Friday, July 11, 2008

Children of the Revolution

Francis Beckett gets it in one:

The children of the 60s and those of the 70s thought New Jerusalem was around the corner, its arrival hindered only by the conservatism of Harold Wilson's Labour governments. They did not realise that they were living in New Jerusalem and that their generation, which benefited from this dazzling array of freedoms, would, within 20 years, destroy them. Nor did they realise - for they had never heard of Tony Blair - how lucky they were to have Wilson to hate. Wilson courageously kept Britain out of Vietnam, founded the Open University and made such cautious moves towards greater social equality as were allowed by the difficult economic circumstances.

Proud of having conquered their inherited inhibitions, the 60s and 70s generations thought, in their innocence and foolishness, that there was little else to conquer. Their parents had battled for healthcare, for education, for full employment and economic security. These battles having apparently been won, the young fought for, and won, the right to wear their hair long and to enjoy sex. These were the battles that the young Blair fought and won at a stifling old-fashioned public school, Fettes, at the end of the 60s. He rejected the statism of the Attlee settlement. It is precisely because Blair is an authentic child of the 60s and 70s that he threw away Labour's chance to change the Thatcher settlement of Britain's affairs. He had no quarrel with it.

Hat tip: David Lindsay.


Anonymous said...

How dare you call me David Lindsay! My name is Martin Miller, just like you rname is Citylgihtsgirl!!!

Neil Clark said...

No, your name is not 'Martin Miller'. It's 'pathetic twat'.

Neil Clark said...

Readers who don't know the background to the 'martin miller' trolling, here's what it's all about:

And these links (and others) will posted every time you write in 'martin'.

Anonymous said...

How true Francis Beckett's comments are.

I have never tired of pointing out (as a rather different critic of the New Times, Auberon Waugh, would have put it) that it was pop culture and the 60s generation that gave birth to Thatcherism, that those of that generation who embraced neoliberalism were far greater in number than those who truly believed in hippie idealism.

It is essential that as many newspaper articles as possible point out the truth that Blair's entire agenda - especially his foreign policy, which was rooted in Luxy-under-the-bedclothes dreams - was as it was *precisely because* he was brought up on rock music, and not (as some pseudo-leftists who have fundamentally misunderstood what side rock is generally on) in spite of it. I'm eternally grateful to the late Ian MacDonald for pointing out the roots of Thatcherism in 60s/70s pop culture, among all his other insights. I'm glad that at least one living writer can see the same truth.

Anonymous said...

You tell 'em, handsome!

Anonymous said...

That is all so true (your article)- I was a teenager in the 60s and grew up taking it all for granted, and thinking all the battles had been won for all time. As Lou Reed said: " I thought she was Mary Queen of Scots, just shows how wrong you can be..." What's that got to do with anything? Just something that happened to pop into my mind at this moment, a sort of Jungian 'synchronicity' - snake oil, like what Thatcher and Blair and their like all over the world sold us, like Jacob cheated Esau out of his birthright for a mess of potage.

Anonymous said...

I think the crucial point is that there is an inherent conflict (which could not have been understood at the time) between 60s/70s pop culture's twin ambitions of *genuine* freedom *for all* and full-on, all-round Americanisation (here, I think of Chris Welch in Melody Maker using the words "Nanny State" and "1984" to refer to Wilson's anti-offshore-radio legislation: I would *love* to know what he made of Thatcherism). It all comes back to the point Simon Reynolds made years ago about the multiple and conflicting meanings of the word "freedom" (how could a word beloved both of 60s leftists and those such as Kenneth Williams who ranted about "the futility of a mixed economy", and his unnamed friend who wanted a military coup against Labour in 1969, be anything else but elusive and ambiguous?).

I think it's fair to say *now* that the boomers were so obsessed with rejecting the certainties of the post-war settlement that they did not realise what later leaders would do in precisely the same cause. But I think it's equally fair to say that *they didn't know*.

David Lindsay said...

By this time next week, we should have a fully registered pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war party for economically social democratic, morally and socially conservative British and Commonwealth patriots, equally and indivisibly opposed to the decadent social libertinism of the Sixties and to the decadent economic libertinism of the Eighties.