Regarding the letter from a reader and your reply comparing the 60s to today in the posting "Purpose of government is to control people", I believe your perspective is more rosy-colored than realistic. Yes, there was probably more hoping and dreaming back then, and I was more a part of that than I was of the very grim side to the 60s. But to compare the two eras:
-- Vietnam vs. Iraq. It was maybe worse, certainly as bad as Iraq. Was it worse for Vietnamese than this war is for Iraqis? They are both American-caused hell-on-earth. True, the future blowback from Iraq will be enormously worse than from Southeast Asia. But there were certainly more US kids in harm's way then than there are now.
-- From a selfish point of view, the draft was an enormous evil. It did have two "benefits". First, probably more upper-class participation in the war. And second, the evolution of effective resistance within the military -- which might still happen in Iraq. Today, I recognize the "economic draft" and I have real sympathy for those "serving" in Iraq, but the reality would be much worse if the force of law was used to compel young people to kill or be killed.
-- Yes, as you note, Afghanistan might have been more open and free in the 60s, but one could point to as many repressive and lethal regimes of that time, and some have since reformed: South Africa, eastern Europe.
-- The current US administration is arguably the worst in history, but very little of what they're doing started since six years ago, it has just accelerated. This includes international warmongering, with many, many precedents. And it includes domestic repression. For example, despite the many recent rollbacks of our civil liberties, the most egregious violations of the basic rights of an American, by the US government, in recent times, are Ruby Ridge and Waco -- and there was not even an acknowledgement of this by the then current administrations.
-- US politics in the 60s vs. today? Hard to compare. There were sure more assassinations back then, and it seems unlikely to me that they were by lone madmen. The politicians were hardly more righteous or accountable. There was not the electronic voter fraud of today, but that would be cold comfort to a black voter in the South.
-- We can look back at the mass demonstrations of the 60s, and see the effect they had. Compared to now, when demonstrators are smaller in number and hemmed into designated "free speech areas". But let's not forget Kent State, Chicago '68, and many other violent responses to assembled citizens.
-- Yes, the "mainstream media" now includes some grotesquely uninformed corporations like Fox. But overall, today it is at least possible for a person to become informed via the internet. And it is much less likely that a gross, ongoing violation of life will go under radar, as it was likely to do in the 60s.
-- You wrote a very nice sentence: "There was an absolute conviction on the parts of millions upon millions of people that freedom, justice, and higher morality were not only possible, but inevitable." This seems to me to be age addressing youth. I mean this in a positive way. I like being in my 50s more than I liked being in my 20s. But I think older people in the 60s, looking at the mess after JFK and RFK and MLK and Medgar Evers and Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos etc. would not have emphasized the freedom and morality of the era. You probably have a point in that the numbers of idealistic youth were higher then. Morality and idealism are close to extinct among today's activists.
Sorry to be a coward, but I travel a lot and I don't need more friction re-entering the country. So, no full name please.
I would not argue with a single point you have made. All I can say is this:
Social and political reality are consensual and there are many going on simultaneously in any given moment or era. And as a former history magazine editor I can tell you that history is written later on shifting ground by different players with different perspectives and agendas.
In the end though, there is only the constantly ever manifesting moment called now. We feel that for a while, then we die.
Unrealistic? For me, that was reality then and is my personal historical reality now. I was where I was and experienced what I experienced and saw what I saw. And so I document merely that and only that -- personal experience as it felt then and as it feels in remembrance. I am merely lucky to have been a writer then who kept a lot of notes and published what I saw and felt during those times. That does not make my observations any more truthful than yours. We each and all end up moldering in the same earth, but by arrive there by different experiential paths.
Are things worse now? Depends upon what we choose to compare. And we can only choose from our own selective groups of experiences, much clouded by subsequent experience and animated by the immediate fears of the moment in which we decide we are capable of making such a judgment.
In art and labor,