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When Time Stands Still (The Love Song Of J. Alfred Hempfest)
By Ed Driscoll · August 19, 2007 08:48 PM · The Future and its Enemies · The Return of the Primitive

Two years ago, I wrote about "Nostalgie De La Left":

Archie and Edith Bunker, Norman Lear's parody of a aging conservative couple coping with their radical chic son, started off each show by warbling, "Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again". (Now, I don't know many conservatives who want Hoover back; I know at least a couple who'd happily take Calvin Coolidge, though.)

Archie and Edith wanted to live in "the good old days" of World War II and Ike, in a TV show that aired originally in the early 1970s, an era when the left was still routinely reminding people not to trust anyone over 30 (as late as 1979, Bruce Springsteen, on his 30th birthday, quipped to his audience, "well, I guess I'm 30--I can't trust myself now!"), and long before liberals made peace with what Tom Brokaw would eventually dub "The Greatest Generation".

But since 9/11, increasingly, it's been the left who've wanted to live in the past. If every war is Vietnam, then every protest is Selma and Chicago in '68. Even down to adopting the clothes of the '60s and the peace symbol and its accompanying two-fingers hand gesture, which was for almost 30 years was seen as an ossified remnant of the late 1960s.

Want photographic proof? Compare this recent slideshow flashing back to the original hippies, and "The Summer of Love" that Slate put together, with Gerard Van Der Leun's photoblog of "Hempfest Seattle" (found via Instapundit), and note that the appearances of the people in these two events are identical; frozen in time, despite four remarkably turbulent decades having passed.

I can somewhat understand the older hippies who want to recreate--or remain permanently trapped in--their halcyon days of youth. But the younger members that Gerard photographed seem particularly sad: in a sense, they're desperately seeking the same level of costumed camaraderie as a sci-fi convention attendee costuming himself in a yellow Star Fleet jersey or a Darth Vader costume. Or more charitably, they're as nostalgic in their own way as the the nineties micro-fad of wearing zoot suits and spectator shoes and dancing to Brian Setzer's retro boogie-woogie tunes. In that same post from two years ago, I quoted Jonah Goldberg, who once wrote:

Nostalgia is common to all ideologies (even among libertarians and their unkempt cousins, the anarchists). But conservative nostalgia is almost always geared at recreating communities of the past. Therefore nostalgia is helpful for the right in that it reminds us what should be conserved. Left-nostalgia, however, is invariably aimed at recreating movements, not communities, of the past. This makes Left-nostalgia particularly pathetic, since all successful progressive movements are forward-looking. Conserving in a progressive movement is like trying to tie your shoelaces while running downhill.
(Me? I'll simply wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.)



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