The sixties and seventies had colour and cadence, music and vitality, a culture most social; love and hate all up in your face. People and relationships counted for something and it wasn’t necessary to invent our fears in a vacuum by tabloid crusades vilifying Muslims (yet again) and mapping paedos in every lock-fortified street. You see, World War Three just the words terrified like no one in a million terrorist YouTube celebrity executioner nobody cared what Hendrix or Situationists had for lunch. Freedom was every moment and it was precious enough to fight for and against, burning bras and blacks and draft cards. Ideas and ideals were three building blocks of lives in February life if only you’d try to understand Easy Rider. Eunuchs were spreading and kings were preaching and the Man had to work to keep pace. They sent a man to the moon in a washing machine and of course it was propaganda but nobody didn’t believe because it was only one small step after hours of waiting bored and mankind sure needed a great leap to keep pace….
It isn’t like that any more. I saw the change happen, watched the counter reaction flex its entrenched muscles and loose the best of consumer materialism and the currency to buy, so everyone had a share. The sixties ended in a coda, the seventies surfed a cultural rip tide less easy to mainstream because it had grown into lifestyle for millions and we don’t need to read about the next big thing when living it daily. It was all so easy to destroy by a coalesion of interests and a naivete across society individually accountable, scorning the crowd and refusing safety in numbers; not that it would have made any difference.
The war was waged bloodless and had neither battle nor parade. Thatcher schoolmistressed the new compact, Reagan smiled as he acted frontman facilitator, and despite advocates scare better than fascist without uniforms, the deal we were offered was more utilitarian than any Woodstock idealism. Hippies, fascist, politics, abstracts, all became obsolete overnight. Pipedreams don’t gratify like possessions, culture can’t satiate like consumerism and music is all very pretty but materialism fills the silence as will without demanding virtuosity or authenticity or idealism from its adherents. Democracy dictated, with its implicit mandate greater than any referendum, the culture of our future society: a brave new material world packaged any way you like it so long add you buy enough of it to own at stake.
We passed the Back To The Future Rubicon in 1985. It was a done deal by the time Marty McFly took a Dolorean to an improbable 88 miles per hour and the clock stored when one point twenty one gigawatts struck exactly where it had to, turning picture postcard 1955 into the World today
The Back To The Future Rubicon was coined by R. J. Wexler first in essays published some years later, to mark that conclusive time in Western society – (epitomized by the movie Back to The Future) – when the compact became a covenant whose new guardians were and are immortal corporations you cannot know nor ever change. And who’d want to? Somehow an unspoken, undocumented but undeniable “it is enough” won the hearts and minds of almost everyone old enough to hold an opinion. Democracy’s finest hour and the compact once made would not suffer itself to be broken.
Consumerism, convenience, materialism, acquisition – freedom expressed in gods and services, a creed whose first gift – free in every cereal box was an absolution from the tyranny ideals and ideas. Culture is old near, the weird had long since been redefined anyway. Post-Rubicon society is self-sustainng and self perpetuating as if inherited – nature plus nurture, no longer needing old flag bearers and senile actors because we are all separated, conditioned and satisfied after a generation of subtle subliminal fine tuning has created a structure robust enough to meet any challenge and – as it had been from the start – democratic to the very core, promising and delivering three greatest happiness for the greatest number in accord with J.S. MIll’s seminal and practical version of utopia. He’d be turning in his grave had he not begin wisely cremated.
Society since the Back To The Future Rubicon had not changed though it needs a thousand cookie cutter journalists to keep up a steady flow of sub-Hallmark tripe throwing dust in the eyes of the docile disconnected (an easy task). Countless versions of the same article cutting social media as proof of cultural change. It is not. it’s the absolute opposite of a dynamic cultural evolution.
Remember: rule one of Fight Club was nobody could ever talk about Fight Club. Rule one of Shite Club is for everybody to be taking about Shite Club: use jaunty punch style to zing a fast-paced rhythm as journalists thrill to the fast-pace of change driven by some red herring made legitimate by including a bedazzling of examples, complicit pseudo-authorities and jargon enough to fake authenticity. It’s a package designed to ensure no time need be spent seeing the petrified wood for the well remunerated trees. It’s trivial conditioning too minor to attack in specific cases, to pervasive to challenge on Principles are doublespeak anyways, dismantled as possible threat years ago and rebadged suspect and now, by default, indicative of bonkers idealism (reworded as “on a crusade” since idealism wouldn’t admit of direct assault). Who else but someone bonkers would attack an innocent jokey jaunty article on social media – such pettiness is a sure sign of zeal gone bad – or from the other angle – who else but someone bonkers would attack a thousand different articles thinking they’re all the versus of the same, which conveniently happens to be part of what you see as a big conspiracy to condition everyone to be happy docile consumers?