Re: [sixties-l] 'Letting it all hang out'

From: William M. Mandel (
Date: 12/12/00

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    New Ageism and the human potential movement were very close to each other if not
    indistinguishable. It would be interesting to investigate why they, and specifically
    the former, were the originators of the citizen diplomacy movement, particularly that
    focused on peace with the USSR. These people had a lot of guts, insofar as courage is
    measured by doing something one believes to be dangerous, whether or not in fact it is.
    I have reference to going to the USSR in groups from about 1987 on, often in such fear
    of the KGB that they would practice quickly dividing on Moscow metro platforms, and
    being the last to enter cars so they couldn't be followed, when their intent was simply
    to make human contact with Soviet citizens and distribute peace materials. Their
    sincerity was beyond question (I was closely associated with the three major
    citizen-diplomacy organizations). Their view was that governments had shown themselves
    incapable of being trusted to make peace, and therefore that peoples must.
                                                                William Mandel
    Ted Morgan wrote:
    > Interesting question from John D.  My own take is that this had two sources --one
    > grounded in the drive for authenticity that can be seen in youthful alienation in
    > the 50s (cf. Paul Goodman, the Beats), in the recoil from "uptight" parents and
    > procedurally 'hung up' educational (and political) administrators blocking the path
    > of movement activism, etc. [a lot of which I feel was well grounded] AND the other
    > fed to young people as part of the consumer culture's ethos ranging from the
    > general 'indulge yourself now' to the co-optive attention to youth culture,
    > 'rebelliousness,'be-an-individual' (cf. Tom Frank's "Conquest of Cool").  In
    > effect, it was anti-repressive and there was a whole lot of repression built into
    > the 'old culture' that the young were legitimately rebelling against, but also
    > consumer capitalism is based in many respects on 'anti-repressive' impulses that
    > distort & co-opt fundamental human drives for meaning, authenticity, empowerment.
    > The latter is still around, in fact arguably far more pervasive (cf. also Mark
    > Crispin Miller's "Boxed In" on TV Culture).  I don't think the work of
    > psychiatrists had much to do with these phenomena, but the kinds of psychology that
    > became popular --from R.D. Laing to Thomas Szaz (sp?) to Carl Rogers to
    > transactional analysis, etc.--seemed to be picking on these contemporary ills (&
    > counterforces).
    > In some ways, then, these forces fed into the so-called 'human potential' movement,
    > and into kind of 'anything goes', vent-your-rage laissez-faire-ism  --both of which
    > arguably are ripe for political co-optation because both are either (a) safely
    > compatible with consumer capitalism (e.g., the human potential movement in the
    > sense that it tends to personalize rather than politicize, to focus energy on the
    > internal rather than --not 'along with'-- external change) or (b) targetable as
    > blatant excesses reflective of the "bad Sixties" --that we ought to be done with!
    > Thus, for example, we find George Will knocking the Sixties Generation (still) for
    > pathetically discovering that they are mortal and hoping for yet another indulgent
    > 'handout' or entitlement that will 'fix this'; thus Will argues television is full
    > of this kind of garbage "because Boomers are now 'in control' of TV" (like
    > everything else) -NOT that consumer capitalism, the engine that drives TV has been
    > preaching this kind of garbage to everyone (not just boomers) for years.
    > But I would be very interested in specific illustrations of this 'let it all hang
    > out' phenomenon & its specific sources.
    > Ted Morgan
    > John Dougill wrote:
    > > At some time in the sixties it became the done thing to let it all hang out.
    > > Being repressed or inhibited was a crime for those who thought of themselves
    > > as progressive or hip, in marked contrast and reaction to the mores of the
    > > 1950s.  The notion had a huge influence on personal behaviour, and I'm
    > > wondering where it came from.  I presume from the work of psychiatrists, but
    > > why did the notion of letting it all hang out become so big in the  sixties
    > > in particular and not earlier.  Was there an influential populariser, and
    > > does anyone know where the popular talk of 'hang-ups' 'complexes'
    > > 'repressed' etc originated?  Californian therapists?  Who for example?
    > >
    > > Thanks for any thoughts on the subject
    > > John Dougill
    > >
    > > > PS.   I get real sick of lots of the boys on this list who think they have to
    > > > explain everything  and are experts about so many things.
    > >
    > > Whining for no reason may be just as sick.  It's no big deal to read what
    > > you want and skip the rest....

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