Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The asymmetrical revolution

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.
Annus Mirabilis - Philip Larkin
David Seaton's News Links
As the English poet, Philip Larkin proclaimed, sexual intercourse "began" in the 1960s. Of course it really didn't or humanity wouldn't exist, but Larkin is a poet and there is "poetic" truth in what he says. The availability of reliable contraception  -- controlled by women -- meant that for the first time, one of the most traditional progressive utopias, "free love" was a practical reality and the intercourse part of sexual intercourse could take on its full meaning.

Larkin mentions the end of the ban on D.H. Lawrence's book "Lady Chatterley's Lover", with its graphic sex scenes and liberal use of the most descriptive Anglo-Saxon. Taboos came crashing down. The Greenwich Village "Stonewall riots", marked the beginning of the gay rights movement.

The 60s was a decade which also saw the civil rights movement in the USA: people of color took their place in the sun. People became freer then. Anyone who came to consciousness in the 1950s knows that we are freer now than we were then. Freer than we ever have been before.

It was also a time of great prosperity in the western democracies, with full employment, good wages and in most western countries, liberal social nets.

Freer from worry, plenty of work, plenty of money in their pockets, plenty to spend it on, freer to speak, freer to love... we are still living on the fading glow from that period.

But today things are looking rather grim.

The money is being taken away, the social net is going in the same direction.

What happens when free people who have been led to think that they have a right to be happy, who thought that the system they support gives them that possibility, begin to see that this system cannot or will not continue to provide the means to be happy?

That is going to be the question that defines the coming years. DS

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