• Hate It When That Happens: Success of ‘Woodstock’ Leftism Doomed ‘Woodstock 50’

    Surge Summary: Plans for a Woodstock 50 memorial are no more – and it’s possible the popularity of the ideals of the original Woodstock are significantly to blame.

    End of last month, USA Today announced, “Woodstock 50 is officially canceled”

    Following months of controversy and drama, court battles, public meetings, a musical lineup announced with great fanfare and a cascade of departures beneath a cloud of uncertainty, the Woodstock 50 festival has been canceled, reports the Poughkeepsie Journal …

    A golden anniversary celebration set for Aug. 16-18, Woodstock 50 was announced in January as a means of memorializing the iconic event of decades ago that many consider to be the crowning achievement of the 1960s counterculture – the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

    Alas, reportedly, ain’t gonna happen …

    National Review’s Nate Hochman offers an explanation …

    The revolution has been canceled, or at least postponed for a while. Apparently, we are told, there were some “unforeseen setbacks.”

    That’s the vague explanation provided for the catastrophic failure of Woodstock 50, a doomed attempt at recreating the famous 1969 music festival in upstate New York for its 50th anniversary. Michael Lang, a cofounder of the original Woodstock and the mastermind behind this recent planned reincarnation, endured months of nightmarish organizational impediments — bureaucratic issues, lagging enthusiasm, and the withdrawal of a host of significant investors and performers — before ultimately throwing in the towel earlier this week.

    This is not Lang’s first attempt at resuscitating the utopian bliss of the original Woodstock. He organized revival concerts in 1994 and 1999, but they were plagued by a host of rape and sexual-assault allegations, violence, looting, fires, and the burning of American flags. In both, the original Woodstock’s atmosphere of rapturous love was replaced with petulant anger — singers such as Joan Baez were exchanged for bands such as Rage Against the Machine — and its communitarian, cost-free idealism was replaced with the corporate cynicism of $150 tickets and $12 pizza slices.

    The variety of obstacles that Lang has encountered is hardly symbolic of an energized mass sociopolitical movement like the one that fueled the original Woodstock. Indeed, the collapse of Lang’s vision is not attributable to any one logistical issue, but is rather indicative of the larger corporatization of the ’60s counterculture that Woodstock represented.

    In summary: Woodstock 50 fizzled because, as is predictable with people’s endeavors, human nature intruded.

    The “New Left” that Woodstock supposedly represented was actually a coalition of radical cultural and political movements of the time which had moved from the streets to the universities.

    Its contemporary proponents are more likely to write for the New York Times than for the hand-printed underground publications of old. Along the way, they have in many cases become parodic antitheses of their former selves, warmly embracing the establishment in opposition to which they once defined themselves.

    Consider feminism of the original Woodstock era. Not only was it “radical, combative, and distinctly revolutionary”, but also “vehemently anti-capitalist.”

    Angela Davis: “[A]s long as we inhabit a capitalist democracy, a future of racial equality, gender equality and economic equality will elude us.”

    Present-day feminism? It has enthusiastically backed the capitalist system that Davis and her compatriots so vocally denounced.

    Women everywhere were liberated from the “patriarchal oppression” of motherhood and the nuclear family, only to be made cogs in the capitalist machine. Cut off from the familial structure, encouraged instead to pursue economic accumulation at the expense of motherhood, the daughters of the Woodstockian radicals are now corporate executives at Google, Facebook, and Starbucks. The patriarchy has been dismantled, it seems — replaced instead with a corporate boardroom.

    How about the 1960s radicals of the Black Power movement?

    They, too, have found their way to a comfortable establishmentarianism. Take the Nation of Islam’s virulently anti-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan: he currently continues his connection with many mainstream Democratic leaders.

    Public intellectuals such as Ta Nehisi-Coates, Cornel West, and Michael Eric Dyson, casting themselves as the inheritors of the Black Power legacy, have cushy, six-figure teaching positions, elite writing fellowships, and the sycophantic, fawning adulation of the progressive establishment. The theoretical underpinnings of their movement — neo-Marxism, philosophies of “decolonization,” critical race theory, etc. — have come to dominate the social-science departments of our country’s most prestigious universities and exert enormous control over the minds of our cultural tastemakers.

    In a very practical sense, these “Leftists” have become the to-be-expected, status quo mainstream.

    Decades of “righteous” struggle have generated a counterculture which has transformed into the dominant culture. The Woodstock generation’s political radicals didn’t abolish the oppressive institutions and power structures they’d denounced but have inhabited and changed them instead. A “variety of absurdities” have ensue. Neoliberalism and performative wokeness have entered into an “odd marriage.” Some critics have appropriately dubbed it “woke capitalism.”

    It has also robbed our culture of its vital power to cultivate meaningful discourse, producing a certain revolutionary spirit that regards any dissent as dangerous and in need of crushing.

    This is why Woodstock will never again occur, why Lang will never recapture the spirit of 1969. The feeling of community at the original event came from attendees’ shared knowledge that they did not belong in their society’s mainstream. Now, in many ways, their ideology is the mainstream.

    Hochman surmises the sting for the Woodstock 50 promoters is that, in many ways, their project’s collapse could be tracked to the success of the initial countercultural movement.

    The cultural assumptions and traditions against which the New Left revolted have been so transformed as to make them unrecognizable. The revolutionaries of old have found themselves as the new occupants of the halls of power, expounding on the virtues of “diversity” and “inclusion” in corporate boardrooms, lecturing on Foucault and Gramsci to crowds of enrapt college students, and tweeting out 280-character political takes to hundreds of thousands of approving followers.

    And on a much less triumphant and more depressing note:

    The dream of the 1960s isn’t dead; it has been realized in full, to the great confusion of its own proponents.

    Image: By Derek Redmond and Paul Campbell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=247702


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