The Need for a Counterculture

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find an actual reasoned discussion in the comments on Youtube. I was looking at the clip of the High Water Mark speech from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, since it’s what got me into this mixed-up business in the first place. Someone was making the argument that we should make this decade our 1960s, a shout against the world. In response, someone else was arguing that the energy that fueled the 60s can never come around again, that cultures are so diverse that one single counterculture can never exist.

I couldn’t help but wonder, just where would we be if we held this negative idea as a species? Adopting such a massive negative as your thought will only bring about negative results. The counterculture of the 60s wasn’t just some being that sprang fully formed from the primordial swamp of our minds. The counterculture came from the beat generation, a full decade earlier, and grew and grew. We can make it, or at least something very similar, happen again, if we wanted to. The internet and the modern world are not something that builds barriers, but breaks them down, unifies people from around the world, like nothing else has before. There still is a worldwide feeling of rebellion against the old order, cast your minds back just three years, to the peak of the Occupy movement. There we saw people uniting, from across the spectrum of humanity, all united in wanting change, all using the internet to become stronger.

The need for such a reaction is stronger now than ever before, and grows stronger every day. Every day we see the rise of bigoted politicians around us, the militarization of police, the rich laughing as the poor try and survive. The need to shock, and expand the minds of all straight ‘law-abiding’ people has almost never been stronger. We need to shock our opponents, give our love freely, and not be afraid to express ourselves fully, never gagging our essential natures like the world wants us to. Being a defeatist, and saying that it can never happen, only gives our enemies the strongest weapon they could hope for – apathy.

Take Allen Ginsberg. Here’s a man, a gay Jewish man, who society could scarcely have looked down upon more. He responded to this subjugation by writing his own works, expressing his desires and thoughts completely. He helped create the hippie movement of the 60s. If he’d been apathetic and refused to express his own thoughts, a whole generation might have been deprived that same hope. We need more people like him right now, not people who wonder ‘what’s the point?’

The 60s were a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but the key is in that phrase. Once-in-a-lifetime is not the same as ‘once in history’. The world can have its counterculture again, we can make our voices heard again. The high water mark is not something that stands for eternity, never to be equaled. Its something that is our peak so far, but we can do better. We must.


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