inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #101 of 173: Michael E. Marotta (mercury) Tue 28 Dec 04 18:49
    
If I owned a record player, I could summarize most of this 100-post
be-in lovefest with Cheech & Chong's "Unamerican Bandstand." So far, I
am still waiting for "Counterculture Through the Ages."  

What were the countercultures in Egypt?  (Yes, we all know about
"Moses and Monotheism."  Within the context of the long history of
Egypt, what counter-cultures sprang up? What were their similarities
and differences?  What were their strengths and weaknesses?)

What were the counter-cultures to Pax Romana?  (Christianity is easy;
find one that is not obvious.)

What were the counter-cultures in the Eurpean Middle Ages? (How do the
Albigensians and the Templars fit into this model?)

What is your definition for "age" as in "Countercultures through the
AGES"? What do you mean by "ages"?

What do you mean by "counter-culture"?  Personally, I regard the
"America First" movement before WWII as a "counter" culture only
because they lost, and America went to war.  After Pearl Harbor, no one
dared to speak out.  My Republican grandparents certainly did not
protest WWII, not with FDR's FBI hassling people in our neighborhood
over "loyalty."  It was hardly safe to be a Republican during the New
Deal, and then World War II pretty much shut everyone up.  Yet, we
still believed.  From 1932-1952, we suffered a mass wave of popularism
that included the crassest entertaintment, the First Lady going on the
radio selling soap, phony "recycling" of raw materials, phony
"shortages" of gasoline, nickel, meat, etc., and a continuing barrage
of propaganda from Washington DC for increased centralized control of
every aspect of our lives. 

So, Robert Taft was the precursor to Timothy Leary, right?
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #102 of 173: Michael E. Marotta (mercury) Tue 28 Dec 04 19:01
    
  #64 of 100: RUSirius (rusirius) Wed 22 Dec 2004 (01:12 PM)
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.

And even so, you have a hard time with Ayn Rand?  If these three
points are your standards, then everyone here ought to be chanting
"Galt's Speech." By the standards set by Ayn Rand, the
mysticist-altruist-collectivist role models like Ginsberg and Leary are
really _not_ counter-cultures, but only apologists for mainstream
culture.

Also, generosity and the democratic sharing of tools.

(Not so fast, hombre!  You have to be more explicit in Step 2 if you
want to declare a miracle.)


•       Persecution by mainstream culture of contemporaneous subcultures.

(Ah! An example of that would be when everyone here makes fun of me,
or ignores me, but never takes me seriously.  Oh, but, then, that would
mean that you forgot to include PERSECUTION COMPLES AND DELUSIONS OF
GRANDURE: counter cultures think they have some special insight, some
god-given knowledge not available to others and they are going to
"change the world" and that those in power have singled them out for
destruction rather than to let this change take place.)
 
Sum Exile or dropping out.
* A playful prankster attitude

As in "FUCK YOU, SIRIUS!"

(Hey! I'm a counter-culture!)
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #103 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Tue 28 Dec 04 19:49
    


OK, Regis. I used my first phone call to contact Dan Joy, my coauthor,
who unfortunately suffered some personal difficulties and couldn't
make it here in person.  But I asked him to speak to jonl's question
about links between the "Lost Generation" and the beats.  He emailed me
his response:


From DAN JOY
According to my somewhat fuzzy memory I wrote the piece that became my
Preface for Counterculture Through The Ages (which indeed makes a
general reference to direct contact between Lost Generation literary
luminaries and Beat folk) way back in 1998, when we were still mostly
thinking of the work we were doing as being for the preliminary book
proposal as opposed to the book itself. At the time of writing that
piece, I was reading from a vast array of sources about the whole
spectrum of countercultural movements rather than focusing on any group
or episode in particular, as was appropriate to the agenda of the
moment, namely developing the overall vision of the book. Perhaps
unfortunately, during this particular period I wasn't keeping track of
my sources because it’s not necessary to cite them in a book proposal
and to do so would have slowed down at least slightly the process of
getting the proposal finished. In retrospect this seems like an error
on my part because more material than I anticipated fed directly from
the proposal into the book. With regard to the Preface, I didn't even
know I was writing an actual Preface; at first I just thought I was
writing an ultimately stray piece to help us project a comprehensive,
unified picture of what the completed project might look like.
 
