Days of Rage

History, it seems, has a peculiar sense of irony.

Friday, October 8th, was the 41st anniversary of the three days during the late-60′s counter-cultural movement referred to as the “Days of Rage”. In short, it was a time when the youth at the center of the Students for a Democratic Society organized themselves in an effort to violently protest what they perceived to be or simply labeled American “Imperialism”.

Given that our nation is, in large part, now being governed by these very lunatics and the people who have come to believe in their ideology, I think it’s important that we explore some of the elements that led to their unbalanced mindset.  Especially now, as it seems we have a chance to take the first baby-step on the journey of a thousand miles that is the undoing of the damage that has been done to our country.

One of the many things that I’ve learned over the course of the last few years is that the Progressive movement and ideology goes back at least a century, if not considerably further. I mention this because when I first began my quest for knowledge of our political history, I always had this sense that the flower children of the late sixties were in large part responsible for the development (or lack thereof) of the ensuing four decades.

I eventually discovered that I was both wrong and right. The “days of rage” that came out of places such as Haight-Ashbury and Chicago were merely the latest and most glaring manifestation of the permeation of leftist ideals in our culture, with the possible exception of the political conflagration against which we find ourselves currently struggling.

So, what did lead our young people to behave in such a completely astonishing fashion? Was it that they were merely far and away more naturally intelligent and decades ahead of us?

Well, if one is to define more “intelligent” and “refined” as the obliteration of as many social and sexual mores as possible, ingesting nearly any and all psychedelic drugs on which they could lay their precocious little hands, in addition to utilizing and rationalizing terrorist tactics as a legitimate political tool, then yes — I suppose they were the vanguard of a whole new sense of sophistication.

(I, on the other hand, have other terms to which I’d like to apply to that generation, but none of them are fit to print here. I choose to be a decent person.)

So, if not because of their record-breaking intelligence, why did they behave in such a fashion? Against whom was their “rage” directed?

Of course, those who directly participated in the events of that turbulent time–Bill Ayers, Mrs. Ayers, Jeff Jones, etc., along with their ideological and sycophantic descendants who have fallen for their mental terraforming–will no doubt claim that they were merely fighting the harsh injustices embedded in the cultural fabric of big, bad America.

Gosh, I wish we could always have warriors like that to protect us.

Me? Well, I’m just a really simple guy, one who is clearly incapable of comprehending the nuances at the heart of the injustices that are practiced by capitalists throughout the United States. Nevertheless, I do have an opinion on the issue, one that absolutely took my limited IQ to the breaking point in trying to somehow form it and actually put cogent ideas to paper. So, here goes.

First, we should acknowledge that there are far more social factors that go into what culminated as the “Days of Rage” than what I’m going to explore here. That, however, does not mean that I will fail to make my point. I’d like to begin by looking at one of the effects of the Great Depression, a crisis if there ever was one. As a result of that sharp-edged and very real sense of financial desperation endured by millions of people in America and, to some extent, around the world, many of them emerged from that time convinced that socialism or communism was, in fact, the answer to avoiding the large-scale peaks and valleys in the economic cycle – strict regulation.  Little did these people seem to understand that the Great Depression was in itself a testament to the failure of those policies.  But I digress.

Many (but certainly not all) of the young people who decided 41 years ago that destroying the city of Chicago would be a pretty cool idea were children of socialist/communist parents. They would probably have truly seen the capitalist system as “evil” and imperialistic, simply because their outlook on life had understandably been shaped by the people who should be primarily responsible for shaping it – their parents, in the home.

I do actually find it funny, though, that the people who inhabit the far-left of the political slider would like nothing more than to destroy the concept of the family unit.  But, once again, I digress.

The other factor in attempting to understand the mindset of these really angry kids was the larger context of the Baby Boom generation. While I’ve never confirmed the demographic statistic that I’m about to mention, believe me when I tell you, I’ve tried; I merely recall having heard and discussing this as part of a lecture during a Western Civilization class (the nerve of me) in college. It was simply this: in 1968, the United States had the greatest number of seventeen-year-olds, before or since, in its history. Combine that with the larger demographic – say 16-24, for example – and what do you have? A pressure cooker of adolescents and young adults who, just by the very nature of their current biological, physiological, and psychological state-of-life, were all simultaneously rebelling against whatever “system” they could find.

