Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 15, 2006

"Class Struggle"

Reader citizen k has pointed to  a remarkable op-ed by Senator elect Jim Webb in the Wall Street Journal: Class Struggle.

Starting with a description of the widening gap between rich and poor Webb writes:

Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate "reorganization." And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

He then slams the corporate elite for their hybris and ignorance regarding the inequilities  and continues:

[T]he true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

America's elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest. A recent survey in the Economist warned that globalization was affecting the U.S. differently than other "First World" nations, and that white-collar jobs were in as much danger as the blue-collar positions which have thus far been ravaged by outsourcing and illegal immigration. That survey then warned that "unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash" in America that would take us away from what they view to be the "biggest economic stimulus in world history."

The last historic run of globalization, culminating in the roaring twenties of the last century, ended with revolutions, wars and devastation. It also was the beginning of the end of the British empire.

Webb seems to fear a repeat at least of the revolutionary part:

If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The "Wal-Marting" of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

Kudos to Webb for writing such a piece. Though I will wait for his coming legislative initiatives and his voteing record before putting him on a cloud.

What recipies does Webb have to fix the problems? He does not name any and seems to have no intend to slow down globalization or to use some protectionist tools to temporary dampen its effects.


Posted by b on November 15, 2006 at 17:16 UTC | Permalink


The "rising tide lifts all boats" theory was applicable in the time of national economies, but in a global economy, capital will flow to wherever in the world it gets the highest rate return, often leaving US workers stranded.

In any case, the "Free Market" has become every bit as much of an idology as global communism ever was. And just as the Communist parties were ready to sacrifice their own populations to propagate their idology, the global "free market" economy is prepared to sacrifice the people it is supposed to benefit.

Even Adam Smith, the father of Free Market Economy, reminded us that markets were there to serve people's interests, not the other way around.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Nov 15 2006 17:45 utc | 1

All I can say at this point is, imagine Allen doing anything like this. I look forward to what's next from Senator Webb. It's a good start.

Keep Fighting.

Posted by: beq | Nov 15 2006 17:47 utc | 2

America's elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest ... "unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash" in America...

Webb really knows his audience.

Posted by: Obs | Nov 15 2006 17:59 utc | 3

Purposely contrary here. I agree with much in that piece, particularly with present income distribution or re-distribution, but:

Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth.

Wages are ‘down’, or rather haven’t risen ‘enough’ (or at all), don’t live up to expectations, to put it very approximately. Sure. The new jobs created are ‘crappy’ compared with old jobs that ‘furnishes a living wage and permitted a man to maintain a family’ - true as well, but standards have changed. This ain’t the 1950’s no more.

In much of the developed world, over the last 20 years, material standard of living have improved. For the US, it is hard to figure, as there are so many poor /unregistered people, and averages don’t really inform. But in the EU, it is clearly the case, for stats. like housing / health care / life span / education level, for example.

Trickle-down economics work all over the world. Much of the money the UN /ngos distributes trickles down and keeps many alive. In many towns across the world, half the population lives off the trickle down of big corps. Minor subcontracting, services, tax redistribution, etc. Corps live in a certain territorial landscape that must suit their needs - safety, security, parks, roads, garbage collection, dry cleaning, nannies, what have you. They may not like to pay too much for these services but pay they do. (Somalia, Nigeria and Iraq are sh*t - except for cell phone companies.) Is this a good thing? No. Is it fair? Probably not. Etc.

The statement in italics up top contains two presuppositions:

1) growth is endless and can continue at a steady pace

2) a) there are snarls in the system; bad organisation, etc. b) the haves want to deprive the have-nots... greed is rampant, etc.

1 is false. 2 could be discussed endlessly, but as it rests on 1, it is a problematic.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 15 2006 18:46 utc | 4


My friend, that is the most concise explanation used to characterize this
(their) linguistic shell game I have ever read. I am cutiing and pasting that and will be putting it to use in my arguments. What's ya posion? cause the next one is on me.

That cuts right through their cognitive language run around. I thank you.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 15 2006 18:59 utc | 5

Markets are there to serve people. Yes.

There is a principle in biology - the name escapes me now and it is no matter as it basically states:

A population will die out because of restrictions on one of the resource that it needs - the one that is, in those circumstances, scarce, lacking, etc. It is a no brainer ... E.g. a dish of bacteria will not die because of lack of fitness or oxygen but because of lack of sugar.

