The individual death of the counterculture

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The individual death of the counterculture

Postby mewshi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:28 am UTC

I was listening to Architects from the new Rise Against album today (which, by the way, is a really good album); it brings up a very interesting point -- how many countercultural icons remain in that position for long before abdicating because they've "mellow"ed, as the song puts it.

I started wondering why it is that the individual counterculture feeling may die off in many people. Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby hidden » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:34 am UTC

We in the west have become increasingly individualistic especially over the latter half of the 20th century. The decline in countercultural icons and other civil movements might be indication of a sense of complacency or apathy.

If you weren't talking over time but as an individual choice I would support the notion that counterculture is particularly attractive to adolescents and the youth in general, rebellion and experimenting is a natural part of growing up. You test the waters, then you move on. A cause that does not tangibly barge upon personal well being is much more easily forgotten.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby ++$_ » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:03 am UTC

I think that people eventually realize that "counterculture" has its own set of rules and expectations. If you join a counterculture because you dislike the restrictions of mainstream culture, which seems to be a common motivation, you will be disappointed when you discover that counterculture is "just as bad." Chances are you'll then return to mainstream culture, if only because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:41 am UTC

If there is a death of countercultures, maybe that's because people are fairly satisfied with the mainstream culture?
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:43 am UTC

If enough people are in a counterculture, isn't that just a 'culture'?
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby poxic » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:07 am UTC

Another, less inspiring but more practical option: the older one gets, the more one learns about the way people actually work, and therefore the way the world actually works. As in really reality-wise, not according to ideals or principles or anything even remotely top-down-reasoned-through, but instead difficult quirky very personal ego-dependent really-actually-rubber-hits-the-road stuff. And then one realises, maybe gradually or maybe not, that big change is fucking hard. Really, really fucking hard, and a long long fight of longness and difficulty and power and influence and money and bullshit.

Change is not impossible. After all, women can vote now, at least in most places. Fighting for change is never useless, but it is hard. Really, we need the idealistic (and overly optimistic) young-and-energetic folks to drive these things, because us older peeps are tired, weighed down with mortgages and families, and disillusioned. It happens to the best of us.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Cryopyre » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:36 am UTC

Counterculture is overwhelming. There is a philosophy behind it, but it quickly becomes apparent that no matter how much fire and passion you have within you, it all remains the same. That's why the individual counterculturalist dies, because without fuel, without others, the passion burns him until nothing is left but a smoldering coal.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby mewshi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:16 am UTC

I've never understood the whole "reality sets in" thing, honestly. As I've gotten older, my life has shown me that fighting against things that are seen as normal, despite their harm, isn't just a good option -- it's the only option I can live with myself going for. Then again, I am the type of person who has had people stare at me in shock when they discover my positions on a lot of things, because I tend to fit in pretty well, I would think.

I once asked Noam Chomsky why he got involved in politics in the way he did. Here is his response:
There's no reason why a professional discipline should disqualify someone from being human. The real question is not why I do it, but why everyone else doesn't also, particularly those who share privilege and freedom.


I think the big reason why people fall away from things like this is because we have come to expect things to just... happen. Huge changes take time, and a lot of us give up before the momentum even starts. Maybe instead of saying, "I want this to happen," we should be saying, "I want to work toward this."
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:06 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:I think that people eventually realize that "counterculture" has its own set of rules and expectations. If you join a counterculture because you dislike the restrictions of mainstream culture, which seems to be a common motivation, you will be disappointed when you discover that counterculture is "just as bad." Chances are you'll then return to mainstream culture, if only because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

This, about a million times. Every counter-/sub-culture I've ever been vaguely involved with has had it's own hierarchy, social conventions, and prejudices which are often just as well enforced as the mainstream was in high school. As someone who didn't fit into the mainstream in high school, and hence fell into the heavy metal sub-culture pretty easily, this has always bugged me. Unfortunately the need to protect our tribe seems to be fairly innate to the human experience.

Now I just try, but often fail, to like what I like and only judge other people on their merits as a person, not a member of a particular clique. Groucho Marx's "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member" quote seems appropriate.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby OllieGarkey » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:44 pm UTC

Just a case in point, much of what you call counterculture was invented to sell record.

