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A Psychedelic Spin on "National Security"


A Psychedelic Spin on "National Security"

Ira Chernus

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. What better place to celebrate than that fabled era’s epicenter, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where the DeYoung Museum has mounted a dazzling exhibition, chock full of rock music, light shows, posters, and fashions from the mind-bending summer of 1967?


Excellent point. I was a little young for the "Summer of Love," and way too sheltered in a mid-America Republican family. But somehow I discovered folk rock, and particularly protest folk, which still dominates my musical interests. But look at how it irks djt that Europeans are so unconcerned with separation, 'not paying their fair share into NATO' (as if it was some stockpile where we could count the weapons).

Got to get to work on a term better than "non-security." It probably exists in some other language.


That summer I was 15 and attended my first psychedelic musical concert, featuring Iron Butterfly.

The Vietnam War was in full swing and should have been a wake-up call to all Americans.

The parties of the Duopoly have since then convinced voters that they need to spend 50% of our budget on keeping us safe.

What a crock of shit we have been sold, and still we go to the polls and vote for these Cluckers.

Maybe it is true, we are getting exactly what we deserve.

It really isn't that hard to see we have an alternative.

The world is not just Black and White.

And it definitely isn't just Democrats and Republicans.

People, Planet, and Peace over Profit!


I'm celebrating my 50th birthday this summer. Born in the U.S. in the "Summer of Love," I--like many of my generation--have never stopped seeking ways to embody the eternal Truths that erupted into American mass consciousness at that time.

And, though it seems that many old hippies can't, I perceive that this movement--toward remaking every aspect of daily material life in the image of these timeless Truths--continues within many of the young today.

Thank you, old hippies! Now, can you please remember that these beautiful imaginations did not begin with you, never belonged to you, and didn't die when you decided you'd better start worrying about your retirement after all?

Then maybe you could recognize that the work that once thrilled you goes on, and lend a real hand, rather than waxing nostalgic about your "good old days," and dissing the approximations that have flowered and fruited since.

Many of the young don't need this article. They seem to have been born knowing that "national security" is just another mental formation designed to enhance control through the invocation of terror.

And they're not calling for new words to describe living in the Truth of ecology, which is that all are interpenetrated and interdependent. They're rightly more interested in practices that refine their ability to do so.

Hey, old hippies, take your own good advice: listen to the kids! Follow them! Oherwise, why should they trust anyone over 30?


Why does it need to be any kind of generational enmity?



Apropos of the section you quoted from Ira Chernus's article, here are more quotations along the same lines.

“NATO’s existence became justified by the need to manage the security threats provoked by its enlargement.” – Richard Sakwa
Of Imperial Germany’s military industry, Schumpeter wrote: "Created by the wars that required it, the Machine now creates the wars it requires.”


I'm not sure how to take your comment Lisa. I am not an old hippie and never aspired to being one.

I was merely pointing out that a majority of Americans vote against their best interests in voting for Democrats and Republicans.

I too made this mistake for many years and once I realized both of those parties are all about promoting War and Violence, Death and Human Suffering, I chose to never again vote for any politician agreeing with that ideology. Oh, they all don't come out and say it, but their actions and their past records clearly show that they are never going to give peace a chance.

No money in it, for them and their rich friends in business and industry.

So Lisa, you sound like you reached a certain level of enlightenment that you believe others should follow you.

Well, if you read any of my comments here at Common Dreams, I have been praising the youth of this country and encouraging them to take bold action against these two most corrupt political parties.

Any thoughts of reforming either of these 'Too Far Gone' political parties is not what I mean by 'bold action'.

They lie, cheat and steal from Americans like you and me, and then they want you to reward them with your vote.

I hope Lisa that you haven't succumbed to those lies.

For your sake, your children's and grandchildren's.


Sorry, PonyBoy, that reply wasn't directed at you. I was just riffing off your energy. Shoulda put my comment as a reply to the article, not to you....


Sorry, I intended no emnity. I have always had lots of friends who are old hippies, and I still do! I live in Vermont!

I meant to playfully point out a dynamic I've noticed among these generations. I hear and see a lot of my older buds manifesting these symptoms. I hear shades of them in Mr. Chernus' article, even as I hear much that is easy for me to love.

I know online roughousing is easy to misinterpret. Sorry to anyone who felt I was too rough. Playful sparring among pack members keeps us fit and feisty, though, so let's not be too quick to decide anyone who is sparring is out for verbal kill...


I prefer to be careful in what I say. There's way too much pitting millennials against boomers around on the Web. I think your Senator S demonstrates how much stronger we are when we work together.


Yes, o.k., but do you never utter a sentence that is taken by another in a way you didn't intend? Unity within diversity does involve rubbing against each other's rough spots; love means regularly saying "I'm sorry." Otherwise, we repress and stagnate rather than grow through challenge.


Mind blowing psychedelics had lots to do with changing attitudes by making us see the bigger picture. The owner class saw this as a slave revolt. Hoover, Nixon and other conservative servants of Mammon recognized that psychedelics were dangerous to their rule. Psychedelics, or entheogens with great therapeutic potentials were prohibited. Users were locked away in prisons, making America the greatest incarcerator in the planet.

Direct Democracy


A great piece! Thank you, Professor Chernus, for reminding us of what was, what might have been, and what can still be; also for reminding us that our national obsession with "security" is neither natural, nor effective, nor desirable, nor necessary. It in fact becomes an endless feedback mechanism.


I enjoyed the article. it made some interesting points to consider but there are numerous points of view to consider. This movement was somewhat like all movements, they are born in the existing culture. I think it must be like first generation immigrants. The house band he mentions, Grace Slick's father was an investment banker. For others when you graduated from high school you could go to college or go to Vietnam. That was a pretty relevant realization. There was definitely the need for more choice. It was a resounding rejection of politics as usual. It scared the status quo. The Occupy movement did much the same thing but against greater odds, it still scared the status quo. I think a few other important considerations were missed but in fact it was degraded rather quickly, no one talks about the funeral just two years later.


Try listening to New Speedway Boogie, again. Either the Grateful Dead's version, written by Robert Hunter, or Courtney Barnett and her take on it.
The death you speak of, " only two years later ", made me think of this song, again.
It is the unofficial headstone, as musical historians have noted about this song, of the hippies, ragged poets and other alt-visionary folks of a certain vibe.
J. Garcia had a quite different take on that commonly held epitath/interpretation. Sure hope he's right.


Ah,, thanks for the reminder. I loved the Courtney Barnett version as well. I guess if they knew they would be in the De Young Museum in 50 years later they might have given it more thought, or not.

I like Franklin's Tower - One From the Vault.


When Michael Rossman uttered those words of a generation, you can't trust anyone over 30 in 1965, he was refering to the compromise the Berkeley Adademic perpetrated on the Free Speech Movement that had caused such consternation at Cal. Reagan became governor a little over a year later running against those ungrateful and unruly children. At the time I was a 22 year old that didn't think I would live that long. One of my transcendent experiences was tearing down all the air raid shelter signs that I could on campus. I saved one to put over my bed. How is that for security?
I had few illusions that we would make a new revolution but it was fun trying. History and my families history in radical movements that made headway but in the process were destroyed was instructive, The arc of history nay tend toward justice but it takes a long time. 70 years and some for women's right to vote. 100 years and more to have the legal right to organize a union. More than 100 years for unemployment insurance. `And on. The struggle will continue but so will the fun and those heady years of the 60s and 70s were full of fun and struggle.