“Count me out if it’s for violence. Don’t expect me at barricades unless it is with flowers…. What’s the point of bombing Wall Street? If you want to change the system, it’s no good shooting people.”—John Lennon
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
America is still wrestling with many of the same problems today—endless wars, civil unrest, campus riots, racial tensions, police brutality, divisive politics, overreaching government agencies and threats to freedom—that it struggled with 50 years ago when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The hippies of the Sixties Generation who embraced flower power, opposed war and didn’t “trust anyone over 30” are now senior citizens who voted for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both warmongers with greater loyalties to Wall Street than “we the people.”
The Baby Boomers—“the generation that battled over Vietnam and civil rights, that gave us the modern self-help movement and Woodstock”—have become today’s Establishment. As Bruce Cannon Gibney writes for the Boston Globe, “Let us dispense with ideas that aging flower children have substantial claims on goodness, as boomers liberal and conservative alike engaged in warrantless wiretapping, extrajudicial assassinations, gratuitous assaults on the dignity of minorities, mass disenfranchisement, the erection of a vast and useless penal state, and policies of cavalier disregard.”
And the rebellious music and anti-war message of Sixties musicians, movements and symbols have since been co-opted by corporations that have come to realize that “there was lots and lots of money to be made.” As historian Bertram Gross explains, “The counterculture became absorbed…