A Philosopher's Blog

It is Time to Say “Goodbye” to the 1960s

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 1, 2008

The 1960s were important years in American history and they did much to define the shape of country. It was a time of conflict, war, dissent, racism, sexism, hate, love, and hope. But, it is also a time that is long over and it is about time people accepted that it is groovy to say “goodbye 60s.”

The need to say goodbye was brought to my attention by two of my close friends. One is a neo-conservative who makes Rush Limbaugh look like a liberal. The other is a classic liberal-what my neo-con buddy would call a “moonbat.” Oddly enough, they both agreed that is was high time to put the 1960s behind us.

My moonbat friend, in an act of moonbattery, made an excellent case that the politicians who came of age in the 1960s are locked into the conflict and partisan mode of politics. Back then it was always “us” against “them” and this approach has continued to this day.

My neo-con friend thinks that nothing good came from the 1960s. In his eyes, it was a time when America was in decay and chaos. Those who are enamored of that time are, in his eyes, naught but hippies who want to drag America into socialism and decadence.

My view is that the 1960s did have some positive outcomes. Civil rights, women’s rights, and other steps towards equality took place in that time. America had the chance to look deep into its soul and see much that was wrong. This sort of thing is painful for both a person and a nation.

However, as my friends pointed out, the 1960s had many negative effects on America. The taint of decadence, drug use, and other social ills became highly entrenched during that time. The culture of the victim also had its foundations put down solidly in that time and this is one of the most problematic legacies of the 1960s.

The culture of the victim is the view that a person’s identity is to be largely defined and determined by their status as a victim. It is also the view that the victim is neither responsible nor capable in regards to his/her fate.

While it is noble and good to help others who have been harmed, furthering the culture of the victim does nothing to truly help people. In fact, it enervates people by convincing them to remain victims and wait for someone else, perhaps the government, to make things right for them.

This is not to say that we should not help our neighbor. They are our brothers and sisters and we are the keepers of each other. But, people need to be aided and encouraged to succeed. Treating people as eternal victims does not do this. We can acknowledge the sins of the past and the sins of the present while still treating people as they deserve to be treated: as men and women and not as mere victims.

While we are duty bound to honor the sacrifices made in the 1960s, those days are over. Those years were important but there are years that are more important-namely now and the future. It is time to say goodbye to the 1960s and to say hello to tomorrow.

9 Responses

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  1. Rob said, on February 2, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I agree. I am so tired of working with people who are stuck on 60’s stupid.
    I was a teenager during the sixties. I bought into at the time. Then I had three kids, two businesses and a reality check in life. I am a recovering 6o’s person.
    Please read more from my blog at:

    http://riggword.wordpress.com/

    Take a look and tell me what you think.

  2. Rigg said, on March 3, 2008 at 8:43 am

    As one who was stuck in the 60s all the way to the 90s. I was awakened from my stupor by the first Gulf War called Desert shield. Then In 1992 Bill Clinton came along and really set me strait. His style and rhetoric hit me in the gut as “Wrong”. Obama hits an even deeper cord in my gut; he is Jerry Ruben times Clinton times Jimmy Carter plus lots O’ Money.

    In the 90s, I had a business and I was struggling to raise 3 daughters while keeping a marriage alive. I credit Bill Clinton with giving me the inspiration to look deep into my soul, mind, and heart and rethink all of my false beliefs about life. I had been mesmerized by the 60s; drugged literally and figuratively by the aphrodisiac of idealistic youthful fantasy, lead on by stoned musicians and radical rebellious politician wannabes.

    I say to those who are still caught in the fantasy…..WAKE UP!
    Before we elect a 60s radical for President of the Most Powerful Nation in the
    History of the Planet. He will give away our Freedom and Country.

  3. magus71 said, on March 3, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I can’t say it any better than Rigg did…

  4. Geaghan said, on March 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Never visited this blog before last weekend, but now I’ve figured out that it’s a magnet for right-wing ideologues who prefer blogging and commenting in echo chambers. Obama as Jerry Rubin? Sorry, but (to paraphrase Woody Allen) I’ve got an appointment back on the planet earth. Obama a 60s radical who’ll “give away our Freedom and Country?” He was 9 years old in 1970. (Disclosure: I haven’t voted for or contributed to Obama, and haven’t yet figured out who I’ll vote for in our primary.)

    The main article notes: My view is that the 1960s did have some positive outcomes. Sounds like damning with faint praise to me. Incredibly, I find scant mention of the immoral Vietnam war and the success of the antiwar movement in ending the administration that escalated it and eventually forcing a U.S. withdrawal. This war may have had a slightly more solid foundation (in anticommunist rhetoric) than the Iraq war, but ending it was an absolute moral imperative. If you’re going to denounce outrage and confrontation, then at least consider the causes of it.

    As for the multiplying “victimization” rants, one commenter has argued that blacks have been duped into seeing themselves as victims by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Noam Chomsky and the New Left. But this hypothesis is just another way to “victimizing” African Americans based on a theory of white paternalism rather than racism.

    Of course we don’t like to view people as “victims,” especially if our forebears might have some responsibility for making them so.

    And no one likes confrontation for its own sake, contrary to the implication here, but there’s still a lot to be angry about and those realities won’t disappear just because we want to “say goodbye to the 1960s” and “hello to tomorrow.”

    The summary of the incarceration study was very good, by the way, and I commend the author for it.

