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History Interupted: Welcome to the 1970s


#1

History Interupted: Welcome to the 1970s

David Michael Green

They say that if you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t actually there. It is therefore with some trepidation that I invite readers to cast their minds back to America, circa 1970.

No point in waxing Pollyannish about it. Vietnam was still raging, along with Cambodia and Laos. The Cold War was in full swing. Blacks and whites were newly made equal, but only in law. Women and men, not even that much. Some of the best Americans were being assassinated, including at Kent State.


#2

I love the lilt of Mr. Green's intro, but then he falls back on the common pabulum:

"We’re still invading and occupying other countries, and still doing a piss-poor job of it. We’ve created the biggest environmental crisis in all of human history and we’re not only not addressing it in any remotely seriously way, but we’re still pretending to argue over whether or not it’s even real."

The reason I take issue with this frame is that it paints over the fact that this is not about some collective failure of the great ocean of WE. It's about stealth moves on the part of sophisticated covert forces--themselves an extension of the brutal, fascist tactics brought over via imported Nazis. Project Paperclip meant that the Nazi mentality became a fixed part of the NSA apparatus and its various appendages.

The major assassinations of key leaders added to the slow, steady inroads into total domination by corporations points to a now established Deep State, a secreted apparatus. It is this entity that has rolled back Civil Rights, built up a prison-industrial complex, and criminalized recreational drug use as rationale to do so. It is THIS entity that profits from wars and therefore uses its control of mass media to indoctrinate enough of the public to give the illusion--like elections where "winning" candidates get, at best, 33% of the voting public's support--that these wars are necessary.

So enough with the "we did thus and so": shittola. It qualifies as a sheriff blaming the entire town for a set of murders executed by specific individuals.

If everyone is accountable and/or directly responsible, there is no need for holding power to account. Ditto: if this is about that same amorphous WE, then the separation between the 1% and 99% as demarcated by Occupy Wall Street as possibly its greatest contribution, is lost.

Mr. Green no doubt read the Page and Gilens Study. It documents the FACT that decisions reached and made into policy have NOTHING to do with the public's wishes.

And when FEMA camps ARE being built everywhere, and spying IS ubiquitous, and truth tellers/whistle blowers ARE being prosecuted, and elections ARE controlled by private, proprietary organizations and or a Supreme Court largely beholden to them, and trade policies that impact things as intimate as what we citizens eat are executed in secret back-room deals... then all this high school level cheerleading about what WE did, and that WE are all in this together pretends that there is a level playing field; that elections are legitimate; that citizens have agency; that elected officials abide by laws, and that Democracy is operating.

I didn't finish the piece so perhaps Mr. Green comes to this realization before adding his own closing arguments. Nonetheless, I find the WE frame slopped around like cheap hamburger meat objectionable at this late hour of Democracy's near demise. (That is, until collapse catalyzes its next incarnation.)


#3

Take this quote:

"We’ve hollowed out the ranks of the middle class, driving more and more people into poverty, and creating the first new generation in American history unlikely to do as well economically as their parents did."

It really is time to deconstruct this form of argument-framing as it is used way too often. (And that is rather suspect.)

Since pictures "tell" 1000 words, I would invite readers to think of this quote as a crime scene where a discerning detective will realize that there is NO way, based on the position of the gun, the spray of blood, or the dispersion of gun powder residue that the victim committed suicide. But Mr. Green suggests that "he" did.

What I'm trying to convey is that it was not WE that did these things. Very empowered groups, corporate oligarchs, and assorted criminal figures realized that:

  1. It's cheaper, and arguably more cost-effective from a white collar crime perspective--to own rather than rob a bank (look at all the "capital returns" since the bankers' got their bailout for a crisis that THEY engineered!)
  2. It's cheaper to spend a few hundred grand on financing a particular politician who can be counted on to be loyal to his sponsors, then to NOT have a particular policy guaranteed to be enacted. Typically, such policies rendered into law--in such things as building prisons and guaranteeing that warm bodies will occupy them--gain TREMENDOUS returns on these campaign contributions cum bribes
  3. It's cheaper to foul Mother Nature than to allow "government regulators" to enforce environmental standards
  4. Wars are profitable and bankers loan out $ that citizens must repay. These debts, in turn, are used to convince that same populace that the social programs it needs can no longer be paid for
  5. It's cost-effective to buy out media channels in order to make all of the odious policies now the "coinage of the land" possible

So it is not WE that turned in the Middle Class. Most of us ARE that Middle Class.

