America at the Crossroads - 2
The concept of a "counter-culture" has been discussed by many writers and the resemblance has been pointed out between the early hippie groups and the incipient Christian communities basking in a halo of love and partaking of sacralized meals in common. The great difference, of course, is that the hippies were early Christians without a Christ — thus without a central figure or symbol to bring them a lasting sense of unity. There were many other differences, and in particular we can point to the influence of psychedelic drugs with their potentially dangerous physiological-mental aftereffects, and that of the media giving a destructive kind of publicity to the movement, even as it helped its spread throughout the world.
The true hippies of 1966-1967 and the "Summer of Love", in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco have long ago disappeared as a group under the onslaught of police, curiosity-seekers and the drug peddlers of organized crime. But a much broader movement within which the ideals of the original counter-culture have developed and spread in many directions, is gaining strength and adherents even among the most respected members of our society, including outstanding psychologists, medical men, scientists and administrators. Indian philosophy,
Japanese Zen, Chinese Taoism and Tai Chi, Sufi mysticism and, since their exodus in 1959, Tibetan abbots (paralleling, five hundred years later, the flight of scholars from Constantinople in 1453 which sparked the Italian Renaissance) have for years, and now more than ever, become powerful factors in a movement toward "expansion of consciousness" that is changing the framework of our traditional European mentality. The spread of astrology should be understood not as a fad, but as part of such a movement seeking attunement to the vaster rhythms of the universe. The steadily increasing concern with and official study of psychism and parapsychology in all its aspects, the snowballing interest in spiritual or psychic healing, in out-of-the-body experiences and communications with disembodied "spirits," masters or space people — and, combined with these, a new and at times "occult" approach to the human body and sex — all these things, plus the new status of women, are interrelated factors in a radical psychocultural revolution of crucial importance.
What makes it crucial is that at the same time and for related reasons the sociopolitical situation that has been developing in the United States, and in varying degrees in all countries, has just as revolutionary implications. These implications, however, may or may not become explicit in the same direction as the counter-cultural trends. The two revolutions — the psycho-mental-spiritual and the sociopolitical — could operate at cross-purposes. They could actually enter into a catastrophic conflict because of the inner fear and insecurity which psychic and mental transformation tend to arouse in the large middle class, which clings to — its comfort and abundance, and is above all unable to let go of traditional beliefs and images of order and normality. It is on these fears and this unwillingness to accept fundamental socioeconomic changes that ambitious men and the equally frightened aristocracy of wealth and political power are working, and conceivably might work even more effectively and ruthlessly in the future. Moreover, these ambitious men and power-holders everywhere find strong allies in what still is the great majority of scientists, psychologists, doctors and technicians.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1974 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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