About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Great Watershed: Thoughts On The 60's Generation

We are hearing a lot these days about the 60's generation. Pundits have commented that the Occupy Wall Street crowd reminds them of the generation that spawned the Hippie movement (free love, anti-materialism, the drug culture), took to the streets to stop the Vietnam War, rebelled against the corporate and Washington "Establishment," disrupted the Democratic convention in Chicago and put on the biggest, baddest, sloppiest rock concerts ever in Woodstock, NY.  Whatever you think about that period in American history, it's impossible to say it didn't bring about profound change in America and the world.

I like to think of the period of the 60's as the Great Watershed in the history of American politics and culture. After the upheavals of the 60's virtually everything in America changed for good, but not for the better. The 60's changed the way Americans related to their families, their government, their employers, their neighbors and their God. As a result of ideas spawned in the 60's, American values changed. America literally became a different country. Those who doubt this need only compare and contrast the music and movies made in the 40's and 50's to their counterparts made in the 60's and later.

Prior to the Great Watershed of the 60's America was small town. Neighbors knew neighbors. Neighborhood children played ball in the streets, walked to neighborhood schools, dressed in slacks, button-down shirts and sweaters, wore short, greased-down hair, were polite to their elders, respected authority and dreamed of getting married, settling down, getting a good job and having kids. Most were Christians and went to church on Sunday. Many went to parochial schools where they learned Christian morality and discipline. Public schools taught discipline as well, along with civics and community pride. Adults socialized at church dinners, dances and bake sales, or at the American Legion hall, or at the local Moose or Elk lodge, or at the Union hall, or softball field or bowling alley. Because most adults were veterans of wartime military or civilian service, patriotism was practiced and taught. Americans loved their country. They believed it was the best place on earth to raise a family.

In the 60's all that changed, not completely, but as the norm. After the Great Watershed, America went big city and suburban. Neighbors didn't socialize with neighbors. Neighborhood schools became a thing of the past. Kids were bussed across town to school, where they wore jeans, t-shirts and expensive sneakers. Teachers cast off their suit coat and tie and dressed like the kids. Both let their hair grow long and shaggy. Both rebelled against authority. Manners became a thing of the past. Getting a good job and raising a family became passe and "Establishment," as did worhipping at church on Sunday.

As patriotism began to be considered old hat, schools began to substitute sex education for civics classes. Parochial schools died off. Public schools became antiseptically amoral and irreligious. Corporal punishment became politically incorrect, Discipline waned. Rebellion against the Establishment included sexual experimentation and a burgeoning drug culture. Parents spent evenings at home in front of the television. The children watched in the basement or in another room. Social clubs and lodges disappeared. And the War in Vietnam escalated.

When millions of American youth were forced to register for the draft, were conscripted into the service and were shipped thousands of miles to fight and die in jungles and rice paddies in Southeast Asia, the 60's erupted. Many believed in the "domino theory" of communist aggression and thought the Vietnam War was worth the price. Many more didn't believe. Heck, they didn't even understand. And when they asked questions and demanded answers, they were blown off by old fashioned and authoritarian Establishment types who sat on draft boards and ran all levels of government. What option was left but to flee to Canada to avoid the draft or take to the streets and do battle with the man?

All the big city social, cultural, and political trends that germinated in the 60's were fertilized by the War in Vietnam. Not only was patriotism passe, the War had turned America into the world's bad guy. Coupled with the Cold War, the Vietnam nightmare provided a logical and convenient rationale for "dropping out" of society, rebelling against the established culture and selfishly turning inward and anti-materialist.

The Vietnam War allowed industry and the military to consummate their World War II relationship. The "military-industrial" complex was born and rebellious Americans in the streets and in academia had another reason to hate corporate America and the "screwed up" priorities of the American government. It was time for the government to be torn away from the grip of "special interests" and returned to the people. This is the message which is still heard today in American streets by those who Occupy Wall Street.

The problem is those who are camped out in the streets today are just as misguided as those who protested in the streets against the Vietnam War 50 years ago. Once a crisis in culture bubbles to the surface and flows into the streets cooler heads do not prevail. Those who shout the loudest and flaunt authority in the most shocking manner get the attention and carry the day. These are the most radical individuals among us and they are in the streets for reasons beside the point. Those with thoughtful and reasoned objections to government policy are drowned out and left by the wayside.

The Vietnam War was an arrogant overreach of government authority. People were right to object to it. So it is today. The obscene and incestuous relationship between big government and the Wall Street money managers has no authority in the Constitution and ought to be opposed by every person in America who values property, freedom and peace. However, the Wall Street Occupiers -- like their Vietnam protester counterparts -- are by and large not in the streets to fix the disconnect between the federal government and the US Constitution. They are in the streets to advocate for an entirely different America, not the one envisioned by our Founders and outlined in our Constitution, but an America restructured according to the Progressive principles of statism, egalitarianism, socialism, populism and radical secularism.

These Progressive principles are not novel. They have been around for centuries in one form or another. However, they were not around in America, at least not anywhere near small town, mainstream America...until a generation of self-centered Americans in the 60's decided that they knew better than their parents how to love, how to live, and how to worship. Unfortunately, when these rebellious, mal-educated and wayward flower children confronted their parents, they were met not with reasoned arguments and impassioned justifications of capitalism, property, freedom and peace, but with a doubtful shrug of the shoulder or the cowardly dictate of parents everywhere: What I say goes!

And so the 60's generation went as well and continues to go, flowing down the backside of the Great American Watershed and landing on Wall Street in shabby tents, urine-soaked clothes, bodies full of drugs and heads full of mush.

The way to deal with these people and all of those who defend them or sympathize with them is to call a spade a spade. Forget political correctness. In the vernacular of the 60's "tell it like it is." You and your counterparts of a generation or two ago are ignorant and spoiled brats. By advocating statism you are binding your own hands in slavery to government elitists who will, after you give them power, use that power to eliminate you.

By adopting egalitarianism you are snuffing out genius and the benefits it daily showers upon you.

By voting for socialism, you are destroying private property and the prosperity that only property and private enterprise can provide.

By turning away from God, you are rejecting humility and becoming the worst kind of fool -- an arrogant one.

If you are seeking a long-lasting and prosperous peace, take off your sandals, go back to small town America, fall on your knees in the first church you see and thank God your ancestors built the miracle we call the United States of America. Yes, entire generations have allowed the vision of our Founders to become blurred and corrupted, but the answer is not to close your eyes to that vision, but to open them wide.

Cut out the corruption. Undo the sad legacy of the 60's generation and build a Great Watershed of your own, one that will end the Progressive nightmare and renew the American dream.

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