Sid Vicious disparagingly referred to the punks he saw develop as coathangers.

Then there's this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7RUeMCZL3Q

People evolve intellectually. Often they abandon the childish rebellion that has nothing to do with changing things.

Politically, I'm still radical. But I don't yearn for a revolution like I did as a teen.

The way forward is a slow slog, and it won't come with one burst of energy. It's a long, hard, often boring fight.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Griffin » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:42 pm UTC

Also, the older you get, the more you have to lose by going against the grain.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby mewshi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:19 pm UTC

Maybe it isn't that you have more to lose by going against the grain, but rather that you have less to lose by going with it. And I suppose you are somewhat correct in the manufacture of an image. However, there are those of us (including myself) who tend to at least push up against social mores, out of a reasoned response rather than simple rebellion.

Going against the grain for its own sake is doomed to failure.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Zamfir » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:54 pm UTC

mewshi wrote:I once asked Noam Chomsky why he got involved in politics in the way he did. Here is his response:
There's no reason why a professional discipline should disqualify someone from being human. The real question is not why I do it, but why everyone else doesn't also, particularly those who share privilege and freedom.

It's an interesting quote. It carries the implication that lots of people more would agree with Chomsky, if they had enough courage or at least motivation to speak out against the mainstream. Pehraqps that's true, but it is a difficult thign to sure of. I might be wrong, but isn't that also an underlying assumption of your questions? That the direction of the fight is somewhat clear, and that the question is mostly whether you are willing to keep struggling?

Opposing the common wisdom requires not only stamina, it also requires confidence that you right and most people wrong. If you happen to become an icon, a personification of a counteropinion, then confidence is probably far more important to keep going than stamina. After all, being an icon of a counterculture roughly means that part of the mainstream values and supports you for your contrarian position. An icon doesn't have to choose anymore.

So I can imagine that icons just lose their confidence, or even simply change their minds. Being an icon also means that others start projecting their views onto you. Bob Dylan might a good example of someone who always felt uncomfortable being an icon, a spokesperson of ideas. He clearly loved (and loves) to be a famous singer, but not to be a famous protest-song singer.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:09 pm UTC

From what I understand Bob Dylan didn't like his fan base who were "like living it....man." He just made music he liked, and the hippie counter culture made him into something he wasn't.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby iChef » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:25 pm UTC

Another problem with many countercultures is they are centered on taking down the current culture. It is very rare that they have any ideas to replace that culture they dislike with something better. As soon as these revolutionaries have something positive to say most people tend to listen and it improves society. If all you want to do is "take down the man" and have no ideas past that you are no use to anyone.

It has taken 10000 years to go from the very basics of modern civilization to where we are now, the current system isn't perfect, but it's a whole lot better than it needs to be.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby mewshi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:04 pm UTC

I wouldn't say that society is better than it needs to be, though it is certainly better than it used to be in certain ways. But saying "good enough" isn't... good enough. We should be striving to improve it.

However, I know what you mean about the people whose only goal is to fuck the system up. I know a lot of people who range from just this side of mainstream to people with odd sexual tastes and have stopped consuming most media in protest. I suppose my definition of counterculture is a bit odd, since I don't consider a lot of, say, "punk" kids to actually hold a countercultural ideal in their head. I consider someone who takes action in support of a good plan to be, though, since our country, collectively, says, "fuck it."

On that note, I encourage everyone I know to get involved. When they say they can't do anything, I tell them simply this: "no snowflake in an avalanche every says, "look what I did!"
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:14 pm UTC

If I take a very cynical, glib view on this, a lot of what's declared counterculture just seems to involve new and interesting ways to party. And then people change and defiantly partying in weird ways becomes less of a priority for them.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby sje46 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:32 pm UTC

Can we actually define what a counter culture is? What counts? It's different from a subculture, which is a subset of culture. a counterculture explicitely goes against the established values of the main culture. So...beats, hippies, punks? Whereas subcultures would be more like greasers, mods, metalheads, hip-hop?
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby mewshi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:26 pm UTC

If you joined a counterculture to party, you're doing it wrong. If you are rebelling just to rebel, you're doing it wrong.

