POLITICAL GAINS

Shared experience is a common idea flowing through American history. People came together originally first as a military force, next as a political force, followed by economic forces and understanding and tolerating social forces, all reflected during events of the eighteenth century. Before the French Indian War, 1754-1763; social/economic and political protests until 1775; the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783; and the Constitutional period, 1783-1789.

[Rather than] assume the existence of political collectives, {this book] asks
how such a diverse population generated a sense of trust sufficient to sustain
colonial rebellion. It explores how a very large number of ordinary
Americans came to the striking conclusion that it was preferable to risk
their lives and property against a powerful British armed force than to
endure further political opposition.
Mobilization on this level did not come easy. Neither luck nor providence
had much to do with the story. Over a decade of continuous experimentation,
American colonists discovered a means to communicate aspirations and
grievances to each other through a language of shared experience.
(p. Xlll, T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution, New York, Oxford, 2004)

It came to pass that during the Sixties provided a language of shared experience. Many youth and some older Americans understood the vocabulary. Shared experience and the language were the primary strengths of the time; the political opposition was weak or inept.

But unlike 200 years earlier there was no discipline; there was no overbearing common enemy or foe; there was no trust especially among the educated students and hangers-on. Issues such as diet – brown rice or purely vegan – separated individuals. Music became very segregated – not just Motown but Heavy Metal, rock and roll and women’s music. Economic Boycotts: Coca-Cola and God knows what else. No one could trust anyone who did not believe exactly in the perfect filtered life. People could do their own thing; they just could not do anything that wasn’t sanctioned or approved. 
And each so-called leader was a “miraculous character…the sort of brilliant leader not seen for a very long time.” (Ibid, p. 9)

The primary difference between general revolutionary circumstances 200 years earlier, and the 1960s were individual Americans were economically secure in the Twentieth Century. Name recognition mean commercial opportunities – speaking fees, books, lectures, panels, TV appearances, advisory positions e.g. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin. Most of those people began their commercial roll while trying to motivate Americans to revolution: Tom Hayden wrote two or three books during the 1960s; David Horowitz kept apace with his writing plus magazine work. No one in the 1760s or 1770s were participating to make a name or money.

Neither man was capable of writing anything authoritative or definitive. Each would have to be honest. They were street leaders, plotters, protest-arrangers and in some cases drug suppliers. In essence they filled the sorts of role that Samuel Adams had 200 years earlier. But after Independence and a successful war, Sam Adams was neglected. Other people wrote books, pamphlets and newspaper articles.

At the demise of the Sixties not many people could write about the decade: There were too many insights and sights, too many odd people, too many influences intense or disturbing, and as the decade lengthened many events crashed into the younger generation. The so-called leaders lost control. No one could capture it all for one city, for a region, or a decade.

Americans are left with TH Breen’s The Marketplace of the Revolution, an excellent book about the political staging of the colonists before the American Revolutionary War. It seems natural that the war did not solve political problems between and among the thirteen states. After the War Americans acted appropriately and properly.

But the language of the shared experience from the Sixties, left Americans with people purportedly writing memoirs, and most of those are not pretty. No one tells much truth in an memoir or in an autobiography. But don’t mind the liar. Don’t mind the whiner. Don’t mind the writer aggrandizing himself: I was a hero at this event. I spoke last. I turned the tide against the pigs during that riot. It’s all entertainment. Hope you enjoyed it, because I was able to propagate the myths and make the buck.

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