Which figures from 1968/1969 look good in retrospect?

Andrew writes to me:

I just wanted to propose a question for your blog, which I’ve read since it launched. Given how the current atmosphere seems a bit like 1968, I was curious who you think comes out of 1968 looking good (or bad) in retrospect. I’m particularly interested in people at universities (my own case), but I’d be curious in general.

A former professor of mine (George Kateb) claimed that my generation (born 1970) was embarrassed by the sixties and I guess particularly by the more radical parts. That’s my impression as well and I assumed that the more radical parts of the sixties and the intellectuals who went along with them would come out looking the worst in retrospect. Is this right? Whose position at the time looks most “correct” today?

It is tough, if only because so many people from both parties then were bad on the Vietnam War issue.  Here are a few who, in my judgment, came out of the era looking good, in no particular order:

1. Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor), Billie Jean-King, and Curt Flood.

2. Bob Dylan: pro-civil rights and anti-war, and for all of his phases he never went in for the bad, crazy stuff.

3. Paul McCartney: universalist, anti-war, neoliberal integrationist, and the saner part of the Beatles.  Some minus points on the drugs front, however.

4. Julian Bond.  And a variety of other civil rights leaders, but MLK not living long enough to “fit” the question as stated.

5. Harry Edwards (who?).

6. Seán Lemass (who?)  Elsewhere across the waters there is Raymond Aron.

7. Marshall McLuhan

9. Lucille Ball

9. Gene Roddenberry and the rest of Star Trek, including the script writers.

10. Thomas Pynchon: So many others look bad, at least he knew not to say too much or to hang around for too long.

11. Ayn Rand.  With qualifications on a number of fronts, but yes.  She was in fact good on the major issues of those years.

12. These people from the Bay Area.  They are not public figures, but still they deserve mention.

Who else?

Notes: Marxists, Maoists, and advocates of violence are not going to win.  There were plenty of excellent economists back then, but most had a different focus than commenting on the major events of those years, and if memory serves (please correct me if I am wrong) Milton Friedman’s very meritorious anti-draft work came slightly later.  I would have to reread the major feminist book authors to pick the best one, but I do mean for at least one to be on the list, I am simply not sure at the moment which one.  Ralph Nader too?  The astronauts?  They knew to keep their mouths shut once they were finished.

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Those who fought against Castro and warned us about China.

Mao Zedong. No wait, you said no Maoist. Dammit!

“Taking the long view,” he wrote, “we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside of the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors. There is no place on this small planet for a billion of its potentially most able people to live in angry isolation.”

- Richard Nixon, 1967

https://www.thewirechina.com/2020/06/07/the-birth-life-and-death-of-engagement/

Nixon is America's greatest Maoist. Okay, maybe Kissinger. With Bolton's latest, maybe Trump.

The piece at The Wire is good. Engagement, broadly defined, is the least bad option. As the author said, it was/is better than cold war, and certainly better than hot war.

We just need hard-eyed realists to manage our side.

Engagement was probably right until the 90s. But at the point at which China has a challengers level of economic and political power while running an export fuelled model of growth that allows it to grow while suppressing its people (their wages, their consumption, their freedoms to move and own), avoiding any form of popular inclusion in governance beyond the party, bullying smaller Asian nations, and promoting its counter democratic "model" internationally... Then you flip to the right choice being greater disengagement, containment and shifting the balance to the development of India and to the ring of nations surrounding China.

But that's a point crossed around the early 2000s and Bush II and the neo-cons' screw up, mainly. Nixon wasn't wrong, not totally.

"...while running an export fuelled model of growth that allows it to grow while suppressing its people..."

The extent to which China was "export led" has been exaggerated as exports, when counted correctly, have only been a modest contributor to growth.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1049007809000359

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2008/01/03/an-old-chinese-myth

More or less than people think is a bit of a wooly way to talk about it. Let's talk about "Where would China be in a counterfactual without that export dominance?". Where would you see then, on a scale of being between where they currently are to where India or Vietnam currently are?

Let's not forget that Nixon made those comments in a broader context, one in which the Soviet Union was perceived to be a mortal threat to the US and to the West more broadly. Furthermore with the Korean War still pretty fresh on peoples' minds, the idea of getting in bed with China against Russia was not an easy sell domestically.

And let's not forget that the USSR's political leadership secretly approached Nixon when the Chinese were just starting their nuclear breakout and offered to nuke them into submission. Nixon refused.

@M Did you read the abstract and article?

China hasn't had "export dominance", whatever that means. India and Vietnam have have the GDP per capita of China and the ratio of exports to GDP doesn't affect that much.

No, it was too long to read a long article for the sake on one blog post comment.

So your stance here is that China's GDP per capita had zero boost from exports and/or that they didn't pursue and export oriented industrialisation at all, contra development economics claims?

I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…... LSd after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn't be happier.

Here’s what I do…............ b­i­z­p­r­o­f­i­t­9.c­o­m

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I was in Beijing in the mid 70's through a 2 year period. Party cadres held Nixon in high regard. Lamented his fall from grace. Celebrated return of Deng, mourned and regretted death of Zhou.