I do distinctly recall reading some material during this period that
documented direct contact between people from the LG and Beat
movements. But, for all the reasons I've cited, I don't clearly
remember the specific events and connections that I read about, and I
don't remember what sources they came from! (There is, however, a
pivotal and amusing exception to this that I discovered during more
recent research, and I'll get to it shortly.) So it seems that first
and foremost I owe an apology to the WELL participant who has enquired
about the specifics behind my general statement on these connections in
the Preface.
 
Nonetheless, embedded within the vague memory-clouds that float up
when I query my corrupt neural database about the research I was doing
back then are some more-or-less generalities that may be helpful. At
least some Lost Generation literary figures (like Hemingway) were still
alive during the Beat effusion of the late 40s and the 50s and were
still writing, lecturing, and probably holding some university posts.
This continued presence meant that these LG folks were at least
somewhat accessible to their Beat literary heirs.
 
Christopher Isherwood, for instance, whose fiction writing was
prominent in the LG corpus, was still out and about in the 50s and now
an exponent of Eastern (specifically Vedanta) mysticism, writing
autobiographical material and more than probably inseminating the Beat
interest in Eastern philosophical modes. I would confidently wager that
the record would show, for instance, some direct contact between
Isherwood and Allen Ginsberg, as well as between Isherwood and Alan
Watts, whose presence in Beat attention to things Eastern is
exemplified by the title of one of his books, Beat Zen, Square Zen. I
also have a vague recollection of references to literary readings or
presentations given by LG figures that were attended by Beat-identified
folk.
 
Sorry I can't be more specific without hitting the books for many
hours! Fortunately, however, I can give one concrete example of direct
contact between individuals of the LG and Beat cabals that popped up in
research performed early this year in service of wrapping up the
manuscript for the book.
 
Alice B. Toklas is renowned as co-hostess--along with her lover
Gertrude Stein--of the more-or-less ongoing salon in their shared Paris
home during the 20s and 30s that became a crucial social vortex for
the Lost Generation. By the time of the 50s, and maybe earlier for all
I know, Toklas became a friend of Brion Gysin, the influential
Beat-identified figure known for his close association with William S.
Burroughs and for development of the “cut-up” writing/media technique
employed by Burroughs and embraced and expounded more recently by such
countercultural movers and shakers as Leary and Genesis P-Orridge.
 
Here, the direct contact between two different countercultural
episodes gave place to an instantiation of the perennial
countercultural prankster spirit that retroactively embedded a widely
celebrated but entirely mythic—as in part of the mythology, but also as
in completely untrue—thread in the accepted historical record of the
Lost Generation.
 
In The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, which was first published in 1954—at
which time the Beat movement was in full swing—Toklas included a
recipe for “Haschiche Fudge.” In the Cook Book this concoction was said
to invoke “brilliant storms of laughter”, thus providing the phrase
that became the title for Chapter Ten of our book, about the
countercultural era of which the Lost Generation was a part. Since the
appearance of that recipe, it’s been widely and understandably assumed
that a cannabis treat prepared by Toklas was an animating factor in the
famous and lively Lost Generation salon that Toklas and Stein hosted. 
 
Not so! as my fact-checking for Chapter Ten earlier this year
revealed. When Toklas was completing the manuscript for her Cook Book,
she was short of the number of recipes required to give the book an
acceptable length. So somewhere near the last minute she solicited
additional recipes from her friends,

Apparently, in the proverbial rush to publication, neither Toklas nor
her publisher registered the fact that Gysin’s recipe entry required
cannabis. That they might otherwise have excluded it is suggested by
the fact that the recipe was in fact excised from the 1960 American
edition of The Alice B. Toklas cookbook.
 
In perpetrating what has generally been interpreted as a prank, Gysin
may have counted on the likelihood that the presence of the illicit
plant in the recipe would escape Toklas’ attention because weed was a
Beat thing, but not a Lost Generation thing. Even so, it’s been very
widely believed that Toklas and Stein served these “brownies” (somehow
in the popular discourse “fudge” became “brownies”) at their salon.
This myth was even immortalized by the title of the Peter Sellars movie
I Love You Alice B. Toklas. It almost seems as if Gysin succeeded in
inserting one of his signature “cut-up” textual scrambles into the
collectively-held narrative of literary history!
 
(For the full “Haschiche Fudge” recipe story, see
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/14/1026185139209.html and/or
http://www.informationheadquarters.com/Recipes/Alice_B_Toklas_brownie.shtml.)