The people I tend to hang around are all pretty active politically, at least far more than most people. In a culture marked by apathy and blind following, I consider people who take a stand based on good reasoning to be countercultural, even if it's not the standard definition of the term.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby hidden » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:42 am UTC

mewshi wrote:If you joined a counterculture to party, you're doing it wrong. If you are rebelling just to rebel, you're doing it wrong.

The people I tend to hang around are all pretty active politically, at least far more than most people. In a culture marked by apathy and blind following, I consider people who take a stand based on good reasoning to be countercultural, even if it's not the standard definition of the term.


By that definition (tho I wouldn't say that is the commonly accepted one), I think whether or not someone sticks to a cause depends first on your primary motivation. People who engage in civil movements don't necessarily believe heart and soul in that cause, it can be as simple as a method of socialization depending on your peer groups.

People get older, they want to start families, their priorities change and being a lifelong civil activist can be a dangerous job for a family man... plus it can make it tough to pay the bills.

Plus people get jaded. Change is hard and takes a long time, generations, lifetimes - it isn't easy, there are tonnes of set backs, it takes massive dedication and a titanium heart.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby VMhent » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:12 am UTC

I think these suggestions that go along the lines "yeah, counterculture died because life is better now" really run the risk of being obscenely naive- Francis Fukuyama style, no less!

I'd say that what really happened is that mainstream culture learned how to effectively own and marginalize counterculture. This can be traced to a lot of institutions that are traditionally maligned for "corporatizing" or "homogenizing," like MTV or even the blagosphere. But I'd also say it goes deeper than that. There have been some seriously marginalized and angry voices in the West, and I think it's historically ignorant to write them off. Case and point- look at how contemporary mainstream culture applauds Martin Luther King Jr., yet consistently side-steps the competing race-politic movements like the BPP and BLA. In hindsight, the BPP might have had the right idea- we'll never know, because their leaders were assassinated by COINTELPRO, a special branch of the FBI. We also act like the communist tendencies of youth-movements and intellectuals in the mid 20th century were just misguided, and yet that fails to explain away the very real contemporary voices like the Neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School or my very own favorite Slavoj Zizek. These of course are just my favorite examples :D

So yeah, counterculture is weaker. But not, I think, because the world is a better place or because we're closer to the truth about how either the world or aesthetics should work. Rather, conservative forces have just rallied pretty convincingly- a very natural historical cycle, one that will soon swing in the other direction!
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

Er, I just reread the thread and I don't think anyone suggested that counterculture died because life is better now. For one thing, counterculture hasn't really died, we were talking about how individual people seem to be more likely to fall out of counterculture, or mellow out about it. You make some interesting points about counterculture as a whole, but you didn't actually refute anyone in this thread.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:00 pm UTC

Video killed the radio star.

People have been griping about the death of counterculture since someone thought cave paintings in three colors were better than the rebellious notion of painting in two. Get over it, your rebellion is so yesterday.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby VMhent » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:52 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:If there is a death of countercultures, maybe that's because people are fairly satisfied with the mainstream culture?


There's an example of what I was referring to. But more generally, I was talking about the 'good enough' attitude. My argument is that things aren't necessarily 'good enough,' we're just in the habit right now of believing that the world is pretty alright.I think the individual radical is dying because of the same influences- it's hard to feel like your ideas are at least something a society should work towards when nearly everyone is operating on the 'good enough' paradigm.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:05 pm UTC

It's priorities. Everyone is on different places in Maslow's pyramid, and while some people might be content with ramen diets while funneling every spare penny to the Cause Du Jour, others find that ramen isn't very good to feed to their children. Etc.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Zamfir » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:21 pm UTC

Could people give some examples what they mean by counterculture? It's not a very sharp-defined concept, and different people might have completely different ideas about it.

VMhent for example mentions Zizek, much to my suprise. He is for some reason enormously popular in the US, sells loads of books, has a movie made about his life, has been a guest professor at all kinds of elite universities. To me, that's about as mainstream as someone can expect to get.