At the time there were already well established informal (nonstate) traders selling Chinese goods (garments) across borders into the Soviet Union.

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That would not be a status-enhancing answer for Tyler. Most of his colleagues are rather fond of Castro and Mao, and he spends much of his time desperately seeking common ground with them so he can fit in.

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“Peking houses hard-eyed realists…You do not put dilettantes up against pros and come away with favorable results.”

- James Lilley, somewhat later

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"The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils." -- Enoch Powell, 1968

Nope, an Ulster Unionist does not make the cut. And considering the perspective on race relations that prompted his public speaking on the issue, his calling it the Birmingham speech feels completely appropriate from an American perspective. An introduction - "In the speech Powell recounted a conversation with one of his constituents, a middle-aged working man, a few weeks earlier. Powell said that the man told him: "If I had the money to go, I wouldn't stay in this country... I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan't be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas." The man finished by saying to Powell: "In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man".

50 years later, that constituent's concerns look utterly laughable - or ironic, if his children emigrated to Denmark or the Netherlands. Or not, since as the well informed know, the UK's second largest city is a no-go zone for Powell style voters, as reported on Fox by Steve Eamerson - “So in Britain there are not just ‘no-go zones’ there are actually cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in."

.. I just play one one on the internet

Is calling Sailer a racist against the rules here?

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As “reported” by Steve Eamerson on Fox? Let’s be generous and call it a fiction. There’s no truth in this statement. In no city in Britain or Europe are Muslims more than a minority. And in no part of any city in Britain would any non-Muslim be worried about “going in”. Does any American really believe nonsense like this?

I'm white British and I can tell you definitely there are Muslim parts of Luton (which I know well) and Leicester which I absolutely would NOT go into. I would get hassle from ethnic "youths", leading to violence.

I wonder if that has something to do with age? Young lads of any faith or ethnic affiliation can be a bit territorial about other young lads, strangers. As a non-threatening OAP maybe I would be perceived differently? Anyway that’s a completely different issue to the Fox untruth: “So in Britain there are not just ‘no-go zones’ there are actually cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in."

How many white young lads in Pakistan are "a bit territorial" about the local Pakistani lads? Zero, right?

Oh but you know Fox engages in untruths,

Live not by lies.

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"As “reported” by Steve Eamerson on Fox? Let’s be generous and call it a fiction. "

Well yeah, he was wrong, dumb and apologized for spreading misinformation:

"Emerson issued an apology for his misinformation stating, "I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error." "

And yet, according to “Rivers of red colored bodily fluid”, the well-informed in the USA still think it’s a fact? That’s one way propaganda works. Loudly tell a blatant lie, then subsequently retract it. But the lie continues to reverberate in the malfunctioning ears of “the well-informed”.

Isn't that how the US is in the current situation? We have millions of entirely false stories about Trump and other non-Democrats that were retracted or proven entirely false mere minutes after the headline.

Yet people remember those.

Russiagate.
Ukrainegate.
Third world S***holes.
The Japan Fish Feeding thing.
List goes on and on.

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"And yet, according to “Rivers of red colored bodily fluid”, the well-informed in the USA still think it’s a fact? "

“Rivers of red colored bodily fluid" is also dumb and spreading misinformation.

" Loudly tell a blatant lie, then subsequently retract it. "

I don't know of a single large New source that hasn't done the same. At least a "blatant lie" as defined by their opponents. Though maybe it's fair to consider all modern new sources as propaganda.

Well, I think you are giving up too soon on any notion of fact or evidence — or even truth. News media should present facts which can be checked and verified. There will still be debate about the evidence and its ramifications — but that can be carried out within a polite and reasonable framework. We can all learn more. There is also a place for opinion but that should also be held to account. You have to earn your opinions by actually knowing something.
Please don’t succumb to this nonsense about “fake news” and the idea that everything is just opinion and propaganda. All news media should be held to account. Because there is still a real world out there and verifiable facts — and it really should be possible to have a civilised debate. Once you have given up on that you are entering into a brutal contest of mindless egos. Who benefits from that?

+1, good post

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The "Rivers of Blood" speech was a whinge about Caribbean immigration. The source countries aren't very populous, their counterparts in Britain remain a low-single-digit minority, and they're not culturally challenging (though they are the source of more than their share of Britain's social problems). West Indians are the least of Britain's problems right now on that front.

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Powell belongs in the list of failures of '68: until then, he'd been a proto-Thatcherite, sound on economic issues (trade, fiscal policy, and above all, the pernicious effects of very high marginal income tax rates) and with a good reputation as a precocious scholar. He threw that away in an attempt to foment racial antipathy.

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I think Powell was a net positive, although 1968 was the year of his big fail.

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Curt Flood cost the St. Louis Cardinals' the 7th game of the 1968 World Series by misplaying Jim Northrup's fly ball into a triple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwvSYXHvy0I

I lost my first ever bet on that 7th game of the 1968 World Series: Bob Gibson was slated to go for the Cardinals and he had 7 straight complete game victories in the World Series.

By the way, Bob Gibson had a good 1968: 1.12 ERA.

