It’s an upside-down world

I grew up in a hippie community in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of my favorite artists were protest singers like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. I read Noam Chomsky when I was a teenager and loved his attacks on the Vietnam War and support for civil liberties.

Who would have ever thought that the primary proponents of censorship and government tyranny in 2022 would be Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Noam Chomsky?

Neil Young rockin in the not so free world

It is important to understand that the protest movements of the 1960s and early 1970s were not just about free sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and Vietnam.

At its heart the protest movement of that era was about personal liberty. The foundational event was the early 1960s free speech movement, which began at UC Berkeley. Yes, this movement was influenced by various leftist groups, but it gained public support because most people recognized that UC Berkeley was preventing free political expression. And most Americans support free political expression.

The burgeoning free speech movement then grew into peaceful demonstrations in favor of civil rights for African-Americans and opposition to the Vietnam War. Notice that most of the causes here are on the side of personal liberty: liberty for oppressed African-Americans during the civil rights era, and liberty for the people of Vietnam to make their own choices (good or bad) about their own government, and liberty for young Americans not to be forced to into the military draft.

Neil Young is famous for, among other things, protest songs on the side of these movements. So is Joni Mitchell. Noam Chomsky was one of the primary intellectuals of that time in favor of civil rights and against the war. Back before COVID Chomsky famously wrote things like this:

Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.

What does Chomsky think of the unvaccinated in 2022? They should “remove themselves from the community” and getting food should be “their problem.”

Notably, Chomsky has never spoken out against the widespread censorship taking place in social media today, censorship that is abetted by the government and the most powerful groups in society. Meanwhile, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have called for their music to be removed from Spotify because they say Joe Rogan should not have the freedom to interview other people who dare to say things with which Neil Young and Joni Mitchell disagree.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and Noam Chomsky of 1970 would be absolutely ashamed of what they have become in their old age. Neil Young for example once recorded an entire album called “Freedom” and wrote a litany of anti-war songs attacking the establishment from the 1960s all the way up to the W. Bush era. Back then, he was suspicious of everything coming out of Washington DC — now he seems to embrace and parrot everything the establishment has to say. He has never spoken out against the cruel forced masking of children, the school closures, the forced lockdowns and mandates and the government’s attempts to force everybody to inject an unknown cocktail of medicine.

Before COVID, Joni Mitchell would say things like:

“Freedom to me is the luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart. I think that’s the only way that you maintain the magic in your life, that you keep your child alive. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive.”

Meanwhile, she, like Young, has never spoken out during the pandemic for the freedom of other people to keep their businesses open, or the freedom of children to go to school, or the freedom of people to choose, if they wish, not to be vaccinated. She now wants to limit Joe Rogan’s freedom to speak out as he would wish, to follow his own heart, to maintain the magic in his life. Ironic, isn’t it?

What could explain this bizarre behavior? To his credit, Young has tried to defend his actions, and he has pointed out that he should have the freedom to take his songs off Spotify if he wants. Yes, nobody disagrees with that. But Young fails to realize that what he is really doing is trying to silence somebody else who disagrees with him. Would Neil Young insist that a radio station that plays his songs only play songs that he agrees with ideologically? This is in effect what he is doing. Back in the old days, Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd could write songs insulting each other (which they did), and everybody would celebrate the spectacle and listen to the songs. Now, one side does its best to prevent the other side from being heard at all. Can Neil Young see how wrong this is?

Even the Washington Post allowed a column that tried to help Neil Young understand that it is important that people who disagree with each other actually have conversations. People from the 1960s and 1970s used to say things all the time like, “I disagree with you, but I will fight for your right to say it.” Now, people on the left mostly want people they disagree with to shut up, and they want to use the power of government and the establishment to force people they disagree with to shut up.

What is going on? Glenn Greenwald, a leftist who actually does believe in free speech, has pointed out that censorship has become the new religion of the establishment left. I would say it is more like a cult than a religion, but in any case Greenwald is correct.

I think it is safe to say that the Trump presidency and COVID have broken the minds of a large number of people, mostly leftists but also many supposed conservatives like Mitt Romney. They never could accept that Trump actually won the 2016 election, and when COVID came along they saw the pandemic as a useful tool for getting rid of Trump. But then they began to internalize and perhaps even believe the media hype about a virus that is actually not that dangerous for most people. Yes, if you are in your 70s, 80s and 90s, SARS-Cov2 is dangerous for you, but many other things are also dangerous for people in that age category. But somehow the virus became the excuse for every deranged fear and every desire to hate “other people” who did not accept the narrative.

So on one side we have people like Joe Rogan, who is unvaccinated for COVID and likes talking to people with other viewpoints even if they are politically incorrect, and on the other side we have an establishment group that worships the vaccine and masks as if they were sacraments for a cult and is not interested in speaking to anybody who disagrees with them. One side wants to be left alone and have the freedom to speak with whomever they want, and the other side wants compulsion, control, mandates and lockdowns. One, the Joe Rogan group, is anti-establishment, and the other, the Young/Mitchell/Chomsky group, desperately defends the establishment.