 
To move back from Chapter Ten to my Preface for Counterculture Through
the Ages, and to return to the original query, I do remember that,
during the general period in which the material including my statement
about contact between LG and Beat people was written, I was reading a
really excellent book, Naked Angels  by John Tytell. Naked Angels
discusses in six gripping and compelling essays the lives and works of
Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs. That book, which unfortunately I
don't have at hand at this moment, may well contain more information
regarding specific Beat-LG connections. And even if it doesn’t, it’s a
book that I imagine almost anyone participating in this conversation
will enjoy reading even if they haven't already. 
 
All best!
Dan Joy 
 
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #104 of 173: Uncle Jax (jax) Tue 28 Dec 04 20:17
    
> What were the counter-cultures to Pax Romana?  (Christianity is
> easy; find one that is not obvious.)

Livy describes the suppression of the devotees of Bacchus in the
time of Cato the Censor, though that is pre-empire by about 160
years and thus not of the "Pax Romana" era.

Juvenal describes the demimonde of the Hadrianic era, about 160 years
into the empire, the height of the empire, actually.

Petronius's Satyricon describes counterculture resembling hardcore
punk.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #105 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Tue 28 Dec 04 20:18
    
I could add the obvious correspondences between LG and Beat alienation
from periods of US anti-intellectualism (delineated in the book),
sexual repression, and prohibition (alcohol for the LG's and pot for
the beats).  The association between the beats and the hippies are
direct and well-known and not worth repeating here. 

Now, to Mr. Marotta 

>>

What were the countercultures in Egypt? ...  

What were the counter-cultures to Pax Romana?  (Christianity is easy;
find one that is not obvious.)

What were the counter-cultures in the Eurpean Middle Ages? 
>>

Great questions!  I've already explained to death that we didn't
choose to do an encyclopedia and that we made a decision to go with
epochs that are relatively familiar.  But those are questions that are
worth pursuing.  Maybe we'll do more variations on this theme; an
encyclopedic version, or one with other themes that pursue more obscure
historical movements and episodes.  Or maybe, as Jon suggested, we'll
try to do that as open source.  Or maybe Moratta will write it.  We
opened up the topic of counterculture as a long-term historical
context.  We'd be delighted to see other explorations.  Show us up! If
it's a good read and we can learn something from it, joy to the fuckin'
world ba-beee.  The love-in continues.  

And sure, I was never able to make it through Rand's novels but my
sense is that you are absolutely right. She would have a place under
our big conceptual tent.  In general, I think counterculture is
implicitly libertarian. Where it's "left", it's "left" as a matter of
choice, conscience and perhaps because artistic weirdoes tend to be
poor.

So I basically accept your thrust.  Fuck me baby. You're not
satisfied?  Fuck somebody else. The love-in continues. 
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #106 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 Dec 04 07:01
    
Though the book covers historical instances of "counterculture" (Abraham, 
Prometheus, Tao, Zen, Sufis, Troubadors, Romantics etc.), we're not necessarily 
trying to cover all that ground in this discussion. "Counterculture" is a 
conceptual label that Theodore Roszak popularized with his book _The Making of a 
Counterculture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and Its Youthful 
Opposition_, which was first published in 1969 and focused specifically on the 
60s-70s social/political phenomenon that produced "hippies" and student radicals 
in response to "technocracy," the corporate and technological elite that 
dominated industrial society at the time. I confess that I'm more interested in 
that era, precursors in the 40s and 50s, and successive alternative threads that 
run through the 90s and the early years of the 21st century, and where those 
threads lead, i.e. contemporary global "alternative" or "counter" cultures. So I 
beg forgiveness from any who were hoping to see more focus on the "ages" - please 
feel free to ask those questions (via email to inkwell-hosts@well.com if you're 
not a WELL member).

Dan's comments are interesting; I'd like to hear more about beats who became part 
of the 60s-70s alternative culture, and beyond that - e.g. Allen Ginsberg, who 
carried countercultural memes from the 50s through the 90s. Burroughs was 
another, and Gary Snyder... all part of a literary movement that began in the 50s 
and influenced successive alternative movements. I can't think of a beat 
politician, but there were quite a few polticians that emerged from the 60s/70s 
student radical scene. How did that scene form? To what extent was it driven by 
ideology, and to what extent was it about being cool and getting laid?
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #107 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Wed 29 Dec 04 08:03
    
First, a few more comments sent on to me from Dan Joy.

In response to "What were the countercultures of the middle ages"...

