inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #26 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sat 18 Dec 04 13:09

Just noticed 

it's "desperation" and "conducive." Figured I better correct since
some sticklers in the audience might not want to read the book because
I let misspellings into the banter here.   

All this in the midst of doing my taxes...

inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #27 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sat 18 Dec 04 14:05

Another correction and forgive me for being spacey and sleepy today
when I should be being cautious about accuracy.  I said I had
half-a-dozen books out on jazz. I actually had one book out that was
entirely about jazz and other books in which jazz was a topic and
innovation and bebop was a topic.  

I shall be more cautious with my future posts, use the spellchecker,
and I'm going to take a nap!
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #28 of 173: Michael E. Marotta (mercury) Sat 18 Dec 04 16:30
Apparently, there was no mention of Ayn Rand.  Timothy Leary absorbed
her "drop out" message. I believe that the so-called "malaise" of the
1970s that Presidents Ford and Carter never seemed to grasp, came from
us -- the drop-outs; the hippies -- not being in "corporate America." 
Having dropped out, we were not available.  The result was 20%
inflation, gold at $800 per ounce, American diplomats captured by
rabbble, and the IBM-PC as the "most popular" personal computer.  Come
Ronald Reagan in 1980 and by 1984, there was no 1984.  Deregulation,
lowered taxes, etc., brought the "me" decade, the so-called "greed"
decade.   That "greed" was summed up well by the character of Gordon
Gecko in _Wall Street_ and pretty much summarized the self-focused
world of the anti-establishment from Socrates to Ayn Rand.  Both
Michael Milken and Martha Steward were persecuted under Republican
administrations.  Laissez-faire is not what the GOP has in mind.  The
GOP and the Dems have more interests in common that either is willing
to admit publicly.
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #29 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sat 18 Dec 04 17:21

Hmmm.  That's a fairly confounding rap Mercury.  I don't know if I
want to ask you to unpack it of not, although it could be interesting.

I'd say that when Leary was preaching dropping out at that time as a
move away from ambition towards a more contemplative, gentle, inwardly
focused life and Rand seems to advocate a sort of olympian god,
achievement-oriented individualism.  But perhaps I will contemplate Ayn
Rand as a counterculture figure.  

One thing I love about going out with this book is that nearly every
expressed view surprises me.
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #30 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 18 Dec 04 18:09
Ed's comment got me thinking... this would be a good book to "open source" - 
at some point post it somewhere, and gather comments and corrections and weird 
alternative perspectives to feed into the next edition. Eventually you have an 
Encyclopedia of Counterculture.

Could you talk a bit about how Taoism and Zen got into the mix?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #31 of 173: Ted (nukem777) Sat 18 Dec 04 18:21
 Also wondering if  you could speak to the cultural
(counter-cultural?) myth that acid had a lot to do with a good bit of
the underlying computer programming for the Web and the Net? Is that
fact or fiction?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #32 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 11:03

Good morning!  Nothing like a real night's sleep to clear up the head.
 I even entered a third error into the discussion yesterday when I
transposed Chicago with Detroit.  Genesis discovered "acid house"
records in Detroit.  Christ... (but I was not asleep during the entire
writing of that segment in the book so no excuses for getting words and
cities transposed, which in the clear light of morning I believe I
did.  Hopefully I get the chance to make corrections before it goes to
the more widely distributed paperback.)...

Anyway, Jon you are either a mind reader or you heard on the grapevine
that I was looking into publishing the book online as an open source
document that people could improve on, debate over, and most
importantly, add to in order to make it encyclopedic.  I first of all
queried several people who had published books online at the same time
as they were on sale in stores to see how they felt about their
experience.  I got one whole-heartedly positive testimony and two
ambiguous responses. So I didn't feel like I had ammunition to take to
the book company to advocate the idea.  A later discussion with the
publisher about running selected graphs from each chapter on the web
(they discouraged it), leads me to think that the notion would not have
been well received.   They instead encouraged running a few longish

btw, you can hear me talk about my flirtation with doing it open
source on C-SPAN's Book TV this evening at something like 12:30 or 1:30
am EST (10:30 PM PST, thankfully...  I got two different reports on
the EST time but it should repeat at a better time during upcoming
weekends.)  I was part of a panel called "Beyond The Book" and I think
I was the only one there "thinking outside the book"... but the other
panelists were very perceptive. 

