The Times… Are They A-Changin’?

JLH — who normally spends his free time translating German for us — has taken on a different task tonight. He’s looking back on a time that seems just a moment ago to Americans of a certain age, and compares and contrasts it with today’s imminent Ragnarøk.

The Times… Are They A-Changin’?

by JLH

Perhaps others who, like me, experienced or have heard of the 1960s, have been having an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu. Remember this song from 1964? If you’re too young, it’s worth a listen, but here are the words, anyway:

The times they are a-changin’
by Bob Dylan

Come gather round people
Wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

That contemporary version of Nostradamus was both followed and preceded by elements of its realization in various forms:

  • 1950s — Allen Ginsberg
  • 1957 — On the Road, Jack Kerouac

  • 1960-1969 nationally — SDS (revived 2006)
  • 1969-1977 — Weather Underground

Riots during the “long hot summer”

  • June 1967 — Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Tampa
  • July 1967 — Birmingham, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Britain, Conn., Rochester, N.Y.;
  • Most serious — Newark and Detroit, burning and looting

  • 1968 California — Haight-Ashbury burns

  • 1968 Illinois — massive anti-war demonstration at Democratic Convention in Chicago — police response becomes known as a “police riot”

  • 1969 New York state — Woodstock Festival
  • 1969 Easy Rider, dir. Dennis Hopper/Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson

At the time, society seemed to be divided along the lines of something like anti-war vs anti-hippie, anti-establishment young vs establishment old, anarchy vs order and, of course, race. There was clear separation between those who were in revolt and those who wanted peace and order. And neither side had much time for people who found themselves in the middle.

It has been over forty years from the maelstrom of the late sixties to the doldrums of now. Forty years happens to be the amount of time that is described in the Bible as the time it takes for a generation to pass, and a new generation to succeed it.

Numbers 32:13:

And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.

After close to fifty years, what do we collectively remember, what do we only imagine we remember, and what mustn’t we forget? Those who lived through those times, and especially those who felt they were on one side or the other, will have some vivid memories, both pleasant and painful.

Did anyone learn anything that applies to now?

Is the time we are living through now a Santayana moment? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Or is it a Mark Twain moment? History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Some of us thought we knew what would come next, but I for one did not foresee the leftist “march through the institutions,” which not only captured the citadels of government and higher education, but filtered irresistibly downward on the shoulders of the new age of usefully-trained idiot pedagogues, so that we now even hear of a kindergarten where the children — who are still absorbing the fact that boys and girls have different plumbing — are being introduced to transgenderism long before they will be intellectually capable of understanding or analyzing the three components of the word.

Some of the players have changed. At the time, draft-card burners and determined peaceniks mingled with free-lovers and “turn on, tune in, and drop out” types, determined revolutionaries with people who just wanted to get away from responsibility or from being sent to Vietnam. The racially-charged riots that were spontaneous and widespread then, are now sporadic and artificially stimulated. Maybe because it is not possible, even for a billionaire, to recruit, pay and direct enough willing actors simultaneously.

The vestiges are with us. Bill Ayres lives on unrepentantly as the revered mentor of Barack, but the Weather Underground is out of business. The Students for a Democratic Society were a formidable force on campuses across the country. But today, many of those who might have filled the militant, revolutionary student ranks are more concerned with fending off micro-aggressions and seeking safe spaces.

So who are the players now? Well, there are the usual suspects. Fat cat union leaders — even if their members are not behind them, their fellow leaders and lobbyists are. And the government unions such as SEIU, which have become activist behemoths that John Kennedy could not have foreseen.

And of course there are the smoldering racial embers that our president and his aides-de-camp have so cleverly, underhandedly and diligently fanned into flame.

Not to mention the leftist shock troops and rent-a-mobs like #OccupyAnywhere, who are ready at any time to spring into action for a cause, or a buck, or the pure joy of mayhem.

Or the enemy agents infiltrated with merry abandon into all geographical parts of our country by a government that does not care to distinguish between a true refugee from persecution and a supremacist barbarian or a potential jihadist.

