Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

I Hate the Sixties

We talk as though the decades of the 20th century were separate entities. The Fifties were guilty of that. The Seventies were good because of this. There was a TV show I watched last night called I Hate The Sixties. It involved a shower of right-wing ideologues sounding off about Enoch Powell and tower blocks and promiscuity and radical theology and the pill as though these disparate phenomena were all the work of some evil genie called the Sixties who had come out of nowhere and imposed his will upon a hitherto right-thinking nation.

Where's historical progression in all of this?

The Sixties- it's a meaningless idea. It's a arbitrarily designated stretch of time in which all sorts of different things happened. Bad things, good things. Of course what everyone means by the Sixties is Mick Jagger and Mary Quant smoking dope on the King's Road with flowers in their hair. It's an ethos, it's a dandyism, it's a whiff of patchouli. Flimsy, fatuous and fun. But the drive of the programme was to suggest that Jagger and Quant were somehow personally responsible for racial ugliness in Wolverhampton and the mistakes of the town planners. A butterfly flapped its wings in Chelsea and Dr Beeching axed the rural branch lines.

What the rightists really hate is the ending of hierarchy and authority and deference. The words reality and illusion got bandied about a lot. The old ways = reality, the spirit of the Sixties = illusion. Ah, get with it boys. Life's an illusion. There are better dreams and there are worse dreams.

Love, freedom, flowers in the hair- it's as good a dream as any.
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