I should point at segments from the book that I DID publish on my
website, since it may give some visitors here more to talk about.  You
can read some substantial segments here:

I'd still like to open source the book although I suspect I will have
to wait until the paperback has its shelf life... so it could be a
couple of years. 

Taoism/Zen: I don't know that there's any particular mystery to the
inclusion of taoism and zen.  One thing we didn't want to do is make
this simply a western historical narrative.  If anything, I would have
liked to have had more non-Western cultures.  As I said in the book,
the Tao te Ching includes so many countercultural tropes that I was
tempted to just tell readers to go and read the book.  Dig this, from
Stephen Mitchell's translation:

When rich speculators prosper
While farmers lose their land;
When government officials spend money
On weapons instead of cures;
When the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
While the poor have nowhere to turn-
All is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.

Taoism is in some ways the most daring counterculture in the sense
that it really advocates the utter dissolution of boundaries,
judgements, and other mind states that call on us to "gird our loins." 
 Conventional notions of responsibility and righteousness are
critiqued, dismissed...  but mostly ignored.  Yet "The Way" is all
about gentleness and ease of living.

Zen was in some ways a class revolution that resulted from the
migration of Buddhism from India, with its rigid caste system, to
China. I like this graph about the subversive nature of Zen...

Then there was the Laurel and Hardy of Zen, “Cold Mountain” and “Pick
Up.” Zen tales portray these two as always singing, joking, and poking
fun at the more self-serious monks.  Iconography portrays them
wild-eyed, leaning on brooms and laughing uproariously. This Zen
laughter is entirely subversive. Hyers: “(Zen) Laughter leads toward
the debunking of pride and the deflating of ego. It mocks grasping and
clinging, and cools desire… It turns hierarchy upside down as a prelude
to collapsing them…  The whole intellectual and valuation structure of
the discriminating mind is challenged, with a result that is
enlightening and liberating.”

Both these philosophies provoked enough interest and activity during
the 20th Century, particularly in the West as the result of
hippie/psychedelic influences and writings by Jack Kerouac, Alan Watts,
Leary, Ginsberg, Gary Snyder etc. for us to consider them
"influential" enough for inclusion.

Ted (Nukem)  

 Also wondering if  you could speak to the cultural
(counter-cultural?) myth that acid had a lot to do with a good bit of
the underlying computer programming for the Web and the Net? Is that
fact or fiction?

While not wanting to sound like former President Clinton, I guess the
answer to that question would depend to some extent on what "a good
bit" means.  One early software developer told me that he felt that
psychedelic experience was essential to being able to really relate to
the notion of a thinking machine. But I'm pretty sure that most of the
early pioneers in thinking about such things, like say Vannevar Bush
were straightforward slideruler/engineering types.    I also met one
person who claims to have designed... channeled, really... some
successful software on a high dose of acid, but he refuses to go

There were certainly plenty of trippers among the early hackers,
including Bill Gates, and I dance around that influence in the book
briefly.  But it's hard to measure direct cause and effect wit these
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #33 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 12:57
A few more thoughts on psychedelics and computer programming etc.  I
happen to think that psychedelics and other drugs do enhance
creativity, at least sometimes.  In the psychedelic/shamanic model, the
tripper journeys into the spirit realm for visions, powers, solutions
and so forth.  A more modern, engineering metaphor compares taking a
mind-altering substance to changing the filters on your perceptual
camera so that you get a different "picture" or view of reality or of
the specific problem you are working through. I think this often works,
even with a "dumb drug" like alcohol or a "smart drug" like caffeine. 
Ordinary mind seems to get stuck in a particular groove, at least for
some of us, and we may require some help in moving off of dead center
before we open up to new solutions.  Sometimes that can seem like
direct cause and effect...  for instance, I occasionally get paranoid,
critical insights from marijuana where I see that I'm fucking up,
saying something for instance that might piss somebody off pointlessly,
or whatever  I've learned to review those insights or corrections yet
again when I'm straight, but more often than not, the pothead insights
prove useful.  Other times, a drug experience can just jog a few brain
cells or loosen a person up.  The solution might appear a week or two
after a high dose psilocybin session and not be obviously associated
with the trip.  Another common experience with both writers and hackers
and scientists etc. is simply sleeping on it.  You can't seem to find
a solution.  You sleep, you dream, and something emerges the next
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #34 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 19 Dec 04 13:56
Drugs were a big part of sixties counterculture, was that unusual? Or do 
countercultures generally have a drug aspect? How might the sixties/seventies 
been different if there hadn't been so many white, middle-class kids who were 
stoned out of their gourds?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #35 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 16:20
If people are expecting a history of cultures revolving around
psychedelics and other drugs, they will be sorely disappointed by this
book.  Drugs do pop up before the 20th century... in the chapter on
Sufism, and very peripherally in the history of Taoism.  If my memory
serves me correctly, that's it until we get to the Parisian scene in
the early 20th century where opium, cocaine, ether, hashish, and
marijuana make appearances.  Even there, it's not a major point of