The establishment some of us thought we were a part of then is now staffed by sanctimonious, bullying tattletales with a touch of schadenfreude — in other words, people we erstwhile old farts would love to punch in the snoot. They are discreetly backed up by the rich, powerful and greedy who do not intend to relinquish their hold on the invisible rudder.

If I read things correctly, the nearest thing to allies we in the “educated outcast class” have are the guys who in days past might have regarded us as George Wallace did — pencil-necked geeks who didn’t know how to park our own bicycles; while some of our colleagues thought of them as incapable of elevated thought patterns. That is, those of us “illuminati” who haven’t been educated out of our principles are now potentially partners with the working-class men and women — employed, unemployed and under-employed — who have not been forced or cozened into accepting the idea that “going on the dole” is a noble career goal. They are probably the grandchildren of the men I saw as a child, as they left the steel mill after their shift — weary but satisfied, and expecting a decent check at the end of the week.

Where do we go from here? And are the times really changing? Assuming there is a meaningful change in leadership, how much time would we have to flush the pusillanimous sludge out of the civilian and military bureaucracies? How long to convince the population at large that global warming will wait (possibly forever) but stemming the infiltration of those who only want to destroy us or live on us will not?

The line it is drawn,
The curse it is cast…
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

We can but hope.

12 thoughts on “The Times… Are They A-Changin’?

  1. You forgot to mention the popular music of the time that was akin to church music sung by the corporate choir. After all, Decca, Atco, et al decided who would be published and who would not. We had 20 years of debauched musical sensibilities until Dire Straits came out and showed the world the music industry for what it was, “Money for nuthin’ and the …..” you know the rest of the verse.
    much of the blame for the culture as it is today can be laid at their feet, if the execs are anywhere to be found. The only good thing to come out of all that was the music that is now sung in church services and played by Christian groups, Marantha and Phil Keaggy come to mind as favorites by someone who liked Cream and Dire Straits.

  2. Anyone older than twenty five or so who still listens to top 40 is nuts. It isn’t music. It’s advertising.
    I recall the first time I heard Mussorgsky, and Stravinsky. I was in high school. I realized then that more or less everything about American life I thought was cool – beginning with pop music – is really childish stupidity. CS + PC = innumerable cultural events in America, from billionaires at something called “Burning Man” to deeper events, like the Italian actor who played the Crying Indian on TeeVee in the 70’s, to Bob Zimmerdylanman singing off key at MLK’s ” I have a Dream” speech, which I have read was plagiarized.

  3. A major different between the ’60s and today is the internet as a mass phenomenon.

    Today, a person can put up a video on the internet and have massive influence and counter the influence of the Establishment. In pre-internet days, something like Brexit would probably have lost.

    I was also thinking recently, in light of recent leaks of communication by Hillary Clinton and George Soros, how much did people get away with in the pre-internet days. I have a hunch that there is some shocking stuff that still has’t been revealed.

  4. In Western societies, working classes seem to be among the last to be brainwashed, generally.

    Part of the reason why things have gone so screwy is that the decline of manufacturing has led to a decline of working classes, I think.

  5. I think there was hope then… whichever side you were on, that indeed, something better was coming along. The war would end, the schools would give kids kindness along with teaching them to think for themselves, like Summerhill. That somehow, now that we had plenty of “stuff” the other good things would be attended to. That “the free world” was a treasure worth protecting and nurturing. There was so much political innocence… nobody thought everything was rotten with corruption through and through. But it already was then.

    Remember the peace dividend? I actually took it seriously… And the hope of the Berlin Wall coming down… only to see the former satellites plundered by sharks and pirañas pretending to be capitalists with a human heart.

    Now, with the web, and with every moment of the politicos caught on camera… it’s impossible to hide their sins. And at the same time, it seems pretty clear they don’t care that we know. Because they know we can’t do anything to hold them responsible. In the 60s, it looked like maybe we could.

    Now, an establishment-favored candidate for president calls her fellow Americans “a basket of deplorables” and thinks it’s perfectly ok. The mire, the ugliness wasn’t so visible then. And people who thought the world was run by a powerful gang of rich elite ejits who met in secrecy to plot and scheme were accused of being silly conspiracy theorists. And Islam was just another religion somewhere “out there.”

