As the 30th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival approaches, we will once again be told that Woodstock was about peace and love, about benevolence for one’s fellow man and freedom from arbitrary social restrictions. This is the line that has been drummed into the our heads by the intellectuals and the press since before Woodstock even ended.
But, in fact, Woodstock does not stand for peace and love, or any other positive value. Instead, it represents the climax of the counter-culture’s frenzy of destruction.
It is no accident that the hippies at Woodstock called their philosophy the “counter-culture.” It was a culture defined in terms of what it was against. The hippies were against property rights and capitalism — so they trampled neighboring farmers’ fields, destroyed property, and stormed through the festival’s ticket booths without paying. The hippies were against any “inhibitions” — or standards — concerning sex and nudity; many acted on these views, taking off their clothes and engaging in orgies of indiscriminate sex. They were against moral responsibility — their crude motto was: “if it feels good, do it.” They were against civilization and favored a primitive, tribal lifestyle — and they proceeded to look and act like savages, smearing their bodies with mud and immersing themselves in a mindless, wriggling mass of 500,000 people.
Above all, the hippies were against reason. They arrived at Woodstock with no thought of how they would feed, clothe, or shelter themselves for the next three days. The organizers of the concert had failed to provide adequate food, water, or latrines, and when it rained, the entire venue was turned into a wallow of mud and excrement. With complete oblivion to consequences, many hippies took unidentified drugs passed out by strangers, leading to “bad trips” and overdoses. These are not examples of mere youthful foolishness; the hippies deliberately sought to blank out the future and evade the long-term consequences of their actions. “Now is all there is,” they chanted.
The most pervasive manifestation of the hippies’ anti-mind philosophy was the massive drug use for which Woodstock is notorious. As one concert-goer put it, the rate of marijuana use at the festival was “102%,” and the concert was awash in harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, and LSD. Such drugs are not “mind-expanding” as the euphemism of the time claimed; they are mind-destroying. Massive drug use is a symptom of the hippies’ attempt to wipe out their minds, to blur their awareness — their attempt to be awake and acting, yet unconscious.
The essence of Woodstock was destruction: destruction of property, of sexual standards, of individual identity, of sanitation and hygiene, and of civilization itself.
Woodstock, we are told, was the formative experience of a generation. As this generation grew up and came into positions of power, what was the result? In education, the hippies’ worship of feelings has given us a system that is endlessly solicitous of our children’s “self-esteem” but doesn’t care whether they can read, write, or know the basic facts of history. On college campuses, the hippies’ yelps for “freedom” have given way to their imposition of politically correct dogma. In the economy, the politicians they elected brought us soaring taxes, runaway inflation, and a ballooning welfare and regulatory state. In race relations, they have brought, not a dissolving of racial barriers, but an increased emphasis on tribal “group identity.” In our inner cities, the attack on property rights and the worship of irrational, range-of-the-moment feelings led to enormous crime wave. Finally, the horrific effects of the hippies’ drug-culture need no explanation.
The clearest example of the original Woodstock’s legacy was the rioting at the close of Woodstock ’99. The young savages who used “Peace Candles” to set fire to cars, who looted concession stands, who raped several women in the “mosh pit” — these savages were unleashed by their spiritual parents at the original Woodstock. If civilization is bad, if commercialism is bad, if sexual “inhibitions” are bad — if acting on irrational emotions is good, and “now is all there is” — then why shouldn’t they loot and rape?
It is time to tear the benevolent mask off Woodstock and recognize its real essence. On the 30th anniversary of Woodstock, we should dedicate ourselves, not to the destructive legacy of that festival, but to restoring and defending the values that the hippies attempted to destroy: reason, individualism, moral responsibility, and civilization.
Robert W Tracinski
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