means of production, for the populace.

An important thing to remember is that a key tenet of all fascist governments, including the Nazi party, was the suppression of and hatred toward Marxism and communism. Thus, fascist systems retain the basic structure of private control of economic systems. A bureacracy controls, rather than private control (capitalism) or state control (socialism) or worker control (communism).
Yes, the fascist states, Italy and NAZI Germany to be specific, did involve "corporatism", that doesn't mean what Lane seems to think it meant. Corporatism involves corporations (those that control private capital) working in tandem with the government, labor, universities, and other institutions to come up with economic policies at a national level. However, a defining characteristic of corporatism under a fascistic government is that anytime a "corporation" defies the government, or these other progressive institutions, then it is either left out of the policy making, and therefore disadvantaged, or it is eliminated all together. Anyone who doesn't want to play along, anyone with a different agenda than the government, is left out. Is put on an uneven playing field.

The way of achieving government control of the economy may be different, but the goal is the same, and it is a leftist one.

And yes, fascists didn't like communists. Communists didn't like fascists. That is because they disagreed about how the global socialist revolution ought to be achieved. They were both fighting for the same piece of intellectual turf. They both sought out the support of the same disenfranchised classes of people. They didn't like each other because they viewed each other as a threat to their rightful claim as the leading socialist paradigm.

"Fascism" has become a code word among leftists, progressives, liberals for "anyone we don't like." But, the actual history of fascism is much different than the one modern leftists prescribe to it.
More specifically, the article (in error I'm sure) quoted a law student as saying the Prof "was a persecutor before he was a professor."

Hee hee.
How does what you said contradict what I said about fascism? "Working in tandem" with the government where working against the wishes of the government causes one to be eliminated is exactly what I said: an executive branch of government exercises control over the "corporations" for the benefit of that government's nationalistic programs.

Yes, fascism is anti-capitalist, but lots of systems are anti-capitalist, from left-anarchy to Utopianism to primitivism to socialism. Attempting to lump them all together under a single banner just because they're opposed to your economic system of choice paints with too broad a brush: fascists and socialists make strange bedfellows, just like capitalists and fascists would. Saying that fascism is a version of "right wing" extremism doesn't mean that anyone on the "right" is fascist. Like I said, there's several different axes that would serve to distinguish a laissez-faire capitalist from a fascist, such as the desire for an authoritarian state, or, as RRL quoted from the Nazi party line, the creation of welfare programs.

To say that both fascists and socialists share a common goal of "economic control" but merely differ in their means is disingenuous. The differing means by which each type of government structures the ownership of property, the notions of the propriety of its use, and the means of control are the distinguishing factors. I might as well claim that capitalism is functionally indistinct from anarchism because it would advocate a complete hands-off role for government, without taking in to regard that most capitalist systems provide for a certain amount of regulation and control by legal means in order to facilitate commerce.
RRL's anti-hippie pronouncements lost all validity when he admitted that he was a fan of The Flying Burrito Brothers.

I agree, most of the Dead's recorded work is not worth listening too. But when they got it right, it cooked!

Remember, punk rock exploded during a time of supremacy for the politically liberal parties in the U.S. and U.K.

The idea of a spectrum of political/philosophical beliefs is simplistic, and an axis is not much better.

As Lane and RRL demonstrate over and over again, they can agree on themes and ideas despite having very different beliefs.

RRL is a populist in many ways. So is Lane, but the issues most important to each of them vary.

The Port Huron Statement was written, for the most part, by idealistic and relatively privileged and pampered young students without much real world experience or exposure to ideas or people with ideas that differed much from their own.

But the same can be said for many other famous political tracts.

The observation that these people had views not that much different from those of Barry Goldwater is now so common as to be trite. Neither Goldwater nor Hayden and his buddies had given much thought as to how to make any of their ideas become reality.

I don't know why you have such a problem with the Flying Burrito Bros., or the greater works of Gram Parsons, but it is too bad because you have always struck me as a man with a tremendous understanding of quality rock 'n' roll. Yes, Parsons made a brand of country/rock (or as he called it "cosmic american music") that could be described as hippie music, but it also ruled.

And the Grateful Dead are terrible. Absolutely terrible.
We can also agree that the Grateful Dead and Phish are terrible crimes against music. I promise that they too shall be gulagged when the revolution comes.
Give me Graham Parker, but that sandal wearing, long-haired, dope smoking, self-indulgent, self important, Byrds-ruining goof Gram Parsons?

The only good thing he ever did was Emmy Lou Harris.

Actually, laid-back California Stoner music is not as much of a problem as bad power pop. Those are the people that need to be rounded up and shot.
"The only good thing he ever did was Emmy Lou Harris."

Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.

"Actually, laid-back California Stoner music is not as much of a problem as bad power pop. Those are the people that need to be rounded up and shot."

Who we including here? Just curious.

Oh, and Gram Parsons wore boots and saved the Byrds.
Hippies are okay as long as they don't try to articulate a systematic political philosophy.

An Aside: this is actually good advice for all of us.

One last word: gotta love Gram Parsons.
I have to disagree with Prof. Osler's original premises, as he takes liberties in defining what constitues a "hippie" in order to fit someone inside that box.

I would correct the definition of "hippie" as follows (in bold):

(1) "They believed you should look how you want so long as it conforms to their own societal standards."

(2) "In matter beyond personal appearance, they beleived in personal freedom. They wanted to smoke. They wanted to drink. They wanted sexual freedom. And they did not want to suffer any consequences as a result.

(3) "More than anyhing, they did not trust the establishment . . . ."

Depending on how you define "hippie", RRL (whom I don't know), or even me, for that matter, could fit in there. Others above probably made much the same point, or maybe not.

I guess my point is that the word "Hippie" should not be used as largely synonymous as "good," "open minded," "libertarian," etc. As an example, consider the following quote from a proclamation of welcome from West Coast radicals to the Rolling Stones:

"Greetings and welcom Rolling Stones, our comrades in the desperate battle against the maniacs who hold power . . . . Comrades, you will return to this country when it is free from the tyranny of the State and you will play your splendid music in factories run by the workers, in the domes of emptied city halls, on the rubble of police stations, under the hanging corpses of priests, under a million red flags waving over a million anarchist communities . . . ."

You know, I can't speak for others, but I didn't get any of that the last time I listened to "Ruby Tuesday."
Oh yeah.

I agree with Lane that Phish sucks. Take a bath, losers.
So RRL, what are our country's "social needs?" Don't you think we have some?
Yes, the Phish thing never made sense to me either. Egomaniacal weirdos. A friend attempted to interest me over and over with videos, CDs, etc.

Same thing with Government Mule. Went to see them live once. A 2 hour show of maybe 6 or 7 songs. Shoot me now.
My only comment for the day (the day after):

I really liked Phish (for a time), and still like them a bit. They are inordinately creative in their lyrics, engaged with their fans and dedicated to live music, and I liked their music. This is all past tense -- I still like them, but I don't really listen to them much anymore.

Any reading on how/why hippie culture has in some ways embraced techno music? I'd suggest that it has...with Burning Man as case in point.
Wasn't Jeffery Lebowski ("the Dude", not the Big Lebowski) an author of the Port Huron Statement?
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