DAN JOY:

Well, The Troubadours, for one! We've got a whole chapter on the
Troubadours, and it does at least mention the Knights Templar, and
includes a discussion of the Cathars, another movement of the period
that was at least countercultural, if not a counterculture.

***

Also, DAN responding to my comments on counterculture being implicitly
libertarian etc.  

DAN JOY:

An outstanding insight that RU brought to our chapter exploring the
definition of counterculture was the inclusion of generosity as a
characteristic of countercultural personality. I love that, and would
use an expansive phrase like "generosity of spirit" (which phrase first
occurred to me in an effort to describe Leary too some people who
didn't know him) so we know it's something bigger than just giving way
material stuff for free -- in includes generosity, with time,
attention, in the way one would characterize others (ie not
judgemental, being supportive), and perhaps a certain forgiveness and
compassion. 

To the extent that this is a characteristic of the countercultural
personality, I think counterculturalist will tend to lean to the left.
Generosity doesn't REQUIRE leftist politic perhaps, but will give rise
to a tendency in that direction.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #108 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Wed 29 Dec 04 08:39
    
OK , looks like jonl is going to drag the beat into hippie thing outta
me.  In a real oversimplification, the beats were hanging out in North
Beach and various parts of San Francisco, slowly drifting towards the
cheap, big victorians available in the Haight district and they were
hanging in Greenwich Village.  There was a bit of a psychedelic element
to beat culture but then in the mid-sixties, acid swept in.  Since a
gram of acid was enough to change a culture or at least add a pretty
intense sparkly weirdness to it (and excesses of naked yogic spiritual
renunciations) for awhile, and since rock and roll was suddenly gaining
lyrical content and becoming a generational statement, gloomy beat
transmuted into smiling hippie for awhile.  Ginsberg was at the center
of it all, having conspired with Leary to preach the psychedelic
gospel. He was a presence at Kesey's scene down in SF's South Bay as
they were mutating into the Merry Pranksters, as were a number of other
beat influenced writers and roustabouts, most notably Kerouac's muse,
Neal Cassady.  The Long Strange Trip, the great biography of the
Grateful Dead by their official biographer (whose name escapes me at
the moment... I'm in a freakin' hotel in FLA and nowhere near my
bookshelf) reflects how the crowd that rather defined hippie in its
early stages were all beat influenced and fully comingled.  Allen Cohen
who started the Haight counterculture newspaper The Oracle was a beat
poet before becoming a hippie "prophet"...  He helped to start the
human be-in with the intention of spreading the word about tripster
peace and love to the world, much to the objection of some Haightsters
who preferred to maintain a local and unmediated trip.  In NYC Ed
Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, Fugs, poets, activists were one link. In
Detroit/Ann Arbor, John Sinclair was a beat poet and avant jazz fiend
who took up acid revolution.  And Maynard G. Krebs of course started
the WeatherThings in 2012.  

As to the student radical scene (and yes, many mainstream liberal
politicians were graduates of the more moderate tendencies of the
antiwar/civil rights movements including Bill and Hillary and Mr.
Kerry, although he of course came late by way of Vietnam) I included a
huge chunk of Tom Hayden's Port Huron Statement because it's kind of
astonishing to be reminded of what a sort of touchy-feely,
existential/soul-searching, libertarian-tinged, generational-alienation
themed piece it was, considering that it is generally considered the
alpha political document of the New Left Culture. Lots of writers about
the period prefer to contrast the new left and the hippies. That can
be done but I wanted to show how they ran in parallel. How the
post-beat playfulness of the hippies in the mid-sixties was already
being mirrored by the antics of Jerry Rubin and the "Filthy Speech
Movement" in Berkeley.  That playfulness was even mirrored in films
starting with Dr. Strangelove, in pop songs (particularly from the
Brits) and in the visual arts as the rough alcoholic despondency of the
abstract expressionists gave way to the gleeful winking insouciance of
the pop artists.  

Around 1968 you basically see a merger between the New Left and hippie
countercultures.  Oh sure, there were plenty of exceptions, but not on
the college campus that I was near.  It was pretty much all of one
piece.  This may have been politically disastorous or it may have been
the most attractive memetic package the left has ever offered. It may
have stopped the Vietnam war or it may have kept the antiwar movement
from moving an American public that by the end of the sixties was
against the war but was alienated from a counterculture in which the
leading edge was engaging in ultra-revolutionary outlaw rhetoric.  It
may have done a little of each.  