When we hit the American beats in the 1950s, drugs become important. 
For Ginsberg and Burroughs (in radically different ways) drugs seem to
be a way of liberating the mind from severe constrictions that
particularly characterized the decade of the "grey-flannel suit" and
the "organization man" or a way of boilng a deadening consumer culture
down to its essence (as with Burroughs and heroin).  The early sixties,
of course, sees the beginning evolution of an explicit psychedelic
culture as Leary and Ginsberg turned rather evangelical about the
drug's properties; Huxley's writings about psychedelics continued to
spread; and people like Kesey were turned on in government programs. 
There were, no doubt, a plethora or social factors that made the
psychedelic movement possible; a certain economic comfort level, a
broad and lively, active questioning of fifties conformism that was
probably an inevitable reaction against that level of restraint; the
baby boom that provided the receptive audience for the psychedelic

Maybe people in earlier cultures didn't need drugs to let go and feel
the rhythms; to feel some sense of connection to an inner-dwelling
divinity or to experience agape. Maybe rationalism and industrialism
disconnected us from our ability to naturally induce or experience
brain states that were valuable to us or made us feel good.  In any
case, psychedelic drugs become a major stream in the story of
counterculture starting in the 1950s, although it's not the only

I can't honestly imagine a 1960s without  lots of people stoned out of
their gourds.  It's not like a political event, like what would have
happened if Bobby Kennedy were elected President or if Eastern European
socialist experiments that tried to liberalize were left alone by the
Soviet Union?... etc.  The effects of these things, as I pointed out in
an earlier question reflecting on their effects on individuals, are
tremendously diffuse.  

There is a fairly strong belief among some political activists on the
left that drug culture diverted the movement just as it was building
strength. The idea is that young people would have brought about social
change more effectively and with greater dedication than they did if
they had not been giggling at Yellow Submarine while ripped on orange
sunshine.  I think this is utter horseshit.  The political movement,
antiwar activism and all its contingent forms of activism, among the
young exploded and expanded in size and scope WITH the explosion of
psychedelic use.  The anti-war movement was still pretty weak in 1967.
By 1969 it was massive.  The war and the draft were of course the major
factors, but a generational sense of being part of something really
novel and distinct from the culture of their parents thanks largely to
being "experienced" provided the daily cultural milieu out of which
large numbers of people were likely to incautiously participate in
demonstrations, guerrilla art happenings, civil disobedience, riots,
resistance to police repression ad infinitum.

This idea that the psychedelic culture distracted youths from a
political revolution came mostly from Marxist elements in that
movement.  But there wasn't going to be a communist or socialist
revolution in America in the 1960s or the 1970s.  The New Left did
about as well as it could have done, given the relative economic
comforts and the relative tolerance that existed in a democratic
country (even with all of the violence and contradictions). 