    So have fun, and I’ll see you on the (verbal) barricades…

  5. mlabossi said, on March 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    No, merely saying “good bye” and “hello” won’t fix things. What I am arguing for is a focus on the future as opposed to spending so much time looking back at the past.

    That said, an understanding of the past is critical to avoiding failure in the future. Also, there is much left from the past that must be fixed. But it is (obviously) to be fixed now.

    My main motivation in writing the above essay was hearing my left-wing and right-wing friends complaining about the leftover effects of the 60s and how they are harming America today. As with all things, it is wise to honor and keep the good while getting rid of and correcting what is bad (including what is no longer good).

  6. magus71 said, on March 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Ok–so Obama’s no 60’s radical–Geaghan, for once you and I agree.

    As for your victimization rant, I’ll say this: If men and women can recover from horrendous mishaps like losing limbs, losing family, losing property, and within a very short time, be back on their feet and functioning, no not only functioning–excelling and helping others to avoid similar problems–then whole communities can lift themselves above what happened two-centuries ago. This is not an advocation of anyone’s wrongdoing, it is an EXORTATION for people to take their fates into their own hands and greet everyday and every person with a smile.

    With that, I’ll have a beer and some M+Ms. And I’d still share a beer with you Geaghan, if you don’t mind that I’m a right-wing ideologue…

  7. Geaghan said, on March 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    [I meant to upload this response yesterday, but apparently I forgot to press the “submit” button. Sorry for any duplication.]

    …people need to be aided and encouraged to succeed. Treating people as eternal victims does not do this.

    No argument here in principle, nor with Magus’ suggestion to share a beer.

    But I’s still struggling with various implications of this “victimizing” argument. Are we really supposed to believe that African Americans are somehow more prone to commit crimes because white liberals/leftists have convinced them that they have a moral right be angry, and act out their anger, because they’re the victims of slavery and four centuries of racism?

    First, I don’t think that African Americans need to be reminded by whites that they’re the victims of systematic discrimination. And I’m not aware of any studies that support the assumption that actual people commit crimes because they’ve been told, by anyone, that they’re victims. Bill Cosby notwithstanding. Nor, during thirty years of work in the criminal justice system, have I encountered anyone who attempted to justify their conduct with that argument. With all due respect, I think the “culture of the victim” meme is a classic straw-man argument that has little or no empirical support.

    So I have to view all this as an assumption that, for whites, is all too convenient because it justifies the political culture’s “benign neglect” of blacks and their own racist worldview. It’s all reduced to a “black problem” that can best be solved by a change in attitude for blacks and a refusal of the white left to stimulate their sense of victimization. So the prescription is a kind of “tough love” (a classic oxymoron).

    This, in essence, is the political position that Clarence Thomas has attempted to articulate in his denunciations of affirmative action–when, ironically, he was perhaps its most prominent beneficiary.

    Crime is a result of a whole constellation of factors: economic hardship, a lack of meaningful opportunities, systematic racial and class discrimination and a host of other ingredients–most of which have been extensively documented–that directly influence how people view their day-to-day lives. A recognition of those realities is very different from “coddling” criminals or encouraging an “eternal victim” mentality.

  8. magus71 said, on March 4, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Geaghan said:

    “But I’s still struggling with various implications of this “victimizing” argument. Are we really supposed to believe that African Americans are somehow more prone to commit crimes because white liberals/leftists have convinced them that they have a moral right be angry, and act out their anger, because they’re the victims of slavery and four centuries of racism?”

    I don’t believe that individual criminals commit crimes because Jesse Jackson has been telling them for 4 decades that they are victims. What I do believe to be the case, is that leaders of the black community and some people in academia are not teaching what the correct way to live actually is. They are sherking their responsibilities to teach the youth how to live correctly in society. The high-crime rate in certain portions of certain cultures has in part, to do with ignorance. There is little thought of justice, victimhood, right, wrong,–in the mind of the burglar, thief or even most murderers, and neither is there the thought of a slavery suffered by ones ancestors over 200 years ago. There is usually only the animal instinct to quell immediate desires. When a culture’s leaders shrug aside their responsibilities of teaching hard-truths and the correct way to make one’s self better and to help those around you, and replace what they should be teaching with ad nauseum references to wrongdoings centuries old–then those leaders and teachers have contributed to the problem, not helped to remedy it. Then, they leave it to society to do their hard work, and as Aristotle said, “The bad man is ruled by pain…” Are all people that commit crimes “bad men”? Probably not. The “system” does give chances, many times, too many chances. It, like all human institutions is not perfect, but damn it, it’s pretty good when I look back through history and around the world.

    I too have worked in the criminal justice system. To characterize that system as merely throwing people behind bars would not be accurate. I too have suffered hardships, and finally, after years of wallowing, came to the conclusion that it is my perception of the problem that held me back more than the problem itself. This is a very edifying way to think. Why is that such a bad message? I honestly don’t believe that most white people are racists. They want to get along, indeed they’re are afraid that they will be perceived as racist for the slightest offense…

    When all is said and done, we can never divorce ourselves from personal responsibility. To do so risks destroying what it means to be a person, an individual. We can never replace justice with excuses, nor should we be brutal and uncaring. But there is a line that anyone can cross, regardless of race, where the system will ship them off to prison for a very long time. At that point, in that specific circumstance, slavery IS irrelivent. The system will leave it to the social-scientists to figure out why it happened, what can be done in the future to prevent it, and how society can modify its conceptions of the criminal in the future–the courtroom is not the place for social experimentation…


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