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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 10:04 PM
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The Myth of the ’60s

from truthdig:



The Myth of the ’60s
Posted on Nov 16, 2011


Excerpted from “What Really Happened to the 1960s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy” by Edward P. Morgan. This excerpt is adapted from the published book by the author, with permission.


I begin the book with a discussion of how the unending “battles of the 1960s,” as candidate Barack Obama put it, were a significant and at times poignant backdrop to the 2008 presidential campaign. Such is the nature of political discourse in the American mass media culture. Something called “the Sixties” is alluded to again and again at regular intervals: presidential campaigns, repeated acts of war by the United States, outbursts of mass protest, episodes of racial unrest, abortion battles, charges of “political correctness,” to say nothing of media-saturated anniversaries of iconic sixties events, from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to Woodstock.

I maintain that the mass media’s “sixties” discourse is chiefly one of ghosts, accusations, and smoke and mirrors that has long played on audience emotions and diverted public attention to what is essentially a symbolic form of spectator politics. In a commentary that represents perhaps the archetypal media culture representation, commentator Andrew Sullivan referred to these as the “debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us.”1 (See footnotes at end of article.) Sullivan is right in one sense; this media discourse is debilitating if we aspire to a democratic way of life. On the other hand, the archetypal media argument is also wrong in two respects. These “battles of the 1960s” were not, and are not, a generational quarrel. Notwithstanding media representations, sixties battles were about racism, poverty, war, meaningful education, the rat race, sexism, and ecological destruction. But, second, these political concerns are not even battles of the sixties. Lo and behold, while minorities and women have made great gains within the social mainstream, contemporary American life is marked by wars the people oppose yet cannot stop; poverty and a racially identifiable underclass that lives without hope; the growth of an obscenely wealthy class of the super-rich combined with an eroding middle class; an educational system increasingly driven by the bottom line that leaves young people more trapped in a rat race than were their sixties forebears; ongoing violence toward women in a society that continues to bombard us with images of pumped-up militarism; and an ecosphere that is showing far more fundamental signs of deterioration than it did in the earlier era of Earth Day environmentalism.

......(snip)......

“The Sixties” in Mass Media Discourse

Presidential campaigns have for more than forty years exploited symbols, images, and personalities from the 1960s era as a means of mobilizing political support for their candidates and political agendas. For the most part, these campaigns have come from the right side of the political spectrum. Over time, they have blamed “the sixties” for just about everything they see as wrong with America. Beginning as far back as Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, political forces on the Right have used sixties-era media images to tap into the fears and resentments the spectacle spawned and thus to buttress their political agendas aimed largely at what they like to call “Big Government.” During the 1960s, these attacks began to pull significant populations—most notably the white South and portions of the Catholic working class—out of the Democratic Party’s New Deal coalition into the Republican camp.

With the economy floundering in the early to mid-1970s, capitalism’s elites sought to redress what they saw as the “excess of democracy” or “democratic distemper” of the sixties era in order to move public policy to the right.2 Rightist and corporate agendas converged with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, a turning point that not only produced the neoliberal (or what is misleadingly called a “free market”) regime that has dominated American politics ever since,3 but has succeeded in transforming American political discourse in the process. The Reagan agenda implemented earlier corporate calls for a sharp reduction in liberal government, a major shift toward privatization and free-market policies, and a new surge in military spending coupled with a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy—a reversal of the so-called “Vietnam syndrome.” ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_myth_of_t... /



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tblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 10:06 PM
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1. Oooh. This looks really juicy.
I gotta print it out and read it. I will and then I'll comment.
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snagglepuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 10:17 PM
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3. +1
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snot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 10:09 PM
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2. K&R'd. When they say, "the excesses of the 60's," I say, you mean bombing Cambodia? Watergate?
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