589. Revolution (XII)
Hippies. In my research into Charles Manson, I read a bit about the hippies; and in the process I came to appreciate why many people hated the hippies. I always understood that the hippies were long-haired layabouts: “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheeta,” as Ronald Reagan put it—in other words, a hippie had the apeman’s flowing locks, walked like a lady, and smelt like a pet chimpanzee (Cheeta was a chimp, for some idiosyncratic Hollywood reason). Okay, all true; and yet there have been smelly, effeminate, and scruffy looking men since forever—so what was really annoying about the hippies?
This is my riff on Ed Sanders, a hippy writer who documented the Manson case in contemporary vernacular: “An adult human, Mary-Jane Smith, left her crash pad at the Mayflower House and walked down Haight to the Communications Company, known to those who know as ComCo, to use their Gestetner printer. It was there she met Paul Watkins, an adult Caucasian who was into Tarot oo-ee-oo. Later that evening they shared a macrobiotic dinner as they listened to the radio report on a so-called raid by the SFPD in which twelve humans were arrested and charged under California Health and Safety Law, Section 49559, otherwise known as ‘possession of dope’. The charge would cost the taxpayer $8,999 to prosecute. It was.”
Why is it so annoying? And it is annoying. The answer is that the entire hippie patois was infused with smug moral superiority—mostly unearned. The purpose was to self-consciously foreground egalitarianism; we are unsexed “humans”—foregrounded in our racial identity as Caucasians, itself highly suspect. Sanders would also write things like: “John Smith attended Kansas State University, he worked as a busboy in his spare time, he was on the football team; he was an American. When Luisa Alvarez arrived in San Francisco it was Smith who taught her American.”
Where have you heard this tone before? The woke. Forget postmodernism, not yet active in the 1960s: woke consciousness—its desire to objectivise whiteness and highlight it as the suspect norm, its smug disdain for “Americans”, its tendency to try and change reality through language (“so-called raid”)—reflects the typical attitude among the children of America’s spoilt upper classes. I know the attitude myself, it was the attitude I had when at fifteen, long before “gender ideology”, I produced an essay for my Religious Studies class with God referred to as “She/Her” throughout. Why? I guess I wanted to stick it to the man.
Where does it come from? It comes from spoilt irresponsible people who have no contact with reality—or very little, anyway. It is an adolescent attitude, though the hippies were in their twenties: smug, full of condescension, and yet confident that it is utterly safe—my hands are clean (because I never have to get them dirty to make a living). Everything is delivered at a slight narcissistic remove with phoney objectivity (“humans”; “Caucasians”) that drips with passive aggression—presumably towards dad, the man (a mid-level executive at Raytheon).
Hence Sanders has a “so-called” raid by the police who used “Vietnam tactics” when they captured Manson—what did Sanders, who knew how dangerous Manson was, expect? Did he expect the police to wander up like a bobby in Mary Poppins and say, “Now then, now then who’s been a naughty boy, eh? Come along nice and peaceful, Mr. Manson.” Again, smug unearned contempt for a difficult job—for reality. This was a raid, Sanders; nothing “so-called” about it. Similarly, Sanders would write extensively about the occult and then write “oo-ee-oo” after every strange event related—again the smug pseudo-clever skeptical attitude. “Man, it’s all like a con, like, religion, man. Just drop a tab. Everything is free on the Haight.” Bottom line: the hippies were narcissistic smug people who were mostly high on unearned moral superiority—just like the woke, they needed a biff on the head with a truncheon.