The Hippie Effect: We're On the Cusp
A couple of weeks ago Dan Riehl had an excellent post highlighting the AP’s blatant misrepresentation of a long-time lefty as an ‘unlikely activist’. The post and comments with commensurate links fully exposed Rosemarie Jackowski as a fairly run-of-the-mill ‘Proto-hippie’ and no amount of Shinola from the AP will be able to hide it from this point forward. In the comments, I mentioned I was considering blogging an analysis of when we might expect the influence of all the 60’s retreads to start fading away, and when what I have come to call the ‘Hippie Effect’ will also diminish.
In subsequent comments to the post, “Fellow Peacekeeper” at Rearguard, suggested that I go ahead and blog it, and provided a ‘back-of-the-envelope’ analysis that was very close to my detailed analysis.
My take on the (in America anyway) Hippie Effect and when we can expect it to diminish significantly (as mentioned in the comments to the post at Reihl World View) is as follows:
1. Peak leftist cohorts are baby boomers born 1946-53,I came to these conclusions based upon the following:
2. College age years 1966-75 with peak radicalism in 1968-1972 timeframe,
3. Age now of the worst of them is 56-63,
4. Peak of influence IS about now,
5. Marked decline should be really felt around 2015 when they are 66-73: I just hope we don't have a lot of them using their retirement years clogging up the highways driving to the next protest.
6. I think the average age of the House/Senate will decrease soon on its own (heck, when Byrd leaves it will drop the average significantly), but the hippie effect might linger due to acute academentia in the universities.
If we chart the year 1961 (pre-Vietnam) through 1980, and overlay historical events (some of which are shown on the first chart below) and highlight the degree of campus radicalism by year for each cohort, we can fairly closely identify those cohorts exposed to radicalism and approximate to what degree each cohort was exposed.
1. That left-wing activism was fomented (and has since been nurtured) in America’s colleges and universities, and that radicalism spilled out over into the general population to a certain degree.
2. The Vietnam War and advances (as well as follies) in civil rights were tremendous stressors on American civilization that Proto-Hippies successfully exploited for a time, and
3. The targeted/affected cohorts who were particularly susceptible to the Hippie Effect due to their coming of age in a pampered life without (relative to their parents) ‘struggle or want’ were made even more susceptible
due to the rise and spread of the drug sub-culture.
Weighting the depth of exposure to varying severities of radical environments, we can identify cohorts who were most at risk for radicalization, and to what degree they might have been exposed. (BTW: I did a few parametric excursions as to the assumed degrees and timing of radicalism and it didn’t make much difference in the relative cohort scores).
Assuming constant rates of changes in maturity and attitudes between age cohorts, the most radical age cohorts in the 60’s and 70’s should still be (relatively speaking) among the most radical cohorts today. This allows us to identify probable age distributions of those most radicalized groups driving today’s Hippie Effect:
[Note: the 1953 birth year cohort score only appears to be worse than the 1952 cohort due to line smoothing. They are actualy equal]
What the Hippie Future looks like...
The 2005 population distribution compared to projected distributions (Census .xls link here) in the U.S. looks like this:
The bulge in curve that shifts right over time represents the Baby Boomers. The portion of the bulge in living general population that represents the most pronounced Hippie Effect will decline by more than 32% between now and 2020. The chart below represents a slightly different group than the core represented in chart 2 above due to how the census ‘sliced’ the age groups in their data provided, but illustrates the sizable (and quite normal and expected) drop between now and 2020.
Keep in mind that most of these people will really start retiring in large numbers around 2015. While trends in retirement age are under debate, this will still be most important in factoring the disappearing effects of those Hippies who exercise their influence through their workplace, particularly in the government and academic bureaucracies. In these arenas, Hippie government doyens and tenured superstars may linger much longer than 2015 (after all, MIT is still stuck with the last of the Proto-Proto-Hippies: Noam Chomsky). But to what degree will they maintain influence without their legions of Joe-average functionaries that now keep the gears of the Hippie infrastructure grinding?
The Hippies net influence in the workplace will also be slightly mitigated further by the fact that everyone after them also has to stay in the workforce a little longer, if post-Hippie cohorts must work until they can draw Social Security.
Buh-Bye Hippies! (AKA Demographics IS Destiny!)
If you remember all the hand wringing by the current crop of campus activist-wannabes and aging Hippies over the dearth of protests during the run-up and prosecution of the war on terror in Iraq, or perhaps are aware of more current reportage on the subject, then you know there appears to be no real impetus for a broad and popular protest movement on campus or anywhere else for that matter. Protests and ‘actions’ that have occurred are products of a hodgepodge of loony loners and fringe elements such as Islamofascist apologists, pseudo-anarchists and mere boutique commies: as evident to anyone who has ever seen one of these to-dos in person or has visited Zombietime.
Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! ...Um, what are we mad about again-o?
There are significant differences between now and ‘then’ that seem to me to be obvious mitigating factors and it could be there is no activist groundswell for any and/or all of them. A short list (in no particular order) of the differences to be found:
1. Vietnam didn’t attack us within our borders
2. On campus, now the Left IS “The Man”-who-is-to-now-be-rebelled-against.
3. Psychedelic Drug use generally isn’t ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or whatever anymore. Most people now know it just messes you up.
4. STD’s and Womyns Studies both kind’a kill the 'Free Love' concept: Can’t use sex to lure young guys into the radical fold anymore. Dang.
5. Just not a lot of big-time social injustice in the U.S. (unless you are a ‘previously privledged’ majority, equate animal rights with human rights, or really feel for killers in Gitmo) anymore. Sorry.
6. No Draft = No threat to anyone’s plans to tour the world by micro-bus or become an otherwise unemployed liberal arts grad.
7. Reference the Zombietime link above. Do YOU want to be seen with these kinds of people?
And it goes on……
[Note: I am not too worried about the aging Hippies picking up on these reasons and adjusting their game plan, as since they are STILL Hippies, they almost certainly fall into a particular category (pdf file) that places certain concepts safely beyond their reach.(Updated 01/04/07 to correct the overuse of 'certain' and it's various derivitives.)]
As I wrote earlier, I still just hope we don't have a lot of Hippies spending their retirements clogging up the highways driving to the next protest. I can see them now through the bumper stickers, driving in the left lane going 5 mph under the speed limit, with the turn indicator on.
Update 1/6/07: Friend and Co-worker 'Dave' sent me an e-mail yesterday pointing out several things could happen to change the climate into one that would create a new generation of Hippies, and he also pointed out that I shouldn't underestimate the Nostalgia effect of people who like to remember the good old days who weren't even around in the good old days:
I have run into too many people that just want to keep the 60's alive. Music, good times, no responsibilities, …Since a lot of Enviros are 'watermelons' - updated Hippies with socialist and commie cores - it would only make sense that there will be some next-generation outcome of the current movements (Like Rearguard posted at Reihl World: Once a hippy, always a commie).
Also the whole environmental/save the this-or-that can usually snag a number of people that will keep the movement alive. I've seen it. As an example look at the war re-enacters. This is a big draw for a large number of people, comraderie, history, heritage, fun, getting out of the house.
But without the right environment, next generation Hippies just won't have that 'oomph' that made '68-'72 the years that they were.