What the Hippies Taught America and How Occupy Didn’t Listen
The Hippies were a group of stoners who spent the 1960s hallucinating on LSD and magic mushrooms while throwing up peace signs and placing flowers in their matted hair. And while that might not seem very beneficial today, the Hippies might very well be America’s last hope for freedom.
Today, in the year 2012, America is quickly falling into a state of greed, war, apathy, and tyranny, and the only way to stop it this with a Hippie-like counter-cultural response. But it’s not enough to become like the Hippies. After all, a group of dirty, stinky men and women standing in a corn field listening to Jimi Hendrix play “The Star Spangled Banner” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, it is time to focus on their political struggles and what they did to fight against “The Man.”
In a time when the American war machine was “destroying communism” in Vietnam, they burnt their draft cards and refused to be pawns in the military’s game of chess. Many of them even turned against the norms of society running from their comfortable homes in suburbia to create communes where the laws of the American slave holder no longer mattered. When the news anchors and those in power spoke of America as a beacon of light, they turned off their televisions and refused to become apathetic zombies. Of course drugs and free love turned them into zombies of a different sort. But the key is that they refused to play the government’s game and in doing so, they created the greatest counter-cultural movement in history. Today, that’s something America desperately needs.
Some might look at the Occupy Movement and say, “Look, look, there are the Hippies of 2012!” but those people would be wrong. Members of Occupy may be coming together in peace to fight against the American tyranny that is war and Wall Street, but these people are creating no great counterculture and are complacently trying to fix a machine that just needs to be scrapped.
Like the Hippies, they may take police brutality and reply with peace uttering cries against the War on Terror, but then they just sit on the street and wait for change. The Hippies on the other hand would have never have been so complacent. They would have risen from the street and walked off to create their own society. In fact, that’s just what they did.
"It is not enough to fight the system; any fight will fail. The American state is too powerful to be changed by a bunch of people refusing to move their rear ends. The two-party corporate duopoly has already made sure that the media demonized the Occupiers
It is not enough to fight the system; any fight will fail. The American state is too powerful to be changed by a bunch of people refusing to move their rear ends. The two-party corporate duopoly has already made sure that the media demonized the Occupiers and rightfully so. The Occupiers in their quest for peace have no unified position and seem to believe that they can still change the way America functions by doing absolutely nothing, or as they call it "occupying."
The Hippies had it right. They knew that they could not defeat the American war machine and while, yes, they protested against the Vietnam War, they too turned their backs and built their communes and their own cultural resistance. Unaffiliated with the American society of greed, war, tyranny, and apathy, their ideological utopian societies took root both in the communes and outside them.
But of course it didn’t last. Much like the Occupiers, the Hippies were not entirely unified. They grew to have an international presence, but the seed they planted never became a great tree. With a focus on Marxist principles and non-political ideals such as free love, the Hippies were never going to survive. This is what the people today need to remember.
Occupy won’t work because it is not unified and because the Occupiers are too complacent to actually create their own society or culture. The Hippies wanted to make change, but their movement ultimately died because of their emphasis on free love, Marxist ideals taken to the extreme, and the spiritual use of psychedelic drugs. None of these were ever a sound basis for any sort of societal or governmental structure. But at least, they turned against society and tried to build upon these ideas to create self-sustaining communes and the gradual self-sustenance of their cultural movement.
And today, looking at the failings of the Hippies and of the Occupy Movement, there is a very obvious lesson to be learned.
Complacency and passive-aggressive attempts to “occupy” and change will be unsuccessful as will any movement without a large unified group and solid ideological stances that can act as the basis for a governmental and societal structure. Knowing this, if a large, unified group began to rise up and walk away from society peacefully in order to create communities without the need of America or any other state, perhaps the Hippie dream could be resurrected.
"If a large, unified group began to rise up and walk away from society peacefully in order to create communities without the need of America or any other state, perhaps the Hippie dream could be resurrected.
But, the Hippie’s ideology cannot be the basis for such a society or government. Nonsensical ideas such as the destruction of the familial institution and of individuality through the strange Hippie off-shoots of Marxism do not provide such a sound foundation, and neither do the ideas of free love and psychedelic drug usage. Discarding these ideas is key. If this is done, then perhaps, just perhaps, the Hippies, for all their failings, could lead a new youth of a today’s time and our generation to create a new counter-cultural movement in which change could occur not through occupation but through desertion.