And yes, the new left was once the cool thing on campus, the first
source of pot and sexual freedom.  Later, in the 70s, when much of the
culture was engaging in sexual liberties, the left was perhaps the one
place where young heterosexuals at least were UPTIGHT about sexuality,
since the radical edge of countercultural feminism tended to be hostile
to male sexuality.

And on that troubling note that may generate some controversy, it's
off to the pool!
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #109 of 173: Are You My Caucasian? (shmo) Wed 29 Dec 04 10:20
    

Grateful Dead's official biographer:

Dennis McNally
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #110 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 Dec 04 10:53
    
Were they hostile to male sexuality? I thought it was more about broader power 
relationships, and not so much about sexuality per se...?

Which Marx had more influence on the counterculture, Karl or Groucho?
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #111 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Thu 30 Dec 04 08:07
    


Definitely during the initial explosion of radical feminism associated
with the "revolutionary" left counterculture there was some serious
hostility to male sexuality.  Besides women ending relationships and
marriages with men simply because they had penises (I witnessed one
very kind man who was left for no other reason) there were analyses
floating around that all male heterosexuality was rape, and that the
penis was a penatrative militaristic implement and that men colonized
women's bodies through pregnancy.  In general, there was a decidely
weird vibe in the early 70s as everybody was figuring out how to behave
towards each other, which I'm sure was a needed  if not always
rational eruption producing change....

Some of this is still around.  I remember in the mid-90s I was trying
to help the porn star Christy Canyon get an agent to sell her
biography. Kathy Acker got her agent to look at it.  I included the
beginnings of a possible preface by myself and the woman agent said
something to the affect that it was "reeking of male sperm", the
implication being that this was definitely NOT GOOD.  This was the
agent for KATHY ACKER, who liked to write some of her passages, in her
own words, "with a vibrator up my cunt."  You go, girl! You DON'T go,
boy (unless you're gay, then... you go too!)  Not to do the angry
straight white guy fandango but sometimes counterculture seems to just
take the mainstream assumptions and turn them upside down, with just as
little thought or examination.

I'm a Groucho Marxist all the way.  But I'll have to say that Karl's
analyses of commodity fetishism probably takes the prize in terms of
general influence on the hardcore of the counterculture during the
later half of the 20th Century and now. I guess if you take irreverent
comedians as a more popular expression of counterculture (The Daily
Show is sometimes called countercultural in magazines and newspaper
articles) Groucho may be back in the running....
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #112 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 30 Dec 04 13:17
    
Mentioning The Daily Show brings me to the question of co-optation. Here's a 
relevant quote I found:

>>>
And from its very beginnings down to the present, business dogged the
counterculture with a fake counterculture, a commercial replica that seemed to
ape its every move for the titillation of the TV-watching millions and the
nation's corporate sponsors. Every rock band with a substantial following was
immediately honored with a host of imitators; the 1967 "summer of love" was as
much a product of lascivious television specials and Life magazine stories as it
was an expression of youthful disaffection; Hearst launched a psychedelic
magazine in 1968; and even hostility to co-optation had a desperately "authentic"  
shadow, documented by a famous 1968 print ad for Columbia Records titled "But The
Man Can't Bust Our Music." So oppressive was the climate of national voyeurism
that, as early as the fall of 1967, the San Francisco Diggers had held a funeral
for "Hippie, devoted son of mass media."
<<<

Don't we have a bit of a mess, trying to separate an actual counterculture from 
its commercial derivatives?
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #113 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Thu 30 Dec 04 15:41
    
ahh the cooptation question. But it seems like we've been over this
one. Anyway. I'm on my favorite commodity, my Blackberry and then
flying in the middle of the nite cross country so I'll try to cope with
this tomorrow.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #114 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 30 Dec 04 17:08
    
The man can't coopt our Blackberry...
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #115 of 173: Berliner (captward) Fri 31 Dec 04 06:52
    
Dan Joy wrote:

An outstanding insight that RU brought to our chapter exploring the
definition of counterculture was the inclusion of generosity as a
characteristic of countercultural personality. I love that, and would
use an expansive phrase like "generosity of spirit" (which phrase first
occurred to me in an effort to describe Leary too some people who
didn't know him) so we know it's something bigger than just giving way
material stuff for free -- in includes generosity, with time,
attention, in the way one would characterize others (ie not
judgemental, being supportive), and perhaps a certain forgiveness and
compassion. 