Like the Cards, you should have listened to Roger Maris. He warned them they needed to worry more about Lolich than McLain.

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12. Kind of funny that even back then, among the techies there's a neckbeard.

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OK so Lebron,

Muhammad Ali

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In 1968 we had only killed 1.5 million Vietnamese rice farmers with another million to go. But today, Saigon is a very nice place for tourists. Politicians were as corrupt then as they are today, but the boomers are slightly smarter than their parents. LBJ was a nightmare worse than Trump.

Just finished the 3rd Caro book on LBJ where he steals an election so I am going to have to agree with you on your assessment.

Read the fourth book where LBJ steals the election for JFK. Then in to Vietnam. McNamara is the most evil man in US history

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In 1968 we had only killed 1.5 million Vietnamese rice farmers with another million to go.

Isn't it cute how libertards fancy the North VietNam Army and the VietCong didn't have any ammunition? They think the same of the Iraqi insurgency.

You tell 'em, hun.

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"Golly, gee, we sent our military to places that had not attacked us, and they decided to shoot back?!?! See!! See!!!"

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Intel was founded July 18, 1968, Mountain View, CA.

This was going to be my suggestion

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+1

These have been the true heroes of the Last 50 years. This industry has revamped the world. The success of Moore’s law is simply unparalleled.

Intel deserved their +1 but today Moore's law is dead. Intel in 2020 is now begging the government for money to keep the US semiconductor industry afloat.

Moore's Law is dead! Long live Moore's Law!

The exponentially increasing power of computers won't be slowing down this decade.

Depends what you mean by "power". Computers stopped getting exponentially faster, measured in terms of clock speed, about 6-7 years ago.

Millions of instructions per second (MIPS) for $1,500. That was still on its exponentially increasing track in 2017.

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I think building a foundry is not too hard if you have the money, and the money isn't all that much all things considered. TSMC has indicated the might be building a US 5 nm fab for $12B. And probably any big company or gov with $20B could make it happen if they had a driver for 5 nm silicon that could pay for the fab.

The more valuable part is having the engineers that can design the complex systems. The Intels, Qualcomms, Texas Instruments, Xilinx...they are all still fairly rare on the world stage.

More about quantum and general AI than hyper-minutirization of institution-priority chip fabbing. More important to have the post-Docs than Engineers to guide the 'spooky stuff'. Having top Exo-, Tera-, Penta- supercomps for whatever speeds/ processing is more urinal-time length-checking than actual future proofing of your country's computer prowess. Breakthroughs with IBM (if you can believe it) than Intel, Qualcomm and TI.

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Wrong on both accounts.

Building a world class foundry is hard because Intel just got surpassed by TSMC. AMD did the smart thing when they spun off their foundry business to focus on design and now they lead in performance. Taiwan is now the world leader in semiconductors with South Korea leading for memory chips. Sad year for high tech US manufacturing.

Apple, the world's most valuable company, will no longer use Intel for their machines. Why? Because they can design the chips themselves. Just like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, and even Tesla. Let me say that again: an ad company, an ecommerce site, a phone manufacturer, a social network, and an auto manufacturer can all do their own designs without the Qualcomms (onerous licensing) or Intels (no longer the technology leader) of the world. Chip design is increasingly a commodity business because fabless design is easy (design if you have the talent, license from say ARM if you don't), fabrication is not.

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Woah. Woah. Xerox PARC had way, way more influence on all things internet, home computer, and personal communication. The term 'Skunkworks' applies here as a brilliant group of corporate sponsored world-saviors is different but the same connotations apply - though I know it was originally more of a spy-plane thing.

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Funny to think of Pynchon as laconic.

+1,
Pynchon did disappear from sight about that time but really his fame comes from 'Gravity's Rainbow' that was published in the early 1970s.

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Oh, Christ, the best was Tricky Dick, who ended the Vietnam War.

As for the rest, it got so bad, Ronny Reagan was elected! Since then the detritus has been reaccumulating.

Way beyond time for another Ronny.

They should go extinct.

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Nixon is obviously the correct answer. It's actually pretty amazing he was able to end Kennedy+Johnson's disaster so quickly.

lol. Nixon was certainly for that war before he was against it

Nixon valiantly attempted to end the war in a way that would leave South Vietnam as a viable polity, on the "Two Koreas" model.

He would have succeeded, too, but for Congress cutting off funds and weapons to the RVN government after the Paris Peace Accords were signed.

If Nixon made any serious strategic errors, it was in taking any invasion of the North off the table, thus guaranteeing them a sanctuary where they could rebuild with impunity.

Oh my God you used the words "Nixon" and "valiant" in the same sentence. and I threw up a little in my mouth

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This nonsense again.

The corruption and disfunction of South Vietnam made them useless allies that misspent the billions in aid we poured in 60 - 73.

Nixon, like LBJ, wouldn't touch the north because he didn't want another Korean war. Fear of another Korean kept the US out if the north, just as it kept China out of Taiwan.

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This comparison is undercut by the fact that the Paris Peace Accords did require North Vietnam to withdraw troops from the South. South Vietnam, for its part, had not proven for most of its existence that it was a viable state capable of defending itself. I've seen some make the argument that with just a little bit of aid and air support from the U.S., it could have fought back North Vietnam by 1975 but that feels like special pleading.