Doesn't mean vmhent is wrong, just that we must have very different ideas about what makes someone or an idea part of a 'counterculture'.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby MrConor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:06 am UTC

It's important to distinguish between counterculture as a concept and counterculture in a specific incarnation. The first isn't dead and cannot die: with any given dominant culture, there is going to be an opposing counterculture (because teenagers are like that). Specific countercultures, on the other hand, die because the teenagers who invented it grew up and either bought into the mainstream culture or adapted it sufficiently to accept it (and that latter point is my answer to the OP's question).
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

I've been watching this thread, waiting for another point to dive in, and I found it.

It's important to distinguish between counterculture as a concept and counterculture in a specific incarnation. The first isn't dead and cannot die: with any given dominant culture, there is going to be an opposing counterculture (because teenagers are like that).


And you were doing SO well!

Counterculture has nothing to do with teenagers! It is not teenagers vs. everyone else.

In a multicultural environment like the US, counterculture is conflict between ethnic groups and the overarching identity, it's an attempt to hold on to your cultural distinctiveness. It's what la Pena del Bronx and a number of other latino groups are doing right now.

That's why I read stuff like "The Unco Tale o Dr Jekyll an Mr Hyde." That's why I own a kilt. That's why I'm struggling to learn Gaidhlig (a language with the incomprehensibility of Irish and the consonant sorrow of Welsh) this despite the fact that once I learn it I will have almost no one to speak it with, because the only place where it's strong is the Isle of Lewis.

My counterculture is a rejection of this generic whiteness which is American identity. As we adopted nationalism at the turn of last century, we made laws to wipe out the cultural distinctiveness of various groups. They made it illegal to teach languages that were not English in public schools, and so the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish, the Gaidhlig Polyglots in North Carolina, pockets of Welsh and Irish, all of it was swept away in favor of Generic, Anglophone, blandness.

For the sake of White National unity, they did what they could to take our cultures from us. We, the white, non-english masses had to be made culturally identical to the Angles whom we out-immigrated and out-bred. For those who were still immigrating, we were required to surrender our cultures at the door.

As for those of us whose families had been here since before the revolution, who have ancestors who fought at Bunker Hill and Culloden, we had our culture wrested from us for the sake of protecting a fictitious cultural unity.

So I argue for cultural rediscovery. When I do, people complain about the Balkanization of America. What they're really afraid of is the death of Anglo culture. I'm not sure why. As far as I'm concerned, I'll take Colcannon and Cappercallie over Burger King and Britney Spears any day.

Another thing that infuriates me is that I have to say, when talking about my culture, that I'm not a racist. Why do I have to say this? Why is talking about love of self suddenly redefined as hatred of other?

I don't think my race or people is any better than any other group. Honestly, we've got plenty of ignoble deeds stacked up in our history. With the good comes the bad. The same is true of any people. I believe that my culture deserves to exist. I will preserve it simply by being who I am, eating the food I love, and listening to the kind of music my people have listened to for centuries (a music that is still evolving and growing.) And I'll do this without the racist exclusion of any other group or food or music.

Now I get the feeling that most of you look around at the stagnation which is modern, commercialized culture, and want no part of it. And sure, you could base your protests to that on a certain kind of music, or clothing, or wearing makeup and crying softly in the corner, or whatever teens are doing these days, or you could find some roots.

Roots deeper and older than the United States or the United Kingdom.

If you do go this route, you'll need a sign like this one:
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:16 pm UTC

I plan to be dressed as a ninja for at least one day at this summer's pirate fest. And things like that. I get cock-eyed looks from people when I talk about my hobbies and interests regularly. But when I'm at work, I basically run PR for a state government and am effectively putting a positive spin on The Man in all aspects. Each of us have to decide how much we want to "buy in" to mainstream culture in order to make a living, because face it, there are darn few ways to live comfortably without "buying in" even a little. Employment is hard to come by otherwise.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:18 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:I plan to be dressed as a ninja for at least one day at this summer's pirate fest. And things like that. I get cock-eyed looks from people when I talk about my hobbies and interests regularly. But when I'm at work, I basically run PR for a state government and am effectively putting a positive spin on The Man in all aspects. Each of us have to decide how much we want to "buy in" to mainstream culture in order to make a living, because face it, there are darn few ways to live comfortably without "buying in" even a little. Employment is hard to come by otherwise.


