Revolution #12

"The hippies were utopian, deluded, egomaniacs - and fundamentally very stupid. Think Neil from The Young Ones. They had this infantile delusion, which still permeates our society, that when bad things happen it is a sign that the order of the world is somehow disharmonious, and that as a remedy - in that most hideous Blairite mantra - 'something must be done'."

book/daddy suffers very little from boomer nostalgia. Hence, this blog will not be one to defend the excesses of hippies (or of Heather Mills, for that matter -- the actual target of Patrick West's spleen: She's the estranged wife of a Beatle, so there's the justfication for that logical long jump). But insofar as the above is part of a generic, conservative rant against all things '60s, book/daddy will merely cite this NYTimes article on the Plastic People of the Universe, the hippie rock band whose banning led to Charter 77 and the Velvet Revolution that overthrew Soviet rule in Czechoslovakia (the subject of Tom Stoppard's new Broadway play, Rock 'n' Roll) as well as this review of Matthew Collin's The Time of the Rebels: Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century Revolutions. It examines how Otpor ("Resistance"), among other groups, fueled opposition to Eastern European/former Soviet dictators, using tactics inspired by the likes of John Lennon and rather '60s-sounding, New Left thinking.

As reviewer Daniel Trilling notes, the "music revolutions" have tended to spawn a great deal of wish-fulfillment mythology that ignores larger economic and global-political forces. Still, they did have a real effect ("something must be done"). Besides, as a political platform, "no more war, an open democratic system and a good band" sounds far healthier than "compassionate conservatism" has proved. And ya gotta love the incarcerated barrel:

"Music, in particular, became an ideological battleground. In Serbia, folk music was used by Milosevic and his supporters to promote their narrow-minded, racist take on national identity. By contrast, Otpor soundtracked their rallies with western-style rock, a rebellious move in a country that had only recently been bombed by NATO. As one activist, Gavrilo Petrovic, tells Collin: 'People in Otpor wanted Slobo out, sure. They wanted no more wars, no more death, an open state and a democratic system. But that also involves wanting to have a good band coming to play here and not having to be ashamed of this country ...'

"Otpor members in Belgrade, for example, charged passers-by money to hit a barrel that had Milosevic's face printed on the side. Stunts of this sort allowed people to publicly express their anger at a government that had dragged them into years of bloody conflict during the break-up of Yugoslavia, while simultaneously mocking its authoritarian tendencies. In this instance, the crowd fled as soon as the police arrived, leaving them with no option but to arrest the barrel."

November 10, 2007 9:13 AM |



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How can critics say the things they do? And why does anyone pay attention? It's the issue of authority.

The disappearing book pages:  

Papers are cutting book coverage for little reason

Thrillers and Lists:  

Noir favorites, who makes the cut and why



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