For humans, one of the ways to overcome lack or resources or limitations or the possible threat of slow death is - trade. The one island can swop coconuts for boats with the other island and everyone will benefit. The one group can sell tools to kill animals and obtain cloth or fur to protect from the cold. The market serves the people. Everyone benefits!

Trade is a way of distributing and sharing, augmenting efficiency through specialization - one lot is trained to make tools, and does it with sharp efficiency, another is expert is shearing sheep and producing comfy sweaters, a third makes yummy pots of honey, and so it all goes round. Everyone gets good tools, a warm upper body, and scrumptious honey. Pure cream, smooth sailing, a thrill for all.

What happens when bees are killed off by disease? When there is not enough pasture for the sheep? When iron ore is exhausted? When wood for the boats becomes scarce? When coconuts grow green and runty and people reject them? When the animals killed for fur are gone?


Posted by: Noirette | Nov 15 2006 20:02 utc | 6


what is it that is lacking now? bees, animals, or coconuts?

it seems to me that we have something bacteria does not and that would be greed.

I submit that greed is causing strife and not lack of any material thing. no one in the US or Europe was going to starve if we did not invade Iraq.

Posted by: dan of steele | Nov 15 2006 20:33 utc | 7

"A rising tide lifts all boats" was always a con, and nothing more than a con. If the benefits of increased efficiency actually exist do they get shared out? Mwahahaha! Dream on, sucker!

I don't mean that it is (inherently) a zero-sum game. I mean it is being PLAYED as a zero-sum game.

You have to admire the blatancy of the metaphor though--everything was hidden in plain sight: If a tide is raising all boats on this side of the world, then you know that half way around the world, all boats are sinking, getting beached and stranded, &c. That's how tides work.

That's pretty much how the economics worked, too.

"Trickle down" is another great phrase. Everyone thinks they are going to get showers of gold. Instead they get golden showers.

Too perfect!

Posted by: Gaianne | Nov 15 2006 20:34 utc | 8

Class differences have always been the 900lb. gorilla in the room that is never spoken of. Hooray for Mr. Webb.

Posted by: Ben | Nov 15 2006 20:45 utc | 9

I submit that greed is causing strife and not lack of any material thing.

one of the questions on my questionaire at the polling place ask which i thought was a bigger problem for america greed or poverty. i answered greed. poverty is the byproduct.

if this is what we can expect from webb, more power to him.

Posted by: annie | Nov 15 2006 21:14 utc | 10

"Trickle down" is another great phrase. Everyone thinks they are going to get showers of gold. Instead they get golden showers.

For the second time tonight I'm glad I hadn't just taken a sip of Otter Creek fine ale.

Posted by: Juannie | Nov 15 2006 21:33 utc | 11

Greed - yup.

Greed is an outcome of acrid violent competition, not an inherent characteristic of man.

In 1955, 1960, in the developed world, greed was not an issue - success, rapacious or not, was admired as an intriguing or inspiring example, or was simply considered natural and fun, the rise of people with exceptional talent. All cool. Jackson Pollock, Brigitte Bardot, the Beatles (just quoting some names here..?) , that kind of thing.

The counter culture of the late 60s and 70’s focussed on individual liberty - everyone can do his own thing - authority is not necessary, or to be contested as past it, an anachronism. In a stable world of plenty, that is fine.

No longer.

... not lack of any material thing. no one in the US or Europe was going to starve if we did not invade Iraq.

Those who starved, or died, were, of course, in Iraq and not US/EU.

Besides that, in the short term everything looks more or less stable. Longer term, it is necessary for the US / EU to control fossil fuels, natural resources like water, to dominate and ensure ‘standard of living’. Without access to ‘affordable’ (terms of trade) petroleum, the West is sunk. Invading Iraq was not a good response to the various problems, and it was not a sypmtom of greed but of desperation.

Like the gambler who throws in his all to win - or lose in a burst of scorching fire.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 15 2006 21:34 utc | 12


In 1955, 1960, in the developed world, greed was not an issue - success, rapacious or not, was admired as an intriguing or inspiring example, or was simply considered natural and fun, the rise of people with exceptional talent. All cool. Jackson Pollock, Brigitte Bardot, the Beatles (just quoting some names here..?) , that kind of thing.

