The hippy ideas and communist political values dominant in the 1960s and 70s when I grew up are "old hat" and dead as far as most people today are concerned. The worst excesses of hippiedom - leading to the Mansen killings in California, which were heralded as the main message of hippy culture by an eager right wing press, led to its early death except in a few way out collectives and communes in the 70s and 80s. The swing to the right in the 80s and early 90s emphasised the completely opposite values of utilitarianism and individualist greed.
The left politicians of the 90s capitulated abjectly, partly because they matured in these new selfish values, but also because their own far left was destroyed when the Berlin wall came down and communism collapsed. There was a belief that there was now only one ballgame in the park - free market capitalism, embraced by all sides. The collapse of communism was indeed due, as it had become a bloated, corrupt and mirror system to the west, where top party members enjoyed the same lifestyle as the top capitalists, equally removed from the lives of the "workers" living in the tenements of Moscow, just as the western multi-national magnates were so distant from those of Brooklyn or Manchester.
What is never acknowledged today is that both hippy values and communism were founded on a revolt against the tyranny of capitalist and materialist views of mankind, that perhaps in their genesis there might be some truths which we need to relocate and promote today for the generation maturing in the 21st century. A generation that is becoming tired of the facile solutions of consumerism, and of being constantly branded and cookied by multi-national companies, their press and political servants. There is a gradual realisation that these communication controllers are abusing our bodies, our computers and our minds in their attempt to make us believe in them, buy their products and vote for their politicians.
The threads of a different way of thinking about being human, and a more social being, rather than homo ludens or homo competerens, were there in a genuine way, back 50 and more years ago. But they were abused and rehashed by every company from Levis to Virgin for the pure purpose of profit, disguised in a vacuous theatre of the "adsurd". Being social is now always mediated through the product and is absent of real human communication and content. There was a real "break" with this historical past of hippiedom and left wing humanist values, where humans believed in a better future for all, and had some kind of road map to get there. We are now only left with comic reflections of such a naive attempt, and the cynicism and satires of a "worldly wise" capitalist intelligentsia. This is the black and constant diet of 21st century culture.
But we need to find these original inspirations again if we are to find a better society, not one attuned to the possible human follies of brotherhood and free love, but one that exploits the full capabilities of humans and their complex minds, and not a society believing in only one banal truth - that consuming goods leads to happiness.
So that is why I call my blog "post-hippy and left-sided." The "left" implies not old-fashioned ideas of the perfectibility of man in a state-controlled utopia, but "left field" innovations that can soften, maybe even blunt the deleterious effects of modern capitalism, bring back people together in real contact and trust. It is already happening in the incredible number of self-help groups and local activists springing up against statist solutions/dissolutions and loss of social services, but it has no theory or political message within it to challenge the "big message" of capitalist governments and trans-nationals. And perhaps there is a dearth of understanding of how we became trapped in this one way street to consumer paradise. The dangers of purely capitalist thinking, urging more products, more growth, and more poorly paid service jobs feeding the rich, have never been more obvious, especially when it stands unopposed in today's world. This blog will suppose and suggest other routes out of the slavery to capitalism, and reflect on what we can truly learn from the failures, and successes (and yes there were some), of hippiedom and communism.