When I was coming of age in the sixties there was among the young a movement of estrangement from the established seats of authority in government, entertainment, education, and even in the family. It was called the "counter-culture," and it expressed the normal desire of the young to write their own Declaration of Independence from the "oppressive" regimes of previous generations. It was often incoherent and self-indulgent, but not always.
The counter-culture rejected what they saw (sometimes rightly) as the hypocrisies and phoniness of their elders, and they chafed at the attempt of the older generation to inculcate those values into the young without being able to give a plausible justification of the standards they sought to impose.
Today those who once fancied themselves as counter-cultural comprise, in fact, the establishment. They dominate the film industry, the major television networks, the schools, and newsprint outlets. They control the Congress, the White House and large swaths of the judiciary. It's now their values that are being imposed on the next generation. What are those values?
Paradoxically they're a blend of both libertarianism and authoritarianism. In matters of personal ethics the former sixties rebels endorse a kind of moral laissez-faire. Sex, family, drugs, religion are all matters of personal taste. At the same time, certain other matters require strict conformity to the prevailing attitudes of the establishment. On questions such as gay marriage, abortion, George Bush, Darwinism, illegal immigration, capitalism, the military, etc. there's enormous pressure to conform one's opinions to the consensus establishment views.
During the sixties the more thoughtful among the young rebels realized that taking over the country required patience, time and perseverance, but they also knew that the mass of Americans were too apathetic about anything that really mattered to take notice of what was going on in the culture around them. Thus, they were confident that, like the slowly boiling water gradually overcoming the frog, they could gradually gain hold of the levers of cultural power until it was too late for a torpid "silent majority" to do anything about it.
Jeffrey Kuhner gives us a concise adumbration of what happened:
Since the 1960s, the radical left has sought to transform America by its "long march through the institutions." It has succeeded.
In fact, antiwar liberals simply followed the program outlined by Italian Leninist Antonio Gramsci, who advocated the theory of "cultural hegemony." Gramsci argued for an incremental socialism. He stressed that the key to winning political power lay not in seizing the economic means of production, but in capturing society's commanding cultural organs. This way the left could relentlessly mold public opinion and indoctrinate the youth. He predicted that, once the left attained cultural hegemony, the state would fall into its hands - like a ripe fruit.
President Obama's electoral victory represents the culmination of the left's march to power. Mr. Obama deftly exploited numerous advantages - a weak opponent, a fawning media, a financial crisis and a demoralized, fractured Republican Party. But the cultural groundwork had been laid for decades.
Mr. Obama is an anti-capitalist, anti-family and anti-American leftist. And here is what most conservatives do not understand: Large swathes of the American electorate don't care.
Precisely so, but the time is auspicious for the emergence of another counterculture, one which opposes the established political power structure, one which challenges its values and forces it to defend its ideas. The modern counterculture, the modern underground, will embrace not the hedonism and nihilism of the sixties and seventies, but rather the traditional virtues and values upon which this nation was founded.
It took more than fifty years for us to get where we are, and it will take time to undo that history, but if you're young and passionate for a return to the principles of individual freedom, excellence, and achievement, if you're eager to work to return our culture to a position of respect for both faith and family, the years ahead could be very exciting.RLC