19A015  Slogans of the Sixties by Jim Davies, 4/9/2019    


Some of them were very good. Those displaying or shouting them probably did not realize how good, how profound; but they aren't using them any more, and that's a great pity.

Take this one, for instance. The protester may have had in mind primarily the forced-pregnancy crowd or the ingestion-control enforcers, but the principles quoted are pure anarchism; they are your laws, and it's my body; everything inside my skin. Plus the hair.

By "your" is meant of course those who write the laws, ie government people. They are free to hold and write any opinions they like, but they are not free to back them up with guns and enforce them upon anyone else; that would violate the self-ownership axiom. As to abortion for example they can promote their opinions by persuasion and by offers to help (such as to make offers of payment and placement of the baby) but nothing beyond that.

Then, the assertion that it's "my body" has huge implications; if the body owner uses her limbs or brains in the service of someone else in voluntary exchange for money, those fruits of labor are also hers and nobody else's; hence, the large theft euphemized as "income tax" also violates the self-ownership axiom - even if it were legalized. So, keep your laws - all of them - to yourself!

Ownership of oneself was similarly asserted by Whose Life is it, Anyway? - but that later became the title of a movie so its punch as a slogan was diluted.

However there was also this, even though its sharp edge was blunted a little by begging the government to "end conscription" as if that would be a cure.

It's a slogan, and sentiment, that helped significantly to end the Vietnam War, and springs directly from a Gandhi-like refusal to take part in the US government's attempt to police the world and extend its empire. Just think! If that sentiment had prevailed in 1914, so that neither side in WW1 could have expected US intervention, that ghastly war would have ended in about 1916 (or possibly, not even started) and so saved about 8 million lives, avoided the humiliation of the Versailles diktat and therefore of WW2 with its further toll of 60 to 80 million lives, and therefore also the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and therefore the Vietnam War itself. Such is the butterfly effect of individual refusal. And such is the way that the government era will be eneded - by refusal to work for it.

57,000 young Americans were killed in Vietnam, as well as about a million Vietnamese. Another slogan, Hey, Hey, LBJ: How Many Kids Have You Killed Today? was exactly on point. But of those who refused the draft, only twelve were prosecuted and imprisoned; I once had the honor to meet one of them, Paul Jacobs, who was caged for six months. His wife and baby had missed him, but his self-esteem was very much intact.

There are plenty of other Sixties Slogans and not all of them were profound or well considered or true; there was confusion as well as brilliant insight - though Make Love, Not War has to be one of the very best, as are Suppose they Gave a War, and Nobody Came? and One Nuclear Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day. But those above were potential changers of the world.

So why didn't they? - what happened, to those passionate draft protesters and flower children? Archist cynics will say they just grew up and realized they had been wrong, but that doesn't ring true. They were not wrong. To wage a war half a world away against Vietnamese who had neither the power nor the inclination to harm Americans was grossly immoral and the "rationale" of the so called "Domino Theory" (that if Communism spread beyond the USSR it would eventually swamp the world) was hopelessly ill-formed, even though endorsed by relatively intelligent archists like Eisenhower and even George Kennan.

Communism is a bankrupt economic and political theory that always inevitably collapses under the weight of its own false premises; all that's needed is time. There was no good rationale for that war and the protesters were spot-on in opposing it; but tragically, they failed to oppose it for that reason. They (and virtually everyone else, even including Ayn Rand!) did not grasp that it must eventually self-destruct.

So the protesters' intellectual foundation was only half right, at most. The tragedy is that they did not follow the logic of their own slogans; for if everyone has the rightful ownership of his or her own person, that applies in every area of life, not just to sex, drugs and refusal to be drafted. That single step of reason, had it been taken, would have shown them all that government is totally bogus.

In other words, what they lacked was the help of some systematic libertarian education. Sadly, TOLFA was not around in the 60s or 70s.

But it is now. Better late, than never.




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