Further, the vast majority of these young people were children of privilege (which would actually be rather strange if their parents were communists), the direct result of the hard work and family values of fathers who had returned home from fighting for the freedoms that their families would enjoy and having internalized the sense of personal responsibility that comes from military discipline. One of the problems that emerged from that, however, was that the parents of these young people were determined that their children would never experience the hard times that they themselves had during the Great Depression, consequently making sure that their children never wanted for a thing and more often than not got what they wanted. Today, we generally refer to it as “spoiled rotten”.

Am I painting this with a decidedly broad brush? Admittedly, to a certain extent, I am; those who truly understand many of the factors in the social stew of the late-60′s, though, know that there’s a lot of truth to what I’m saying.

In short, I see a generation of spoiled children who were all basically reaching the turning point in life at which they were expected to take on responsibility for themselves. In other words, they had to work. And, it seems, they weren’t very happy about it.

Now, let’s place this up against the basis of what the Founding Fathers put together for us. What “freedom” were they espousing, exactly? That’s simple – they wanted as little government interference involved in the lives of private citizens as humanly possible, because they rightly saw that once government begins to grow and individuals begin to make more and more political connections tied to power, we end up with a very tangled web, indeed.

So, after what kind of “freedom” were the angry young people at Woodstock and the like? That’s a little more complex but ultimately rather easy to understand: they were after freedom from an abstraction – culture – or, in what is probably a better way to put it, “freedom from what’s expected”. We adults call it “personal responsibility”.

When I was in high school and I first started to learn about that turbulent time, I remember wondering why these people were so vociferously against the concept of government. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I finally understood that these people weren’t anti-government protesters – they basically all wanted state jobs, jobs at which little work and productivity is ever really demanded, and long, two-martini lunches are the norm. Any politician who could help them to procure such easy lifestyles would most certainly get their vote. Why do you think so many of them became tenured teachers and college professors? Another easy answer: so that they could live out their perpetual adolescence and continue to live the protest life, ensuring that the rest of the world would see their protests as much more refined and high-minded. If some people have to be injured or worse in order for them to get their way, well, sometimes one must break a few eggs to make an omelet.

And don’t forget – I’m a teacher of 18 years.  I merely call them as I see them.  Honesty is a habit that I just can’t seem to break.

In the end, the “rage” – I like to refer to it as a tantrum – was all about expressing their displeasure with their parents for no longer “taking care of them” or with America as the parent of the Western World. Of course, in order to provide cover for what they undoubtedly understood to be petulance on their own part – at least at a near-unconscious level – they needed “noble” causes. So, their personal struggle with immaturity became a struggle for the oppressed – the African-Americans, the poor, American imperialism, etc., etc.

Today, their children – or maybe we could say the ideological “grandchildren” of Haight-Ashbury – have joined their parents to bring America to the breaking point.

Here’s a few things upon which the Woodstockers can chew as we enter into what will (hopefully not) be the next coming of the “Days of Rage”, those being the several weeks leading up to the single-most important mid-term election in American history:

1) Nikita Khrushchev once remarked that his greatest work was the influence that he brought to bear on the 1960′s American youth during the Vietnam War;

2) If it makes any of you feel better, I do, indeed, see you as “different” and “special”;

and

3) If you did, in fact, see yourselves as the vanguard of a new America, then I feel free to tell you this: I and millions of others in this country right now see ourselves as the tip of the sword in bringing the old one back.

You have our attention, but you may end up regretting your outbursts.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Spoiled brats, one in particular, a spoiled fatherless brat. The Greatest Generation raised a bunch of losers.

  2. whats_up says:

    Ah yes it all those damn hippies fault. For someone who claims to try and at least be intellectual Mr. Feeny you fall very short.

  3. T.I.M. says:

    Studies have demonstrated that we don’t acquire wisdom until around the age of 25 (thus advertisers’ lust for accessible minds and pocketbooks to create lifetime customers). People in this age group tend to seek instant gratification, rather than considering long term consequences.