Translation: "I was a child in the late '50s and '60s, and I didn't notice this problem then, so therefore it didn't exist." Sorry, but greed was an issue then, and if it seems worse now, it's only because the success of greed in the '60s encouraged further depredations later. (And the Beatles? For crying out loud, they're the band whose holding company keeps launching lawsuits at Apple Computer every so often, trying to grab a chunk of their profits because they claim that people will confuse Apple Records -- which hasn't released a significant new product in decades -- with Apple Computer. Greed, greed, greed.)

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Nov 15 2006 21:47 utc | 13

Basically crossposting what I said in the other thread.
Kudos to Webb.
I can't really tell if he's totally honest and saying his heart's content here, showing a continuous evolution since the Reagan years, or if he's trying to prop up his progressive credentials. But that doesn't matter much. As someone pointed to Kos, there are very strong statements unheard of since a long time in the US from someone in his position. That in itself is worth noting. That in itself will give more credibility and will help widen the overall acceptance of such analysis. And that's what really matters, that more and more people inside the US come to the realisation that the predatory uber-capitalism promoted by many in the ruling elite is against the interests of the nation and of the people, that it is dishonest and unethical, both for the US and for the rest of the world.
And of course he has to put some words for this ruling elite, because in the long run, such foolish policies really are counter-productive even for them. Soros and Buffett - and probably even the likes of Gates and Trump - can see it. Counter-productive and downright dangerous.
He may see only the dangerous revolutions ahead, but wars and destructions on massive scale are coming if this shit goes on, even if it may be still too early for many to see it.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 15 2006 22:04 utc | 14

Truth: in fact the reason Apple (Beatles') sues Apple (Macs) is because when the computer firm picked the name, the Beatle's Apple - and right now, I don't think Beatles have much a say in it - agreed to a deal that they wouldn't bother them with the name, as long as they didn't deal with music. Which at the time seemed far-fetched since we're talking micro-computers in early 1980s. Now, they have iTunes and iPods, which is quite a serious infringement. Of course, I can't say if their deal is legit or not.

There was greed in the 50s, the 60s and after. The key difference is that trickle-down had to work to an extent, because there was that little thing called USSR that only waited for the exploited masses of Western labour to see the light and go red. Major chances occurred in the late 80s and after 1989 even more, because there just wasn't anywhere to run for the hundreds of millions of Western workers and employees, who could then be further enslaved without risk of seeing them calling the Red Army to the rescue.
Concerning Webb's remark, either he means that trickle-down didn't work these last 30 years - which is quite correct - or that it never really worked in the US - possible, but it didn't fail as much in 1950s-60s as in 1980s and later. I don't think he was saying anything about other countries there.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 15 2006 22:10 utc | 15

On the greed theme...

Overwhelming greed has driven the various 'mongers' to use up disproportionate amounts of needed resources in their pursuits. Coca Cola/India? McDonalds/Brazil? DeBeers/Africa?

I've remarked (just today, in fact) that if a fraction of what we spend on war was spent solving the Energy Question, the wars would become anathema. But there are too many 'mongers' who need the wars and the resources over which the wars are fought. I also remarked today that "We go to war because Americans like noisy cars!"

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Nov 16 2006 0:22 utc | 16


The Apple vs. Apple thing isn't quite that simple. Apple Records first sued Apple Computer over trademark infringement years before the Macintosh came out, back when Apple Records actually had enough public that most people were likely to hear "Apple" and think of them first. That was arguably legitimate, under the "defend it or lose it" system of trademarks. But they settled for an agreement for Apple not to get into the music business (and a fee, of course), which was a bad move if they were serious, and suggests that they just wanted some cash.

In 1991, when System 7 was shipped, Apple Computer added a bunch of sound-recording and -playback APIs to the system. Despite the fact that System 7 is to "music sales" as, say, a printing press with moveable type is to the advertising during the Super Bowl, Apple Records sued again. (Anyone who has ever heard HyperCard 2 plonk out a tune using the "play" command knows what System 7's limitations were.) This time, they got another (larger) settlement and a revised agreement which said Apple would ship no music on physical media.