You don't have to stop being who you are in order to find employment. Dealing with economic realities isn't selling out.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:26 pm UTC

I think that depends on which "counterculturist" you ask.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:30 pm UTC

Well, is counterculture about identity, or about wearing black and listening to punk music?

Is it a real movement, or something invented to spur record sales?
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:13 pm UTC

Why is wearing black and listening to punk music necessarily not part of someone's "identity"? Sure, I'll facetiously rant about posers when I'm being cynical, too, but over the years I've become more wary of falling into the No True Scotsman trap.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:18 pm UTC

Why is wearing black and listening to punk music necessarily not part of someone's "identity"? Sure, I'll facetiously rant about posers when I'm being cynical, too, but over the years I've become more wary of falling into the No True Scotsman trap.


I didn't say that it wasn't. And I don't care about poseurs, unless we're talking about Shortbread Tin culture (and then we literally get into the true Scotsman trap).

I'm wondering how having a job conflicts with identity.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:08 am UTC

SLC Punk wasn't about a sell out. It was about growing up. I'm currently working for one of the more hardcore rebellious badasses I've ever met; she just shifted her energies.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby VMhent » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:57 am UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:I've been watching this thread, waiting for another point to dive in, and I found it.

It's important to distinguish between counterculture as a concept and counterculture in a specific incarnation. The first isn't dead and cannot die: with any given dominant culture, there is going to be an opposing counterculture (because teenagers are like that).


And you were doing SO well!

Counterculture has nothing to do with teenagers! It is not teenagers vs. everyone else.

In a multicultural environment like the US, counterculture is conflict between ethnic groups and the overarching identity, it's an attempt to hold on to your cultural distinctiveness. It's what la Pena del Bronx and a number of other latino groups are doing right now.

That's why I read stuff like "The Unco Tale o Dr Jekyll an Mr Hyde." That's why I own a kilt. That's why I'm struggling to learn Gaidhlig (a language with the incomprehensibility of Irish and the consonant sorrow of Welsh) this despite the fact that once I learn it I will have almost no one to speak it with, because the only place where it's strong is the Isle of Lewis.

My counterculture is a rejection of this generic whiteness which is American identity. As we adopted nationalism at the turn of last century, we made laws to wipe out the cultural distinctiveness of various groups. They made it illegal to teach languages that were not English in public schools, and so the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish, the Gaidhlig Polyglots in North Carolina, pockets of Welsh and Irish, all of it was swept away in favor of Generic, Anglophone, blandness.

For the sake of White National unity, they did what they could to take our cultures from us. We, the white, non-english masses had to be made culturally identical to the Angles whom we out-immigrated and out-bred. For those who were still immigrating, we were required to surrender our cultures at the door.

As for those of us whose families had been here since before the revolution, who have ancestors who fought at Bunker Hill and Culloden, we had our culture wrested from us for the sake of protecting a fictitious cultural unity.

So I argue for cultural rediscovery. When I do, people complain about the Balkanization of America. What they're really afraid of is the death of Anglo culture. I'm not sure why. As far as I'm concerned, I'll take Colcannon and Cappercallie over Burger King and Britney Spears any day.

Another thing that infuriates me is that I have to say, when talking about my culture, that I'm not a racist. Why do I have to say this? Why is talking about love of self suddenly redefined as hatred of other?

I don't think my race or people is any better than any other group. Honestly, we've got plenty of ignoble deeds stacked up in our history. With the good comes the bad. The same is true of any people. I believe that my culture deserves to exist. I will preserve it simply by being who I am, eating the food I love, and listening to the kind of music my people have listened to for centuries (a music that is still evolving and growing.) And I'll do this without the racist exclusion of any other group or food or music.

Now I get the feeling that most of you look around at the stagnation which is modern, commercialized culture, and want no part of it. And sure, you could base your protests to that on a certain kind of music, or clothing, or wearing makeup and crying softly in the corner, or whatever teens are doing these days, or you could find some roots.

