Confessions of an Ex Hippie Wannabe
If all the hippies cut off all their hair / I don’t care, I don’t care —Jimi Hendrix
One of the greatest regrets of my youth was that I was born too late to be a hippie. I would have made a great hippie, a true prince among hippies. Then again, I might have made an even better beatnik, though I would have had to be born even earlier, and I really don’t like jazz music all that much. But yeah, I used to wish I was a hippie.
I was raised Democrat in much the same way some people are raised Catholic. My father was a staunch union man who firmly, sincerely believed government must intervene to protect the common working man from “big business.” He was a macho socialist in the fiercely individualistic, archaic style of Jack London. Even so, he was not as radical as I was, and had little use for hippies, especially male ones. He used to warn me, “David, one of these days you’re going to wake up, look around, and realize that you’re the only hippie left.”
I was a relatively bright student when I was a kid, and for the most part did very well in school; but despite all the “Just say no to drugs” propaganda with which we were indoctrinated I looked forward to the day when I’d be old enough to start getting high in much the same way that a lot of young guys look forward to losing their virginity. I became a party animal at the age of 16, became one of the only guys in school with long hair, never combed it except with my fingers, and flung myself into freedom and rebellion against the System in general. My unofficial motto was “Question Authority.” After getting into enough trouble that I barely made it through high school I chose to enter a university notorious for its radicalism. To top it all off, I spent my youth in the Pacific Northwest, which is approximately as leftist as California. In short, I was a radical, rebellious, feral, long-haired, dope-smoking hippie wannabe.
Even so, I would occasionally encounter references to Marxism in “hippie literature” (like underground comics, etc.), but I was never really interested in it, or in politics or economics in general—which I assume was common to a lot of actual hippies. I never considered myself to be a Marxist, or even much of a socialist. My one-person political party was Social Eco-Libertarianism—Social to the extent that no citizen should starve to death, or freeze to death, or die of neglect of some easily curable disease…though government assistance should never be so good as to appear as an attractive career choice, and anyone living on government assistance might temporarily forfeit the right to vote (or even to bear children). I was Eco in the sense that nobody should have the right to poison the environment or otherwise cause serious damage to the earth’s ecosphere. (I had the naive idea in those days that most science, including ecology, was unbiased and apolitical.) And I was Libertarian in that, as I’ve already mentioned, I revered freedom, especially freedom of thought and expression, as a vital good. I felt (and still feel, with some qualifications) that any law-abiding citizen should have the right to do as he pleases so long as he does not infringe the rights of anyone else—and that any law that infringes that liberty may rightfully be disobeyed. My primary concern as a young man was freedom and lack of artificial restraints not self-imposed, a relatively Enlightened life based more on philosophy than on traditional superstition and dogma. And in those days at least, way back in the 1980s, that made me more of a leftist than otherwise.
I spent most of my life believing that the Republican Party of the USA was more Machiavellian, ruthless, amoral, exploitative (of the environment as well as of fellow humans), and inclined to engage in unnecessary militarism and to give tax breaks to the rich—and thus to be morally inferior to the Democratic Party. That the Democrats may have held, all things considered, more of a moral high ground may actually have been the case up until fairly recently. When I was in college I learned that a girl that I was sweet on actually voted for Ronald Reagan, and when I confronted her with an incredulous “Why!?” she replied, and I think this is an exact quote, “I might be rich someday.” (She was intelligent and really pretty though.) I’ve mentioned before, somewhere on this blog, that I once made the solemn determination that if Ronald Reagan’s face ever appeared on American money I’d emigrate to Australia. But the thing is, the Republican voters themselves have now lost patience with Neoconservative Machiavellian elites selling the soul of America for their own profit, and the left, plainly stated, has gone insane.
So, freedom has always been fundamental to my religion or system of values; but now it appears that the right, especially the growing libertarian right, is more in favor of freedom of thought and expression, whereas the left has enslaved itself to a kind of irrational politically correct cult mentality, a Brave New World, a whole new set of traditional superstitions and dogmas, in most respects grotesquely inferior to the previous ones. Meanwhile, traditional conservative Christianity has lost its grip on the mainstream right. I didn’t leave the left so much as the left left me in that respect; nowadays even a classical liberal can be smeared as “far right” or even as a “Nazi.” Though it’s also true that I have a deeper distrust of anything smacking of socialism at this point, as I know more about history, and new history has been made since then, adding to the heap. I fail to see how any sane, intelligent person could still be any sort of Marxist at this point, not consciously anyway, considering that over the past hundred years it has evidently resulted in the deaths of a hundred million human beings or more. How many failed economies, how many totalitarian regimes, and how many more tens of millions of people have to be killed before people on the left wake up to the painfully obvious fact that Marxism doesn’t work? It may be very idealistic and all that, and sound very good in theory, but it just doesn’t work in reality. The government is not necessarily your friend, which the hippies also appreciated despite their political leaning to the left; but the farther left one goes politically, the bigger, more restrictive, and more generally corrupt government becomes. I assume it takes some maturity and common sense to acknowledge this; and many otherwise intelligent people just don’t have it.
I lost most of what little interest in politics I had when I realized that what is right and good from a moral point of view is not necessarily right and good from a political point of view. War is an obvious example of this. Morally, war is murder, but politically it may be an absolute necessity if the nation is to continue to exist. Anyway, I stayed mostly apolitical for many years, well into my years as a monk, still feeling nostalgia for my days as a feral teenager and long-haired hippie wannabe. I do declare, those were exciting times.
