Soft Rock from the 1960’s: Scott McKenzie “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”

God I love this song! And I still love the hippies, too. If there’s anything we need to go back to, it’s that. It’s so painful to realize that the Flower Children of the 1960’s grew up to be a generation that voted in Donald Trump.

Or did they?

You must understand. Back in those days with Revolution in the air, maybe half the young people were part of the Movement and the other half hated it with all their guts and intensity. We never hear about them. There were as many young people for the war as against it. There were as many lining up outside ROTC buildings as there were bombing them. The campuses were full of short-haired conservatives, members of Buckley’s Young Americans for Freedom. Sometimes it played out in the streets, when rightwing construction workers and even bikers assaulted hippies. It’s true. Bikers have always been conservatives and still are to this very day. I’m sure they all voted for Trump this time around.

What we saw in the 1990’s and 200’s was history replaying itself, but this time as farce. Bush and his minions – Rumsfeld, Cheney, the neoconservative Jews around Bill Kristol and his father Irving at Commentary, John Bolton, Condoleeza Rice, Colon Powell – these were the 60’s Generation too, but they were the other side of the mirror – the 60’s young conservatives who hated the Movement types as much as anyone’s parents did.

Clinton ruled for eight years, and he was the Hippie Movement Generation or the Revolutionary 1960’s in power even though he barely inhaled. One of the reasons he was so hated is because the Culture War of the 1960’s-1970’s with a generation split between Left and Right at each others’ throats trying to – sometimes successfully – kill each other, never really ended. There was no truce or even a ceasefire. Surely there was no peace deal.

And when Bush came in, he was the other side of the coin, this time the conservatives of the 1960’s – the squares as we derisively called them – had taken back over the reigns from their lifelong enemies. They did it by stealing elections, but they got in no matter what.

The 1960’s were replayed again under Barack Obama, this time even worse, with accusations of hobnobbing around with actual revolutionaries like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn (these are still two of my heroes), former high-ranking members of the Weather Underground who lived underground for over a decade and resurfaced only to be pardoned of all charges.

Dohrn and Ayers resurfaced as Education Professors at the University of Chicago where they teach to this day. U of Chicago has a bad rap. Forget the Economics Department where the curse of neoliberalism was resurrected from the dead by Friedman and his gangsters who then went on to destroy Chile and poison the minds of generations. There’s a whole tradition of radicalism there too, especially in the social sciences and nowadays in the Education Department. Former bomb-throwing revolutionaries now tenured professors living comfortable lives in ivy-covered brick apartments? Who could have guessed?

Chicago’s a funny place. Sure you had the reactionary Tribune, but you also had Marshall Fields, a Leftist millionaire and head of a department store chain who funded huge pro-labor newspapers because they would die with ads they would never get. It’s a funny place, Left and Right all mixed in and in each other’s face, gripped at each other’s throats and choking hard, sort of like…the whole country now? N’est pas?

The reaction against the so-called Movement radicalism of Obama in power was of course the election of Trump on a fake populist platform, whose job it is apparently to roll back the entire Revolutionary Project of the 1960’s – and the New Deal of the 1930’s while they’re at it – and oh Hell, let’s go all the way back to Gilded Age of the 1890’s as Rove dreams. We’re already there anyway. What is the US from 1990-present but the Gilded Age Part 2, as if we never learned a thing the first time?

The infinite return coming back to punch us all in the face again. Cirlces aren’t all round. Some are flat in fact.

Riverrun, past Eve and Adams, from swerve of shore to bend of bay…

OK, you get it now?

 

3 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Culture, Democrats, Economics, Higher Education, History, Left, Midwest, Music, Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism, Obama, Political Science, Politics, Regional, Republicans, Revolution, Rock, US, US Politics, USA

3 responses to “Soft Rock from the 1960’s: Scott McKenzie “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”

  1. Jason Y

    And what would be the hippie’s opinion of tran-negroes?

  2. Such a deeply ‘philosophical’ song. Sounds quite ‘familiar’ actually. Reminds me of the olden, golden type of music here.

  3. Matt

    Another thing people don’t remember is the fact that hippies and radicals were not the same thing. They were quite antagonistic, in fact. One of the things that made the Yippies so shocking was the fact that they brought these mutually contradictory trends together. You are right about the intragenerational split… In fact, it was probably 75% conservatives or right trending apoliticals to about 25% who were in some way involved in the major cultural/political shifts of the time.

    I can’t think how pissed off I would be if I had spent the era as one of the short-haired conservatives who missed the chance to be part of history!I I would probably lie about it now. Maybe that’s why boomer conservatives are so angry, lol.

    For the record, I was too young to be part of it, but me and my friends spent the 70s and 80s pretending we were hippies and it was still the 60s. I’m a little pissed off that I ignored some of the interesting stuff that was happening in my own time.

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