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Maggie’s Farm No More: Goodbye to the Way We Were

My Back Pages: Debating on the step of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley, 1966. (Left to right:) Me (Somewhat younger but just as strident), An Iranian friend named “Jaz” — worked with me in the UC library, a refugee from the Shah’s Iran — probably went back after the fall of the Shah, and (foreground right) a guy lost his eye in the Hungarian Uprising and had to run for the border and on into the West to stay alive. In this picture he’s attempting to convince me that Communism is an evil ideology. I’m not hearing him then, but I hear him now. 

If you look closely at the media/propaganda machine’s diet for a diminished America you see a familiar list of “ingredients.” The list is composed of the ideological stock and trade of a significant segment of Americans to whom this nation, as conceived by our founders, and whom our forefathers struggled for more than 200 years to achieve “a more perfect union” is merely one long, large raaaaacist joke.

I should know. I lived with and agreed with all those “Americans.” That boy in the picture up there — that boy that thought Communism was “something we could live with” — that young boy was me.

When I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s, we were the brave new world’s social engineers. We were the innovators. We were busy innovating the brave new world while everything about the old world of our parents seemed either hilarious or evil.

Our “Let’s make it perfect” program was quite clear early on and it hasn’t changed a jot since; it has simply gotten more pervasive and elaborate. After all, we’re older now and we’re in control. We can finally fund these things. With your money.

  1. God, if he didn’t emerge from 500 mikes of pure Sandoz LSD, was just a funny old guy a little bit like Santa Claus but with less of a user base.
  2. The Bill of Rights was okay as long as you could figure out some way to erase a few of the amendments involving guns and add a host of new ones involving groups.
  3. The Constitution? Too long and too arcane to really read with care even if we did care too and we didn’t.
  4. History? The only really happening history the right side of history which, man, was already happening in the future, man. Ours.
  5. The United States? They were really “AmeriKKKa” — Satan incarnate.
  6. The US Military? Baby killers and agents of Satan.
  7. The Police? Pigs.
  8. The Viet Cong, Fidel Castro, and a host of other evil dictators and fascists? Heroes of “The People.”
  9. The People? Really wonderful as long as you didn’t really have to hang out with them.
  10. Voting in political parties?   Stupid. We were into “participatory democracy” which involved really long meetings. ( This is now known as “emergent democracy” and involves really long online discussion threads.)

We believed in sex and drugs and rock and roll.

We were determined to resist “The Man” on all levels.

We were young.

And we were very, very stupid for college kids. Check that. We were stupid because we were college kids.

Many of the most committed socialists and communists among us are still in college and even dumber. We’re professors now and our ability to be dumb has never been deeper.

We are not our parents’ generation, we’re “The Not-So-Great” Generation,


Others of us are ensconced in the various parts of what passes for the media. We’re there with a lot of others just like us and, even if we thought differently, we’d never say it for fear of losing regard, position, grants, or promotion, job, house, family, life. Besides, we’ve been around others who think like us for so long its no problem at all to top up the latte and nod in blind agreement.

Nope, we never sold out. We bought in. But we kept the Che poster pinned up forever in our hearts.

And now, we’ve arrived at our rendezvous with history.

In our aging hearts, we hate what we’ve become and, like any good group of neurotics, transfer that hate to the country that gave us everything including the Long Peace in which to enjoy it.

We’re the first in line to bitch and moan and hate a country that makes our freedom possible. More than that we’re also in love with the always -denied privilege, comfort, money, and safety that makes it possible for us to mouth off without limit. And finally, we’re coming to understand that we are not our parents’ generation, we’re “The Not-So-Great” Generation, and deep down we’re cowards.

We say we’re ‘afraid’ of losing our cherished ‘freedom’ to the jackbooted legions of Trump’s Conservative Brownshirts that seek to stifle our dissent from every street corner. That’s really what a lot of us think. That’s really just how bull-goose looney we’ve become.

We’re so afraid that we can’t look at what scares us but instead pull the covers over our head and dream of the ChristianBoogeymen. Why? Because they’re an illusion. They are not really scary at all. Why? Because they are all “just pretend,” and we know it. What many of us simply cannot face is the real terror of the times… Terror.

We’re really afraid of the wrath of those who, unlike us who believe in nothing, believe in something so deeply that they’ll kill us for it and die doing it.

We fear the bomb in the baby carriage that’s wired to the radio.

We fear the teenager in the Army sweatshirt with three pounds of C4 wrapped inside of two pounds of ball bearings showing up at the Mall for a Big Mac Attack.