Most writers today toe the line and repeat official narratives. They may point out some of the things that are wrong or amiss, but they don't really expose the full nature of the graft.

Many in this forum blame capitalism, but that's another broad, generic frame (albeit, a more accurate one than that of simply blaming ALL citizens).

In any case, Mr. Green is glib and amusing, but reliance on this we frame is pathetic.


#4

Let's examine this quote for its hidden schizophrenia. Since WE implies the full citizenry, then use of the term in this sentence implies that Black citizens are equally responsible for attacks on their own community. (In parallel, the WE frame sets up the subliminal suggestion that women are responsible for NOT having Equal Rights with males, and so forth):

"We’ve set the world’s record for incarceration, and have managed to wipe out virtually the entire cohort of young black males in the bargain."

Get over the WE crap! Right wing conservative groups along with patriarchal religious "leaders," and those who never met a potential war they couldn't commit to... along with naked capitalist robber-baron moguls were behind these initiatives. THEY rolled back Civil Liberties and they undermined women's rights, and they used legal muscle to nullify environmental law, and they used mass media to LIE a portion of the citizenry into support for false wars.

HIS story is largely HIS story. It's a select narrative that reflects the wishes, goals, and intentions of the Dominant Group. And it serves that Dominant Group to pretend that all citizens have equal agency within the asymmetric hierarchy that the gods of war and mammon built.

WE are not all part of this WE frame and until voices that oppose it, and set up compelling alternatives and counter-narratives are heard and given air and media time... the WE frame will be used to drown us all in a sea of lies, deception, and an erroneous insistence upon a one-size-fits-all frame that negates any alternative to itself, and thus ensures a continuation of the current war-oriented, nature-destroying, liberty-negating deadly paradigm.


#5

"If everyone is accountable and/or directly responsible, there is no need for holding power to account."

Exactly. It reminds me of an old Family Circus cartoon where the mom is asking who raided the cookie jar and the kids are saying "Not me!". Off to the side is a little ghost with a T-Shirt that says "Not Me" on it.


#7

This is a very short summary of the last 47 years; this America we now find ourselves in. And, we are here, aren't we? We can all hope so, anyway. I said 47 years because it was all lined and set up for the Nixon Adm. to come into power and clobber the white, leftish thinking 18-28 year olds and all minorities, generally. SCOTUS was changed in the 1970s to grease the skids, legally. The rank and file union members, mostly male, found it easy to kick " bedwetting liberals " and " faxxot lovers " in the teeth and cut what now could be called, " back room deals with DLC wannabes " and have those blessed by most of the churched and their holy men. At the end of the 1980s proposed trade deals blew the brains out of manufacturing and the Clintonistas threw more grease on the skids and rode the computer right over the bridge into the Endless War Century. If SR doesn't like we then how about the fact that 55-60% of white males and about 35%-40% of Christian white females are basically racist, uber-authoritarian, bigoted homophobes with the brains ( self awareness ) of a door knob. And, who are encouraged to wallow in that cesspool by a MSM and Entertainment Industry bent on keeping them there so they have an audience to sell unicorns, makeup, guns and ammo, beer and pink ponies to.


#8

It IS a collective failure of WE, because WE allow it to happen.


#10

Well. the DINO Party could possibly be cured with a extremely powerful, high colonic treatment. The Republicans, like some forms of cancer, have no cure at this time. And, the progressives and those to the left have no place to go because they have no vehicle to transport them there. The Clintonistas burnt the bridge after they crossed it anyway, like any good raiding party would do, after pillaging the village. Ya know, the village where it took the whole bunch of them to raise a child. A child who now smokes Hopium, grabs the remote when he thinks about Changium, and dreams of a job at WalMart or in the Prison Industry; where he can listen to his ipod when he wants to and who cracks some skulls when he's asked to.


#11

Sixties? Mid sixties actually but I'm hanging in there...lol Prof - at our age it isn't so much about how young you feel but more about how long you'll last!

Yeah the 'sixties' (more accurately the seventies but nobody says that usually) were a time. Perhaps the best of times for America even with all their flaws because Americans (young mostly but not exclusively so) came out of the stifling McCarthyism of the fifties and said we can change things. What is most remarkable is not that we tried but that we succeeded. Civil rights led the way in more ways than one. Sit ins sound like student protest stuff but it was serious business at physically dangerous southern lunch counters. But then that is why we saw them and took courage from those with courage. All that you have written here is true good professor but things are very different these days.

