The 60’s: the contempt, the proposal and the legacy

The history of the human being is curious. Of more than 100.000 years since the appearance of the Homo sapiens sapiens, we know with certain accuracy less than 10.000. It is like saying than a child that is 10 years old only remembers his last year. What value can have his conclusions about his life?

The birth of history was the birth of civilization. With its first vestiges in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and India, man started in a rampant way what would become since then the human project: the ascent. The arts were created, writing, science and technology, all of the tools of the mind together with the tools of the hand, with the goal of leading human beings to the total separation and domain over nature, the use of all of its secrets for its control and profit.

With the Industrial Revolution, the fulfillment of the promise was near. With the machine, man could stop working and suffering to devote himself to leisure and pleasure: we only needed to knock on heaven’s doors. After the World War II, the United States would reach levels of prosperity unknown to man until that moment, consolidating itself like the dream land where we all could have a car, a house, a wife, some studies, 2 children and a dog.

Nevertheless, just at the pinnacle of this project, something strange happened. The masters of suspicion started to arise. People like Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, Foucault, Jiddu Krishnamurti, John Lennon, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, the Frankfurt School, Gödel, even Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Chaplin started to question the human project. All the work the father had done for the child to despise the fruits! The 60’s, the time of the most prosperity in the United States, were at the same time the ones of the most social discontent. We had tried to built a tower to the sky, had not found it and in the process we had destroyed everything else. Racism, environmental crisis, war, masculism, propaganda and consumerism was everything that we’ve gotten. Could it be that all of human evolution would culminate with the life of malls? The French May movement shouted: “we don’t want a world where the certainty of not starving to death comes with the risk of dying of boredom”.

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Three things happened in the 60’s. First, man got tired of war. Homer said that man got tired first of sleeping, loving, singing and dancing than of making war, which was true until the 60’s . In all of humanity we’ve add very few days of peace and, after the unimaginable horrors of the XX century, we couldn’t stand one day more. We only wanted to life in peace and love. Simple, but not easy.

Around the Vietnam war all of the counterculture movement gathered and with it youth was born. Human life was a binomial between the Mickey Mouse childhood and the Playboy and Coca Cola adulthood. However, thanks to the worker’s struggles for securing a space where children could study and not pass directly from to the parent’s job, the world of sex, drugs and Rock N’Roll was created. Not only that, but the period where students could have little liabilities and dedicate themselves to the crucial role of criticizing society. In the French May movement, for the first time parents could not understand their children.

Inside this critic and education, the Western world saw an scape to the East and to its own past. Indian philosophy and Cherokee’s thought was rescued and venerated as something that gave purpose to a world that had it all but was unhappy. This is the context of the rebirth of Yoga, Chakras, coming back to nature, to the real, to our origin. Parents could not understand this movement, was it that young people wanted to go back to a savage state with those piercings and tattoos? But this wouldn’t offend their children, as the concept of evolution and progress was changing and indigenous people were no longer seem as involution. They may not had tv’s,but they could watch all of the wonders of the night in a sky full of stars; they lacked public lighting, but they could experience total darkness when asleep; they were deprived of “entertainment”, but could feel the freedom of running, playing and shouting whenever they wanted to; they couldn’t see Hollywood movies, but had the companionship of elders who told them myths to guide their lives, that made them respect even the weirdest frog in the swam; they didn’t use Facebook, but knew their neighbors to unsuspected levels of intimacy for all the people in the city. Can you imagine a community where listening to your neighbor making love is something totally normal?

Hence, if after the life in the communes, Woodstock, Prague Spring, the Feminist movement, French May, the Summer of Love, Sgt. peppers, the psychedelic journey, Sexual Revolution, the Movement for the LGBTI liberation, the kids shouting “We don’t need no education!” in Another Brick in the Wall, the Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream”, we had the times of Ronald Reagan, Operation Condor, the assassination of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lennon, Jaime Garzón, 2pac and John F. Kennedy, the disenchantment with the Cultural Revolution and the communist model with the Tiananmen massacre, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the triumph of Capitalism and the death of Bob Marley, what was the real legacy of the decade of the 60’s?

This three elements (repudiation of war, creation of youth and rebirth of holistic knowledge) define our current world. Luckily or unluckily, now the leaders have learn their lesson well and know take the young people seriously. When I went to Paris, I couldn’t find even one photographic book of the French May. Our current generation looses the vitality of youth in their homes inserted in the Matrix of the virtual world and video games. How would we judge, if a beautiful world was usurped from them? They remind me of the depressive grunge in the 90’s with Kurt Cobain singing the sadness of a generation that should have not being what it was. The weight of a world in which almost nobody is happy grows, and our civilization becomes one of scape.

In spite of all that, there is hope. Human spirit in unwavering, and as long as we keep living in a world that collides with all of our most beautiful aspirations, there will be protest and activism. Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalization movements remind us that it is possible itself to fight, that we should not give up to this world of ugliness. Is it that we cannot change?

One of the phenomenons that we live today was, as everything that has happened after his death, foretold by Friedrich Nietzsche. In the change of century he announced “God is dead”. Dios was any sacred idea that would limit our vitality, our body, impulses, freedom, it was every idea that would sacrifice the power of now for the everlastingly unreachable future. After the XX century, the most important institution of our civilization no longer have credibility. Money, law, the state, religion, patriarchy, sexuality, marriage, the family, agriculture, language, authority and education are all in a period of crisis, none of them is still wrote with a capital letter. Even science and technology, which for some is the new religion, other can not forget the Atomic bomb and the scientification of the Extermination Camps. Then, around all of us we see the new marketing (specially in food) of “real bread, fresh chicken and lettuce just picked up from the earth”. Everywhere we humans want to reconnect with our root.

This desire of our era will not rest until it is fulfilled and, in the process, it may change all of civilization. The French May announced, inside this spirit, that structures would we in the service of man and not man in the service of structures. All of the hippies in the 60’s didn’t failed: they showed humanity that a better world is possible. Now we walk by their side as apprentices of their achievements and mistakes. Does it feels complicated? All you need is love!

If you’d like to know more about these topics, I recommend the work of Charles Eisenstein and Diana Uribe


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