There was a time when those who resisted imperialism, exploitation, and collective murder in the name of national identity understood the concept of “the Man”. Casual references to “the Man” in songs such as “Military Madness” by CSN and “Born On The Bayou” by CCR reflected the collective insights of the youth of that generation as to the transparent authoritarian nature of the American way of life. And as Jack Black so passionately proclaimed in “Schoolhouse Rock”, the simple reality is that the Man is everywhere!
In fact, the reason that the counterculture youth movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s was “counter culture” is because in those days those who resisted in general understood that the Man is rooted in the mainstream institutions of society which serve to execute systemic oppression and economic exploitation of the masses in the name of conventional ideology. Indeed “the Man is in the White House and down the hall”. The counter culture youth of that era rebelled against the establishment as such, for they recognized the fundamentals of fascism in the very institutions of convention which propagandize the fairy tale myth of freedom and liberty in a society of domestic wage slavery and interventionist wars abroad.
The counter culture revolutionalists of that time rebelled because they realized that the Man was not just an individual or a specific political party, but rather the entire amoral system which used and abused people while parroting lip service to the concept of liberty and human rights. Frankly, the counter culture youth of the late 60’s and early 70’s were critical thinkers in a culture which coveted conformity as a means of subtle crowd control. That which the Man cannot abide is the individuality of critical analysis and free thought.
Now inasmuch as I have an unapologetic respect for the counter culture movement of the youth of 50 years ago, I am equally amazed at the resiliency of the Man. For in spite of the Woodstock culture and the Watergate scandal, the Man not only survived but in many ways is as influential as ever in an effective beat down of would be social dissidents. Ironically, the effort to foment fear as a means of social control which failed in the case of the counter culture youth of the late 60’s has yielded its intended effect in post 9-11 America. For even though the young counter culture revolutionists of the late 60’s had been trained as grade school children to hide under their school desks in case of a hypothetical nuclear attack, in time they came to recognize the Man as the enemy instead of the imaginary Commie crouching in the shadows. Such fear baiting may have failed the Man by the late 60’s, but that very methodology has proven quite effective since 9-11 for an entire generation which has been raised to willingly march off to war in order to battle alleged enemies harboring imaginary weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of that reality is that whereas the Man depended on the Draft in order to facilitate the Vietnam War at that time, there is no such systemic coercion in order to maintain the ongoing Bush-Obama-Trump wars of today.
It would seem that the Man has finally achieved authoritarian utopia. A generation of seemingly willing participants who dutifully volunteer to fight and kill in the interventionist wars of the 21st Century. And the Man doesn’t even have to worry about any Catholic priests or rebellious teens burning Draft Cards! The will of the Man for collective conformity would seem to be complete. Those who have not sold out to the Man seem to have bought into the concepts which enable the authoritarian tyranny of the establishment.
And then came the social dissidents from among the Millennials.
For as in the 60’s, the times they are a changin’.
For the millennial generation seems to have awakened to the corruption of the establishment. And the Man is once again beginning to feel the heat of the people in the streets. Even the political puppets are showing albeit tentative signs of concern that they may actually have to consider the will of their constituents instead of merely representing the interests of their corporate doaners.
Critical thinkers of a generation who are informed enough to know the reality of the effects of climate change and world war are actually questioning the wisdom of denying the reality of the one and engaging in the other. The youth of today are becoming aware of other cultures less prosperous than our own who have the will to provide healthcare for everyone and higher education for the qualified, and they are pressing the establishment to account for student debt and healthcare insecurity in a society that writes blank checks for endless wars and is willing to fund silly ventures such as a Space Force.
The times are a changin’, and the Man is feeling’ the heat.
Time will tell whether the generation of my children; the Millennials, and that of my baby grandson will be able to resurrect a counter cultural social resistance which once and for all brings social change which ends imperialism, exploitation, and collective murder in the name of national identity. But at the moment such a movement for the sake of humanity seems to be underway.
As CSN once sang, “it’s been a long time coming, but it’s always darkest before the dawn”.