To the extent that this is a characteristic of the countercultural
personality, I think counterculturalist will tend to lean to the left.
Generosity doesn't REQUIRE leftist politic perhaps, but will give rise
to a tendency in that direction.

*** 

Interestingly, I was reading the other day about a counterculture that
didn't make it into your book. A bunch of young people were fed up
with the society they lived in, the violence and the organized
religion, and they broke away from it. Some tried utopian living
situations, others explored the pre-Christian roots of their country's
religion, others created art and music. Nudism got real, real big, as
did vegetarianism, and there was a huge upsurge in alternative
medicine. There was a real reverence for nature, and hiking was a big
deal, often for weeks on end, with stops in huts in the mountains and
forests at night. The country at large had a love-hate relationship
with these kids. Some felt they were returning the country to the
spiritual condition it had lost long ago, while others saw a sort of
nationalism that they felt was insidious. And although the
counterculturists were hardly of a single mind, a lot of them did
adhere to a set of common principles. The only thing they really lacked
to have a major effect on their society was a charismatic leader who
could channel their energy. At last, one emerged. His name was Adolf
Hitler. 
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #116 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Fri 31 Dec 04 13:50
    
That's so cute!

Actually, a great book to read about nazi/neo-nazi paganism/ weirdness
and their sense of themselves as an alternative culture including
various mostly superficial (but not entirely) correspondences between
some of the passions and styles of  that and certain particular
elements of "the counterculture" is "Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric
Nazism and the Politics of Identity" by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. 
(ahh, back home snuggly secure near my bookshelf..)  Very much worth
reading.  

The distinctions between most of the "defining characteristics" etc.
of counterculture that I've already posted (maybe repeatedly) and M.
Hitler's decade long meth tweek, (and his many not-so-merry tweekster
followers) are obvious enough.  Of course, anything can turn into
anything else if we run with the pack with our eyes closed.   

Now as to jonl's question about co-optation and the porous dividing
line between mainstream and alternative culture etc., I still feel like
we've batted that particular ball of yarn around quite a bit here
already.  There are pieces  all over this discussion and I can't knit a
nice little sweater out of it because it IS as jonl says, "a bit of a
mess."

What more can I say?  I love The Daily Show. I have NOT killed my TV. 
I raise my New Years Eve glass to those who DO kill their TV's and
everything that implies.  And to those who do not.  I think I've said
this already but there are real pure counter-subcultures and deep
ideological rejections of that whole damn civilization schmeer like
Situationism or the anarchist critiques of civilization of John Zerzan
and "the unabomber" and so forth, and lots more flavors that at least
seek to be extreme in contrast, and then there's a general broad 
tendency towards cultural liberalism which is basically mainstream.
Most of the people who fall into that later category I think would
identify with most of the characteristics we've affixed to the word
counterculture if they knew about it.  My gut feeling right now is to
embrace those who like tolerance, free speech, etc. ad infinitum (no
need for another litany) and to not tell them that they are, in fact,
uncool reactionary zombies if they like to purchase entertainment.  Or
books on counterculture published by 
Villard, owned by Random House, owned by Bertlesman.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #117 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 31 Dec 04 16:42
    
I wish <rodbell> was still a member of the WELL. When I was in his government 
class 36 years ago (!!), he lectured about the parallels between the 
counterculture of the 60s and pre-Nazi Germany. As I recall he was concerned 
about fascist tendencies within the U.S.  Incidentally I've just been discussing 
this with some other folks; I had posted this bit at Greater Democracy:
http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/archives/000302.html

The Britt list of 14 "common threads that link [fascist regimes] in recognizable
patterns of national behavior and abuse of power" is widely replicated and 
controversial, in that some authorities on the subject (e.g. Chip Berlet) 
feel that Britt created the list with a bias favoring comparison of the Bush 
administration with fascists (which is not relevant to this conversation).

There might be some relevance, though, in the question whether there is some
relationship between fascism and counterculture?
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #118 of 173: Ricardo (aracal) Sat 1 Jan 05 06:11
    
We do not have to look back years in Europe´s past to recognize the
coincidence between fascism and counterculture. I read the Britt of
threads of fascists regimes posted by Jonl, and some of them
(1,4,7,12,13 and maybe 14) exist in my country. However, at the same
time, elements of Hakim Bey´s TEZ can be found too, even at government
level. So it´s permanent dialectic between those forces, they can´t be
found in a pure mode.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #119 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sat 1 Jan 05 10:33
    
That's  a fascinating list at Greater Democracy that I think tries to
pin the tail on the elephant.  Certainly one aspect of "the
counterculture" has been that some who are so identified throw the word
"fascist" around a lot.  Nixon was a fascist pig, as were pretty much
all cops etc.  The fascist label gets raised now around the Bush
regime.  I always wonder, is that useful?  A discussion around what
fascism means might be useful.  