We fear the Muslim-American who decides one afternoon to park his Jeep on top of as many of our kids as he can find in a group.

We fear that guy sitting next to the window at 36,000 feet with fuses coming out of his Nikes and a t-shirt on that says, “Just Do It.”

We fear the Immam with a plan who is so tense that he decides to walk into downtown San Francisco and unwind with a small shooting spree.

We like the slogans, books, movies, TV shows, politicians and publications that confirm for us the deep liberal dream that if we are just understanding enough, long enough, apologize for living enough, and offer enough in the way of bribes, the oppressed of the world will come to love us… and then just leave us alone.

Like the Spanish in 2004, we believe that by selling off our ideals we’ll receive, in return, peace and cheap vacation rentals in France and Greece for the rest of our lives. Like the Spanish, a lot of us believe that by just being nice we’ll be left alone to wallow in our prosperity. Like the Spanish, we’ve come to believe that there’s nothing in war for us except “teenagers with bombs.”

As I said, people of my 60s generation are very, very dumb. And, it would seem, we’ve now bred children who are even dumber than we are. We are now, as far as dumb liberalism is concerned, deep into the third generation of the soul dead and the dumb, and it is clear that not a lot of us are coming around soon enough to avoid another massacre on American soil. To paraphrase a slogan about working with heavy machinery, “You get stupid around terrorism and it’ll hurt you real quick and real bad.”

We’re so stupid we’ve even started to believe “It can’t happen here” after it already has.

How can we get off on being “stuck on stupid” when it comes to this First Terrorist War? How can we prevent another”9/11,” “4/20,” “5/14,” “7/4,” “12/25”? Pick a number, any number, there are 365 to choose from. But before that we might want to consider, seriously and carefully, taking some measures which are not merely careful campaigns to ‘bring the fruits of democracy,’ but things that fall, instead, under the general heading of “Draconian.”

You don’t have to look very far to see that while the dumb teenager might be the Terrorist’s first choice when it comes to delivery vehicles, that teenager isn’t the one choosing the target, setting the timer, or buying the bomb. That sort of thing is left to the “leadership” which is far too valuable to expend itself on direct attacks.

Nor do you have to look very far to understand what the goals of that leadership are. You are told what they are in sermon after sermon throughout the Muslim world week after week. But those of my generation who are still mired in the ideological foolishness of their youth cannot hear these words and, even if they did, would not believe them.

My generation’s culture is one where words seldom have any consequences as long as you choose the right ones.  Words, to my generation, are mere poses at cocktail parties at best, the latest glib lyrics of some pot-drenched rock idol who believes that having a hundred voice choir screech out “Impeach the President” is the latest iteration of cool, until the new, cooler president steps forward and administers another slap of pap to the brain.

You see my “people” don’t really get religion unless it comes with a lot of New Age claptrap or a hefty dose of Zen. Pure Christianity or Orthodox Judaism or Islam is far, far outside our ken.

Where previous generations could write, as late as 1927, the sentiments found in the Desiderata:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

My generation was the one that came up with the variation called the Deteriorata :

You are a fluke of the Universe. You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not, The Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be, Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal, The world continues to deteriorate.

Give up.

I believe that slab of crap to be The New Commandments of the 60s boomers. The “Bible” of our generation, the National Lampoon, first came up with them. I remember how funny we all thought they were. A laugh riot and, well, so true too. So right on. Words to live by.

But when you get a little further down the road and look back, if you have learned anything at all, you’ll have learned to cherish the sentiment of the Desiderata and despise the mocking nothingness in the Deteriorata. They are not ‘words to live by,’ but ‘words to die by.’

But my generation, being eternally drenched in a mindless nostalgia for its weird youth, refuses to learn that. It believes that the cool answer to the great crisis which has been brought to us in the last years is to make a sign that says ” I still heart New York more without the twin towers,” parade about in their plague infected ideology to say, “Give up.”

When I look at the spectacle that my Boomer generation has made of itself, a generation that had everything going for it, that had every opportunity, and came up with Caramel Soy Lattes and “Impeach the President,”  all I can say is:

“I resign the Revolution. I’m joining the Resistance. The REAL Resistance.”


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ulysses Toole July 24, 2020, 1:51 PM

    Same old, same old. Nothing new under the sun.


  • ghostsniper July 24, 2020, 2:22 PM

    WAR! What’s it good for? Ab-so-lutely nothing!
    I’ll tell you what it’s good for.

    I’m not talking about the silly wars most of us have “experienced” for the past 75 years.


    I’m talking farther back.

