Do you remember the Summer of Love? No, nor me; of course I wouldn’t, because I was there. I wasn’t spaced out on LSD, or making free love with hippy chicks. I was being Seven. I was wearing a flower-power tie with a bottle-green, knobbly leather-buttoned, home-knit cardigan, if dim memories of photographic records are to be believed and I don’t see why anyone would make up such a cruel lie.
What happened to the counter-culture revolution?
The trouble with revolutions is that they break things and when things are broken, thuggery flourishes, alongside the arts, like a Beatnik on a bongo. The problem with dropping out of society, is that you still need to eat and society has the food. Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ tells the story of the gradual slide into petty theft of a band of travelling poets. Most revolutions seem to be instigated by the educated, ungrateful children of the Middle Classes. I guess they are the ones with the time. Every revolution seems to have its poets, “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.
Punk was both inspired and financed by the dole, just as theater, music and art had been funded by the state since the 60s, when hippies rejected materialism, preferring to live off their wealthy parents or the welfare state. Wars are started by the rich and manned by the great unwashed, like production lines. At least genuine counter-cultures are equal opportunity employers. No-one stands much of a chance.
Karl Marx predicted that people would rise up when the inequality gap got so wide, civilised behaviour would get sucked into the void but the Russians got impatient and hurried things along, so we don’t know much anger would it take to give UK sufficient momentum to change. Where were the warning shots of poetry this time? Perhaps in rap, where old beatniks, hippies & punks won’t hear them, because they’re still fighting the last older generation.