Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So Long Hippies (Just Not Soon Enough)

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,
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
I came to these conclusions based upon the following:

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.

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.

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.

Hippie Retirement

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, …
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.

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).
But without the right environment, next generation Hippies just won't have that 'oomph' that made '68-'72 the years that they were.


Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Great post.

I'm more optimistic. By 2015 the hippy daily influence in the workplace, MSM, higher education should be finito excepting a handfull of exceptions, they're already on the steep downhill by 2010.

The age related ending of such a influential generation can be very very dramatic in results. My favorite example - the USSR folded near precisely 45 years after the end of WWII (1990), very closely associated with the passing into retirement of the Great Patriotic War generation.

The rise of PC nonsense in the US also corresponds to the passing of the Greatest Generation.

With any luck the thrashing about as their influence runs out will continue to alienate the youth (think Ward Churchil).

Predication : the backlash against PC (speech codes etc) in universities should rise 2010 against resistance from the last hippies, when they finally go 2015 the anti-PC backlash should become the norm, probably quite suddenly.

My call : 4 years and the clock is ticking. Hold the line by hook or crook for now, and watch, wait for the portents of doom for the age of aquarius. Enjoy. Bring popcorn.

Die, hippy scum, die.

SMSgt Mac said...

Thanks for the kind words--
Your points are well taken: if there are powerful new ideas pushing out the old, it very well could happen sooner.I actually hope you are right.

The one factor in my estimate that I didn't go in to detail on was 'phase lag' (like predator-prey models) where the cause is gone but the effect hasn't fully played out. Because of my job, I habitually perform conservative analyses: that way we only get surprised in good ways!

So keep safe, and here's to keeping the faith and hoping for pleasant surprises!

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Phase lag, hard to quantify the amount of 2° influence the hippy generation will have on the newer kids they have taught in college and infected through the MSM. I guess the key factor is catastrophic historical events that validate/invalidate the hippy world view.

9/11 could have been pretty decisive, but the MSM highlighted unsuccessfull occupation of Iraq may well have nixed it. Interesting if horrid to contemplate.

This may be of interest : "The Generational Aspect of the Military / Civilian Culture Gap". Can't agree with all of it, but interesting, about the hippy generation influence on the miltary.

M. Simon said...

advances (as well as follies) in civil rights were tremendous stressors on American civilization that Proto-Hippies successfully exploited for a time,

Like it or not the proto hippies ended the Civil War.

I remember "colored only" water fountains in the South. I remember being offended by them.

The exploitation did not come until the 80s.

BTW it is the boomers (as "hackers") who built the wonderful computer/communications infrastructure we now enjoy.

BTW your real problem is not with boomers per se. It is with those who didn't wake up. As opposed to the neo-cons etc. who did.

M. Simon said...

I was once a hippy and a Communist.

Now I'm just a neo-con hippy.

Where doest that fit in?

M. Simon said...

BTW it looks like the hippies have one more trick up their sleeves:

WB-7 First Plasma

M. Simon said...

3. Psychedelic Drug use generally isn’t ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or whatever anymore. Most people now know it just messes you up.

Actually it is being mainstreamed.

MDMA (Xtacy) is being used in pilot programs to treat PTSD.

LSD and other similar drugs are being used in various psychotherapy experiments.

In fact the drug war is one of the biggest self inflicted wounds of the anti-hippies. The anti-hippies have turned minority neighborhoods into war zones and have destroyed the black family culture all to strike a blow against the hippies.

The drug war finances the Taliban and FARC. The drug war finances criminals. The drug war is one of the greatest reasons for anti-gun hysteria.

Yet "everyone" favors these price supports for criminals and terrorists.

Here is how it works in America. The rich go to a doctor to get drugs with a certain effect. The poor buy from the gypsy drug store.

Class War

Treatment vs Recreation

Round Pegs In Round Holes

Our drug war is really a class war. The rich against the poor.

FWIW I'm a Republican. I know. It goes against the grain.

However, our drug war is unadulterated socialism. Price supports for criminals. And terrorists.

SMSgt Mac said...

Where do you fit in? I can only guess you decided to grow up . A lot of people did. I knew guys who were total freaks in the late '60s-early '70s and they're completely over it.

You are right in your conclusion: my point is that the Hippies that are STILL Hippies are makng a lot of noise in the exits -- and there are a lot of them. I am technically a 'boomer' but I never identified with the 'boomer' label.

I didn't say there wasn't any use for psychodelics. My point is it wasn't 'cool' or 'hip'. (Although I do find many psychiatric treaments questionable at best.)

BTW: I used to go to Rockford twice a year to conduct Program Management Reviews at Sundstrand. Is the local industry still in the toilet or has the economy gotten better? Rockford used to make the 10 worst places list, but I didn't think it was bad other than too effin' cold in January.