In 2003, Apple Records sued again. This time, they didn't even have the shred of an excuse, since their earlier agreement allowed digital music sales and they never claimed Apple Computer was doing anything else. So they lost thoroughly, had to pay Apple Computer's legal fees, and the decision was so far against that as to prevent them from ever suing again unless Apple Computer is foolish enough to assert ownership of the rights to the Beatles' music.

In essence: the iPod was allowed by prearrangement, and the lawsuit over it was pure greed.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Nov 16 2006 0:30 utc | 17

Noirette, my recollections from the '60s are that it wasn't just about non-conformity and freedom to do your own thing, it was about the incredible materialism that was turning people into brain-dead consumption machines competing with each other to see who could own the most crap. (Of course, I mean new crap, bigger, shinier, faster crap...)

Posted by: Maxcrat | Nov 16 2006 1:31 utc | 18

What Jim Webb said is true. Except, not a word came through the media or blogs touting his populism during the election. Also, hidden is the political deal made with Wall Street in the 1980s to control inflation by shipping US jobs overseas. Escalating credit card debt combined with the popping of the housing bubble will combine to blow up the economy and shut down middle class spending. Gated communities won't be so safe any more.

Posted by: Jim S | Nov 16 2006 1:45 utc | 19

I read that Webb is an "old school" Democrat, "forced" to become a Republican (by Nixon's Song of the South?) who became Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, but now, repelled by the "excesses" of the present Republican Party has returned to his "roots" (wafted by the fair breeze of opportunism, as the prestent Republican ship heads for Davey Jone's Locker?).

I'm sure he's a "good guy". And that his words are "heartfelt", not just an attempt to surf the populist swell.

But are they also not in consequence, foreseen or un-, a means of sweeping off the table the carcass(es) of the feast of the Military Industrial Complex, of which James Webb is a deeply embedded member?

I'd like, if not Jim Webb himself, who might profitably spend his "entire" Senate career (before his ascent to the White House in 2008) on the "problem" of class and income redistribution in America, some Demoplican - I mean Democrat - to take up the problems of the MIC and foreign entanglements :

In his farewell address in 1796, George Washington warned that America must be constantly awake against "the insidious wiles of foreign influence since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government."

I had thought that this might be the role an insider like Webb, waving his sons combat boots at the futility and betrayal of it all, might play.

Perhaps this is the strategy for accommodation, for survival, taken up by those same old hacks, as they trade their regal red raiment for basic blue jeans. If so we will hear nothing of a re-alignment of American foreign policy either. For those same hacks will need to keep their lines of support and finance open to the AIPAC as well.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 16 2006 3:33 utc | 20

Webb is a Reagan Dem coming back to the party. They are largely personally conservative on some social issues (Casey, Shuler, etc.) but left leaning on economic issues. The conservatives who claim that conservatism actually won this election even though Republicans lost have missed the story: Dems managed to appeal to economic populists whose interests conflict with the economic royalists.

Reagan Dems saw the old Soviet Union as a legitimate threat to the nation, one that trumped other issues. In spite of all the propaganda, these people don't see the same threat from Iraq/Iran. They favor a strong military and this administration broke it fighting an unnecessary war. So, the Republicans are on the wrong side of both issues - economic and military - for Webb and other Dems like him. I haven't read statements by Webb or any other of these Dems indicating that they see the Iraq invasion as part of an effort by economic royalists to expand imperial control by using the US military, but it isn't a stretch for them to make the connection. For Webb and the others, it's Big Guy vs little guy (class war) and it's the latter who will do the suffering (US share) to line the former's pockets. I'd like to see this discussed openly, though, so the question of genuine threat vs economic plunder is no longer a taboo subject when discussing potential military adventures. (Most of) the US public will not go along with these imperial projects if they are understood that way.

The "conservative Dem" meme was hung based on positions on social issues. This is a mixed bag, but not as favorable to conservative positions as the right wingers would have you believe. Some, like Webb, publically support legal couples' recognition for gays and increased environmental protection including positive action on global warming. (For Shuler, it was a primary campaign issue.) Other pet lefty issues, like gun regulation, have no chance as many new Dems were in the military and/or hunt. Abortion rights seems like a mixed bag to me that could result in some division and even losses - have to wait on this one.

Interesting, btw, that this editorial was published in the WSJ, the economic royalist rag, instead of the NYT or WaPo. Not sure what that means, if anything.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Nov 16 2006 4:16 utc | 21

Webb is a Reagan Dem coming back to the party. They are largely personally conservative on some social issues (Casey, Shuler, etc.) but left leaning on economic issues.

