From time to time over the years, there’s a part of me that has been sympathetic to the rabble-rousers who protest against the established order. I was again reminded of this when I happened to switch on the History channel during a program about the hippie movement of the Sixties.
Generally speaking, I am quite repulsed by genuine hippies, i.e., those cut in the Woodstock mold. Maybe it’s my acute affinity for soap and water — not to mention clean underwear — but I can’t relate to rebels who see bathing as a cruel and unusual punishment.
Nevertheless, much like today’s Woodstock descendants, from a very young age I have tended to reject establishment institutions, especially government and the multitude of bureaucratic agencies that sprout from it like poisonous tentacles. The unveiling of massive corruption at the FBI and DOJ, not to mention throughout the Obama administration, have once again reminded me why I don’t trust institutions — especially those in our nation’s capital.
I used to think I was an oddball, but today’s worldwide populist phenomenon has convinced me that tens of millions of otherwise straight-and-narrow people are as fed up with establishment institutions as I am. Whether in middle America, Catalonia, or Tehran, people are pushing back hard.
Unfortunately, those lost souls of the early hippie era, as well as those of today, went way beyond my focus of discontent. They had, and still have, high hopes for changing the world through peace, love, and, above all, the use of force.
Of course, the gods of history could have assured them, in advance, that failure was their destiny. Any group of people whose goal it is to change the world by getting everyone to align with an idealistic vision of eliminating avarice, greed, and thuggery — in other words, changing human nature! — is setting itself up for disappointment. Thousands of years of human history guarantee that.
In a hippie-run world, everyone would love everyone else, meditate each morning while bowing down to a picture of a naked Yoko and John enjoying an acid trip together, and have his/her ashes spread over India’s Ganges River when they die. Cynics might be inclined to refer to this kind of life as Kumbayuk.
There’s no question about it, the hippie movement succeeded in changing society in major ways — some good, some bad. There’s no question that it spawned the women’s liberation movement, which, in itself, produced both good and bad results for women and society as a whole.
The hippie movement also promoted racial and ethnic tolerance, though not religious tolerance. It also led to the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision to legalize the termination of human beings still in the womb. And, of course, it brought us loud, incoherent shouting as a substitute for real music.
But perhaps the worst thing that came out of the hippie movement was the popularization of the idea that it’s the government’s duty to “fix” income inequality. Of course, the idea of wealth redistribution had been around long before the blossoming of Haight-Ashbury into the hippie capital of the world, going back as far as the Roman Empire and perhaps even Athens (at least through the philosophic teachings of Plato, particularly in his work The Republic).
And right here in the U.S., socialist policies were being pushed by many influential people, starting as far back as Teddy Roosevelt. Falsely portrayed as a heroic believer in individualism in school textbooks, Roosevelt was anything but. On the contrary, he was such a strong believer in redistributing wealth that he founded the Progressive Party in America in 1912 (though Woodrow Wilson is generally credited with being the president who began the systematic dismantling of the notion that politicians were servants of the people).
Today, of course, governments in most of the industrialized world are nothing more than massive wealth-redistribution machines. They carry out their chief function based on the false premise that redistributing wealth from the “haves” (an impossible word to define) to the “have nots” (also impossible to define) is not only a legitimate function of government, but a noble one.
The corollary to this premise, of course, is that income inequality is evil. I find it strange that no one has ever tried to explain why such a premise is correct, other than to insist that the gap between the so-called rich and so-called poor simply isn’t “fair” (the most impossible word of all to define).
In any event, in addition to the use of soap and water, wealth redistribution is where I part ways with hippie rebels. The fantasy of being Peter Fonda gliding down the highway on that cool Harley in Easy Rider is glamorous and all that, but even Fonda — like his sibling, Hanoi Jane — has never shown the slightest interest in sharing his wealth with those who are less fortunate. (At least Paul Newman wasn’t a hypocrite. He actually demonstrated his compassion for those in need by donating 100 percent of his salad-dressing profits to charity.)
That said, I feel obliged to thank Robert Mueller, James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, and the rest of the Deep State Corruption Crowd for reminding me that I’ve been right all along in my belief that politicians and bureaucrats are all about money and power and that they achieve their nefarious ends though deceit, intimidation, and the use of force. If that makes me a rebel — or even a watered-down version of a hippie — so be it.