How is it special pleading it’s exactly what happened during the Easter offensive in 1972. The south Vietnamese army with no troop support beat back the largest military incursion since China crossed the Yalu river. I wish ignorant people would just shut the fuck up.

American laser guided munitions had gotten so good by 1972 that the Soviets predicted that if they didn’t win the Cold War in 10 years their defeat was inevitable. With American air support south Vietnam could absolutely have held on. Nixon basically won the cold in 1972 and was driven from office for it. The left loved have the USSR to use as a ratchet- when it wasn’t actively funding left wing parties.

Nixon was driven from office because of his own mistakes and paranoia.

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Re: He would have succeeded, too, but for Congress cutting off funds and weapons to the RVN government after the Paris Peace Accords were signed.

It would be more correct to say "It might have succeeded had not the USSR and to a lesser extent continued their active support for the North Vietnamese war effort." In the Korean War there were real fears the thing could blow up into a WWIII with nuclear weapons. Mao and Stalin's successors (he died in March of 1953) decided to wind the whole thing down on the basis of a truce that locked things in place. Few such fears existed in 1973, so after the peace treaty the USSR continued bankrolling North Vietnam with no fears.

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Nixon. Looking in from outside seems unquestionable. No one has mentioned him leaving the gold standard. This cemented USA international power through to today. Shame for you guys that Trump is blowing it for you.

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Nixon ended the Vietnam War by losing the war. Not sure that makes him look good.

not to mention leaving a bit of a mess in Cambodia and a vibrant heroin trade in region while abandoning our allies.

But hey, he did this with honor. Which is what matters.

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lol Nixon. A failure from practically one side tot he other. Extended and then lost Vietnam. Horrible policies in Chile, Indonesia, Cambodia, et al.

Hitchens was right about Kissinger and Nixon's to blame for that.

No surprise that clueless IPA has Nixon as his shining light.

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O.J. Simpson had a good 1968.

Went to USC. That was not a good time for race-relations post 80s based on OJs over-inflated good will and his various movies etc., at the time.

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1. Billie Jean King? How does she 'look good' from her performance on the court in a way that wouldn't apply to a dozen others at the time? The woman certainly doesn't wear well. (Neither did Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who are at least as gross). Forget Bilgie Jean. Give us Rod Laver and Margaret Smith Court. BTW, Julius Boros, a 48 year old father of seven, won the PGA that year.

4. That's pretty funny, given his trajectory over the years. Among 'civil rights leaders', it was atypical to have had an ordinary career which was laid aside in favor of political agitation. You could say that of King in some measure (a neophyte clergyman), Whitney Young (a social worker) and Hosea Williams (on the research staff at the federal Department of Agriculture). Julian Bond was a just a student and, after 1968, was a patronage recipient (courtesy various NGOs and public colleges). All the notables except for Rap Brown (who opened a restaurant) were on some sort of gravy train after 1968 (and Brown eventually went to prison). And, with the exceptions of Bayard Rustin and James Farmer, none of them had much to say that it would have benefited anyone to hear.

9. I gather the transition from The Lucy Show to Here's Lucy must have made an impression. And Rowan and Martin didn't make an impression. Go figure.

Edward Banfield and Daniel Patrick Moynihan don't seem to have registered with you, or is your excuse that they're critiques of social policy were published in 1969 and 1970? James Q Wilson's observational study of the police appeared that year. Looking at foreign affairs, Samuel Huntington's Political Order in Changing Societies also appeared that year. Seymour Martin Lipset also had a book out that year.

Another person you missed is Roy Prosterman, who designed and promoted the agrarian reform program implemented in South VietNam in 1970.

Joan Didion you don't notice, either.

A big raspberry for you.

+1

Tyler's list is a bit crap.

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+1 Joan Didion for clearly seeing the excesses as they happened.

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As someone born in 1968, I'm not embarrassed by the 1960s -- just thoroughly bored with them.

As someone born in 1968, do you 1) LOVE 2) Like or 3) loathe The Beatles?

(Born slightly before 1968, I've been finding them tiresome for entire decades already: most of their tunes up to the Rubber Soul album were saccharine and syrupy [the Stones really kicked their ass good, at least before and after their own Sgt. Pepper album], the "progress" they initiated resulted in improved studio and production values for other pop musicians, yes, but their career also showed the value of return on saturation marketing, which remains a big aesthetic killjoy to this day since it's become the standard for the entire entertainment sector.)

Lennon did write a handful of inspired pieces while he was consuming far too much LSD, but then he met Yoko.

Born before.

They were talented producers of song whose work wears well. Far too much of them was made by status-jonesing popular music aficionados of a certain vintage. (Those types are annoying no matter the vintage).

He who is not busy being born is busy dying

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11. Pretty funny. 1968 was the very year the incorporated Rand cult blew up when the 63 year old Rand discovered her 42 year old paramour had acquired another side piece.