    The kind of war where almost EVERYBODY participates at some level.

    THAT consuming.

    The kind of war that underscores what a country is all about.

    No participation trophies, just lots of commitment and sacrifice.

    Hard times. VERY hard times.

    Hard times where nobody gets enough to eat because most of the food is channeled to the war effort.

    No gas to go beboppin’ ’round town cause, well, rationing. You only get so much, and it ain’t enough.

    So everybody grows a little garden, wherever they can because even a handful of green beans picked out of your yard is more than you had yesterday. Hard times.

    You learn how to darn your 3-year-old socks cause shoes can cause blisters pretty quick without em, and yes, you need to wear shoes while you’re trying to look presentable in the daily job line. Daily. Not weekly. Daily. And you are glad as hell to work in that warehouse all day long for 16 hours for that five-dollar bill at quittin’ time. Yippee!, I stop and get 2 cans of Campbell’s soup and maybe some crackers on the way home! Nope. The shelves are almost bare. War effort.

    Netflix? Nope. They went under about 6 months after the war started. Same with Youtube and a billion other time wasters. Your computer stopped a year later and a new hard drive simply was nowhere to be found. Cheap assed Chinese made 84″ TV stopped working and even if you had the money there’s nothing to watch but news, news, NEWS! Interrupted constantly by public service announcements.

    A year in and most people are skinny again, like people used to be, when they acted like people rather than arrogant butterballs. You can tell they weren’t always skinny by all of the extra material cinched up around their waist belt made of clothesline rope. Or the flopping plastic soles on their plastic name brand shoes that used to be considered stylish even though functionally dysfunctional and headed for the landfill the day they were made. If you can peel some used duct tape off of something you can fix that flop, and stop tripping over your own 2 left feet.

    Yep, some hard times brought by a war of all wars will put things in perspective for folks that lost perspective and spent a fair amount of time pissin’ and moanin’ about that that is now on the rearmost back burner. Which bathroom to use? Did someone just offend you? Do you feel underprivileged or disadvantaged? That stuff will have little meaning to people whose belly button is becoming intimate with their backbone. You just don’t care what disgusting things people do to each other as long as they don’t do them to you. And if they try to do those disgusting things to you will use one of the last bullets in your gun to prevent that from happening. After that you will have to rely on your knife. Or you can just do the Remus. You know. Stay away from everybody the best you can. Your skin is your uniform now and so is everybody else’s. Yeah, we’re all in it together, but always, some more so than others. It was always this way, even when large sways of putty heads swore otherwise.

    Maybe the war of all wars will never end. Maybe it will be tooth and claw tribalism from here on out. Fat, lazy bodies will be banished forever and scavenging will be the new normal, after all, 100 years’ worth of abundance has left it deep marks on the planet, and improvising minds can find a use for just about everything once discarded.

    Even though, as the years roll by, there will be less and less of us, those of us still here, trudging forward into destiny, will be sloughing all of the outer skins society causes us to grow, revealing the tender underbelly of who we really are. Maybe then we can start anew. Maybe.

  • Anderson July 24, 2020, 3:37 PM

    Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all warned that Democracy doesn’t work. About 500 years later, the Apostle John wrote about a ‘beast’ that “…once was, now is not, and yet will come again.”

    Here we are.

  • Kevin in PA July 24, 2020, 4:03 PM

    While I am of the same generation as you, I am about a dozen years your junior. I missed the draft by about a year. When Nixon ended the draft, I was relieved, as I had no joy in my heart thinking about being drafted to go fight in a mess I had no hand in making and what seemed to be a pointless waste of life for the young Americans being sent there. I had a couple of older friends who returned with their stories of the horrors of war. That was enough for me. I really didn’t want to go.

    My Father, a decorated WW2 combat veteran (he would have turned 98 last week if he were still here), would have disowned me if I dodged the draft….and being disowned would have been only after he killed me!

    As a younger member of our generation I never saw the appeal of communism. I knew it for what it was -EVIL. By the time I was in my early 20s I had worked with people from Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries. Many of them were the same age as me. I learned what they knew about communism. None of it was good.

    I went to work out of high school and then, to a trade school and then, back to work. I have always looked back with some degree of remorse for not getting a university degree. At the same time, I have harbored a bit of resentment for those who did. Not for the fact that they received an esteemed degree, but that they (some) seemed to exuded a sort of smarmy contempt for America. However, there was some small doubt in my mind that maybe those with better education than myself knew something I didn’t. It was only after years of working, paying the bills and watching the degeneration of our nation when I came to understand those degreed folks who I believed were better “educated” than I were not.

