That Was Then, This Is Now 

That Was Then, This Is Now 
Posted by FoM on April 16, 2000 at 21:18:32 PT
By Henry Allen, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
Nobody gets it.You try to explain it's not your father's revolution, not the '60s counterculture, not the sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll primal-scream liberation scene where the enemy is Daddy/the pigs/the Establishment and you don't trust anybody over 30 and ideologues run foul mouths at each other about left-deviationism.
It's not like that, no matter how much the tear gas, giant puppets, folk singing and anarchist window-smashing looked the same on TV last November in Seattle, when protesters put a meeting of the World Trade Organization on tumble dry.And may look like it again on Sunday when a lot of the Seattle protesters, plus others inspired by Seattle and cautiously endorsed by unions, will be trying to shut down the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.All is changed.Nobody gets it, outside the movement. Animal protection advocates wear sea turtle costumes during a protest of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, 1999. Reuters People say: Yeah, but who are the leaders? Where's somebody like Abbie Hoffman or Jane Fonda or Tom Hayden? Who's their Bob Dylan or Buffalo Springfield? Where's Allen Ginsberg or Kurt Vonnegut or J.D. Salinger? What movies have they got like "Rebel Without a Cause" or "Easy Rider"? How come these people don't become instant celebrities like Mario Savio in 1964 at the University of California at Berkeley when he fired up the Free Speech Movement by announcing:"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"This is still the message of the protesters, the way it was the message of the populists against the railroads in the 19th century, Teddy Roosevelt against the trusts, the Red Scare anarchists setting off bombs after World War I, the socialists against the banks, the pacifists against the Bomb, then the civil rights and anti-war movements and the people organized to end: global warming, the killing of whales, the wearing of furs, the building of nuclear power plants and now, corporate globalization, McWorld, sweatshops, the export of jobs, the absence of living wages, and the eco-wrecko Disneyfication of reality itself.So it's the same, except it's different.Sometime after midnight at a party in Columbia Heights, you get one of the differences: The hormone-hyped Oedipal rage of the '60s has vanished. The air lacks pheromones, perfume, marijuana, patchouli--all the love scents and ego-ozone of the lost bohemias, undergrounds and conspiracy cultures visible now in America only as heel marks in the linoleum of 20th-century history.People drink keg beer out of jelly jars. A deejay in a wheelchair mixes music from bands like Anonymous and Jurassic 5. Nobody dances except one guy who keeps arching his back and looking like he's waiting for girls to notice him--it's a white thing, you understand, this sort of activist organizing. What dancing there's been has had a tense serenity about it, like people daydreaming with their feet. They seem to be either saving their energy or suppressing their anger--preoccupied men who look like they can't build bookshelves, and tired women who look like they don't care. A young woman sits on a young man's lap but she seems embarrassed about it. There's even a lot of listening. That's different from the '60s."Socialists are nominally . . .""Direct action . . . inclusive empowering . . . Frankenfood . . .""Yeah, nationalism is the enemy."Somebody says that Jack Weinberg is here, the guy who said "Don't trust anybody over 30" during the free speech ruckus in 1964. You look for him, but you can't pick out stars here, maybe because radicals have learned over 30 years that stars create hierarchies and hierarchies create factions, and factions end up fighting among themselves.Out in the kitchen, a founder of Earth First! named Mike Roselle, 45, says he knows exactly how fast non-hierarchical democracy can break down. He says: "When it gets to who controls the microphone, that's where the rubber meets the road on hierarchy.""The scenario . . .""Dialoguing . . . street heat . . ."The patriarch of postwar protest organizing is Martin Luther King Jr., but for the first time in a century, the underground doesn't seem to be drawing style or awareness from either black people or hill folk. No Stokely Carmichael, no Woody Guthrie, no urban cool, no country authenticity. This go-round of the movement has its wit and vigor, but it's all focused. Nobody bends double laughing. Nobody runs a foul mouth, ego-strafing listeners '60s-style with righteous obscenities about how they're a mothering bunch of co-opted bourgeois sellouts to The Man. . . No.Are they depressed or just polite? There's a lot of the Jewish social-consciousness tradition on display, but none of the hip fast-quip city-kid irony and put-on that made the late Abbie Hoffman so appealing and elusive. The tone may well be set by a Pacific Northwest demeanor, laid-back but preoccupied, with an accent that has a self-consciously practical quality to it, the verbal equivalent of duct tape. "Tried to shout it down but couldn't . . .""Usually Africa, usually U.K., they're fine . . ." They wear sneakers or work boots and, except for the occasional anarchist-black T-shirt, they wear generic lint-colored clothes that look like something found in the lost bin at a laundromat.Cool. This is the way: Reject consumerism, don't buy, don't exemplify any trends, don't become a commodity yourself, like the bluejeaned, natural-foods, backpacking, four-wheel-drive Vermont-and-New-Mexico counterculturists of the '60s who ended up as just another lifestyle trend, a set of catalogue offerings."We don't want to respond to mass culture by creating a mass counterculture," says Matthew Smucker, 22, an organizer from Minneapolis. "We want diverse cultures. We're opposed to homogenization, and that's what corporations are doing to cultures all over the world--Nike, Disney, Starbucks . . ."And is there the tiniest twinge of guilt over our prosperity keeping these people working so hard?A satirical movement newspaper called the Washington Lost reports: "Today--as on every Friday--1,000 illegal aliens here became official U.S. consumers, swearing on a J. Crew catalogue that they will buy sport utility vehicles, massive stereo systems, high definition televisions, and diet pancake syrup."Port Huron Statement, 1962, Students for a Democratic Society: "Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between man and man today. These dominant tendencies cannot be overcome by better personnel management, nor by improved gadgets, but only when a love of man overcomes the idolatrous worship of things by man."Trend-spotters will spot no things for consumers to worship at this party.Maybe Teamsters jackets. Unions could get hip. Imagine it.Unions? The hard-hats whose fathers marched through Wall Street beating up anti-war hippies in 1970? Yes. In Seattle, one sign read: "Teamsters and Turtles--Together at Last."Here at the party, Matt Latzo, 31, who drives a food truck, Teamsters Local 355, says: "Sure the rank and file know what's going on. They know they're getting screwed."Think how badly both unions and social-justice radicals have been hammered that they'd finally agree to make common cause across all those class and cultural lines.And there's Jack Weinberg, somebody says.Someone old amid something new. There's a feeling of small joys scrounged from large failures, along with the knowledge that the struggle goes on. Maybe someday . . . People stare off the front porch, too savvy and committed to worry about the cop cars that drive up and down Euclid Street with lights flashing--something poignant about them, like fireflies on a June night.Weinberg stands up to talk with somebody else who wants to shake the hand of a man who shook the confidence of everybody over 30. Young radicals orbit him. He's a star, a legend, no matter what the anti-hierarchical philosophy may be. He's 59, a big guy, with the watchful reserve of an old campaigner--he says he works on "chemicals issues" in Chicago now. He gets talking about his Berkeley days. "We're never going to replay the '60s," Weinberg says. "There aren't the same generational issues, aren't the same theatrics. The '60s were a cultural thing--all the music and writing, the rebellion against conformity--and out of the cultural rebellion came the political stuff. The movement here is arising out of a political milieu."And it focuses on issues, not ideology. Once the Berlin Wall fell, revealing a cultural and environmental toxic waste dump on the other side, Marxism offered only a critique, not a promised land.Weinberg says: "Don't forget, we were living in a broadcast culture back then. Now you've got the Internet."(You can sit at a computer console for a week before you've begun to exhaust all the political theory, organizing tactics, news about the rain forests and the U'wa Indians. Mr. Jones doesn't need Bob Dylan telling him something's happening when he already knows what it is from endless Web sites. And, yes, of course, old '60s hypocrisy hounds may complain that the Internet is provided by exactly the sort of transnational corporations these people oppose, but try to remember: Did you call the Viet Cong hypocrites for using American rifles?)Weinberg has watched the life cycles of a lot of protest movements until fault lines started flashing through the bedrock of American crankiness, wariness, idealism, utopianism, egotism, individualism, consensus, e pluribus unum, e unus pluribum."As this movement becomes bigger and more successful, there will be personalities arising, the way we had by 1969 when the movement was completely falling apart."More will be learned, maybe even changed.By Henry AllenWashington Post Staff WriterFriday , April 14, 2000 ; C01  2000 The Washington Post Company Note to Cannabis News Readers and Friends: This article isn't really on our normal topics here at Cannabis News but it is about where we are and about freedom of expression. I have put together different articles and information on this board below. If you want to read it, it is kept fairly current with the news on the protest. Hope you like it. I put it on my WTO Seattle Riots 1999 Board from last year.WTO Seattle Riots 1999 and The Sequel
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Comment #2 posted by fivepounder on April 17, 2000 at 07:23:28 PT
posters in dc
I watched it all day yesterday on c-span and not one poster saying anything about the drug war. The connection may not be obvious but its the same elitist group that thinks weed is bad etc. 
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on April 17, 2000 at 04:16:11 PT
 It's a true DRAG man. I know there are thousands,perhaps millions of us out there who completely agree and support what these people are standing up for,but we are regretfully not able to really make our feelings known for many reasons. I think the reluctantly,non-involved,silent masses,are many of the same people who live in this new age of fear,and "uber alles government-media-big brother-overlord-multinational entity world". I think one could easily suggest a paralell,with the reign of terror that is the "War on Drugs". This huge silent group is mainly composed of those who have jobs and families.At work,or at home,the media has swayed and distorted reality,in a way that makes it akward for one to speak out in favor of legalization,or against global economic domination. The "police state" attempts to control these true patriots,who are peacefully trying to speak out against the IMF,are strange and somewhat obscene.Of course after the heinous scene in Seattle,they are doing their best to try and appear as if all that happens is normal "crowd control". Keep your eyes open as to how the mainstream media will either play down,or give negative reports against these upset citizens who are doing the work for the rest of us,in Washington D.C. this week. Things are a whole lot different now than in the "good ol'"sixties.With the lessons they learned in Seattle,there seems to be a development of a new breed of "crowd control" tactics,that will be made to be seen as necessary to public safety, Dont forget to pay attention to how all this is covered in the media,which is owned by corporate interests that are basically owned by mega-comglomerates,who are basically the IMF. Anyway,my original thought was the thing of;:::I think there are alot of people out there who are saying "Right On",to these protesters,but we live in some spooky times now,and people who rock the boat,so to speak,are becoming somewhat scarce. I think the janitors strike is cool too.It is so sickening to think that anyone would not want to decently compensate those who clean their toilets,empty their trash,and vacuum their floors.It's a good example of classic GREED!..............dddd....Yea,I was a teen in the 60's
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