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1968 is the year Australia's Prime Minister, Harold Holt, disappeared while swimming. To commemorate the loss, we named a swimming pool after him.

we apologize
kharma is a bitch

So it was you! And here I was thinking you looked too much like Maxwell Smart to pull off something like that.

and it was you fello/as that got colby in the canoe
we named a yellow cheese after him

I can neither confirm or deny that, though I am leaning very heavily on the deny side.

At least it's better than what we named our cheese.

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We named a U.S. Navy ship after him, a Knox-class frigate (FF-1074). Very unusual in that--in those days at least--only a small minority of USN vessels were named after individuals, and even fewer after foreigners.

Thank you. I didn't know that.

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'advocates of violence are not going to win'

Thatcher would agree wholeheartedly, but how did Nelsoin Mandela stack up in 1968? Considering he was in prison in 1968. And 1978. And 1988.

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The Olympics. Beamon, Fosbury, Oerter. Smith / Norman/ Carlos.

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I’d add the Black Panthers, who were largely correct about the scope of police wrongdoing and managed to get armed weapons banned in California by a Republican governor.

The panthers did a fair amount of wrong-doing themselves. But two wrong-doing don't = a right-doing. There biggest wrong-doing was rape (Brother Eldridge loving raping and wrote a best-seller about it. White people loved it. White society made him do it, by the way) and being too male-centric.

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I would second the Black Panthers. Not in the way mentioned above, but by the fact that they more or less won the argument.

The deck was stacked against them. There was a powerful Black Church and Civil Rights movement they did not like or agree with. They were a small minority in a small minority. And they decided to do a whole lot of stupid things. Challenging the dominant (and from time to time, mildly violent) community with guns in hand? You have to admire the courage. Or something. Align with North Korea? Moscow? Beijing? Algeria? Well that didn't work out.

But they still won. Like the North Vietnamese they may have lost every battle but they won the war. Even most Whites accepted their arguments on the whole. There would be no BLM without them.

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Stewart Brand and his Whole Earth Catalog. He is incorporated by association in the Mother of All Demos, but he deserves recognition all by himself.

Also, the great music of 1968 was not limited to Bob Dylan and the Beatles. The quality of popular music then was astonishing, at least compared to now.

Carving out an arbitrary year on an iterative expression like music is of course problematic. But 1968 was pretty damn remarkable for rock music.

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Yes, and a variety of what were then countercultural ideas that became mainstream, in some cases soon (environmentalism, feminism) in some cases after decades (gay rights and marriage, marijuana legalization). I'm not sure which names to associate with those movements.

Also Miranda warnings. Sesame Street. Jane Goodall. Japanese car and motorcycle imports to the US. Arguably the ABA's 3-point field goal (like Gregg Popovich I do not like it, but most fans are).

Oh, and Joel Silver who was just a high school student in 1968 but invented -- or in reality, made the first permanent lasting invention of -- Ultimate frisbee. And he later became a producer of (largely schlocky) Hollywood blockbusters.

"Also, the great music of 1968 was not limited to Bob Dylan and the Beatles. The quality of popular music then was astonishing, at least compared to now."

ISTM if you're going to put Dylan on the list then you need to add Phil Ochs as well.

I realize the Left has largely succeeded in airbrushing him out of the history books but his music is IMHO far superior to Dylan's--to say nothing of the comparison between their voices--and he had at least as nuanced a politics--it's quite clear from both his music and his other public statements that he was always somewhat uneasy with the relentlessly pro-Communist pieties of the Left.

You should watch "Inside Llewyn Davis". Though, Phil really was not Dylan, and knew it, and that is part of what drove his retreat into 'authentic' rock from the '50s, only to subvert himself quickly by parodying that "act" at the same time.

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Vaclav Havel? Milan Kundera?

In France, De Gaulle shares some credit with the leftists that 1968 was a year with very little political violence (zero death), and that the following years (1969-1980) were too. It was not the same in some other western countries.

Havel yes, but perhaps 1968 Kundera does not look good in retrospect.

Why not?

Retrospectively, Kundera's early acceptance (welcoming?) of the post-Spring settlement seems a little lacking in long-run foresight and courage, at least by comparison to Havel.

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Maybe add Alexander Dubcek too. When Czechoslovakia gained independence from the Soviet Union and Dubcek was elected head of the assembly, I was surprised and gratified that he was still alive.

Also Andrei Sakharov, who became openly dissident in 1968.

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Raymond Aron. Right then, right always.

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Not sure how close 1964 is to 1968, but the person that was most obviously thoroughly vindicated from that era was Barry Goldwater. Who else ascended so much from personal crushing defeat in the 1960s to multi-decade ideological dominance among a generation that is indeed embarrassed by the 60s and probably doesn't even know who Goldwater is? And, of course, no serious person today believes in retrospect that conceding the Cold War to the Communists would have been the right thing to do. On the academic side, Milton Friedman is the obvious choice for one whose status changed from fringe to dominant.

It would have been easy in 1968 to have been focused on the riots, upheaval, etc., just as today. We now realize in retrospect that those were just symptoms and that the real disease that needed curing was the abandonment of the ideological underpinnings of America's exceptional Founding. The parallels to today are indeed striking. The real question today is who will emerge over the coming decades as the 21st Century Goldwater-Reagan on the political side and, on the academic side, who will most preserve serious economic scholarship against the infection of PC/wokeness?

