Roger Kimball writes, "much that we associate with 'the Sixties' really had its origin in the 1950s", observations that societal critics as disparate as Alvin Toffler and Diana West each mentioned to me when I interviewed them. While some on the left will tacitly make that point when pinned down, it isn't internalized in how the left views history, because it undermines much of the "the most important decade of the 20th century" narrative of the 1960s, as someone who did one too many tabs of lysergic acid diethylamide in the waning years of that decade once claimed.
More from Roger:
What Allan Bloom said in comparing American universities in the 1950s to those of the 1960s can easily be generalized to apply to the culture as a whole: “The fifties,” Bloom wrote, “were one of the great periods of the American university,” which had recently benefitted from an enlivening infusion of European talent and “were steeped in the general vision of humane education inspired by Kant and Goethe.” The Sixties, by contrast, “were the period of dogmatic answers and trivial tracts. Not a single book of lasting importance was produced in or around the movement. It was all Norman O. Brown and Charles Reich. This was when the real conformism hit the universities, when opinions about everything from God to the movies became absolutely predictable.”And as a refresher on the disastrous outcome of where all that inexorably led, I can't recommend enough this essay by Myron Magnet from the new issue of City Journal.
Update: When Peter Hitchens claims "The real issue for the 1968 generation has always been their right to have fun, however much it costs other people", that's true to a certain extent, but it ignores that neo-puritanism that quickly followed, as Rich Lowry observes:
The freedoms fought for in the student revolt soon curdled into the opposite: free speech became speech codes; sexual liberation became the regime of sexual harassment; civil rights became quotas. Meanwhile, Mark Rudd and a fringe of the New Left spun off into the Weather Underground, which took the destructive spirit of the campus protests to its logical conclusion in a campaign of terrorist bombings. Jonah Goldberg reminds us in his book "Liberal Fascism" that the radical left committed roughly 250 attacks from September 1969 to May 1970.Good luck.
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