There are some caveats here.  Psychedelic use undoubtedly contributed
to some groups like the Weather Underground and the White Panthers and
various elements of the "freak left" taking their fantasies... that the
revolution had started, for instance... for reality.  Some of their
actions were decidely unmoored.  But that was also largely because
these same people were impressed by the idea of a guerrilla vanguard
that they were getting from third world Marxist revolutionaries like
Giap, Mao, Che, and so forth that had no applicability to the American
experience.  In other words, the ultraleft ideology was actually more
disconected from reality than the drug experience. Drugs, at least,
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #36 of 173: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Sun 19 Dec 04 17:12
Let's play Dialectic Materialism for a moment and call the Somnolent
Fifties (I Like Ike and Ozzie and Harriet, too) our Thesis, and the 60s
Counterculture our Antithesis.

What has the synthesis brought us?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #37 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 20:17

Great question!

Let's put the synthesis into the 1970s, since I think all these
tendencies are probably still with us.

1) Yuppies! (Today, BoBos -- bourgeois bohemians... NOT included in
the book as a counterculture) I think this is the best fit to what
you're suggesting.  A lot looser than the Nelson family and everything
they represent.  A lot tighter than your friendly neighborhood 60s acid
commune.  Fifties-style Taking Care of Business competence and
work/make money ethic and '60s-style hedonism (turned down by about 50%
in the 70s and by about 80% in the 90s..  ) and cultural pluralism
with possibilities of alternative religion or no religion, sexual
liberty --  premarital, cohabitation, "casual" sex is no longer
shocking, drug use (mostly pot and cocaine) but generally less than the
hippies (except for those who went deep into the coke...) 
Fifties-style cleanliness, home ownership, keeping up with the Joneses.
The man in the grey flannel suit is joined by the women but no one
wears grey flannel or is really an organization man or woman... free
agents.  White people have long since learned to shake their asses to
the rhythm of rock and roll but that's no longer a revelation or a
revolution.  Politically, some of the economic conservatism of the
fifties (they went for Reagan in '80 but they probably would have gone
for Gary Hart in '84) and a lot of the cultural liberalism of the 60s. 
None of the innocence of the fifties or the idealism of the 60s. 

2) Punk rock, New York City style.  The original punk rock (with the
exception of Patti Smith) rejects the loosey goosey hippy hedonism and
the Ginsberg/Kerouac/Grateful Dead aesthetic of (ahem) irmprovisation,
stream of consciousness, spontaneous blather of the mind in favor of
some tightassed minimalism (and it actually makes for good music and
art!).  Much much much looser and stranger than the Nelson family (the
early Talking Heads maybe looked and acted like the Nelson family wired
on irony and a few too many of Harriet's diet pills) but definitely a
lot tighter than the '60s hippies; generally enamored of competence and
dressing up and hated pothead spaciness (and then again, smoked pot
once in awhile.)  By fifties standards, they were just another bunch of
fucking hippies (except maybe the Ramones) with avant-garde
pretentions, but the minimalist aesthetic, the use of understatement
(again, I'm talking pre-Sex Pistols) after a decade of OVERstatement
may qualify the original NYC punk rock scene as a synthesis.


3) (Into the 80s and 90s) Technoculture.  The future is WOW! 
Enthusiasm for "yesterday's tomorrows" returns and the new kitchen of
the future features a talking nanotech toaster and a ketamine
dispenser.  Mark Dery said Mondo 2000 was like The Jetsons on DMT.  60s
hedonism, anti-authoritarianism as expressed in the "hacker ethic",
"Power to the People" through technology married to the (relative)
trust in engineering and at least some of the consumerism of the 1950s.
 Libertarian political tendencies can represent a synthesis of the
'60s cultural revolution with the '50s embrace of capitalism.  

So a '50s wide-eyed embrace of new technological advances and consumer
items and elements of '60s radicalism; all of it up against a deep,
consistant undertow of '70s cynicism that makes the whole thing feel
just a little bit forced.

4) New Age
Fifties cleanliness and (in some cases) discipline, reverence,
reverence for authority... (perfect masters etc.); 60s style seeking
after deeper meaning, radical transformations in society and
consciousness.  Fifties-style ideologies of success (Werner Erhardt and
other "grow rich" therapies) in some corners, sixties-style rejection
of materialism in other corners (give your car to Da Free John). 

