Re: Linking Woodstock to antiwar protest (multiple responses)

Fri, 28 Nov 1997 16:40:45 -0500


From: (drieux H.)
Subject: Re: Linking Woodstock to antiwar protest (multiple responses)

Unfortunately the evidence remains as unclear now as then.

I agree with Jonah, that we need to have a study on the
relationship between the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement,
and the counter-culture and how they as a collection of ill-defined social
movements worked together, and at times against each other, but clearly
the answers will be less simplistic than 'woodstock was the premiere
anti-war movement event.'

As even country joe notes, he would get 'busted and blacklisted' for
the imfamous 'fish cheer' - which would NOT be on the album, but would
be recorded in the movie and the movie's soundtrack. How much of this
was because the word 'fuck' still scares people, and how much of this
was because of the anti-war stand that he took, and how much of this
was because he was a red-diaper baby threatening the established order;
and that of both the left and the right.

Maybe I am being culturally myopic here, but clearly there is a large
distance between putting one's self at risk based upon one's beliefs,
and merely attending a concert. So when we talk about 'woodstock nation'
as some 'embodiment' of 'the antiwar movement' - clearly we need to be
able to clarify who was putting what at risk.

As I have thought about this today, I am reminded of the efforts to
levitate the Pentagon - and have had a bit of fun with the household
explaining why this Great Valorous Act was what destablized the world's
largest military, and the third largest Combined Intelligence service
as to the nature and disposition of Tet Offensive. It would be in this
same 'sense' that I view the problem of making sense out of the
Mass Marketed Project that 'woodstock' grew into over and against any
'value' it had as an anti-war event.

I put the problem in this perspective so that we do not cheapen the
acts of those who did not merely stand around as 'that other silent
majority'. I call them 'that other silent majority' since they ceased
to be a threat to 'the establishment' once the draft was suspended. Some
have continued to pay the price of their beliefs, even when it was no
longer merely a 'happening thing' and hip and cool, and should we not
honor that courage of conviction for what it was, before it was a mass
marketted trend. Since clearly when we seek to speak of courage and
conviction, shouldn't it be something more than merely buying the current
pop cultural buzzphrase. If we allow mere mass marketting to be the model
of morality, then upon what ground do we address the other trendy things
that come and go, such as the rise in underage shooting, and drug abuse,
and what ever it is that the MainStreamNewsServices find to be the angst
of the sound-byte-worth-of-time.




Subject: Re: Linking Woodstock to antiwar protest (multiple responses)

Interesting stuff on Woodstock and Vietnam. Most posts confirm my own
view which is that Woodstock was on the one hand, clearly linked to
the war in the sense that virtually everyone attending was probably
against the war, felt totally alienated from the violence of the war
and the US culture, etc., but on the other hand, a kind of escape from
the "heavy" "head politics" of the post-Chicago, militant New Left.
That may explain, in a macro way, why Abbie Hoffman's politicizing was
out of place; it wasn't an organizing event. So, in this sense,
Woodstock captured the essences of the late (second phase)
counterculture; it was political; it wanted to get away from politics;
and it was coopeted for bucks by hucksters and the like for years
afterwards. An intriguing time period for sorting out what went
wrong, what was right, etc. My own take is that the media had a lot
to do with an increasingly empty (going nowhere) "politics of
statement," that made organizing, etc. seem too laborious, too
"insignificant." Alot in this period helped to bring the war to an
end, but it also provided tons of good "material" for 60s-bashers from
Nixon on and arguably undercut the movement's ability to reach out to
the rest of America. Seems we're still struggling with that piece in
today's McWorld.

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554