Friday, March 07, 2008


[This discussion took place at UFOB in September 2006.]

The Weeping Hippy Narrative

I'm thinking specifically of Sybil Ackerman, Patrick Moore and David Horowitz with
this, though there's certainly no end of people who engaged in a bit of activism and
then saw the light. et alia and I jokingly call the wingnut marketing of their
conversion stories "weeping hippy narratives". They have a target audience. They
appeal to wingnuts who need to feel that actions against the vengeful god, whose son
is ass whuppin' Jesus, causes terrible grief, followed by partial redemption. The
hippy is still contemptible and feckless, but at least he's made some concessions to
reality. For a special bonus, pundits should write nasty things about the hippies
using software fostered by this fellow.

The ideal weeping hippy narrative should be maudlin, disturbingly freudian and vastly
hypocritical. David Horowitz has set the bar very high, but there are other avenues
and all of them are fecund. Moore has parlayed his time with Greenpeace into advocacy
for nuclear power which, if he reads the financial papers, he must know can't be
built without massive subsidies and state curtailment of liability. The problems with
decommissioning and waste disposal remain unsolved. But neoliberal versions of the
free market never required anything remotely like a free market. Ackerman warns her
fellow hippies about the error of pursuing a "vendetta" against BP, which has ignored
all the warnings it was given about safety and leads the industry in refinery worker
deaths. In a few years, she'll be ready to quit her work with the League of
Conservation voters and write an op ed detailing her disillusionment with the
environmental movement.

T.V. nailed the production number in this comment, emphasis mine:

I used to think that liberalism was essentially contractual and therefore adult, a
system in which one made rational alliances with people for rational ends, despite
feelings about their hair or lifestyle or vibration. The last few years have revealed
it to be an infantilized, Oedipal dreamstate in which the goal is to reconcile with
Mummy and Daddy and brother and sister, who are fascist wingers but who always have a
heart of gold. It's like that with the nation, too: we're a national family, and
everybody has a role. No matter how ugly they talk, Mummy and Daddy will always melt
if we are firm and loving with them. And we know how to handle the punked-out
"radical" brother or sister, whose moral rigidity is always just an irritating
adolescent phase of preening "purity" that should met with cold, disapproving
shunning; after being ostracized for a decade, they'll grow up, or they'll be the
black sheep. These are simple, timeless roles, as in vaudeville, and we always
comfortably know just where we are.

The fact that this discourse flows so thickly and irremediably at the site of a guy
who looked into the abyss a few years ago and didn't hesitate to call what he saw
'fascism' pretty much underscores just how culturally fucked we really are.

There it is. Some of those who don't "grow up" eventually go mad from the ostracism
and more than few face a cat food dinner retirement. The forward thinking have a
valuable lesson to teach: when you reach a position of prominence, be ready for an
abrupt volte face. Lay the groundwork early on, if at all possible. It will help get
you plenty of career.

posted by J Alva Scruggs

It's all very obvious if you grew up in a fundamentalist (I refuse to use their new
cuddly phrasing of 'evangelical') church.

No preacher is more popular with the hoi polloi than the one who used to do the
drinkin' and fightin' and other things with dropped 'g's.

Why we are ruled by people who sincerely believe things* that should have them
strapped to a bed on heavy doses of Thorazine in a civilized world is beyond me.

*most of the people reading those godawful Last Times books really believe that
they're true. At least the ones I know. Demons and angels and antichrists oh my!

Posted by winna

As you observe, marginilization is an essential aspect of the ongoing psychological
warfare between destroyers and creators.

Posted by Spartacus

Winn, the belief appears to diminish the higher up the food chain you go. I know the
bedrock angry people, who live on vengeance fantasies and dream of a day when they'll
be an elite. I also know the cynical manipulators, who turn the belief on and off as
needed. I joke about it sometimes, but a society that felt treating tooth decay was
worthwhile would have a lot fewer vengeful fantasists.

Spartacus, I hope some day to find a way to convince the nice liberals to stop
rescuing vicious, cynical pundits.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

A disturbing incident I recall from the 1980s was listening to an otherwise kind
neighbor deriding hippie culture, peace and love, before his young children.

Posted by Spartacus

Disappointment in promise unfulfilled, the influx of cynical opportunists seeking to
monetize the culture and no small amount of propaganda went into the mood of anger in
the eighties. I fell for it myself, even though there were grounds for me to know

What I didn't understand well at the time was that authoritarians teach a lesson of
self-loathing, in every way they can. They isolate people and uproot them. They
belittle them through the media and recruit shills, who will affect the "look and
feel" of a culture.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

authoritarians teach a lesson of self-loathing, in every way they can

It's the application of THE principal tenet of marketing - tell them and show them
how they should be dissatisfied with their lives - to every aspect of life and living
. Then, the authoritarians say "look at us, we are in control of our lives", so
therefore you should let us help you manage yours.

Which is why I return always to Fromm's "Escape from Freedom", from the mid-60's
wherein he nailed, early, the rise and now almost complete doiminance in the USA (and
/or Western societies) of what he called "the marketing personality". Somewhat
prophetic, I think.

Posted by">Jon Husband


HE: What was that about?

OTHER: Our neighbors don't trust us. I guess we're kind of like hippies to them. They
think we do drugs.

HE: But we do do drugs.

OTHER: And we're pathetic hippies to boot. We like our comfort too much.

Posted by Phil Anthropoid

Most of the hippies I've known have been fairly abstemious, but if you're already
doing drugs we'll be chasing the dragon behind the Dumpster as soon as the Tutor has
passed out. Drop on by. The more the merrier, I always say.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

I hate to see old wipping heepies die, so I will throw this in. Some Cognressman on
cnn says yesterday, from the floor of Cognress, "You cannot deal with terrorists in
Bergenstocks." I think he meant Birkenstocks, and I don't think he meant that
terrorists carry their sandy footprints on their soles, but there he was, saying it,
on the floor of Cognress. It's enough to make a heepie wip. Idn't it?

Posted by ahfukit

The first hippy I knew had the scars of taking a machine gun burst across his chest
and abdomen, from his service in the Korean War. The honorable dildo from whatever
state needs to scrape the dogshit out of his ears and quit thinking of hippies as his party
friends from the days he was wasting his parents' money at college.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

The hippies I hung with started housing trusts, consumer cooperatives, and community
gardens so poor people--no matter what creed--could pay rent and still eat. Is that
grounds for bringing them up before HUAC?

Posted by Spartacus

It's still part of the narrative to hold hippies responsible for losing the Vietnam
war. That sits in uneasy juxtaposition with the claims that we actually won.

I seriously consider the wailing of the wingnuts over hippy this and hippy that to be
a species of self-loathing guilt.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs

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