Now, let’s go back to the free speech movement of the early 1960s and the civil rights and anti-war protests of the late 1960s. Which side would the hippies of that era be on today? Yes, you guessed it, the exact opposite side of Young/Mitchell/Chomsky. It really is an upside-down world.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

9 thoughts on “It’s an upside-down world

  1. Back when these Noel Young and Norm Chompsky were fighting against the government they were fighting against what was right. They are still fighting against what is right… the players have just switched sides. These people have always supported any cause that would damage the strength of our nation. They have always sought to do Lucifer’s bidding and they still are.

  2. They’re Alinsky-ites. This was all described in his book “Rules for Radicals.” Leftist revolutionaries eventually become totalitarian.

  3. Perhaps Young, Mitchell and Chomsky knew their radical and unorthodox ideas could never be accepted on their own merits, and so appealed to the principle of free speech and used it like a Trojan Horse to carry their ideas through the guarded doors of the university and state and national legislatures. Now that their ideas represent the established orthodoxy, the old vehicle is no longer useful and can be tossed aside. It was never about free speech.

    This is not hypocrisy, but rather shrewd opportunism. The hunters will do everything they can to avoid becoming the hunted even as they feast upon the fat of their storied expeditions.

    I love the shout out to Voltaire (according to his biographer). My Jewish grandfather used to quote it to me in French. We would say it as: “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” It represents a wonderful principle that is lost on so many today.

  4. Now, people on the left mostly want people they disagree with to shut up, and they want to use the power of government and the establishment to force people they disagree with to shut up.

    The same people wanted this in the 60s as well, but as John said, they didn’t have the influence to operate so openly and brazenly until more recently.

  5. WT, JP, and BP. Yes. That’s pure Alinsky. And Gramsci. He spelled out exactly was he was doing in his book. Sort of like what AH did in Mein Kampf.

    Let’s play Connect-the-Dots.

    H Clinton did a college thesis on Alinsky.

    BHO was mentored by Alinsky-ites in Chicago – Dorn and Ayers.

    According to Wiki: Transpo Sec PB’s father, Joseph, translated and edited Gramsci’s prison notebooks and was a founding member and president of the International Gramsci Society, founded to facilitate communication between those who study Italian philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci, [once?]-leader of the Communist Party of Italy.

  6. Clairification: _Alinsky_ spelled out exactly what he was doing in his book, “Rules for Radicals.” (I have not seen Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.)

    Think of it. We had an Alinsky-ite as president for 8 years. Another Alinsky-ite, HRC, ran for president twice. And the son of Gramsci’s #1 American fan-boy, PB, also ran for Pres. (And is being talked about again.)

    E. Michael Jones was teaching at Notre Dame when PB’s dad was teaching there, and knew JB. According to Jones, JB’s circle of friends were communists. That was the millieu that PB grew up in.

    More connections: Read the wiki article on Frank Marshall Davis. He was the “Uncle Frank” BHO mentioned in one of his books. FMD was a weekly columnist for an openly communist newspaper in Hawaii. It was FMD who hooked up the young Barry with the Chicago Alinsky-ites

  7. This line hits the point: ‘an establishment group that worships the vaccine and masks as if they were sacraments for a cult’. Wow. It IS like that.

    I think the reasons for this seeming change you’ve described include the fact that liberty, in itself, isn’t enough. It has to also come with, as everyone says, responsibility. We have to decide to live with other people in our pluralistic communities who are not like us, who have different opinions, and who we might not like very much at all. Respecting everyone’s freedom isn’t enough for that. The social mores, the customs and traditions which smooth our interactions with each other, having potentially prickly differences; the wisdom which has developed over time in our societies about how to do this; these are essential to the equation. If the 60s + social revolutions were about getting rid of these, or ignoring them, and ‘freedom’ was the main aim, then those figures you mentioned who espoused it so ardently, sounding so giving in their desire to allow everyone freedom to be different, also worked to destroy the social traditions which would have allowed it to continue. They threw the baby out with the bathwater, like revolutions usually do.

    Perhaps they also didn’t really mean it, or they did back then, but either realised the hole left by that destruction, and wanted something secure (but, since what was there was taken apart so well, that something is thin and must be controlling, because it can’t actually fill the space) to fill it back in, or stopped really believing that letting others live according to their consciences is a good thing.

    Another point to make is that what Americans call ‘liberalism’ is really socialism, which is now progressivism, so that the ‘other’ kind of liberalism – what Europeans called it originally, and has to be called classical liberalism in the US – is now separate from what the political left considers it to be. So that those who are ‘true liberals’ are the classical kind, who actually believe in liberty, and the rest are not liberal at all, but socialist, which is about state control in order to make everything equal.

  8. To explain what I mean by social mores, etc.: things like the family (in its traditional conception), religion, and male-female roles. While things within these customs needed to change, the whole thing didn’t need to be broken down, which has progressively happened – due to repeated deliberate efforts and disillusionment. Which has only fueled the disillusionment, because what’s put in its place is so empty, even though it sounds (to its supporters) utopian or so much better than what was there.

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