The fifties conformity, the sixties reaction to it and the seventies new directions will not reoccur. We changed the world in so many great ways and we who fought for it have never been given credit for accomplishing all that we did. The changes we wrought were taken for granted and the radicals, hippies, beats and freaks went home and became the very people that they once were so intolerant of. We conformed in other words. We went along and never let on that once we had 'hair' and love beads and peace signs.

True things were easier to go along with. No more little black girls holding the hand of an armed National Guardsman escorting her into a desegregated elementary school. No more napalm horrors or white phosphorus nightmares or carpet bombing on TV at dinner... and no more draft! Oh yeah... let sleeping protesters lie... don't wake the dragon just let it sleep. No more draft!

We kind of thought that even though they didn't admit it in the media (suddenly the 'sixties' were only about drugs, sex and spitting on returning soldiers which never actually happened). We lost sight of who we had been and so we lost sight of who we were becoming and now... we are exactly what we we swore we'd never be... our parents (but with cell phones and the internet) !!!

However meanwhile... we saw things we didn't like but didn't see others doing anything much about any of it so neither did we. Once when millions marched against the war in the middle east... we hoped that 'WE' had reawakened from our long nap. The return of the committed moralists !!! But it was only for a day. Then we 'occupied' and thought a new awakening was dawning but we were contained and ran out of space and the media made fun of those who were sincere by featuring those who weren't.

So where are we now and is it so bad since we did accomplish so much change?

Holy shit is it bad! Worse than we could have ever believed. Can you believe it but I almost wish Goldwater had become president because what he would have said about G. W. Bush (heck probably the first Bush too). That America both liberal and conservative ...that constitutional America got lost in the aftermath of the sixties and we were too busy to notice. We gained civil rights and women's rights, gay rights and so forth... but our America 'of, for and by' was stolen away from us and corporatized. Oh sure corporate America had always manipulated, misused and abused government to their own ends but they hadn't made it a corporatized government 'of corporations, for the corporations and BY the corporations'.

We are a people who claim to object to outrageous invasions of privacy by our government yet say nothing while that same capacity for invasion of privacy (for tracking and monitoring every citizen) is shunted over to corporations who have even LESS restraints and no oversight. The NSA contracts with a corporation for data mined info and somehow that isn't the government collecting data mined info on people? Which cup is the pea under?

But unlike the sixties (that were really the seventies) something else looms ominously over us all in the relatively near future. Global warming = global unrest... there will be no escaping either.

What would any totalitarian government have given for the data mining total surveillance state we are rapidly erecting? At the first sign of large scale unrest (country wide or even international rather than local incidents) - the first sign of any sixtyish type 'movement' (remember that word? smile - they are well prepared.

Instant fascism... well hell that's new isn't it? Yikes! 'New and improved too'!

Global warming WILL create civil disturbances and massive unrest and dislocation of large numbers of people. They will not have constitutional guarantees... I don't know what they will have but the one thing I do know is that they won't have what we had back when we were young... they won't have the America they should have had.

We stopped short of true change back when ...because in the end... we accepted just enough change to allow us to not give a damn anymore... and now when HUMANITY may need people like us the most if ever it did... we didn't pass on that sense of commitment to our own kids.

Heat baby heat!!! Summer's here and the dying gets easier year by year. Heat baby heat. Fracking fracking everywhere Not a drop of water left to drink! Surfs up - aquifer's down. "I know you don't like seafood dear but eat your jellyfish... people are starving everywhere!" Heat baby heat... fascism lies in wait to pounce... ready and waiting... Heat baby heat... there's going to be big trouble all over the world... and that's dust bowl drought blowing' on the wind.

We let 'them' - 'they' - get set up and they are now prepared for the dangers of real democracy should it attempt to arise. in response to global warming That's how bad it is.

They are ready... they may have wished to be ready in the fifties (shades of J. Edgar) and tried to get ready in the sixties and so on but couldn't with that technology... now they are ready ... way ready...too ready!

...and yes they are waiting... it isn't bad enough yet but it'll get there eventually.

Heat baby heat... yeah it is going to be real bad... everywhere. That is the big difference... the word is >>> everywhere.

Edit for spelling and such and such ...for nearly 20 mins of editing...lol ...hey the sixties, man... I blame the sixties...don't you?


