Blaming the Sixties/Tienanmen
Fri, 14 Jun 1996 10:00:55 -0400

This is just a thought which attempts to link the two recent threads--"blaming
the sixties" and "Tienanmen".

On the blaming the sixties channel, the debate continues mostly to be over
whether today's ills in some fashion "flow from" the sixties rebellious
side, or whether they flow from forces the rebels were fighting. This
gets pretty sticky, trying to draw cause-and-effect relationships from
complex patterns.

I was thinking about this when watching the Tienanmen film. And it
occured to me that (as with all good anthropology, I guess), the
filmmakers, as relative outsiders, were able to pick up on an issue that
would likely escape most of the participants: namely, the extent to which
the opposing forces shared a similar worldview, one shaped by the specific
ideological constraints and categories of modern Chinese thinking. And,
to make a crude analogy with both Chinese and sixties resonances, yin
perceives yang as "the other" even as yin tends toward yang and even has a
little spot of yang in its innermost core.

A major point of the film was the extent to which these common
preconceptions, while often invisible to the participants, helped
determine the outcome of the tragedy.

I make no particular claim as to how this translates back into the
struggles of the sixties era. I just think that the insight is a useful
one, and that it is probably more helpful to, for instance, place the
increase in drug use against a comprehensive context--hippies and
corporate capitalists included--rather than expecting the answer to flow
neatly from the activities of one side or the other.

Jeff Apfel