Not only serious economic scholarship is in danger. Almost all fields of scholarship, except perhaps hard science like math and physics and CS, is in the same great danger from the same infection.

As an aside, I want to say that for me, the situation today looks more than 1868 in China than 1968 in the US or the rest of the western world : the combination of PC/woke with the closure of universities and libraries (under the pretext of a virus) is pretty similar, of course without the same level of violence
and repression.

meant "1968 in China" obviously, and more generally the cultural revolution.

" math and physics and CS"

You forgot biotechnology which is less forgivable considering today's world.

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Perhaps not mathematics - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/black-lives-matter-oxford-will-decolonise-degrees-c7dkhbtnd

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And, of course, no serious person today believes in retrospect that conceding the Cold War to the Communists would have been the right thing to do.

I disagree. I think the dominant narrative in academia is that the US should have lost. They were the bad guys. Walter Lacquer has some nice quotes somewhere about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even here we can see people blaming all the deaths in Vietnam on the US rather than the Marxists who, you know, have a small track record of mass murder.

I think that it is close to the dominant narrative in Hollywood too. Certainly on Hollywood's Left - and it may be getting stronger.

Well he DID say "no SERIOUS person"...

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" Even here we can see people blaming all the deaths in Vietnam on the US"

Dang Vietnamese, how dare they fight back against invaders from 8,000 miles away.

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Operation Rolling Thunder and the Bay of Pigs invasion hardly represented conceding the Cold War to Communists. There was a bipartisan consensus at the time that favored not conceding any territory to Communist regimes -- this was hardly a lonely stand taken only by Goldwater.

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"...and if memory serves (please correct me if I am wrong) Milton Friedman..."

You were reading Friedman in Newsweek when you were 7? 10?

I haven't found any source of his columns other than from the rent seekers that sell access to old magazines which they lock down with copyright monopoly.

As I recall, his was pro-volunteer argument, not anti-draft, were at least as early as 1970, certainly when Nixon was elected.

At the time, I found his argument to be better than both Galbraith and Samuelson which were the three on rotation. But something seemed wrong, but it took decades to understand what.

As a physicist, engineer, computer programmer, I loved his style of argument. Like a very correct program written to produce the wrong result. Which happens when the wrong question is asked, the wrong problem statement is made.

He was a very positive voice in an era when most people spoke very positively, optimistically. Even with all the deaths, leaders spoke positively, even in disagreement.

Even the sound of my boomer generation was positive, even as the words in the anthems of our time were critical. Note, the words were written by those with personal experience of WWII, and the turmoil of its aftermath.

1969 was probably the pinnacle.

DARPA was giving kids access to computers. Microwaves, rather Radar ranges, were reaching homes. Plastics were newly available everywhere. A personal motor vehicle was no longer a dream. The Moon was in reach.

And most young men danced to Young Man Blues with joy and abandon.

Nixon would bring in a new broom of doom and gloom that focused on the negatives of the past decades.

Iron was no longer king because of aluminum and plastics.
Cities were horrible because the suburbs were so much better.

And Friedman was arguing Keynesian capitalism was producing too much while failing to satisfy workers who simply wanted more requiring them to strike for higher wages which managers focused on output granted, instead of focusing on limiting production to generate scarcity profits.

Note, Friedman provided the means to kill nuclear, embraced by left and right. See, Keynesian capitalism was happy to pay billions to workers to build massive long lived capital, but Milton saw that as a trap that required utilities and their regulators to market heavily to get workers to consume much more electricity, but that required union action to hike wages to pay for all the added electricity produced.

But Friedman didn't attack consumers for wanting to consume more, but instead attacked the big government that enabled, and drove business to make consumers consume so much more than they needed.

I see 1969 as optimistic, and a bit naive about what could be solved soon. It was like a thousand Elon Musks with big ideas in a sea of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. There were so many Jeff Bezos then.

Then they got squashed by the politics Nixon enabled and then by Reagan.

1969 produced the people who would disrupt so much even while conservatives were trying to halt change. If conservatives can control and restrict to maximize profits, then they oppose it. Thus Sears was the conservative solution, but Amazon was the progressive disruptor.

Other than the speed of delivery, mail order delivery was as important to me in 1969 as it was in 2009. Today, it's probably as important as it was to my peer in 1920.

Friedman wasn't mainstream til 70's(Phin Donahue/Free to Choose/Newsweek).....+1 re Sean Lemass..overcame Dev/brought Eire into Europe/20th century.

sorry now wondering if Lemass inclusion is re forshadowing seculuarization of state? don't think that was readily apparent in mid 60's Ireland

Milton didn’t end the draft, fragging ended draft and hastened the end.

Libertarians who think change comes from the top are raging statist.

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"DARPA was giving kids access to computers. Microwaves, rather Radar ranges, were reaching homes."

Well, I was born in 1959 to a tolerably well-off family in NYC and I certainly don't remember seeing readily-accessible computers or microwave ovens until the mid to late seventies.

