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Today’s revolutionaries differ from those of the ’60s

Victor Davis Hanson of National Review Online contrasts current-day radicals from those of their grandparents’ generation.

In the 1960s and early ’70s, the U.S. was convulsed by massive protests calling for radical changes in the country’s attitudes on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. The Vietnam War and widespread college deferments were probably the fuel that ignited prior peaceful civil disobedience.

Sometimes the demonstrations became violent, as with the Watts riots of 1965 and the protests at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Terrorists from the Weathermen (later called the Weather Underground) bombed dozens of government buildings. …

… The enemies of the ’60s counterculture were the “establishment” — politicians, corporations, the military, and the “square” generation in general. Leftists targeted their parents, who had grown up in the Great Depression. That generation had won World War II and returned to create a booming post-war economy. After growing up with economic and military hardship, they sought a return to comfortable conformity in the 1950s.

A half-century after the earlier revolution, today’s cultural revolution is vastly different — and far more dangerous.

Government and debt have grown. Social activism is already institutionalized in hundreds of newer federal programs. The Great Society inaugurated a multi-trillion-dollar investment in the welfare state. Divorce rates soared. The nuclear family waned. Immigration, both legal and illegal, skyrocketed.

Thus, America is far less resilient, and a far more divided, indebted, and vulnerable target than it was in 1965.

Today, radicals are not protesting against 1950s conservatism but rather against the radicals of the 1960s, who, as old liberals, now hold power. Now, many of the current enforcers — blue-state governors, mayors, and police chiefs — are from the Left. Unlike Democratic Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley in the ’60s, today’s progressive civic leaders often sympathize with the protesters. …

… Yet the scariest trait of the current revolution is that many of its sympathizers haven’t changed much since the 1960s.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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