Legacy of the Counterculture 3: A Brood of Sovereigns

Remove star sovereign   /s’ɒvrɪn/


  • adjective: paramount, supreme, independent

  • noun: monarch, ruler, king, lord, potentate

Why do collective projects seem so impossible nowadays? Why do we seem to suspicious of our Governments? Why can we not act?

My parents’ generation saw their parents suffer at the mercy of belief. They had a good sense of what power breeds:

My mother was raised by a woman whose entire being was moulded by the power of belief, her life haunted by stories of gas, ovens and train rides into hell and then into hell. Do I blame my parents for looking with scepticism when the government declares its ‘subjects’ should reduce their wastes for the good of the country or the good of the nation-species? How can they believe without interrogation and spite? Can they believe at all?

The so-called ‘sovereign exception’ appears in the 1960s: an overflowing of that ‘state of exception’ demonstrated by the counterculture: the excess of the drugs, the music, the culture: most importantly the standing apart from mainstream political communities, the adoption of alternative and so-called ‘communal’ ones or the quest to go ‘west’ and find oneself instead of tending the municipal and communal bond. Is it not coincidental then, that like Guantanimo, what has been engendered is a greedy brood of sovereigns?

Ah, the pastoral nature of ‘psychedelia’ betrays a radical excess. Where the “exuberance”, as Bataille called it, for the war in Vietnam was matched on the home front by an even greater exuberance – the infamous potlatch. Where the sanguine blood, red, beaming through the wires of the television screens for the first time is absorbed and transformed into the rainbow spectrum of neo-bohemianism.

What is swinging but love without end, orgasm without bounds. What are drugs but the radical manipulation of thinking, what is beat poetry but the vigorous vomiting of words – on all counts the culture set itself up and gorged itself. Hence, now the children of this culture are anorexic, obese, sick, and bent on shrinking themselves into binary.

We, children of the counterculture, need to recognize that the problems of the world demand a new consensus, not a new fragmentation and dispersion of ideas. Climate Change is the first major problem that is immune to politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Democrat or Republican, NDP or Conservative; everyone drowns. The Left feels free to blather on about everything being political; they’ll blather themselves to the grave. Maybe an issue like Climate Change can call us, children of the counterculture, to trust in a communal project, to work with each other, to not fear centralized authority – in the hope of building a better world.

We need to be a little less suspicious. Not uncritical, but less suspicious of the political project. Of politics. But how hard it is! We’ve been spoonfed crap like ‘South Park’ and ‘Team America: World Police” that undermines the entire political idea, that causes a knee-jerk slide into total subjectivism. It’s like we’re caught up in some 14 year old’s existential crisis: ‘Like, wow man, so that means nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong! Pass the bong!” The problems we face require the ability – which is now in short supply – to be able to take a stand and work together.

This is the confusing legacy bequeathed to my generation: The impossibility of belief; insufferable agnosticism; atomization, individuality, apathy, lethargy, weakness. We can’t afford to become the sovereigns our parents were and continue to be…

———Cybject is only a thought experiment——————


~ by dccohen on December 23, 2009.

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