#12

Well for once I have to agree with your questioning of the WE frame, SR. I kept thinking, as I read the article: Wait a minute. There is a cadre of (white, wealthy, mostly male) individuals who have managed to work their way to the top echelons of power and privilege, and the mess we have is due to their imbecilic, short sighted, narcissistic, sociopathic decisions.


#13

Great to have you back, DMG! I missed you. Hope you make a habit of publishing in
Common Dreams.


#14

Well, well, a belated re-celebration of the 60's-70's, and a recounting of how everything went wrong.

Yup we've come to the very edge of the abyss, and abandoned much if not all of our Constitution, laws and very SENSE of what democracy is — or is supposed to be.

Yet with all this celebration of popular "movements" and still trying to hold out some hopes for change, he cannot even MENTION a REAL popular movement: Jill Stein and the Green Party. Not that it is out there yet with big numbers but It IS THERE, and SAYS every day, all the time many of those concerns and visions recounted by David Michael Green.

How the hell can you broach the subject so apparently seriously and yet ignore one the very few living examples of people continuing what was started in the 70's?? Yes, it is small, yes, it is faulty in many ways but it stands up to our situation, and offers CLEAR & SENSIBLE solutions. Just read the Green New Deal, David.

With all you had to say, why would you still seek any CHANGE from WITHIN the Duopoly?? Ain't gonna happen — never. The CHANGE, if any, is by moving away from the Cliff created & maintained, daily, by this Duopoly that shuts off THOUGHT and bars Knowledge.


#15

While I was more moved by your post than the original article, esp:

"We stopped short of true change back when ...because in the end... we accepted just enough change to allow us to not give a damn anymore... and now when HUMANITY may need people like us the most if ever it did... we didn't pass on that sense of commitment to our own kids."

and while I agree with your use of "we", I can't help trying to live as if what you're saying is wrong. I think that we -- us sixties and seventies holdovers -- owe it to today's kids in the US and around the world, not to cave in to an easy fatalism.

We can't predict the future -- as the article pointedly demonstrates! I'd argue that today's world is more unpredictable than at any other time in human history, not just with rapidly changing technology, but the social changes that inevitably come with it. What does the future hold when billions of people have cell phones and internet access? If information is power then one would think the balance must be shifting from the 1% to the 99%. Who knows, maybe in a few years Washington DC will be the last place where superstitions like voodoo economics, climate change denial, and American exceptionalism persist.

Who knows? The potential for rapid, positive change may never have been greater. In my book we owe it to our kids to find out.


#16

"The reason I take issue with this frame is that it paints over the fact that this is not about some collective failure of the great ocean of WE."

Nice post SR. If WE keep pointing out that WE are the ones that suffer the consequences of what THEY do, maybe WE will listen and change the framing.


#17

Great article Mr. Green.


#18

It’s true that Democrats of today have better politics than do Republicans.

Not.


#19

Excellent. Though I admit to trying to protect my kids from getting their heads bashed in and put on watch lists, by not politicizing them.


#20

Damned good posts on this great article today.


#22

There's lots of things he doesn't MENTION because ...1234, testing .....1234, testing... he senses there's a movement afoot and like all people from the '70s, as opposed to the '60s, he's a high climbing, late stepper. They're really libertarians as defined by, " people who like to smoke pot and get laid. " I've seen thousands of them in politics and everything is to be exploited and is for sale. For proper consideration, of course. It's like the 2 wannabe NYC musicians who saw Altman"s Nashville and decided to catch on and cash in. They took a wrong turn and ended up in the Ozarks, where they stopped a farmer and asked him, " How do we get to Nashville ? " The farmer, eyeing the 2, said, " Well, fellas, the first thing I'd do is ditch the accents and, then learn to sing through your nose. "


#24

I really resonated with this piece. I'm in my sixties and have been a progressive all my life both in lifestyle and philosophy. I couldn't help but think that the status quo's response to the 70's was atypical historically.
Power has never graciously given up it's power or resources. Perhaps there is a time in recorded history when that was true, I'd like to hear about it.

But for all that power and bravado and those expensive educations in the hallowed halls of thought, there seems to be no accounting for the stupidity in fouling our own bed here on this glorious planet so very very badly. David talks about about a foolish turn but it was more a return to business as usual.

I wonder as I write if it's not also humanity's tendency to poo poo the young and their vision that created such a misstep after the 70's. A knee jerk reaction, a pulling back to a path that was heading for the cliff anyway. We'll, were in free fall now so I have no idea what is next.