People are saying that the counter-culture – the raft of new movements founded by baby-boomers in the 1960s and ‘70s – has been dealt its death blow by the triumph of Trump and Brexit, and possibly by our own idiots in Canberra.
Not so fast.
I argued last month that Trumpism was yet another offensive by the forces still fighting the enlightenment and the renaissance. I see the radical movements of the past 50 years as developments of those 18th century breakthroughs, which were fundamentally based on science replacing superstition, and that is an ongoing process. Trump lives in a fog of superstitions of his own invention, eg that he has a plan and is a good person.
I was born nine months after President Truman dropped the a-bomb on Hiroshima, supposedly to end world war 2 but more to warn every nation on earth that only the USA had the right and the means to win WW3. That birth date put me on the cutting edge of what demographers and marketing men dubbed the baby-boom. Lately I’ve been on a campaign to ditch that label, not just because it’s a brand that’s been relentlessly trashed but also because it entirely misses the point about my generation.
We were born into a society numbed by war and dislocation. Our childhood viewing of American cartoons and westerns was interspersed with newsreels of piles of emaciated dead people being bulldozed into ditches at Auschwitz. The values, principles, morals, and manners of our “western world” were all crying out to be reviewed and rewritten – so I call my cohort not the baby-boomers but the re-generation, because we felt compelled to review rewrite and reinvent just about everything, so we did.
Here are a few of the biggest reinventions:
Feminism. De Beauvoir, Friedan, Greer and so many more rewrote the rules for women. This entire agenda is still a battleground, from fundamentals such as electing women leaders to Trump’s pussy grabbing. The triumph of PC-haters will not stop this inexorable force.
Environmentalism. From Silent Spring to the Greens, a monumental journey which must prevail against the Sarah Palins and ExxonMobils and Turnbull and Adani, or we’re all done for.
LGBT came out in the ‘60s here as it did in the US and Europe. Another historical inevitability that will keep on evolving, whatever the trogs say or do.
Racial equality. When I was a teenager South Africa was an apartheid state, Australia’s first people were not citizens, and millions of activists in the USA were making civil rights universal, at least on paper.
Sex drugs & rock n roll. This is what the tabloids think the counter-culture was about. In the ‘60s, sex was revolutionized by the pill and electrified music enabled rock n roll. None of this holy trinity is done with yet, whatever Trump and his gang of repressed and repressive dickheads do.
That’s just a skim of the surface of what was re-generated by people born between the war and 1964.
When I was 19 I started a weekly paper focused on Australian music, followed by three counter-culture magazines also by and for Australians my age – Revolution, High Times and The Digger – and those three have now been put online by the University of Wollongong, here: http://ro.uow.edu.au/ [add name of magazine you want after that slash].
On this page are several covers of The Digger, a monthly published from 1972-75 by a shifting collective of activist writers, photographers, artists, ad-salespersons and joint-rollers in Melbourne and Sydney, some of whom became famous – Helen Garner, Anne Summers, Greig Pickhaver aka H.G. of Roy and HG – some created Circus Oz, some died young, and some live in the Byron Bay Shire.