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Army Bob: The baby boomers hated the WWII generation

by RobertM. Traxler

Sadly, we too often read in the Townbroadcast of the passing of World War II veterans and members of what Tom Brokaw referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”

The loss of a generation that won World War II and put a man (or need I say person) on the moon, developed miracle drugs and educated their children to a higher level than themselves. A generation of Americans who believed in service and honor and grew our nation like no other. Lest we forget, they were attacked by their own children’s generation for their love of country and belief in American exceptionalism.

The 1960s-1980s was a period in our national history that witnessed a generation of Americans come of age who were proud an

d remain proud of their anti-American stand. Now to be fair, most baby boomers were not the long-haired, counter-culture types who believed in an expanded mind through chemistry. Tetrahydrocannabinol and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), were there the drugs of choice, a rejection of the alcohol many of the WW II generation used.

The counter-culture folks believed in a world without borders and a free society, free of the evils of capitalism, materialism and authority; an ideal society that was governed by love and a belief in the common good of mankind (or again do I need to say personkind) to “come together and love one another.”

What happened to the free love, free society, anti-materialism crowd? Many are among us; they own automobiles, homes, have retirement plans and 401ks. They winter in the west or south and have become their parents and are very materialistic. The counter-culture’s evolution to capitalism is an enormous social change that has gone on unnoticed by the socialists, media and psychologists of our day,probably because they are the very people who were the counter-culture.

 

During the run up to the Gulf War, an anti-war demonstration was held in a Chicago suburb near where I was living at the time. I drove down to see it first hand; compared to the Viet Nam era demonstrations, this one was peaceful. I was talking to a local police officer when a lady who was reliving her youth as an anti-everything counter-culture person came up to us and expressed a concern. She was worried that if she got arrested her brand-new Mercedes Bens auto could be damaged or stolen while she was in jail. She wanted to know if a safe place was available for her to park her then $70,000. car? No doubt in my mind in her youth she dressed in a muumuu, had flowers in her hair, smoked Kools, did drugs, rode in a VW mini bus and condemned capitalism and materialism.

The counter culture crowd conveniently forgets their condemnations of the WW II generation that left them with the fear of nuclear holocaust, an unjust society, materialism, capitalism, racism and debt. The counter-culture folks have run up more debt, nuclear weapons have spread to at least four more nations (some very unstable), and we are told racism is more rampant today than in the days of the counter-culture.

Dr. Timothy Leary must be turning over in his grave. “Turn on, tune in, drop out” is a counterculture-era phrase popularized by him in 1966. He died in 1996 in Beverly Hills a very wealthy man.

How did those who believed in the counter-culture become the culture they condemned? It is easy to explain — they were mugged by reality. The reality that capitalism, though not perfect, works every time and every place it is practiced. They came to realize that they could give their children and grandchildren a better life if they worked hard and invested in our capitalist system.

A pure socialist society only works for any length of time in theory, never in practice; just look to the demise of the American counter-culture as an example.  Ask yourself, where are the over 7,000 communes of the 1960/70s?  According to “The Atlantic” in 2016 only 300 still existed, and most are closer to homeowners’ associations than communes.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  • Every era in American society has its extremes. Socially and psychologically those extremes have the important purpose of bringing the culture to a more moderate middle ground, a reconciliation, as it were, of those extremes. The counter culture had the function of reining in hawkish tendencies of that generation so battered by the consequences of WWII. It also, for a time, countered the beginnings of the consumerism that plaques us today. I was not of the counter culture that you highlight, but was of a less stereotypical mindset that believed nuclear war was near at hand, that we had become obscene consumers of goods, and that society was headed toward a most selfish attitude. And, guess what, here we are. I did not hate the “greatest generation.” I was a normal kid who, in finding her individuality, rebelled against convention, and, in communication with her parents, found that middle ground. My Republican parents became independents. After my Democrat phase I, too, became and independent. We have not embraced rampant consumerism, nor have we amassed any debt at all (no, not car or mortgage or credit card). We didn’t and don’t do drugs. We fight for social change and resist racism. We donate excessively to charity. We live simply and modestly. It is our belief that one must not live in a purely socialist society, but that some socialist programs are of great benefit to the greater good, and would not lead to the downfall of the United States. Somewhere in the midst of extremes lies the Golden Mean of ancient culture. We would do well to avoid the stereotypes of extreme thought and find that middle ground.

  • Mrs. Mandaville,
    Thank you for the comment.
    “We have not embraced rampant consumerism”, what is that exactly?
    Thanks again.

    • Black Friday, Cyber Monday, buyers paying exorbitant prices for popular items because they “must have” them (the newest iPhone, toys like Tickle Me Elmo and Hatchimals and the like). This is what I call rampant consumerism.

      • Mrs. Mandaville,
        Thank you for the answer to my question. As I do not even know what a Hatchimals is and I own a flip phone, I must not be a rampant consumer.
        Thanks again.

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