Politics follows culture. And the cultural revolution of the ’60s is triumphant. Traditional Christianity, driven out of schools and the public square, is being whipped back into the churches and told to stay there.
America has gone over to the revolution.
Looking back, the sweep of the capitulation becomes stark.
First came the plea of atheists not to have their children forced to participate in prayers at school. Fair enough. Americans do not believe in compelling people to do as they disbelieve.
Then followed the demand that no child be exposed to prayers or religious books, including the Bible, nor have any day or week set aside as a holiday if connected to Christianity.
Out went Christmas and Easter. In came winter break and spring break. Coaches of high school teams were ordered to dispense with prayers before games. The coaches complied.
First came the non-smokers who didn’t want to inhale secondhand smoke. Fair enough, they could have their own non-smoking areas. Then followed the demand that nobody (particularly chiiiildren) be exposed to secondhand smoke, and the non-smoking areas multiplied. And with public smoking bans pub landlords were required to eject anyone seen smoking. The landlords complied.
…the process has been steadily proceeding for generations.
First comes a call for tolerance for those who believe and behave differently. Then comes a plea for acceptance.
Next comes a demand for codifying in law a right to engage in actions formerly regarded as debased or criminal. Finally comes a demand to punish any and all who persist in their public conduct or their private business in defying the new moral order.
And so it goes with revolutions. On the assumption of power, revolutionaries become more intolerant than those they dispossessed.
The French Revolution was many times more terrible than the Bourbon monarchy. The Russian Revolution made the Romanovs look benign. Fidel Castro’s criminality exceeded anything dreamt of by Fulgencio Batista.
Looking back, one appreciates why we hear so often, “This isn’t the country I grew up in.” For it isn’t.
He’s not writing about smoking bans, of course, but he may as well be. Because it’s the same process. It’s always the same process.
If there’s one thing I disagree with Buchanan about, it’s the idea that this is the triumph of “the cultural revolution of the ’60s”. I’m a child of the 60s, and smoking bans were no part of that time. The 60s were about permitting people to do things, not stopping them doing things. It’s why it was called “the permissive society”. What he’s talking about is stuff that came in the 70s and later: Women’s lib, gay rights, environmentalism, abortion on demand, smoking bans, and all the rest of it.
There was no women’s lib in the 1960s. And no gay rights. Precious little environmentalism. Only illegal abortions. And needless to say, no smoking bans. At least, not in the UK. The 60s, as far as I was concerned, was about lots of good electric music. Later on it also became long hair, marijuana, and radical student politics. Only a small minority of people got involved in the last, and I wasn’t one of them. If nothing else, they were no fun to be with. They were all bitter, angry people with lots of books on Marxism. (I remember in 1968, weeks before the university sit-in they were organising (protesting about access to a swimming pool, believe it or not), one of them rushing into a cafeteria I frequented with about 10 books under his arm. All of them about Marxism, as far as I could make out, craning my head round to read the titles).
In my experience, the 60s started out as bright and optimistic (e.g. early Beatles), and then went a bit crazy (e.g. late Beatles), and finally became a train wreck (Beatles 1970 break-up). If in 1965 I’d wanted in, by 1970 I wanted out. It had all gone mad. And the bright new electric music had been replaced with stuff that was very dark and gloomy.
I suppose there was a cultural revolution in the 60s, but it was one that was initially benign and well-meaning and liberal (in the true sense of the word). It was only in the 70s that it all got uglier, with minorities (women, gays, blacks) angrily demanding equal rights (and mostly getting them). And it’s only got uglier ever since. Because the bitter, angry, Marxist student politicians stayed in politics, and got themselves elected firstly as town councillors, and later as MPs. And they used the techniques they’d first employed in universities in the process.
Anyway, if this is a cultural revolution, this 60s’ child hates it. And would have hated it back then as well. And it also isn’t the country I grew up in.