    Is it any wonder that Obama is spending his time courting this precise demographic? OFA is now targeting those whose vote for Obama was their maiden voyage into the political arena. The Democrats are in large part betting their political fortunes on an electorate that either can’t or won’t see beyond the immediate reward of a “feel good” election.

  4. John Buyon says:

    good article Jeff

    funny to see how the rebels against the system ( the 60′s radicals) are now the
    establishment…

  5. poptoy says:

    Excellent Article. I remember the day that we were told about SDS. It was January 1970. As college students we were warned about SDS. That was 40 years ago and I never thought I would see the day the Hippies and SDS would try to take this country. They won’t. Good people thought the Hippie movement was terrible then and they do today. GOD bless America!!!

  6. Cheese says:

    That’s one homely communist in that mug shot. Gary Busey looked better.

  7. graypanther says:

    Once again, disdain for the opposition leads to underestimation of the canonical progress of politics. Both the right and the left do this, and it drives me nuts either way. See “Thousand-Year Reich;” see “The wisdom of Comrade Stalin will endure forever;” see “The End of History;” see especially the ahistorical arrogance of some of Bush II’s senior advisers. Everybody thinks that, if we can just get it right this time, we’ll produce an alignment that will last indefinitely because – well, “we all” agree that’s the way it should be, right?

    The pendulum will, and must, swing. I was arguing about exactly this with someone a couple of days ago and she said “I think the 2020′s are going to be a lot like the 1960′s – but with the Internet, and guns.” A serious student of politics would be scanning Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and KeyWiki looking for the formative struggles of the next SDS. If it doesn’t exist now, it will within the next five years.

  8. Dean says:

    In the vast majority of instances I am in agreement with you, Jeff, but not always – sometimes I let common sense take control. I was a conservative even back then and suffered the slings and arrows of those and other similarly liberal folks. I went into the military and on returning from Vietnam was spat upon and called names you won’t print here. I and my ilk survived it, have worked all the intervening years, and now see a nation that is in sore need of a common sense conservative upheaval (if there is such a thing) – not totally conservative, ultra conservative, nor radical conservative. You see, I believe that a conservative can also be pragmatic enough to know that some few (very few) liberal causes and ideas are worthy of serious consideration. I know that is probably heretical to most of the serious observers/commentators of this web site, but it at least leaves room for some moderation of position that is in the best interests of this country. History has proven time and again that no fully liberal nor fully conservative country can survive in the long run. We must be able to adapt with the times and not stand forever one way or the other lest we, and our nation, be lost.

  9. Dean says:

    Sorry about that JOHN!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dean doesn’t mention the stances/causes he is referring to.

  11. John Buyon says:

    a country run by conservatives would last long but not be worth living in…

    a country totally ruled by liberals would collapse in less than 20 years…

    everyone knows about the pendulum even your political idol Beck knows this.
    be wary of expecting a re-alignment and remember the presidential elections of
    1972 and 1964

  12. Anonymous says:

    8:08 we’re to the point the pendulum is the least of our worries, the structure supporting it is rotten to the core and coming down.

  13. Coming soon to America says:

    Another radical war in our future.

    PARIS (AFP) – French workers poured onto the streets Saturday to defend their right to retire at 60, as rolling strikes shut down oil refineries and threatened to leave Paris airports without fuel.

    High school students bolstered nationwide protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to increase the minimum retirement age to 62, and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told people not to panic as petrol pumps ran dry.

  14. graypanther says:

    7:27, it’s absolutely certain that the current structure will come down if disparity of wealth increases past a certain unpredictable point, the salient question is what will replace it – and how much influence people can have over what replaces it.

    10:33, I think that the incumbent federal government is aware of this possibility and smart enough to delay raising retirement age until all those who currently expect to receive Social Security benefits have done so.

  15. John Buyon says:

    @ 10:33

    those french protesters are exercising
    freedom of assembly
    freedom of association
    freedom of speech
    labor rights
    social security rights

    fighting their government heroically and honorably not like the tea party losers who dick around threatening violence and attending futile rally’s funded by the big and rich corporations.

    whats the matter I thought the people should not trust their government?
    that the government was evil?
    empty, empty conservative ideologies…

  16. Anonymous says:

    3:27 “attending futile rally’s funded by the big and rich corporations.”

    You’re confusing us with your boyfriend George Soros.

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