This Time, the Far-Left Surge Might Succeed

This Time, the Far-Left Surge Might Succeed by Daniel Pipes for Daniel Pipes

Street riots, eminent liberals fired, the Democratic party veering sharply Left: these trace directly back to events of fifty years ago.

“The 1960s” (which in fact ran from 1965 to 1975) was a decade of massive change, a rebellion against the stability, growth, and (yes) smugness of the immediate post-World War II era, 1945-65. The 60s are now remembered primarily as a time of youthful rebellion, of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. University hippies in Volkswagen microbuses decorated with peace signs represented the vanguard; mellow students followed. Woodstock represented the heights and Altamont Free Concert the depths. British poet Philip Larkin memorialized this spirit in a famous poem with its first line, “Sexual intercourse began/In nineteen sixty-three/(which was rather late for me).”

A Volkswagen microbus decorated with peace signs.

But it was not all fun, the leftists of yore adopted classic themes of Marxism-Leninism, focusing on imperialism and insisting that the Western wealth came from plundering the rest of the world. The imperialist system, with its perpetual drive for new markets on which to dump its industrial surplus, stood as humanity’s central evil; the war in Vietnam supremely represented its rapaciousness.

Ethnicity and race hardly mattered. Yes, it was the decade of civil rights, but leftists did not drive this transformation; outside of parts of the Deep South, a national consensus emerged that Blacks finally deserved full citizenship.

I experienced this would-be revolution first hand, especially during my college years, 1967-71. As a budding conservative, I crossed “picket lines” to eat the dormitory food and to attend the classes my parents paid for. Sadly, not being a leftist felt terminally uncool. It also seemed like the leftist hegemony would spread from the university to the rest of society.

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