Roots deeper and older than the United States or the United Kingdom.

If you do go this route, you'll need a sign like this one:


I have a lot of respect for this post, and for you. Choosing to opt out of homogenization is laudable. It makes me want to be more Irish- after all, I'm only a third-generation American.

I think (and hope) that what OllieGarkey is talking about is true of a lot of global counterculture. One of the biggest countercultural movements happening world-wide is fragmentation, or this kind of return to more personalized cultural norms. For example, though national parties in the UK have been set back by the financial meltdown in 2008, there is still a strong pull in non-English UK for greater devolution of regional powers. It's important to remember the subject we're broaching is not just the anarchist movement or punk rock, but a broader global phenomenon. My hope is that counterculture is going to be less characterized by these 'establishment sponsored' differences in taste and more by actual political and cultural differences with the status quo. Then again, I come from a very particular set of social and political views that make cultural fracture sound very appealing. The sooner a coherent mainstream dies, the better!
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby MrConor » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:35 pm UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:I've been watching this thread, waiting for another point to dive in, and I found it.

It's important to distinguish between counterculture as a concept and counterculture in a specific incarnation. The first isn't dead and cannot die: with any given dominant culture, there is going to be an opposing counterculture (because teenagers are like that).


And you were doing SO well!

Counterculture has nothing to do with teenagers! It is not teenagers vs. everyone else.


The teenagers thing was a joke, though I realise this may have been unclear due to the lack of paralinguistic hints that this was the case.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:30 pm UTC

VMhent wrote:I have a lot of respect for this post, and for you. Choosing to opt out of homogenization is laudable. It makes me want to be more Irish- after all, I'm only a third-generation American.

I think (and hope) that what OllieGarkey is talking about is true of a lot of global counterculture. One of the biggest countercultural movements happening world-wide is fragmentation, or this kind of return to more personalized cultural norms.

Are you sure yours and OlieGarkey's examples are new phenomena? At least as seen from Europe, it's fairly typical and has always been typical behaviour of Americans to go find their roots, especially if those roots are in English-speaking areas. A significant part of the tourist sector of Ireland and Scotland is based on Americans visiting their ancestral village.

At the same time, both my and my girlfriend's job mostly involve writing reports in English instead of Dutch, because the reports might have to go to an international audience anyway. And I am writing this in English too. Such forces worldwide towards cultural integration seem to me much stronger, at the moment, than fragmentation.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

I wouldn't characterize fragmentation or integration/mainstream as unequivocally good or bad. Even back when society was fragmented into tiny villages, a strong norm was enforced in each village (probably even more strongly than our spread-out society today) and "dissenters" were socially punished for being different, for perhaps jeopardizing the survival of the village by being too free-spirit. Increases in communication, decreases in travel time between villages, the exchange of numerous ideas, meeting new cultures - while all of these may have contributed to homogenization, also increased empathy and awareness that different doesn't mean inhuman, inferior, or evil. Whereas the more insular you are, whether it's within your subculture or original culture - the easier it is to have a distorted view of people who don't walk and talk like you.

Going back to your roots is fine, but only provided you don't start imitating your insular ancestors and demonizing people with different roots - that's the flip-side of the bargain. Honestly, I think globalization has its advantages, like tomatoes. And chocolate.
tenet |ˈtenit|
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a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy : the tenets of classical liberalism.
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Re: The individual death of the counterculture

Postby jules.LT » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:06 pm UTC

mewshi wrote:I think the big reason why people fall away from things like this is because we have come to expect things to just... happen. Huge changes take time, and a lot of us give up before the momentum even starts. Maybe instead of saying, "I want this to happen," we should be saying, "I want to work toward this."

That's what NGOs are all about, and it seems to work.
If only more people chose to work in them... I know I will.

Also, I'm glad that environmentalism has gone somewhat mainstream and I don't mind that it doesn't mean we adopt hippy cultural codes. Call it "watering down" if you like.
Now, Alter-globalization might bear some nice fruits too...
Bertrand Russell wrote:Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
Richard Feynman & many others wrote:Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out
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