My first experience with computers was in high school, and that was a remote terminal sharing access to a mainframe.

And I didn't encounter microwaves until college, and even then, they were something that you found in a dorm common room, not an individual possession.

In those days if you wanted to heat something up in your room you used a hot-plate or an immersion heater--both super-dangerous fire hazards and I suspect the real reason microwaves were deployed by the university administration.

Hahaha. All correct. You must have lived then.

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John Prine

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Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968. Changed the nature of science fiction film and still one of greatest of all time.

Miles Davis, shifts gears: Filles de Kilimanjaro, 1968, In a Silent Way, 1969.

+1 how the heck did TC miss either of these?

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2001 - Great but pretentious and too much about the music and cinematography.
Roddenbury and ST was more about the people and finally making something that was aspirational in counter-point to all of the Dark/ agena-ish/ heavy SF that was prevalent. It was harder than one thought to be optimistic and compelling without be flighty and shallow (though Kirk does hurt us). Roddenbury would have been more influential in creating the Shuttle program and NASA of the 70s/ 80s, if at all, than 2001.

"...Dark/ agena-ish/ heavy SF that was prevalent."

Prevalent when? It's my impression that that came after Blade Runner (1982).

Blade Runner was from 1968 but still after Star Trek

1968 Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

I wonder if PKD was really influenced by anyone...

A lot of what he wrote seems pretty sui generis. I mean everyone could’ve been excited by x, and he might not even have heard of it. But I’m speculating.

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Changed the nature of science fiction film and still one of greatest of all time.

All theme, no characters, little story.

No “human” characters, you mean. HAL 9000 is one of the iconic scifi figures and is why we have Alexa and Siri today.

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Why Lemass? The opening of the economy in Ireland in the 1960s was drawn up by TK Whitaker. It's true Lemass was open to a rethink by then, but tariffs were his idea in the first place, he had the same autarchical leanings as Dev. In fact, he presented the plan as a civil-service rather than government idea to save face on the about-turn.

https://www.drb.ie/essays/changing-direction

They were drawn up a bit earlier, people knew what to do, but they didn't have the political heft to do it, until the EEC made economic reform possible (essentially, you had to get farm subsidies so kids could leave the land and the old farmers wouldn't starve).

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Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland: His version of "All Along the Watchtower" beats Dylan's by a mile.

No. No. Dude. Prog Rock was the epitome of all that was Jimi Hendrix's intention, but lack of group ambition and marvellous 'art/ symphony rock' - the absolute high point of all things artistic: late 60s. Though JH was a master on his own, he was in the shadow of the grandiosity and showmanship and ultimate timelessness of such acts as Floyd, kCrimson, etc...

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Evaluating the 1960s based on the image enhanced or tarnished by a few celebrities is absurd. There were two issues that resulted in mass protests, civil rights and the Vietnam War. The issues overlapped in the sense that young black men were disproportionately drafted and sent to Vietnam, young white men disproportionately qualifying for the student deferment; it wasn't until the student deferment was ended in 1968, when the lottery replaced the draft, that campus protests spiked and the parents of the young white men who had the misfortune of a low lottery number and were being drafted, were forced to leave college, and were being sent to Vietnam that public opinion turned against the war. I've wondered why Bill Barr, who supported the war and heckled war protestors while at Columbia in 1968, wasn't drafted. Did he have a high lottery number? I might find hypocrites like Bill Barr and Dick Cheney as having come out of the 1960s with their reputations in tatters for avoiding military service while supporting the war, but they went on to become Vice President and Attorney General.

" it wasn't until the student deferment was ended in 1968, when the lottery replaced the draft, that campus protests spiked and the parents of the young white men who had the misfortune of a low lottery number and were being drafted, were forced to leave college, and were being sent to Vietnam that public opinion turned against the war."

Public opinion turned against the war by early 1968, not late 1968 if this is correct:

"By early February 1968, a Gallup poll showed only 35 percent of the population approved of Johnson’s handling of the war and a full 50 percent disapproved (the rest had no opinion)."

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In 68 the Democrats were in power, but Nixon got elected in November. This was considered a major realignment election, as it marked the end of Democratic dominance in the South.

It looks like the Democrats are now heavily favored to win in November. It will be interesting to see if this turns into a realigning election as well.

This would be a fun topic for Tyler Cowen to discuss as well. What will be the next big political realignment? What will be the new coalitions? Will there be a new major party to replace the Republicans or Democrats?

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>It looks like the Democrats are now heavily favored to win in November.

Hey, look everyone! This dope is reposting headlines from summer 2016!

I know -- that was harsh but fair.

Trump wins easily in 2020, have a great 4.5 years!

I wasn't expressing a preference, but it's a fact that betting markets have Biden solidly ahead of Trump. I was a Tulsi supporter, not exactly a Biden fan.

"...not exactly a Biden fan." Hey! He's going to make a great Senator, come on!

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...when the senile guy beats his daddy like a rented mule

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Too many people forget there was a third candidate in 1968: George Wallace, who actually won several states, the last time a third party candidate did so. Nixon did not win because he got the Southern segregationist vote. He won because he positioned himself as the Sensible Centrist between the feckless Democrats and the radical Right.

