’68 And All That

Some dissonance to embellish an otherwise undisturbed self-anointment.

Inexorably, the intensively self-admired ‘68ers are aging.  The passing of time does not keep the eternally youthful from continuing in their bad old childish habits. Therefore, the gorilla-style breast beating continues. It is followed by preaching about how we should behave and why their shining example is to be replicated. 

Some aspects of this self-celebration are remarkable. However, the exercise unmasks the self-adored as being by now to be twice the age of thirty. Thirty is a magic number taken from the haunting past’s self-advertisement. Just in case, you forgot: The then and now infallible youths –excused for misbehavior because “kids do strange things- used to trumpet that, above thirty, no one is to be trusted. 

This, in itself, reveals much about the skewed perspective that handicaps the source of the acclaim. Remember, it was not the malicious writer that pretended, earlier or now, that by reaching the age of thirty the culprit becomes a reactionary leper. The ‘68ers themselves had announced this with incessant emphasis because it constituted one of their dogmas. In time, that tenet aged as does wine in an open glass; it is known to turn into vinegar.  

Possibly, the un-Ritalin treated eternal kids knew something we, simple barefooted and despised “normals”, could not grasp. Or, alternatively, the ’68-ers have again, but unwillingly, served the sanely skeptical with another example of their lack of a vision except for the blurred image of a hallucinated pseudo-present. According to their own standards, the then and now infallible are, by their own earlier assurances, at sixty doubly not to be trusted. This gives confirms those that have always doubted the movement’s apostles. These unbelievers have, therefore, questioned the legitimacy of the self-anointed while they nurtured reservations about the rationality of the trumpeted noble causes.

Getting old is supposed to make you wise. Trust me; having come of an age at which the adage is supposed to bring all the advantages of the implied prejudice, this is dubious. Selectively and intermittently, age and wisdom can accidentally correlate. That happens in case that the accumulated experience is evaluated with calm objectivity. However, this does not happen inevitably. A fruit left on the tree can ripen. Or it can rot. Age will not heal the original mental ailments of those that enjoy their rewarded delusions. The 68-ers were, according to their own pretensions, fully wise by their standard as teens. In a distorted way, this might even be realistic. Since then, some of the flag-bearers of that self-glorified crowd do not seem to have matured any further. This leaves them as wise at 70 as they were at 20. A child-progeny is at the age of ten as smart as are most adults. If that same person does not grow by the time he becomes a grandfather, then he is at that ripe age only a stunted kid. That might be a lot, but outstanding it is not. Early achieved genius-grade includes the cases of those that, even if wearing Che Guevara beards – easily converted into Muhammad style -  had displayed early the mentality of pre-teens entering puberty.

Justifying in part the praise awarded in ritual acts of self-adoration, the recent decades had made the movement successful to a degree. That came about because the bearers of final and “nonnegotiable” truths have shown themselves self-servingly flexible in their praxis. The wise and the clever are able to change their spots the way leopards cannot. In Europe, they wished to make “chop suey” out of the state. By now, they have discovered the advantages of safe and overpaid government jobs. Concurrently, they also learned to love the taste of the power the office confers upon the crowned person behind the desk. Therefore, the ‘68ers now man the national bureaucracies. They also lead socialist parties as they claim to defend the self-defined true interests of the “toilers”. Lest we forget, the graduates of the movement also run Eurocracy, which are the central administrative organs of the nascent European super state. Many of the reasons why the EU is becoming unpopular have to do with the self-interest-defined goals set by administrators that generally do not mesh with the popular will. This is the reason why, conspiratively but realistically, “Europe” is not put to the test of the voters.

Time has achieved that, the spoiled rioting youngsters of yesterday, have come bearded kids and muted ultimately into grayed or balled characters. Some among these have become professional paragons of virtue. However, even if celebrated by their likes as secular saints, they have not mastered, besides generously wanting to distribute what others have created, a virtue of the truly great. That is the ability to look back, assess, and to admit original errors. 

This reassessment that is owned to the world, has not taken place. The omission of what is becoming a commission, means that outsiders must provide the missing link between past claims and present realities for the ‘68ers. If we take the major causes espoused by the movement, then their package proves to have been mistaken. The stand in favor of Viet Nam and “Ho-ho, Ho Chi Minh” has been morally discredited by the “Boat People” that, as victims, fled the practical consequences of the implementation of the ‘68ers theory of heaven. Today’s Viet Nam’s flirtation with capitalism in the economic area is hardly an endorsement by those made into victors by the movement. In this regard an exception occurs: the movement has managed, by exploiting the means provided by their hated American system, to defeat the USA abroad. Thanks to that, “People’s Cambodia” has become synonymous with self-afflicted genocide. Chinese reforms discredit those that used to consult the Little Red Book. Marcuse, the Prophet, is forgotten or a quaint memory of the unkind that remember the follies of the past so as not to repeat them. And where is the USSR, the “guardian of peace” and the “hope of mankind?” 

Not admitting such defining errors reflects badly on the warriors of the claimed noble cause. Even more serious is that, regardless of the record, the ’68ers are sufficiently uncritical and deluded to advocate the repetition of old errors in a new form that is adjusted to current conditions. Such causes that can be used as a moral pedestal and once that is done, their advocacy allows the propagators to tell others how to live. This quality endows threadbare claims to continue to have an attraction. Outstanding among these is the Green’s crusade with a built-in collectivism that makes it into an undergraduate division of the Reds’ battle-front. Significantly durable among the errors of repetition is to resort to violence in the context of democratic systems in which the will of a plurality becomes the system’s policy. In doing so, the pretension remains that, those who campaign by throwing stones and by trashing neighborhoods, merely assert the “good”, which is opposed by the forces of evil. For society to resist and to retaliate through its police and courts is an abuse of the morally empowered. That outrage is to be condemned and resisted vigorously.

The extent to which the last Mohicans of ’68 remain credible is to be attributed to the failure to assume power by leading the “masses” that were reluctant to follow. (This amounts to a practical argument for popular sovereignty and direct democracy.) Out of power, the seamy tyrannical side of the movement could not assert itself. Nevertheless, the “antiauthoritarian” movement’s dictatorial streak, which caused it to endorse and support totalitarians, is revealing. That message is that, had they been able to grab control of governments, they would have abused power in the same manner as their chosen idols have.