Firstly, don't call this woman-hating prick "conservative on social issues". You mean he wants to destroy women, so fucking say it. He's far to the right of the right-wing nut, Barry Goldwater, who at least understood that it wasn't up to the bloody govt. to control women's bodies - unlike this prick. That's the conservative position. So, no he's not conservative - he just hates women.

Secondly he's not "left-leaning" on economic issues. He takes the radical right Wall St. Predator position on economic issues, to wit:

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing.

Like what, the sun disappears over the horizon at night? No. Wall St. Predators are Destroying American factories so the greedy pricks can pocket vastly more money. Those who support it always use the passive voice when they want to camouflage their consent & responsibility. This vile piece of shit is merely begging the elites not to be so bloody drunk on their greed that they steal absolutely everything, thus provoking enough opposition to destroy their own party.

This monster is for americans who would rather be slowly strangled than be shot to death. Those are the two choices the two radical right wing political parties give americans. At least the repug party politicians have to be paid off to support such policies. JackAss Party hacks by contrast think there is something honorable about such positions & pride themselves on being willing to destroy us w/out being paid off - a far lower caste of trash.

Posted by: jj | Nov 16 2006 5:31 utc | 22

If for nothing else,you could admire Webb for saying during Iran-Contra that Ollie North had disgraced the uniform and did not deserve to wear it.Said like we expect a acadamy grad to do.He has always seemed to me to be one who learned and still holds the ideals of Duty Honor Country.Webb holding up his son's basic training boots during his victory speech would have looked like a cheap stunt when done by most people,but even as cynical as I am,I accepted it.I think he is what is know as "A Good Man".I really wish that there were a lot more like him.

Posted by: R.L. | Nov 16 2006 5:35 utc | 23

Trickle down? Slash and fucking burn is more like it:

A high-ranking Town Hall official who earns £100,000 a year has come under fire after wages for care staff were slashed by more than 50 per cent.

Adult social services chief Gwen Ovshinksy has been accused of being 'uncaring' by unions over the fate of 83 care home workers who face having their wage packets slashed in half by a private contractor.

Workers employed by council contractors Care UK face a cut in wages from £23,000 to £12,000 because the company says it is not making enough money from Islington.

Translation: caring for the elderly should be a profitable enterprise carried out by persons on an annual wage so pitifully low that it would not buy 1/20th of a home of average cost (av £250,000) in the city in which they work.

Markets serving people? Yeah, right.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Nov 16 2006 14:27 utc | 24

I posted about this (Churchill) in another thread, just finished reading it and it is powerful, herein lies one the major problems of the "class" struggle to my mind. Especailly one of a true democracy of Justice and equality etc..

David Price (one of my favorite anthropologist's whom I am in contact with...)writes, "it was activism more than red politics that brought the spotlight of inquiry on anthropologist's*... those who fought for equality were labeled Communist's their efforts were demonized thus strengthening the status quo of imbalanced race, economic and gender relations."

This strategy worked well then and continues in today's New McCarthyism. Over and over again Price shows how the alpha-bet agencies such as FBI etc, work to and for the elite to disrupt any and all progressive change, he goes on, "...the the FBI saw the prospect of free inquiry by intellectuals as a threat to nation security and the American way of life (Fisher 1986), and the orginization used a variety of methods and techniques to gather infomation on the opinions and actions of anthropologist's and other professors it considered left-leaning."

And Churchill outlines the template of history even further:

The Trajectory of Political Policing in the United States, 1870 to the Present
From the Pinkertons to the PATRIOT Act: The Trajectory of Political Policing in the United States, 1870 to the Present**

A central conclusion drawn in every serious study that has sought to trace the trajectory at issue has been that the FBI, while by no means comprising the whole, has been at or very near the center of all that has proven most antidemocratic in American life during the past 90 years or more. The purpose of this essay is to push the timeline back further still, to the beginning, sketching the template upon which the Bureau was itself constructed, and thereby situating the origin of the repressive trend to which the Patriot Act presently serves as capstone, not in the fifth or even the second decade of the twentieth century, but rather in the mid-nineteenth. The ramifications of taking this longer view are, to be sure, profound: Given that the existence of an official/quasiofficial political police apparatus can be seen as defining the opposite of democratic order —a proposition with which all but a handful of commentators would agree —and insofar as such an apparatus has been demonstrably present in the United States for all but the most formative years of its existence, basic logic requires that the very term "American Democracy" be understood as, at best, an oxymoron.