Other post sixties Western tendencies covered in the book:
Glam rock, environmentalism/pagan
environmentalism/eco-anarchism/"anti-globalization", hip hop, veterans
of moderate tendencies of the movement who entered mainstream politics
(Jerry Brown, Hart, Clinton, Gore, etc.) don't seem to me to fit the
model but I'm open...
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #38 of 173: R.U. Sir (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 20:20
    <scribbled by jonl Mon 20 Dec 04 06:00>
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #39 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 19 Dec 04 20:20
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #40 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 20 Dec 04 06:01
Heh... deleted 38, it was a duplicate.
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #41 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 20 Dec 04 06:09
That's a great list - what're today's countercultural movements? 
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #42 of 173: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 20 Dec 04 08:41

    . . . a reminder to those of you following along but not members
    of the Well: you can join in the conversation, too! Just send
    e-mail to and we'll post it for you . . .
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #43 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Mon 20 Dec 04 12:08
Actually #38 was the one I posted after proofreading but what the
hell...  the last few days have been a comedy of errors in all aspects
of my life.

What are today's counterculture movements???

The question that comes up frequently is whether counterculture is
"counter" anymore?  All "Culture War" screaming heads to the contrary,
we have become accustomed to a fairly high level of free discourse in
much of the world.  The countercultural idea about transvaluation --
constant change -- seems fully realized -- our ex-President Clinton
used to love to tell us about how we would all change jobs seven times,
everybody is aware of the dynamism brought about by computers,
transportation, globalized economies ad infinitum.  A counterculture
critique, in fact, may be that amidst all this change, nothing
ESSENTIAL is really changing. I know a few people who are fond of
saying that nothing has REALLY HAPPENED since France in May of 1968.

We took counterculture as a popular label for a particular cluster of
values.  Those values are certainly counter to a lot of values that are
still extant and powerful in the world today. "Counterculture" has not
quite taken over the world...    

Counterculture might also appear vital wherever communities of mutual
interest, or nation states or ad infinitum start to ossify; where
someone or some persons need to break homeostasis and give things a
swift kick in the pants so as to allow new creative juice to flow. So
there are always counterculture rebellions within countercultures --
punk vs. hippie being the classic example.

Having said all that, I tried to look towards the existence or
introduction of countercultural memes and forms in "third world"
countries as an example of new terrains where this spirit might appear,
or might have long been evident but ignored thanks to Western
historical/media dominance.  So I actually put a section on the
Brazilian Tropicalia movement of the '60s into the final chapter as an
example of where counterculture may be coming from in the future.  

Specifically, I looked (briefly) at a flourishing literary avant-garde
in China, at the Zapatista movement in Mexico and the global
intellectual trends that have accumulated around that.  I could also
have written about students in Iran, a few of whom I've heard from, the
fact that a mild but nevertheless existing boho avant-garde cafe
society existed in Iraq under Saddam, raves in Saudi Arabia, lots of
activities in Eastern Europe in some of the worst areas of conflict
there ad infinitum.  

Finally, the whole open source, file-sharing culture impresses me as
being a pretty sophisticated manifestation of countercultural memes
related to gift economics, community, and non-hierarchical creative
processes  --  lots of people doing stuff out of enthusiasm and as part
of communities rather than explicitly for profit or because they are
forced to (this spirit also crosses over into the hard core of dance
culture), and the various forms of non-hierarchical, or meritricious
organizations of information and ideas that are following from that...
as manifested by Slashdot and the whole WIKI thing that I don't quite
understand but intend to get involved with.  

I've had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Doctorow and Clay Shirkey
for NeoFiles and I came away really impressed  with how ideals that
were articulated in some of the pieces we did in Mondo related to free
software, collaborative work and so forth have begun to exfoliate out
into the real world.  

Finally, there is the environmental anarchist movement.  I have some
problems with some of the politics there (not a lot) but I'm again
impressed by the ease with which people seem to organize in a
non-hierarchical fashion. There seems to be much less of a tendency to
look for "leaders" and "heros" and central organizations among young
people today.  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #44 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 20 Dec 04 14:51
That makes me think how Bob Dylan writes in _Chronicles_ about all the people who 
were trying to make him their hero or ideal, and he didn't want any part of it. 
He just wanted to get on with his life and play music.

