by e b bortz
Nothing really changed during the 1960s and 70s until the ruling elite finally realized that the system was on the verge of "losing" the allegiance of an entire generation. Who would fight the wars in the future? What kind of new mainstream would emerge for the bloated commodity exchanges...where were the new fat, dumb, and happy consumers? If there was in fact an "American Dream," how could it be packaged and sold, and more importantly, who would buy it?
Of course there were millions in the streets demanding civil rights and voting rights, bringing the troops home from Vietnam, alleviating poverty, and winning a certain level of economic democracy. But as much as the ruling elite rejected and stonewalled these specific demands, their real fear was more fundamental. How could they co-opt a generation that had seen the facade for what it was, and had now emerged way beyond the dominant culture? The counterculture wasn't a demand or slogan, but a deeply democratic, revolutionary and expansive new way of life...or so we had hoped.
What was energizing the 60s movements? It wasn't just a list of issues...but a common reality from a conscious new generation...a new view of the planet and the interconnection and interdependence of all living things. This rattled the elites to the point of relinquishing significant reforms in exchange for civil authority and some level of civil cohesion.
Today, we find ourselves searching and organizing not unlike those early years...confronting enormous institutional obstacles and entrenched regressive political machines. Where is the countercultural yarn weaving through the countryside, connecting and spreading the good news of a new day coming? The "liberating" technology of social media is only a tool...a movement that accomplishes great deeds, needs the power of a generation that leads by example, liberating passionately held ideas whose time has come.
Of course wishing for a countercultural revolution doesn't make one happen. It grows naturally like wild rice, from the objective social morass commonly called mainstream society...artistic, economic, political, interpersonal. In fact, one could argue that the counterculture has always been alive and that it's a historical continuum. Maybe those narrowly and pragmatically focused on the issues of the day fail to see the revolution in our midst?
No one has a recipe or schedule for social change. But if in fact the arc does bend ultimately toward justice and survival, it will only do so if we see the whole planet, in its multitude of species, and in its multicultural and countercultural revolutionary dimensions. Millions are alive in Tahrir, Puerta del Sol, Liberty Plaza and thousands more squares and common spaces around the world...the music has not been charted...it may even be muted at times...but make no mistake, it will spring from within us all.
(published in opednews.com, Sept 29, 2011)