Indiana Daily Student

No Summer of Love

I am so tired of reading about the Summer of Love. More specifically, I’m tired of reading fawning, nostalgia-dripping, Boomer-ego-stroking articles about the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. “It was a magical time of free love and consciousness-altering experimentation,” you say? “It showed the power of young people to change the world,” you say? So, you say you got a revolution?\nHindsight being 20/20, it’s easy for us in the 21st century to see that the view of human nature espoused by the Summer of Love, and its prescriptions for a utopian society, were fundamentally flawed. Still, you wouldn’t know this from the rose-colored tint of much of the anniversary coverage – so perhaps we need a brief accounting.\nPeace, free love, free food, free concerts, free expression, loads of psychedelic drugs, communal sharing – and what did we get? Altamont, the Manson Family and a general explosion of violent crime into the 1970s. Student activism that became the terrorism by the Weathermen, Germany’s Red Army Faction, Italy’s Red Brigades, the Japanese Red Army, etc. Placidly stoned, penniless hippies who turned into damaged, dangerous, homeless junkies – and bunches of drug-addled artists (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones) who didn’t even reach age 30. A decade-and-a-half of casual shagging that finally gave rise to the AIDS epidemic. And, come 1989, the realization that the “squares” may have been wrong about Vietnam and the “domino theory” but they were right about communism – that communist governments were ruthless, brutal, dysfunctional regimes that killed millions of people, and their own citizens were yearning for the freedom and prosperity that the Western counterculture was deriding.\nThe utter failure of the Summer of Love is revealed, above all, in one simple observation: now that its alumni, the Baby Boomers, are in charge, are they applying any of its ideals? The answer is “no” (and you could add a “duh” for good measure). Pacifism? Nope. Free love? Nope – heck, we’re still fighting over whether sex ed teachers can suggest behaviors besides abstinence. Legal drugs? A huge NOPE. Communal sharing? Today, we’re living in the most free-market-oriented times since the turn of the turn of the 20th century. Free expression? If it weren’t for the First Amendment, the Boomers would “protect” the rest of us from everything ranging from violent video games to politically-incorrect disk jockeys (although the Federal Communications Commission sure is trying to censor as much as it can). I agree with some of these polices and disagree on others (if you’ve read my past columns, you can probably guess which ones) – but the point here is that, if the Summer of Love “changed the world,” it’s because the Boomers steered society in the diametrically opposite direction.\nThis brings us to the most irritating thing about all this worshipful coverage of the Summer of Love. It was supposedly so great but, because of a combination of accident and design, the Boomers have made it so that you, in generation Y, can’t have one. Sorry, kid.

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