Then I began to see omens warning me that the left was not the relatively enlightened position that I had been assuming it to be. What little I saw of western Buddhism was at least as much feminized political correctness and weak-minded hypersensitivity as actual Dhamma. Upon returning to the USA in 2011 and plunging back into the world of the west, so to speak, I found that it wasn’t simply that Buddhism had been taken over by feminized hypersensitive softheads—practically the entire society had been taken over by them, with western Buddhism showing symptoms of “progressivism” through contagion from the surrounding culture.
Still I had little interest in politics, and even voted for Obama once, because he seemed to be operating at a higher level of consciousness than Mitt Romney; but by late 2015 I was seeing, largely through a kind of haphazard social osmosis, signs that the left had really gone off the deep end. One of the early cases of this was the hysterical screeching black girl at Yale University, screaming at a white male authority figure because he refused to ban politically incorrect Halloween costumes. This was a far cry from the freedom-loving leftism of my own college days. Finally a very sweet yet thoroughly indoctrinated leftist college girl sent me the link to a Black Pigeon Speaks video on YouTube, explaining how, historically, feminist sentiment destroys civilizations. (She apparently was confused by the onslaught of heretical rationality in the video, and wanted my take on it.) This was the final red pill for me, and it induced a three-day-long horrified trance as I caught up on what the western political situation had degenerated into. I learned about people like Sargon of Akkad, Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, Chris Ray Gun, Jordan Peterson, et al., and could see that what they were up against was essentially a new cult, and a self-destructive, suicidal, spiritually bankrupt one. As the left has moved full speed ahead towards transforming western civilization into a population of dysfunctional, castrated sheep, it is mainly people on the right, including by now classical liberals and other erstwhile centrists, that are championing freedom, especially freedom of thought and expression, practically my religion since childhood. As a Buddhist I presume that a centrist, moderate position in politics is probably most wise; although the left has shifted so far to the left that even centrists are called fascists and Nazis now. It has gotten to the point that, if western society becomes so thoroughly polarized that I have to choose between the castrated sheep and some kind of actual neo-fascistic wolves, I’d probably have to go with the fascists, especially if they were not disposed to gratuitous militarism or genocide.
I can’t really regret my former hippie wannabe-ism. As I’ve pointed out before, regret is always bad karma from a Buddhist point of view; and anyway the past has led me to the present moment, which really isn’t all that bad. But now I can see the consequences of cultural Marxism, socialism in general, and even excess of freedom on the part of people not well equipped to handle it wisely. In my youth I did not foresee the really destructive consequences of the counterculture of the 1960s, and didn’t see it as partly, at least, a neo-Marxist strategy and movement to destabilize and weaken traditional western Christian culture. The 60s did produce some good consequences also, like improved civil rights in general, plus it helped Buddhism to enter the mainstream; but it led to plenty of bad also, like the dystopian fiasco that American “liberal” academia has degenerated into, with many of the cultural Marxist indoctrinators of today having been the hippie activists of the 60s and 70s. If it isn’t stopped it will lead to something like Huxley’s Brave New World, or worse than the Brave New World.
Much of what was glorified by the counterculture in the 60s and 70s, and which I embraced in my youth, has been described by Kevin MacDonald in his monumental and practically forbidden Culture of Critique in these words: “Certainly many of the central attitudes of the largely successful 1960s countercultural revolution find expression in The Authoritarian Personality [by Adorno et al. of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School], including idealizing rebellion against parents, low-investment sexual relationships, and scorn for upward social mobility, social status, family pride, the Christian religion, and patriotism.” I had no idea at the time that my rebellion against “the system” was endorsed and planned out long in advance by Marxist intellectuals in academia, including a whole slew of European Jewish cultural Marxists.
I had no idea how conditioned I was—though most people really are profoundly oblivious to just how much they are products of their society—although it certainly did seem to come naturally at the time, and does seem to be compatible with my nature. I suppose there is much truth to the old statement, variously and apocryphally quoted, “A twenty-year-old conservative has no heart; a forty-year-old liberal has no brain.” Anyway, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t entirely a pawn of globalist Jews and neo-Marxists. I’ve always been a nonconformist rebel, and now I’m rebelling for the other side. Now I’m a rebellious right-winger defying the new Establishment of socialized globalists endeavoring to turn us all into defenseless emasculated sheep.
Amazingly, a kind of classical liberal, libertarian conservatism is becoming the new cool, and the incipient new counterculture. The spirited young rebels are largely patriotic right-wingers now, for the first time in my life. It seems that the impending doom of their ancestral civilization has inspired them to take a stand, as well as the fact that the “Establishment” is now predominantly leftist and obviously lame and dysfunctional. The young nonconformists are not effeminate, soy-drinking hipsters, but freedom-loving nationalists who are rebelling not against “square” conservative Christian parents but against ultraliberal ones who are trying to induce their sons to play with dolls and their daughters to stop liking pink. The left is becoming more and more of an embarrassment to former liberals, and more and more appalling in its rampant rejection of freedom of thought and expression, as well as its glorification of just about every dysfunction and sexual deviation there is. I suppose that the rising generation has at least enough sense to perceive that the cool kids are not the ones bitching and whining in hysteria, and melting down and being “traumatized” when they hear a politically incorrect word.
So, no apologies really, but I’ve lived and learned, and tens of millions more like me are doing likewise. Long live the revolution.