[sixties-l] The Age of Acquiescence (fwd)

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Date: Thu Jun 27 2002 - 12:04:57 EDT

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    Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 13:04:02 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: The Age of Acquiescence

    The Age of Acquiescence


    June 26, 2002

    WASHINGTON - A friend of mine over the weekend was recalling her days as an
    idealistic child of the 60's. Students sitting around the dorm, amid the
    water bongs, water beds, strobe lights and Che posters, listening to Led
    Zeppelin and Dylan, dreaming about remaking the world in their own image,
    trading nightmares about spying Big Brother and soul-robbing corporations.

    "We thought America was being run by the corporate-military-industrial white
    male power structure," she said. "We were certain there was a right-wing
    conspiracy. We thought civil liberties and free speech were imperiled. We
    were suspicious of rich people. We had reason to believe there was corporate
    malfeasance and Wall Street was bad. We worried that the government was
    backing coups in Latin America. We figured the administration wanted to
    topple all the overwrought, self-appointed messiahs who didn't know how to
    run their own little societies. We assumed that powerful people were rigging
    elections. We feared there were people who wanted to blast roads through
    forests and rip up the tundra."

    She recalled all the old leftist tracts in the Nixon years about a secret
    government plan to suspend the Constitution and declare a national security
    emergency and round up people without charges, and that the oil companies
    and banks would plunge us into nuclear war.

    "And now," she concluded with a rueful smile, "all our worst paranoid
    nightmares are coming true. We wake up in our 50's and our enemies from the
    60's have crept back into power. And we were the empowerers, because we've
    turned into the same selfish people we thought we were against. We forgot to
    be suspicious."

    The times they ain't a-changin'. The passionate activists from the Age of
    Aquarius have grown up to be the new Silent Majority.

    "Our young hunches are now becoming mature realities," said Bobby Rush, the
    Black Panther who became a Chicago Congressman. "Yet we are paralyzed in the
    headlights. We don't know exactly how to react to the right wing trampling
    our Constitution and dictating to the world who their leadership can be. The
    American people have been scared beyond all imagination because of Sept. 11.
    But now we are getting to the point where we can't use a library card
    without opening ourselves up to Big Brother."

    Ralph Nader said the phrase he coined in 1970, "corporate crime," is the new
    catch phrase in business magazines.

    Three and a half decades ago, the mantra among young people who railed
    against capitalist pigs and government lies was "the fix is in."

    "The fix is now institutionalized," Mr. Nader says. "When Congress won't
    double the S.E.C. budget in the middle of a corporate crime wave, it shows
    that the system is irreversibly decayed. As Brandeis said, we can have a
    democratic society or we can have a concentration of great wealth in the
    hands of a few, but we cannot have both."

    Of course some Democrats regard Ralph Nader as part of the problem and not
    part of the solution.

    People used to be shocked when a member of an administration said that
    what's good for General Motors is good for the United States. But with the
    Bush administration, the sinful synchronicity of business and government is
    just a day's work, and nobody is reeling from the spectacle.

    Some convictions of the love-bead era have been turned on their heads. The
    police are not regarded as "pigs" anymore. And, given their woeful
    performance, the F.B.I. and C.I.A. are not seen as scarily omniscient

    And it is not going to be so easy for women to get as much power and sexual
    freedom as men. Alpha women, like Martha Stewart - who got rich being an
    über-hausfrau, just the image women were running away from in the 60's - are
    crashing and burning out every day.

    Those who came of age in the 60's and lived through the plum decades of the
    80's and 90's gave up a long time ago on John Lennon's wish that they could
    "imagine no possessions . . . no need for greed or hunger in a brotherhood
    of man." (Even Mr. Lennon, in the bosom of the Dakota, found his own fantasy
    hard to live by.)

    And now, faced with the evil of Osama bin Laden, they can no longer imagine
    there's "nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too."

    These utopian sentiments were buried in the rubble in Lower Manhattan.

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