And there's also Gnossos Pappadopoulis, remember him?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #45 of 173: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Mon 20 Dec 04 15:56
Damn him!  Do you know how much time I wasted soaking cigarettes in
terpin hydrate because of that bastard!?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #46 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Mon 20 Dec 04 17:19

The way people looked to Dylan or John Lennon or Jerry Garcia for "the
answer" (not even answers)...  man, that makes me sad.  And all those
kids who followed Gnossos Pappadopoulis around, trying to do all the
crazy things he did?

inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #47 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Mon 20 Dec 04 17:20

ahh, just looked him up on the web.  Never read that book, for some
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #48 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 21 Dec 04 02:27
Heh, sorry to toss in an obscure reference. (The book is Richard Farina's _Been 
Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me_, for those who didn't get it.) There's 
something in there about the hero rejecting the adoring crowd, but he can't get 
the adoring crowd to reject *him*. Similar to Dylan's predicament.

I figure the hero is in the perception of the crowd, a projection of their needs 
and their desires.

Does a counterculture need heroes?
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #49 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Tue 21 Dec 04 09:20

I would look at the basic principles that we applied to
counterculture...  and I'm going to actually post those from the
posting on my website for the sake of clarity and perhaps to juice the
discourse here a bit:

The primary characteristics of counterculture are threefold:
        •       Countercultures assign primacy to individuality at the expense of
social conventions and governmental constraints.
        •       Countercultures challenge authoritarianism in both obvious and
subtle forms.
        •       Countercultures embrace individual and social change.

...nearly universal features of counterculture are:
        •       Breakthroughs and radical innovations in art, science,
spirituality, philosophy, and living.
        •       Diversity.
        •       Authentic, open communication and profound interpersonal contact.
Also, generosity and the democratic sharing of tools.
        •       Persecution by mainstream culture of contemporaneous subcultures.
Sometimes exile or dropping out....

Finally, the antic behaviors and easy sensuality found in
countercultures across time is, in some ways, the special ingredient
that makes many countercultures attractive.

So, no... counterculture doesn't require heros and in many cases it
subverts the very notion of heroism.  Some of the "spiritual"
countercultures particularly -- Taoism, Zen, --- pretty much try to
annihilate the romantic self.  You may well ask why they fit the
premise of assigning primacy of the indlvidual while denying the
solidity of the individual ego.  Briefly and painting in broad strokes
and particularly in the case of the Taoists, there's is an
individuality of disconnection from social assumptions and norms, and
in the case of the Taoist hermits, from civilization itself.  It's not
an ASSERTION of non-conformity but an assumption of it.   And of
course, if you meet the Buddha by the side of the road, kill him.

And then, radical anarchist philosophies like Situationism and some
punks and so forth declare "No More Heros" as well.

Counterculturalists can be heroic though and countercultural figures
can be seen as heros as they stand up to grim authority or lead the
herd off into new terrain.  Socrates' bravery in facing death,
Thoreau's non-violent civil disobedience, Ginsberg's public nakedness
(in every sense of the word) and vulnerability, Jello Biafra's defense
of free speech come to mind (among dozens of examples.) They seem
heroic to me.  Even in the chapter on Taoism, there's a story of some
gentle antiwar dropouts who starved to death rather than eating the
produce of their warring kingdom.  They were more popularly honored in
death than the ruler who died around the same time. 

The thing to be avoided is the unquestioning worship of leaders.  A
central bit of the ideological dna of this book is Timothy Leary's
"Think For Yourself and Question Authority."  The countercultural
response to that isn't "Oh great Tim.  I want to follow your ideology. 
So... what should I think and how should I question authority?"...   I
seem to recall a scene from The Life of Brian that made this point
pretty well...
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #50 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 21 Dec 04 10:27
In Buddhism you have the sense of the perfect realization of the unique 
individual who is also a manifestation of Buddha... sort of like the wave on the 
ocean is unique in its form, but a manifestation of the ocean. The perfection is 
emergent, not imposed. Would you say that countercultures are more about 
emergence of social and individual movements and behaviors from a specific 
context? And what emerges may be a fool, a prankster, or a great thinker/leader?


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