T. M. Luhrmann traces a surprising line of political evolution. It stems from the hippy movement of the 1960s to the conservative wing of the Republican party today. (“Blinded by the Right?” by T. M. Luhrmann, Harpers, 4/13 pps. 39-44) Flower children, he contends, were rebels with a deep suspicion of authority, particularly government. That suspicion remained as the hippy revolution faded and many of its members drifted to religion, attracted by an evangelical zeal which taught that Jesus was a personal savior and that no institutional intermediary was necessary to communicate with Him. What brought this culture into the mainstream of politics, according to Luhrmann, was the 1973 Supreme Court decision on abortion. Aroused by a perceived assault upon the family, the religious wing of Haight Ashbury’s children found its political voice.
My summary simplifies Luhrmann’s long essay, but lays out the basis of his thinking. What began as a rebellion against large institutions led, for many, not to the left in politics but to the right and to the Republican Party which advocates for limited government.
While both wings of the hippy movement still share a longing for personal freedom, the right defends it as a thirst for individual responsibility and believes government creates a welfare mentality. The left wants to level the playing field so that individuals can pursue their happiness. They see government as the tool for providing that equality. Ironically, all of these flower children, right and left, now put their faith in institutions larger than themselves – religion or government. They stare at one another across a sea of common values like foreigners on opposite shores.
Luhrmann’s point is a good one to ponder. When people cry for revolution, outcomes become unpredictable. The people of Egypt are finding this out.
(Courtesy of www.sodahead.com)