Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You Will Never Be So Free Again

     The last fourteen years of American life have been terribly disheartening for those of us who thought, perhaps, that with the new millennium, we might see an actual expansion in American culture of the ideas of Freedom and Liberty. Surely there might have been a window in which culture might have been allowed the opportunity to break through. But several things have happened, and I wish to let people know, that America will never be your parents' America, ever again, in light of these changes.
     The first, and largest change, of course, was what seized the population after 9-11-01. Fear, and fear of “terrorists”, set us on a one way course to the point where now we see our own Constitution taken to task for its “oversight” allowing for Amendments One, Two, Four, and Five to be stripped of all meaning and reinterpreted in the hands of those who wield power over we, the citizens.
     Besides the scourge of the Free Love generation, AIDS, which swept in like an avenging Victorian angel at the end of the 70’s to chill any chance remaining of the idea of “casual sex” ever regaining the status it had held for a decade, the social climate of the 1980s- that there was nothing which could not be commodified, and nothing worth living unless commercialized in the name of profit and greed- “loss leading” gatherings like the original Woodstock were seen as naive, Utopian fantasies, “proven” unworkable by the exceptional phenomenon of its doppelganger, the Altamont festival. Of course, Altamont was a disaster waiting to happen for a number of reasons, but the existence of a receptive counterculture to its idea was never one of these, not the way it was later sold to America by “Law'n'order”.
      A situation like the Woodstock Festival of 1969 will never happen again. It just can't. In part, it is because the reactionary community led by the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan took umbrage to the extent of making many such mass gatherings impossible to recreate. As well, their “War on Drugs” enabled a community of law enforcement officers to enact their own cultural war in revenge, punitively seeking to destroy wherever possible the growing “counterculture” attended to by a community of mostly young people. Those who foresaw a more healthy recreational lifestyle in the use of marijuana over that of alcohol. That the youth of America were automatically suspect of UnAmerican ideologies was half of the problem- the other half of the problem were those among America’s youth who actually were taken by UnAmerican ideologies (such as Marxism and Maoism) and self-appointed themselves to lead the lemming charge against the Military Industrial Complex. And if we need bombs to do it, by God, let’s build some bombs to do it with (i.e, the Bill Ayres and Bernardine Dohrns). Such persons never represented the leading edge of the movement, even if historical revisionists of both the right and left would like you to think they did.
      Another element of the culture war, of course, is the revision of historical truth over how and why the Vietnam war was lost by America. They would like you to believe it was lost either on the battlefield by a mutinous soldiery, or in the streets of America itself, where people took to mass protest in order to end an illegal occupation of another nation. Defeatism, and not the possibility that the other side held the moral cards- it was their country after all. Of course, illegal occupations of sovereign nations have become de rigeur now for those charged with enforcement of American foreign policy. Some, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, never see a prewar situation they do not approve of. They would love to escalate each and every situation into an excuse to throw more Americans into a slaughterhouse, for that is where their own greatest “service” to America took place. If it is good enough for us, then it ought to be good enough for you. Stupid peaceniks are always the problem.
     Then there are the ones who would like you to think that the whole nation would go to hell if drugs were legalized, particularly, pot. Well, you know, any drug is a gateway drug, if it happens to be the first you use. And it could be said that many would never turn to alcohol, (or worse, heroin or amphetamines) if the safer alternative of pot as a culturally sanctioned intoxicant were to be normalized and alternatively available instead.
     Mass gatherings like the Woodstock festival will never be possible again, despite their benign and nonviolent nature, because of law enforcement’s “need and desire” to be in control of mass assemblies. Anarchic opportunities such as Woodstock truly represented are seen as opportunities- if not for sheer out and out rebelliousness, then, as opportunities for “terrorist attacks.” Better to keep the population in line, than allow them the freedom to come together in such a disorganized (or unprofitable) fashion. The commercialization of the festival is not the issue (to be fair, it was a noble attempt to begin with- but the organizers did not count on the actual popularity of the attractions to be presented, nor the ability of a movement of highly mobile young people to assemble at what was, in those days, something of a moment’s notice) It goes without saying that even in the case of a national mobilization of militia in response to a governmental military coup that such a large mass gathering could only be seen as something to be nipped in the bud with helicopters, drones, and SWAT teams.
    The legacy of Woodstock was to be reduced and distilled into a small stream more easily channeled by authority into the phenomenon of “the Grateful Dead concert community.” Dead concerts, indeed, became a trap for the unwary, targeted by law enforcement as “havens of drug taking and sales” and sure-fire opportunities for drug bust press. That the Dead themselves rarely, in later years, played into this mentality (as they once might have in early years, when they actually were members of the activist psychedelic community) only points up the pathetic hopelessness in conceiving that somehow it was also “the last hope” for such freedoms as it could stand to represent. The Dead, eventually, endorsed the crypto-police state candidate Barack Obama (not merely once, but twice) and the possibility of a world where such extreme opposites as Ann Coulter and Al and Tipper Gore might meet over bong hits evaporated in a mist of PRISM-inflected super-spy paranoia. You never can know who your real friends are, now, can you? Only that we are all suspects in a bigger game which has been played by powerful shadow figures, ever since the death of John F. Kennedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Le Surrealist apprécie vos pensées, comments et suggestions. Continuez-les venir ! Doigts Heureux !