Democracy for Americans thereby becomes, in any but the most vulgarly rhetorical/propagandistic sense, not something that has been/is being "eroded" or "lost" by passage of legislation like the Patriot Act and the concomitant functioning of agencies like the FBI. Instead, it must be viewed as something that, as a society—or, more accurately, as a multiplicity of societies—we've to all intents and purposes never experienced, but to which we might yet aspire. In no respect can the difference in perspectives thus described be considered of merely academic interest. To the contrary, it stands in very tangible ways not only to shape all that we might reasonably set out to achieve, socially and politically, but, perhaps more importantly, how it is we must ultimately go about achieving it.(...)

Pinkertonism has infected the FBI from the moment of its birth through the present day. Moreover, insofar as the Bureau has continued to evolve and refine the criminal techniques of political repression pioneered by the Pinkertons, to have broadened their application to include a span of targets vastly wider than the labor radicalism that preoccupied its "private" predecessor, and to have fully institutionalized the result, the FBI must be seen as having accomplished things far worse than anything even the most malignantly visionary of the Pinkertons might ever have conceived. Far from diminishing as the country has matured, the unique terms of American class warfare remarked on above by Lorwin, Jamieson, and others must therefore be understood as having become ever more pronounced over the past nine decades. We must calculate the nature of our own actions accordingly...

*It isn't a conspiracy merely against academics, it is anyone whom pushes back.

**Churchill retitled his article to emphasise the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 16 2006 17:09 utc | 25

Truth gets vicious - greed has always been a problem. Sure. There is no denying that. I didn’t notice anything about the world until 1975, my perceptions and experience as a child and discontented angry teen I take as my personal experience not useful for understanding anything much beyond the personal, certainly not in the areas of world events/sociology/culture etc. So I may be ‘off’ in my view of those times (restricted to the developed world, of course) and that is why I vaguely mentioned the Beatles and so on. What I know about the ‘hippie’ culture particularly in the US I have from reading, movies, and stories from friends. This is because I lived in a very staid old fashioned milieu, little given to fads and fashions, and was always busy with study, work, the next meal, the next pair of shoes, and so on. 1968 was a blip on my screen - I only noticed it because people talked about it. It soon passed by...

So I have re-framed those times as a symptom of plenty, of exuberance, of the belief in possibilities that did not exist before, a loosening of old hierachies, the opportunity for personal development (whatever that is), etc. And I relate all that (pre 1970 for the middle class..) to the belief, at that time, that economic development and natural resources would endlessly provide in a sort of miraculous way. There was enough to go round, one could dispense with the old order. Etc. Maxcrat mentions competing for shiny and expensive gadgets - there was that, but it also a symptom, within this view, of the denial of limits; somehow, being smart or famous or whatever would automatically furnish fantastic prosthetics - super sports cars, pools, yachts, etc. Heh I met a few of those types all the same.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 16 2006 17:16 utc | 26

thanks for the link to ward, uncle. also see/hear this

Posted by: b real | Nov 16 2006 17:28 utc | 27

Yes, Noirette - I see we're closer in our "rearview mirror" look at the '60s than I had interpreted your earlier post to infer. I remember how one of the vexing problems posed in my social studies classes in the '60s was "What will all these healthy, well-off Americans do with all their leisure time in the future?", and it was presented as a looming crisis!!

Dear lord, spare us from the curse of being well-off with too much leisure time!!

Yep, those were the days.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Nov 17 2006 0:49 utc | 28

You Don't know Jack about US, Noirette.

Or World History either.

Now please Fuck Off!

Posted by: Quincy | Nov 17 2006 1:27 utc | 29

Quincy, have a drink on me, a few peanuts and olives. (This used to be a virtual bar.)

I live in Europe, but do visit the US regularly - big deal. Enlighten me! What is the significance of the late 60’s hippie movement?