    I am getting downright nostalgic.

  6. Uh oh……It’s the Deplorables !

    One Picture is Worth 1000 Words….

    HiLIARy !…Tell Huma to stock up on your ‘Depends’….


    Make this Meme go Viral ! …….the Media will simply NOT ALLOW Donald Trump’s and the American People’s message to be heard or seen ……it is ALL up to us and Donald ……and, he’s already doing everything he can………we need to get the message out to ALL our family, friends, and acquaintances…….ONLY a few less than 60 days and counting !

    Make your own plan to engage and convince the people you know in your social network. Then, work your plan….How many people can You Turn to Trump ?!

    And, be bold….talk to strangers, even ….Expand your Circle!

    Send them Hard Hitting graphics, VIDEOS and articles, and discuss with them why you are for Trump….. why Trump is NOT what the Leftist Lying Propaganda says he is…..but, a good, honest man…….with a BIG Heart….and a ‘Git ‘er Done’ kinda guy !

    Let them know WHY Trump may just be the Churchill for our Times !!

    ……..Let’s Roll !

    ⤵ Also, do you like this?

  7. This piece brings back memories. Bob Dylan, and others like him, were my favorites. But as an outlier preferred classical and still do. Fanatically. Grew up tremendously ignorant in middle-class Europe, when conquering Americans were the top dogs, comic books ten cents, and the PX and Commissaries were where you got everything, even the attitude. In the fields and forests, in deserted bunkers you could still find Third Reich objects, mess kits with swastikas. You had the sensation Hitler had just left for Patagonia, with shaved off moustache. Germany felt strange, as if the light hadn’t quite adjusted to the huge physical and spiritual changes. Of course, I had no political thoughts one way or the other. I didn’t know then how the occupiers had outrageously rewritten history. The trail in the search for facts had grown cold.

  8. Call me an old (sort of) Leftie- even if I’ve shifted my position on some issues since- but Bobbie had a point. In 1964, much was unjust about the status of women and some minorities in Western style democracies, perhaps especially the US. There has been an overcompensation since, but that doesn’t diminish the case for change at the time.

  9. Yes. My liberlys are rolling their eyes wildly so I told them,

    If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now
    It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
    Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on.

  10. I think JLH is leaving out some of the major reasons for this downward skid. First cause – the War in Vietnam. Say what you will when I was in college back circa ’64 – ’68 it looked to us innocents that too many innocent people were being killed by the U.S. gov’t and the truth is that was true. Too many absolutely civilian deaths. So whether you opposed the war on humanitarian grounds, or on the hope you wouldn’t be drafted, it was hard not to oppose it.

    In step the commies and their sympathizers. Too dummies like me, and we were a majority, though still correct about the slaughter of soooo many innocents, we were taken in by the commies, etc. And we were friends with many of them and dismissed them not realizing that like Lenin, etc. these were very serious people who really wanted to change the world in a LEFTIST way. Guys like me wanted the war to end cause it was too horrible. Committed lefties wanted the war to continue on American soil. And all us smart asses had smart ass answers to everything. It was easy to make fun of Trickie Dick, and LBJ. And we felt we were oh so smart. Now as immoral as these lefties generally were, they tended to be academically smart. And they decided to go teach and take over colleges. Before long that was their successful movement.

    And presto! that is why we are where we are today. And we have no line of defense at present against their teaching today’s young kids who for one example are easy to convince that every black person is actually a victim of white racism, etc. And of course the big nasty lie about all those “dead white men” being the bane of America.

    So right now our hope lay with the Donald and his advisers like Rudy, Bill Bennett, etc. who may be able to raise a ruckus about University education in America. I keep thinking (probably incorrectly) that some Federal money must go to Universities, and hence the right people in the right positions can demand that other than present day “liberals” must be welcomed to teach at University level. How this would happen I have no idea. But I think it is pretty imperative.

    Mike from Brooklyn

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