Why did the radical ideas of the 60/70s die out?

Who says the hippie’s “ideals” have vanished?

Tom Wolfe did a great piuece on this notion in “The Purple Decade,” and David Brooks takes it on in his hilarious book “Bobos in Paradise.”

As WOlfe put it, in 1969, a parade of homosexuals through midtown was seen as shocking. Today, EVERY city has gay parades, usually with the mayor as a participant.

In 1969, co-ed dorms at colleges were a lurid novelty. Today, nobody bats an eyelash at the idea.

In short, MOST hippie attitudes and values have become utterly mainstream, the conventional wisdom.

Brooks’ “Bobos in Paradise” shows how the hippes have become (in his words) “Bourgeois Bohemians.” They LOVE money, and they LOVE conspicuous consumption… but NOT the kind that LOOKS like conspicuous consumption. A former hippie who eventually became a lawyer would NEVER dream of buying a mink or a big diamond for his wife- but he WOULD spend an equal amount to buy an “authentic” old-fashioned wood-burning stove from Williams-Sonoma!

plnnr said

I was always under the assumption that one of the greatest strengths of America was our ability to change more rapidly that in other societies. My first wife who had a PhD in History taught me that. Was she wrong?

Which more progressive societies are quicker to change than ours? Sorry for the hijack.

tomndebb wrote:

> The anti-militarist and pro-racial-equality groups have
> not produced any notable police chiefs or generals or
> race-baiters (Gingerich, notwithstanding–but then he was
> a power-tripper).

What do you mean by this? Are you claiming that Newt Gingerich belong to an anti-militarist and pro-racial-equality group at some point? As far as I can recall, his politics have always been the same. And for sure he’s always been a power-tripper: Seduced his high school math teacher, married her, dumped her 19 years later when he decided she was too old, only paid alimony and child support when brought to court, married a woman 15 years younger than his first wife, dumped her 18 years later when he decided she was too old, only paid a reasonable divorce settlement when brought to court, married a woman 15 years younger than his second wife, . . .

From a broader perspective, two recent books explore the changes that have occurred in the social/political/economic landscape of the United States over the past 30-40 years:

  • The Great Disruption by Francis Fukayama
  • How We Got Here: The 70’s by Robert Frum

Concentrating for a moment on the truly RADICAL rather than merely liberal ideas:

I - We did not eliminate nations, governments, bosses, law enforcement, coercion, and power over other people in general largely because the spirit among those who believed these things were destined to be eliminated was “We don’t have to organize and plan; organizing and planning is so square, man…just have the cool attitude and all that stuff will just pass away. Just be free and let your brother be free”. Many organizations attempted to operate with leaderless structures – structureless, really – and fuzzy undefined decision-making processes described as “consensus”. Those of us who had the good fortune to participate in such an organization remember the incredible wastes of time and energy and the inability to ever say that this or that “has been decided” since anyone (whether they had been there for the marathon decision-making meeting or not) could say the following day “I (still) don’t think we should do that” and oops we don’t have consensus and we have to talk it all out once again… In other words, it didn’t happen because no one really bothered designing and playing around with alternative structures as if structure mattered, and because after a decade or so of structureless meandering like I’ve described, all too many participants went straight back to “George is Chairman” and “you’re outvoted 6-4”. (It could also, of course, be true that the reason we did not move past hierarchical traditional decision-making and power structures is that no alternative would work, or would work efficiently enough to meet human needs. But we don’t really know yet)

II - We did not eliminate the money system, i.e., currency, wages, prices, the market economy, etc., either. As with the power and organizational thing, this was in part due to the “Oh just continue to believe that all that materialist stuff is square and be cool and soon everyone will just take what they need and share what they have” attitude and the lack of serious intentional design for an alternative system. There were some little shops in places like Haight-Ashbury that did not charge money for their goods, including one that famously had a sign saying that prosecutors will be shoplifted to the full extent of the law, but of course they are gone now. This task is more difficult to get off the ground than the alternative-decision-making structure unless you have a group of devoted participants who are content with a pre-industrial-age standard of living, and even then you have to have a plan for handling things like property ownership and property taxes, etc. I would venture that any meaningful alternative would arise structurally from whatever communications structure was used to make decisions (see I above), that it would depend on general reciprocity and that a person’s reputation would be the “currency” by which a person cause others to do work or provide existing materials.

III - We did not see the end of marriage as an institution. This one for far fewer good reasons, as each couple (or more-than-couple for that matter) need only solve it for themselves rather than having to wait for a solution that everyone else participates in before being free to engage in the alternative. But I think the biggest central reason is that the boy-hippies did not listen seriously enough to the radical ideas about sex and gender (and patriarchy) that the girls were coming up with, and so marriage–which, like truces and treaties between nations, is designed to formally structure a state of peaceful coexistence between former and/or potential adversaries–continued to have an appeal. Actually, the rift between the boy-hippies and the girl-hippies over feminism has a lot to do with the dissipation of the energies of the times of which you were speaking in e OP. Meanwhile, to tip the cap to the contrary viewpoint, there is a lot more freedom to live in a relationship without marriage than there used to be. I even have health insurance benefits for my unmarried girlfriend, for instance.

IV - We did not see religious institutions pass from the scenes either. The 60s opened up the scene for questioning the old orthodox answers to the hard questions, and for many individuals led to successful searches for answers to some of these, but it did not result in a good consensus on values, beliefs or attitudes about human behavior, good and evil, ethical guidelines, purpose of life, and so on. Societies (and their component individuals) need such a consensus; “anything goes” translates into “the person standing next to you at the bus stop could do a Charles Manson in the next second because we no longer collectively agree that he shouldn’t oughta”; people’s behavioral norms loosened in some not-so-good ways, not just in the sense of getting unshackled from outdated rigid puritanical or business-defined standards previously unquestioned. And most people like and need answers to a much greater extent than they could find them on their own. So two things happened: on the one hand you had a lot of New Age prepackaged silly-ass belief systems being passed around like reefers at a concert, chock full of ideas no more compellingly accurate and true than those of the old religions folks were getting loose from. (Sit on a hill in a circle holding hands and chanting “om” will bring about world peace. What’s your sign? I sleep under a pyramid and I wear crystals and I see auras); and the old religious belief-systems found new takers as well, having mass-distributed their own prepackaged Answers for millennia without requiring or encouraging comprehension.

They don’t work.

I was mostly being sarcastic, but Newt did spend a couple of years in college giving lip service to opposing the war in Vietnam.

I was a Berkeley student in the 1960’s. About 1968 there was a newspaper article about a young street-person, who was an unmarried mother and had used drugs. In a sad, reflective interview about her life-style, she said, “I remember eating lots of donuts.”

Maybe the hippies simply got tired of eating donuts.

december I can see lots of holes in your theory. :smiley: