1960s Defines Liberalism in 2012, Debt to Weathermen and Manson
The madness began at the University of California in Berkeley. It’s still there. The legacy of the 1960s is deeply embedded in the psyches of liberals in 2012 across America.
It’s still an underground movement, buried in subconscious values and choices. Politicians, judges, social workers, professors, Hollywood directors, and news anchors today have internalized their debt as “normal” rather than tethered to their radical past.
They see themselves as “moderates” today, liberal members of both parties, too enlightened to side with “fringe” Christians and traditionalists. Conservatives are, by definition, “hate mongers” who cling to the “fascist” legacy of Western Civilization. From their gated communities and ivy towers, they champion all minority and Third World causes, so long as they can benefit by being in charge. Hello university-ordained technocrats and other government “experts.”
The maudlin lyrics of John Lennon still bring an effusive sense of self-validation. Same with Bob Dylan. Same with listening to “We Shall Overcome” once again. The whole iTunes culture knows the drug-like importance of emotionally engaging with sentiment.
The self-righteousness of political groups like the 1960s Weathermen had a lasting impact, though little acknowledged today, for good reasons. Same with 1960s icon Charles Manson, who, if he had not gone too far, would have remained central in the pop culture world we’ve inherited. Had he not fallen, he would undoubtedly have been governor of California today.
In his “Weathermanson” essay, Daniel J. Flynn traces the central role of Manson in 1960s pop culture:
Forty-three summers after the Helter Skelter murders, the Manson Family still provokes headlines and head-scratching. One needn’t six-degrees-of-separation to connect the villains and victims to as diverse a collection of characters as Doris Day, Steve McQueen, Neil Young, and Lou Costello, proving that the entertainment Mecca was still like a village where everyone’s connection extended to everybody. A friend of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson killed friends of the Mamas and the Papas’ John and Michele Phillips for reasons found on a Beatles album.
It didn’t make sense, but then again so little during the late 1960s did.
Most mysterious of all is why what we know, and not just what we don’t, remains so obscure. Specifically puzzling is why a group so mired in the leftist counterculture is so disassociated or at least considered anomalous from the sixties Left.
”His words and courage inspired us,” explained Yippe Jerry Rubin, who visited Manson in jail. “I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV.” Counterculture newspapers fell for a conman’s Christ complex by depicting the establishment crucifying Manson. Weatherman adopted a split-fingered greeting, and featured a cell named “The Fork,” in homage to the culinary implement stuck into the murdered Leno LaBianca’s stomach. A banner even spelled out victim Sharon Tate’s name in bullets at a 1969 “War Party” gathering in Flint, Michigan.
Like Weatherman, the Manson Family started on a college campus—Berkeley, to be precise, where the group’s messiah recruited his first follower, University of California librarian Mary Brunner. Both groups fetishized African Americans as the vanguard of a pending world revolution. Whereas the Weathermen appropriated Bob Dylan lyrics for their name and manifesto, Manson discovered cryptic messages embedded in The Beatles’ white album. Both cults used communal living, sex on demand, and narcotics as means of control.