Which Major Idea from the Sixties Failed Miserably?
The major idea raised in the Sixties that has failed miserably in America is the following: “Small is beautiful”.
Small is Beautiful is the title of a book published in 1973. The book puts forth “the idea that modern technological society was headed for disaster because of its obsession with an economics ignorant of natural processes and limits, heedless of basic human values, that regarded big (and by extension fast, expensive, complex, powerful and aggressive) as better, and biggest as best.”
This is the anti-corporate message. This message was raised loudly in the Sixties. But by 1984 (Strauss & Howe say that the “Sixties” as a cultural phase ended in 1984), this message was all but lost on American culture. Today, as you’ll be reading about in a number of later postings, Corporations are now bigger and wealthier and more powerful than ever in the history of mankind. And you’ll see that “disaster” is not too strong a word for describing what the People presently face as a result of this unprecedented Corporate power.
Now the Fourth Turning did “get” this anti-corporate point about the Sixties. Strauss & Howe mentioned that “corporate liberalism became the enemy.” [page 190] Also: “Like Katherine Ross in The Graduate, Boomers approached the altar (or corporate ladder) and heard something inside scream ‘STOP!’” [page 193]
Strauss & Howe went further in defining the bounds of this anti-corporate sentiment. First, the youth that held such sentiments failed to vote their sentiments: “[I]n one antiestablishment election challenge after another, Boomer interest surged briefly before weakening by election day.” [page 192] Moreover, the authors explained that this opposition of corporations was not about social class: “Given how little the youth rage hinged on economics, many leading radicals were themselves children of the elite … .” [page 191]
Following the consistent pattern of the Fourth Turning – “to understand the next Crisis, look to the prior Awakening attempts that failed” – one comes to the unavoidable conclusion that the impending crisis facing America involves a battle to decentralize the immense power of the Corporations.
It is the battle of People vs. Corporations. Realize that this conclusion derives directly from the theory of Strauss & Howe. In other words, in order to reach this conclusion, no understanding of our current circumstances is needed – other than the fact that this major Sixties movement failed.
Later postings will suggest we don’t even need Strauss & Howe to come to this conclusion. All we need to do is open our eyes.[posted: 12/14/03]