    I agree with Ghost – hard times are coming and long overdue. Hard times are, in fact, the norm for most of the history of the world. Americans are about to learn that lesson the hard way. My parents and their siblings used to talk about the Great Depression and the War Years. Rationing of coffee, sugar, cooking oil, gasoline and other essentials is something not seen by several generations of spoiled Americans.

    And so, as I sit here watching it all go to shit, I’m angry, disillusioned and near the point of not giving a damn anymore. I suspect I am not alone.

    So, here is a little warning for the all the smarmy, over-schooled America haters:
    Some of us old cranky bastards have been pushed past the point of tolerating one more minute of these childish outbursts. At my age I simply have no truck for it. Keep pushing and see what you get.

  • Across The Tracks July 27, 2020, 12:49 PM

    I remember graduating from college, loosing my student deferment and volunteering for the Air Force. Failed the physical for them and then the Draft Board sent me a “Greetings” letter. To cut to the chase, I failed that physical too, eyes were too bad.

    Then I watched my friend go off to war and some of them come home. Some okay, some not so okay. Some with Agent Orange, some with PTSD. I never wanted to serve, but now I look at veterans of that time and admire them and wonder what I missed.

    Not everyone went to Berkeley, some country boys went to a state school. Not all of us wanted to burn the flag, then or now. God Bless America.

    Funny thing, now that I have had cataract surgery, I see 20/20 without glasses. I guess the Air Force and the Army would take me now.

  • Across The Tracks July 27, 2020, 1:34 PM

    I remember graduating from college, loosing my student deferment and volunteering for the Air Force. Failed the physical for them and then the Draft Board sent me a “Greetings” letter. To cut to the chase, I failed that physical too, eyes were too bad.

    Then I watched my friends go off to war and some of them come home. Some okay, some not so okay. Some with Agent Orange, some with PTSD. I never wanted to serve, but now I look at veterans of that time and admire them and wonder what I missed.

    Not everyone went to Berkeley, some country boys went to a state school. Not all of us wanted to burn the flag, then or now. God Bless America.

    Funny thing, now that I have had cataract surgery, I see 20/20 without glasses. I guess the Air Force and the Army would take me now.

  • DindyDee July 27, 2020, 4:21 PM

    Sobering read. I’m among the cohort you describe. Same age as you, Gerard. I wasn’t enamored with Communism, having read Ayn Rand at the age of 16. I’ve always been a bone-headed conservative, except for a brief foray into feminism after reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, burning my bra, and thinking for awhile that abortion was preferable to bringing an unwanted child into the world. I’ve wised up some, but my regrets are many. I wish our generation had done better. I did some things right, for which I will give credit to the 3 classic must-do’s for having a chance of success: finished high school, couple years of college, got married before getting pregnant, raised a son and stayed married until he was grown with a family of his own. My biggest regret is believing a college degree was his ticket to success. He garnered a PhD and grew up to be a democrat. Wish I’d done better by him. We all make mistakes.

  • Mark Matis July 28, 2020, 4:36 AM

    Nothing more than the way of the tribe as they yearn for the “good old days” of their Messiahs – Lenin and Stalin. The tribe helped those two idols murder FIFTY MILLION across Russia and Eastern Europe. But those do not count, since they were mostly only Goyim… SMASH THEM!!!

  • Bear Claw Chris Lapp July 28, 2020, 12:18 PM

    Gerard I sit here missing my parents and especially my mother and father in law. I was there for them in their final years and days. It was hard but the some of the most cherished time for me. I was grateful the in-laws spoke about the depression except it can be depressing knowing whats coming for my kids. I have to constantly remind myself God is in control or I would get really down. Thank you for what you do.

  • JohnB July 30, 2020, 12:39 PM

    All these changes, the wild swing to the left, is caused by demographic changes, caused by massively excessive immigration policies. California used to be a Republican state, or at least a state where the Republicans were competitive, the only reason that it’s not now is immigration. And the only degree that boomers or any other generation are culpable for that is the degree to which they tolerated those immigration policies, the rest is just trivial. Boomer blaming is punting the ball away out of fear of publicly talking about and confronting the real problem.

    P.S. – most boomers were not left-winged radicals when they were young, didn’t believe in Amerikkka, etc. And once the draft disappeared and the 70s rolled around most went about their lives making a family and making money. Today’s problems are driven by different identity groups trying to seize enough power to force other groups, and one in particular, to cough up the loot. Unlike the radicalism of the 1960s that’s not going away, ever, until the nation goes broke or goes under.