And yes, I’m gonna start exactly where you think I’m gonna start.
What is a hippie anyway? I don’t know if I consider myself one because there are certain lifestyle traits that come with the label that I refuse to make room for in my life, but who is a hippie anyway? And what better time to ask this question than the time that I feel is most like the period just before World War II. Multiple wars, economic crises, new superpowers and of course, an arms race. In movies, hippies are often referred to as “Bleeding pacifists.” (Is that a line from The Imitation Game?)
I think I would be alright with that label.
Webster, and Oxford, what d’you say?
Oxford’s gone with the more conventional route I’d say:
(Especially in the 1960s) a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.
Webster, you’ve got your hand up. Yes?
: a usually young person who rejects established social customs (such as by dressing in an unusual way or living in a commune) and who opposes violence and war; especially : a young person of this kind in the 1960s and 1970s
And Webster has it. That’s what I think a hippie is. It’s not just about Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or Puff the Magic Dragon (still great songs no matter what anyone says), it’s about opposing violence and war. When was Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities published? Let’s have a look and see when, but I know that’s when the pacifist in me woke up and danced on the beach like a person who has lost all sense of the word sanity.
About Benedict Anderson and Imagined Communities.
First published in 1983, additional chapters in a 1991 edition and a new revision in 2006.
So a little after the girls handing soldiers flowers period.
There has never been a period when the human race has seen a dearth of war. Maybe it’s just me but I can feel it in all the bones in my raggedy body….it feels like a world war is looming on the horizon. Before I predict the extinction of the human race, let’s look at the conditions before world wars, I or II, or both.
1.Economic depression, check. Let’s not talk about the obvious EU crisis. The US is hanging on, very determined. Asia’s booming, and why I said that will be very clear in the next sentence.
2.New superpower(s): In my opinion NASA should just send a satellite into orbit bearing the words “Earth: Made in China.”
3.Fall of the League of Nations: Sound familiar, UN? difficult decisions vetoed in the Security Council, overwhelming numbers of refugees ( incidentally the UNHCR has stated that refugee numbers are higher now than they ever were before or during World War II. ).
4.Rise of right wing fascism: I was watching an episode of Hard Talk on the BBC iPlayer.
Hardtalk is in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina, to mark the centenary of the start of World War One. Stephen Sackur talks to Karl von Habsburg – the grandson of the last Habsburg Emperor. It was the assassination of his great uncle Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 that set in motion the Great War. Are similar tensions once again on the rise in Europe?
I’m not the only one who thinks so… Right wing parties are winning votes from the left and the right (couldn’t resist that one, it was right there)
In the UK, no need for introductions Mr.Farage. Enter the National Front in France and the BJP in India. Also coming to play are the Sweden Democrats, the Danish People’s Party and possibly the Pegida party in Germany. They’re benched for now.
Ah yes, and the upcoming US elections that are almost certainly going to be painted red by the Republicans.
Did I forget to mention all these political outfits have a rather strong anti- immigrant policy, or was that clear when you were denied a work visa at the Borders?
There’s a really interesting post about the 2014 general elections in the UK. Well worth a read, have a look here:
Given all these rather interesting and fundamentally disturbing factors, what is the hippie of the 2000s and the 2010s to do? Their cultural predecessors didn’t have the exact same environment to work with obviously, but where does the answer lie?
To what? To war, to extreme right wing politics (and by that I mean patriotic war loving arms dealers who’d send their brainwashed men and women into battle in the blink of an eye).
First, we, and the contemporary cousins of the 60s and 70s hippies ought to start with the definition of a nation. (yes, there is a difference between country and nation as a kid that has just learned how to add two and two together will tell you).
How do I see the nation? And who’s with me?
To me, the nation is an idea. An imaginary concept that exists within certain boundaries only because someone says they do. It’s an idea based on the premise that people within geographical borders share cultural and social histories, and it’s this idea that unites people and keeps communities together. I don’t take it rather seriously and I think the world would be a much better place if people loosened up and didn’t take nations as seriously as they do.
Going by that logic, just as Anderson says, the world could consist of nations based on the football clubs that people support. Arsenal Nation, The United Kingdom of Manchester, The Real confederation of Real Madrid… I could go on.
So yes, I’m with Benedict Anderson. Hand up if you are too.
That is the whole problem isn’t it? The whole ISIS thing, people waltzing off to Syria after watching Youtube videos at 3 in the morning, that is what is causing this entire mess isn’t it? The idea of a nation?
So , my question remains. Is the new hippie the person asking all these questions and staying out of war and radicalisation, and not taking to the streets? Is this a generation of silent flower children? Are they actively staying out of political issues because they want to, or are they more pinterest photographers than political progressives?
You tell me.
All images (Ultra Hipster and otherwise) courtesy of Google.