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June 02, 2018

1968 [KT]


Planet of the Apes turns 50

Well, 1968 was 50 years ago. You can't say it wasn't a tumultuous year. The last link in J.J. Sefton's 5/30/18 Morning Report was a piece by Roger Kimball, The Long March: Reckoning with 1968's "Cultural Revolution" 50 Years On. I think it deserves more attention. It is dense with information. You may not agree with all his positions.

I also ran across a couple of other items related to 1968.

Roger Kimball

One of the things that has surprised me since the last presidential election is that Roger Kimball, that guy who wears bow ties, uses big words and advocates for standards and traditions, seems to take delight in several aspects of the Trump presidency. Maybe that's partly because nearly 20 years ago he wrote The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America. Trump has made the final few steps of that long march a bit more challenging. Here are some of the things that disturb Kimball about the Left's campaign to transform America:

Apocalyptic rhetoric notwithstanding, the behavior of the "revolutionaries" of the counterculture consistently exhibited that most common of bourgeois passions, anti-bourgeois animus -- expressed, as always, safely within the swaddling clothes of bourgeois security.
If America's cultural revolution was anything, it was an attack on maturity: more, it was a glorification of youth, of immaturity. As the Yippie leader Jerry Rubin put it: "We're permanent adolescents." The real victory of the "youth culture" of the Sixties lay not in the fact that its demands were met but in the fact that its values and attitudes were adopted by the culture at large. Rubin again: "Satisfy our demands, and we've got twelve more. The more demands you satisfy, the more we got." Everywhere one looks one sees the elevation of youth -- that is to say, of immaturity -- over experience.

So, are blue jeans on old people a sign that we have abandoned maturity?

The grisly political history of the recent past also reminds us of the extent to which the totalitarian impulse appeals to liberation in its effort to expunge genuine liberty. Again and again we have seen the promise of liberation dissolve into outright tyranny. The totalitarian impulse occupies a prominent place in most revolutionary movements, cultural as well as political. . .

It is a neat trick. Words like "freedom" and "virtue" were ever on Rousseau's lips. But freedom for him was a chilly abstraction; it applied to mankind as an idea, not to individual men. "I think I know man," Rousseau sadly observed near the end of his life, "but as for men, I know them not." In the Confessions, he claimed to be "drunk on virtue." And indeed, it turned out that "virtue" for Rousseau had nothing to do with acting or behaving in a certain way toward others. On the contrary, the criterion of virtue was his subjective feeling of goodness. For Rousseau, as for the countercultural radicals who followed him, "feeling good about yourself" was synonymous with moral rectitude. . .

Perhaps this helps explain why Hillary Clinton will always be the Pride of Radcliffe.

Michael Walsh

I ran across a piece by another professional critic that makes reference to this period of history. It's an adaptation taken from Michael Walsh's book, The Devil's Pleasure Palace, called The Eternal Feminine, on Faust, the Frankfurt School and the Elemental Power of Sex. It kind of seemed like an excerpt to me, but he made some interesting points. Walsh points out that, although the groundwork was laid over a an extended period, the primary large-scale changes in culture during the cultural revolution took place over a remarkably short period of time. Around 1968.

Here's a little bit from the piece about the importance of the family unit and the relationship between a man and a woman:

Critical Theory attacked all of this, principally the idea of transcendence. Not every sex act has larger meaning, of course, but the goal of Critical Theory was to reduce human beings to the level of animals ("If it feels good, do it") and to deny the transcendent component that had driven creative artists for centuries. . . . But Marcuse knew that a populace engaged in pointless sexual intercourse was a populace uninterested in much of anything else; thus "polymorphous perversity" weakens the foundations of the society he sought to undermine.

Again, we must use the word "satanic," which, rightly defined, means the desire to tear down a longstanding, even elemental, order in order to replace it with...nothing. . . .

I'm guessing that Walsh has an alternative in mind in the rest of the book. Because the place the Left leaves us here is pretty grim.

1968 in France

When I was looking for material, a search for "May 1968" brought up a bunch of links about France before anything about the USA. I was sort of aware of strikes in France in my youth, but I didn't really remember much about a May 1968 social revolution in Paris. From the Irish Times, about one of the student leaders:

Clearly, May 1968 generated a whopping vanity in Cohn-Bendit, who ultimately became a Green Party MEP: "I'm loved in France. As an embodiment of 1968, I have become part of the French DNA . . . I have become the psychoanalyst of the French."

Beyond his messianic tendencies, he is, however, conscious of how complex movements can, with time, be simplified both by participants and their traducers: the notion that the 1968 dissidents began a process of undermining the church, education, patriotism and the family is "just as absurd as the whole revolutionary myth" (former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been fond of calling for the "liquidation" of the 1968 legacy).

Wow. "The 1968 legacy?"

The New York Times piece on the French uprising is quite nostalgic, declaring that May of 1968 pushed France into the modern world. One photo features the images of Marx, Lenin, Mao and Trotsky (I think) at a Paris University. That's the way to introduce France into the modern world of mass murder, perhaps? Maybe it's a good thing that the U.S. military was still in the neighborhood.

So, do you have memories from or musings about 1968?

Yes, this is the Thread before the Gardening Thread. Hope you have a great weekend.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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