Tuesday, May 6, 2008

When It Happens, Remember That You Read It Here First

The joyless insanity of the 1950s largely created the joyful insanity of the 1960s (and the darker sides to it as well).

This didn't happen in the UK, however, because over there, the 50s were never like the American 50s. The 1960s in England were correspondingly not about youthful rebellion, but more simply, the joy of abundance, as decades of postwar food rationing came to an end.

In the UK today, however, the video surveillance is joyless insanity of the purest kind.

The American 1960s were a freak occurence, a perfect storm of many factors, but something similar, though lesser, is probably on the way for England. I can't prove it, but I feel totally sure of it. Joyless insanity led to a generation with utter disregard for existing social norms, and consequently to widespread, dramatic social change; this will probably happen again, in a different place. It has the feel of natural consequence to it.

Clay Shirky described this recently, although he mistakenly assumed it has to happen at the speed of centuries. (In his model gin was the joyless insanity, and all of industrial society's fundamental institutions the social change.)