Re: Sixties-l is a great forum

Marc J. Gilbert (
Fri, 10 May 1996 17:33:18 -0400

Jeff Apfel's letter of appreciation to the list was welcomed. I could
not, however, find more fault with his comments. While I am sure
Jeff is quite sincere, I have heard these words on user nets before,
where they were (and I am sure Jeff did not intend them to be so)
merely a sugar-coated, polite way of selling NeoCon political dogma
in what are presumed to be liberal intellectual fora, and has nothing
to do with true scholarly discourse.

Wolf-in-Sheeps-Clothing aside (and with apologies for even the
suggestion . . ), the world in Jeff's communication is one
of monolithic extremes that, thankfully, is currently receeding in
the face of common sense. The sexual revolution failed? Last time I
looked, I saw women in positions of power undreamt of even in the
sixties, but more important, I must ask who fought for the bizarre
definition of sexual revolution Jeff mentions in his post? Any
hands? No? I thought so.

The youth-dominated Sixties was an expression of failed adolescent
idealism? First, there is the error of thinking the "movement" was a
youth movement. We all know the "movement" was not a youth-directed
force. You have to go to China for that. The Red Guards took the
revolution to places even Mao dared not go. I roomed with one
and can tell you that nothing of the sort happened on a national basis
in the US!

As for the idealism! Please! From VVAW in Saigon to marchers before
the Pentagon there was nothing but anger at lies and hypocrisy. Was
that anger the death of innocence or its venting the clinging to a
vision of innocence? In the words of the day, get real! The vision
that sees the 60s as only one or the other of these has no historical
reasonance at all. Movements are eclectic! Revolutions as synthetic
as they are artificial. For some, the sixties were a time of the
betrayal of true patriotism, for others it was a a time to complete a
social revolution that began before Lincoln, for others still it was
a chapter in a international struggle. How electric can a
revolution be? Just look at the recent NeoCon revolution. A bunch
of pseudo-moralistic (no on abortion in China, yes on torture in
China) pols pretending not to want to personal power while creating
their own vision of the past to convince others to endorse the future
they favor, while half their own foot soldiers are pro-choice and
have noticed that the new guys like power as much as the old guys!

But while we flail about parsing the universalist truth of the
"Contract with America," please, as scholars, let us not disgrace the
memory of those who sacrificed so much of their lives to progressive
change--so much of which has been achieved--by stereotyping them as
spoiled halucinating suburban hermaphrodites who worship lawnmowers!
You always have had to go to a country club to find THOSE cats
and, last time I looked, the Berrigan's still hadn't applied for a

Drieux is right. Facism comes in many colors from Hilterian Brown to
Stalinist Red, leaving those committed to justice and compassion no
safe haven save in their own conscience, which is always tested,
always in doubt and always at the mercy of movements blown this way
and that by its competing elements. Hey, Jeff, that is what Kiss of
the Spider Woman is all about, I think, so I guess you were right
about the sexual revolution after all: it did hold that love
transcends gender. And still does. Now if we can only get love to
transcend politics . . . Hummm, is that a bit of sixties idealism,
Christian/Buddhist devotionalism, or just plain common sense about
2,500 years old? Could be all of the above . . . a good historian
would dig pretty deep to find the answer and would not betray the
past in searching for it.