Here's one:

>>>>
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth
Edition.  2000.
 
fascism
 
SYLLABICATION:  fas·cism
PRONUNCIATION:    fshzm
NOUN:   1. often Fascism a. A system of government marked by
centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic
controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship,
and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A
political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system
of government. 2. Oppressive, dictatorial control. 
ETYMOLOGY:      Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin
fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.
OTHER FORMS:    fas·cistic (f-shstk) —ADJECTIVE
WORD HISTORY:   It is fitting that the name of an authoritarian
political movement like Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini,
should come from the name of a symbol of authority. The Italian name of
the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political)
group,” but also refers to the movement's emblem, the fasces, a bundle
of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an
ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and
power. The name of Mussolini's group of revolutionaries was soon used
for similar nationalistic movements in other countries that sought to
gain power through violence and ruthlessness, such as National
Socialism. 
>>>

We define counterculture as being anti-authoritarian or
non-authoritarian, generally pro-decentralization, clearly against
dictatorship, implicitly against stringent socioeconomic controls
although some on the left may disagree, against censorship and
terrorizing opposition (usually the victim of censorship and generally
IN opposition and resistant to taking power... discussed in the book),
frequently disinclined towards even acknowledging boundaries and
believing in nation states, against racism.  Mussolini's bundle is
meant to connote complete conformity. The book calls for
non-conformity.  So, if it's anything, counterculture as defined by the
book is anti-fascist. 

Now, some similarities between some "countercultures" and fascist
movements, just off the top of my head.

A search among alienated people, particularly youths, for some kind of
authenticity when they feel the need isn't being met by bourgouis
democratic society and its institutions

Atavism. Anti-intellectualism.  (again I said SOME countercultures)

We are all outlaws...   Fascist groups may be disciplinarian and about
total state authority, but they tend to hold themselves above all law,
particularly international law in the pursuit of imperial power.  The
fascists are outlaws.   

The New Left and the far left in general has been known to engage in
censorship and we've even seen a bit of terror against the opposition
(usually an opposing radical group. actually).  I would say that the
left has to be radically civil libertarian to count as countercultural.
 On the other hand, I wouldn't make too much out of powerless people
occasionally shouting down the powerful.  

Speaking of the left, many Marxists advocate very stringent economic
controls -- indeed a control economy.  I'm very much against that  but
I'm for pretty strong economic regulation in some cases myself through
the auspices of the democratic state. I'd like to see a slow trend
towards some decentralization (social welfare for the destitute should
be the LAST thing to be decentralized. Given the integrated global
nature of our world and the impact of population and
industrial/post-industrial technology, environmental regulations maybe
should NEVER get decentralized and in fact maybe should be more
globally centralized) and I'm for attempts to lessen coercion and
lighten bureaucracy wherever possible.   So for me, economic controls
(environmental controls) may be where the rubber of anti-authoritarian
ideals meets the road -- on the ground reality -- and skids a little
bit.   So ideals are imperfectly met, ideals compromise with realities.
 Lots of counterculturalists don't like to look at things that way. 
In fact, a sort of absolutism or purism may be another thing that some
counterculturalists have with the fascists.
 
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #120 of 173: Ricardo (aracal) Sat 1 Jan 05 12:14
    
"So, if it's anything, counterculture as defined by the
book is anti-fascist."

I would define the boundary between fascist and counterculture in
their relation to control. As Burroughs said, in a book you mentioned
in your bibliography, this is an infected cop-ridden planet. The police
mind is obsessed with control. That would be good criteria to
distinguished fascists from countercultural action: their capacity to
relinquish control.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #121 of 173: gary (ggg) Sat 1 Jan 05 17:20
    
sidebar :  mussolini's fascist brand of socialism could also be called ...
state corporatism ... bundling corp.s together to make one big Inc.
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #122 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sat 1 Jan 05 17:49
    
Yeah, I basically like the control vs. freedom interpretation.  Of
course, fascism is radical and can tend to bring a certain kind of
chaos.  Perhaps the most desirable dynamic is an eternally
well-balanced dialectic or wrestling match between the best aspects of
the conservative impulse to control and the best aspects of the liberal
(in the broadest classical sense) impulse towards liberty.  Life
happens at the boundary between organization and chaos, or so they say.

