A few flaky guys, with little money of their own, thought they could make a buck off a concert. All they cared about was getting enough names to attract a crowd. They booked groups and people with inflammatory, anti-Establishment views because that's what would attract a big crowd and make them some dough.
So Joan played "Joe Hill" and Country Joe sang "be the first to have your boy come home in a box" and Jimi played his incredible anti-imperialist version of the "Star Spangled Banner."
Does any of it mean shit to a tree?
The Woodstock message spread further via modern media, the "underground radio" and the Woodstock movie, to people like me who were a bit too young and far away to be there in the flesh.
People like Lewis Powell were no fools. They saw Capitalism eating itself by spreading a counter-cultural message because it was making short-term profits providing what Boomers wanted to hear. It was an internal contradiction that Marx never saw because he could never imagine mass media.
So the modern Conservative (i.e. pro-Capitalist and pro-imperialist) movement was born. It saw the power of media, so it bought it up and resolved to run it to the general advantage of Capital even if it lost money in the short term. It agreed to submit itself to the most foolish and backward of religious ideas, at least officially, to augment its numbers. And it committed itself to appeal to the most racist and ethnocentric elements in society in order to divide workers.
The most elite and educated elements of society thus debased themselves in order to maintain their class privilege. Never, ever forget that. It was a conscious decision on the part of what C. Wright Mills called the Power Elite. With such an example, it became easier for their most immediate inferiors, the professional class, to subjugate themselves to their financial superiors with the hope of preserving their protected status.
The most elite elements of the labor movement, sadly, tried to do the same. They loyally supported the ruling class on the Vietnam War, even to the point of abandoning the Democratic Party in 1972, but it was all in vain. With the New Deal coalition split wide open by the Vietnam War, African-American civil rights and the cultural revolution, the hard Right decided that it could split off members of the old alliance one by one. Race and culture were its weapons initially, but it soon learned to frame its anti-worker message in ways that would appeal to workers themselves who were befuddled and disillusioned by the failure of its labor and Democratic Party "representatives" to protect them from the neoliberal, globalist policies.
In the 60s, many of us realized that the existing political parties offered us nothing. It was SNCC, SDS, and the Black Panther Party that were speaking truth. We were right then. Many of us, myself included, were seduced back into mainstream politics and the Democratic Party, at least the Democratic Party of McGovern, but even that is long gone. Nearly all mainstream politicians are neoliberals, and even those that are not, are not much more than a sideshow. Ask the Pragmatics. That's what they'll tell you. Kucinich and Sanders? They're not real "national" politicians according to the DLC types that run the party since Jaworski & Co. re-took it from the McGovern forces.
So we've seen a potential revolution co-opted, subverted and perverted by Capitalist money. That's an inevitable outcome in a society where everything, even counter-cultural movements are commoditized, boxed and sold for that sacred profit. Che on a t-shirt. Only $10 at your local Walmart.
So do we despair of change? I don't. This system under which we live is so fragile, so perverse, so contrary to common sense that only its power to deceive maintains it. If we can but survive while exposing its lies, we will defeat it.
And our opposition is not born of mere preference for one system over another. Our fight is not just a fight for what we desire but a battle for both the spiritual and physical survival of humanity. Life under the whip of the profit motive is hardly ennobling. From the poorest ghetto to the richest gated suburb, we see what survival-of-the-fittest morality brings: corruption; ruthlessness; heartlessness; cynicism. A society whose rule is "survival of the fittest" is no society at all. We would be better off in a "Lord of the Flies" world where at least the wealthy would not have the government on their side in addition to their money.
So we fight. Sometimes we lose. But we still fight because we have no choice. If we're wise, we don't waste resources on politicians. Nothing is more fruitless. But we form coalitions where advantageous. We build. We adapt. Most important, we survive because by that accomplishment alone, we preserve the human spirit and the slim chance that humanity and the Earth have to survive in the face of the Capitalist onslaught against everything that does not generate more and more profit.
Half a million people gathered in a field in upstate New York nearly a half century ago. Nobody really prepared for their arrival. Nobody told them how to organize themselves as the second largest city in the state. A few guys trying to make a buck had a role in it, but their endeavor was actually a total fuck-up, typical of the Capitalist idea.
But the people who showed up were a great success. They proved that human beings aren't so bad after all, especially if you remove the incentive for them to exploit each other. They lived together, even thrived together.
Lewis Powell and his tight-ass, rich friends should have been afraid. They needed to mobilize, buy up media, lie and sow hatred. Because what was born spontaneously of the human spirit and demonstrated at Woodstock was so much more attractive than what Capitalist society ever offered. Those who benefited from Capitalism had to go all out to suppress the "Woodstock idea."
Otherwise, they might have had to drop a tab, tune in, turn on and drop out. Sure, they and we would have been much happier. But viewed from inside their privilege bubble, how could they have seen that?
A diary just explored how the forces of the Right aren't afraid of us in the least. It wasn't always that way. If you're too young to remember, imagine a world where people were singing this song by the hundreds of thousands. Yes, within the memory of many Kossacks, the Power Elite was terrified of the people.