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 17 2006 15:47 utc | 30

Noirette: many folks in the US in the 60's also lived in staid old-fashioned milieus--like the Midwest. The hippies to us were these exotic, smelly, long-haired, lazy dropouts out in California--my family certainly didn't have much understanding of the movement. And yet kids my age, and even sometimes our conservative parents, all knew and sang the music--"Blowin' in the Wind," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" "Go Ask Alice." We dressed up as hippies for Halloween, put up blacklight posters, and flashed peace signs at each other. So bits of the San Francisco culture soaked into our cornfed consciousness, though we were warned over and over about the dangers of drugggggs.

I learned more about hippies many years later, when I moved to Oregon and discovered that the hippies grew up, had kids, bought houses, got more responsible, and still held on to many of their ideals about peace, sustainability, and personal expression. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro....

Posted by: catlady | Nov 18 2006 1:23 utc | 31

The current crop of hippies--especially in Eugene and Ashland--are an interesting group of kids. Intense, smart, reeking of patchouli. Some are third generation, some have picked it up as an assumed lifestyle. What's really strange is to run into an ultra-conservative Xtian kid who joined the church to rebel against his/her hippie parents (the ones who didn't become responsible).

Posted by: catlady | Nov 18 2006 1:28 utc | 32

The third gen. hippies here are nice kids as well. As far as I can judge, they come from the ‘lower or lower middle’ classes, and many are tertios (third gen. immigrants - no Asiatics.)

They are far more politicized than one would think from their manner and appearance. Their stance combines green, ecological, aid, de- or re-development issues; they are anti-violence, anti-authoritarian (nothing new there); they are for ‘local’, community organization, group or democratic decisions - sort of fall out of the auto-gestion of the 70’s. They are very pro animal rights, as this is something they all agree on. I was reminded of them when reading the latest vote on the ‘animal enterprise terrorism act.’ They don’t believe in traditional political parties and are ‘neither left nor right!’, or do vote Socialist anyway, at least sometimes.

All this may make them seem sort of laid back and marginal, particularly as they refuse to fight their opponents, who are the Neo-Nazis, the Black Blocks, the Gothics, the prissy upper class right wingers, the right wing parties, etc. And yet, many rise to positions of some power (for their age - youngish people) and they have considerable influence. In some areas only: social policy, health and medecine, education, territorial management, agriculture, transport, aid, and here, libraries, etc.

Congress passes animal terrorism bill - Legislation gives additional legal protection to scientists and companies that provide services and support for animal research>link

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 18 2006 15:51 utc | 33

@Noirette, we need better information on that story. This is the best I've found. It was drafted w/PETA in mind, but it's not clear that it's not a Monster bill that might define as "terrorism" any activity, incl. legally protected free speech, that causes mere ec. loss to any jerk involved w/animals. From what I heard on Thom Hartman it sounded like merely informing people of the disastrous practices of industrial farming of animals could get one branded a terrorist if it caused said enterprise to lose money.

It sounds like it gets to the nub of what we suspected all along was the underlying purpose of this anti-terra bullshit - anyone who interferes w/the Pirates Divine Rights to steal as much money as they can by any means necessary is a terraist..

Lawyer Jeff Kerr, chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union's policy committee in Virginia and general counsel to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), says the bills "seek to prevent discourse and to freeze free speech like an Arctic blast." He notes that in an age when the FBI has already been caught "infiltrating, surveilling, and even prosecuting purely peaceful anti-war, animal rights and environmental protection charities," activists or demonstrators under this broadly worded legislation could be arrested even if their conduct causes no damage or injury of any kind.


Free-speech attorney Kerr points out this misguided legislation could easily lead to jail time for:

- Anyone using the Internet to opine about the health risks of salmonella in chicken;
- Anyone urging shoppers to stay away from a particular store;
- Anyone condemning a university for conducting animal experiments in a medical research lab;
- Anyone merely calling upon students to educate themselves about this issue;
- Anyone asking alumni of such a medical school to withhold donations.

Posted by: jj | Nov 18 2006 16:43 utc | 34

@noirette & catlady,

"Hippie" is neither a political movement or a religious/ethical/social code. It is just a designation given to certain folks who share a few common traits, such as individualism, anti-materialism and a rather relaxed outlook on life.

And it is really hard to generalize about a group of people who put such great stake in being their own people and "doing their own thing".

Posted by: ralphieboy | Nov 18 2006 17:38 utc | 35

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