George:  Yeah, state corporatism.  That idea of fascism has been going
around lately, since many people are trying to pin that tail on the
elephant. But I don't think fascism is JUST state corporatism.  I think
that it implies state control over almost all facets of life, military
style organization at most levels of society, and the COMPLETE
suppression of dissent.. which is why I think people lose some
credibility when they say, for instance, that America has become a
fascist country.   And I think that arguing that what tolerance we have
masks a totalitarian order because no REAL challenge to  the corporate
state would be allowed to emerge doesn't quite cut it. That may be
true, but the phenomenon needs another name.   
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #123 of 173: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 2 Jan 05 12:22
    
Meanwhile what pockets of countercultural activity do you see today? 
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #124 of 173: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 2 Jan 05 17:44
    
Well, I think I've already praised open source culture and not because
I like Linux.  But as a manifestation of a virtual anarcho-communal
way of organizing and creating where the ideology gets progressively
written into the technology around that culture (again not just Linux),
 this is something that I think wil spread. Indeed, it's on Lula's
agenda in Brazil.  And of course, Uncle Brucie, coming up here next,
and his whole Viridian Green project suggests that these principles,
including the principle of people working out of enthusiasm and for
aesthetic pleasure instead of --  or in addition to -- capital gain,
could be applied to the development of clean energy. I hope he's right.
(Certainly a lot of enthusiasm and aesthetic pleasure has gone into
the entire digital culture/business project, and not just its anarchist
fringe.)

In general, I would look South and East. You know, America... those
countries south of the USA.  The places that gave us Magic Realism, for
gopod's sake!  What is better than that?

Guillermo Pena told me that Mexico was awash in countercultural
subcultures a few years ago.  The Zapatistas certainly rattled a few
cages and set off some peculiar post-modern/modern primitivist hybrid
notions and effusions, particularly among the Western "Sandalista"
types.  So maybe a libertarian left will finally  get its shit together
down south.  

There are artistic and cultural experiments going on almost
everywhere, with the likely acceptions of the Sudan and North Korea. (I
was interviewed by a feminist culture theorist from Iran about a year
ago.  I have no idea where that went.)  Who knows what will get our
attention, or if OUR attention is where the attention should be, or
will be centered.  (The center has NOT held)

Back in the USA, 9/11 failed to shut up the whole queer, multiculti
dissident parade. If anything it seems a lot louder than it was in the
late '90s.  Since the Democrats want to shut it up, either to become
even more like republicans or economic populists, I would look to a new
anti-authoritarian coalition to emerge left, libertarian right, and
radical center, particularly as the mainstream pundits and politicans
feel constrained to treat those whose ideas predate Copernicus,
Galileo, and Darwin as though they have a creditable point of view --
all because of one poll in Ohio. The modern imitation of consensus
reality lurches on in search of Osama Bin Laden and/or one honest man. 

And then, of course, there are the great eruptions coming from ma
nature.  There are no countercultures in an emergency....  I guess...
which is unfortunate.  Emergency is authority's strongest trump card,
but even a Tsunami in the Indian ocean raises questions about how
wealth and power is  being used and deployed in our world. 

Ahh, well.  I leave you all with these slightly sodden and chaotic
meanderings.   Stereolab is dissipating away on my radio and I don't
know if my own dissipating structures will ever attain a higher level
of coherence.  

Have we drained this topic?  I'll check in occasionally to see if any
novel avenues for discourse have opened up.  
  
inkwell.vue.233 : R.U. Sirius: Counterculture Through the Ages
permalink #125 of 173: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 3 Jan 05 08:33
    
Yes, please, do feel free to hang around and keep the conversation going as
long as seems fit. This topic will remain open to facilitate that.

Thanks, Ken (and Jon), for a fortnight and more of stimulating discussion
and commentary. The last couple days' posts seque nicely to our new subject
in the spotlight, as the curtain goes up today on Bruce Sterling's annual
State of the World conversation here in the Inkwell.

I wonder, as long as I'm posting here, whether you see any glimmerings of
that libertarian, South-inspired left in political activity here in el
Norte, or in Europe. Are there some? Or was that thought expressed more as
hope than observation?
  

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