+1, good post

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Not very famous, not famous at all then - but for having a certain questing spirit associated with the 1960s, and doing something much more with it than most: Doug Tompkins.

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If I remember well, Paul McCartney used to smoke pot. At some point he quit as example for his grandchildren. Anyway, minus points for an almost harmless hobby and a going clean story?

By the way, he's almost 80 and quite lucid, is marijuana that bad?

"...is marijuana that bad?"

Yes!

hahahahah, great selection of nickname =)

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Richard Feynman.

Also, Frank Zappa, who was ahead of his time on pretty much everything.

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RF was a Good mind and Great Teacher, but culture-affirming science/ society/ rationality, I would prefer Carl Sagan for late 60s.

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Feynman peaked in the early fifties.

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Seiji Ozawa

A long illustrious career on many continents. Authored a fascinating book interview "Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami" (New York: Knopf, 2016)

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Cesar Chavez? Farm workers' conditions improved from -10 to -1. Some detractors say his tactics motivated further automation of agriculture reducing the number of jobs in agriculture. Albeit, in our times automation for the sake of automation is good. Anyway, a curious figure from the 1960s.

Chavez was also an opponent of both legal and illegal immigration, observing that the essential unending supply of immigrant labor undercut existing farm workers.

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Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Donald Knuth, John Lewis, Jackie Stewart, Tom Stoppard, Agnès Varda.

No, no, no, no, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, definitely no.

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Fred Rogers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObHNWh3F5fQ

Absolutely not. Rogers was a disconcerting gitchy-goo character. The young benefit from having mothers and fathers, not mothers and parody mothers in cardigans and hush puppies.

must be difficult finding good looking canadians
marshal media is the message mcLuhan also makes us gag

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2nd Raymond Aron, add Roger Scruton & Josef Ratzinger men who correctly understood the implications of 1968

Scruton yes, and another who understood Eastern Europe and totalitarianism: Tom Stoppard.

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Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Olympics Black Power Salute.
Jan Palach - Czech self-immolation.

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What was it about Ayn? Her insistence that a fetus has no rights whatsoever; trumped into nothingness by the mother's right to pursue happiness?

That's right. Anti-Abortion Rationality. Common Sense. Individualism-psycho-centred-Heroism. There is no God. There is no Soul. You are a complex bio-centred machine with absolute and utter control of your parts and function and future for the duration of your finite and bio-mechanical existence. Santa Claus. Jesus. and The Tooth Fairy all emotional-support puppets that you needed to get over by age 8. That being said, many have need of such 'support 'to get them through their mis-guided adolescent/ community values. Ayn was an over-the-top zealot but had the right thoughts.

No, the question at hand has nothing to do with God. The question is whether the complex bio-centered machine inside the womb that conceived that machine (without its consent I might add) has any rights before it takes its first gulp of outside air.

Rand said: no. Nada. Nicht. Never. Not even a little bit. And she said so emphatically. And she was busying saying so in 1968.

In the context of which public figures from that year have survived the test of time, I would say her unilateral dismissal of any rights whatsoever to fetuses (in favor of the mother's right to do whatever the hell she wants) fails that test.

The tiny clump of cells that will someday turn into a full bio-machine has no rights. It's just a clump of cells.

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I think Rand was done in by Buckley when he said of Atlas Shrugged "I had to flog myself to read it"

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https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/02/19/1968-project-muhammad-ali-vietnam-war/334759002/

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Tom Wolfe crushed it.

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On the minus side: the alarmists: Prophet of doom : Paul Ehrlich, the population bomb (1968); the club of Rome.

And yet, the triumph of the population growth optimists doesn't seem to have been accompanied by as much joy as one might have supposed.

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Yes, you are wrong about Milton Friedman. The University of Chicago conference on the draft, at which he helped change a lot of minds, was in 1966.

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Well me and the rest of us in front of the Pentagon in October 1967 and various other places. Roughly speaking, all the college students were right 1967-9.

Mayor Daley's cops; meanwhile... not so much

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Among feminist authors I might suggest Ursula Le Guin for _The Left Hand of Darkness_.

I would put up Canada's Margaret Atwood for being more feminist-authentic than SciFi-dismissing Le Guin, anytime, especially with The Edible Woman around that time.

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Yo Yo Ma
A childhood prodigy first invited to Marlboro Music Festival at age 16 in 1972; what a career. Cello enthusiasts who enjoy feeling the music while they listen may enjoy the streaming rebroadcast of Bach's cellos works on Medic.tv in July. The mike feels like it's inside the cello.

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Dick Cavett, Shirley Chisolm. John Kerry just for throwing his medals over the White house fence. Ray Charles. Above all for any era you may choose Muhammed Ali.

+1 Ali

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Kerry has repeated demonstrated that he is a pretentious fool, albeit quite successful at moving himself up the social/economic ladder by marriage.

Perhaps his signature accomplishment was deploying James Taylor to Paris a few years ago to perform a concert, in response to one of the terrorist attacks there.

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Good luck getting any traction with Sailer. He is descriptive but not prescriptive.

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Those who shut their mouths when something should be said are cowards and deserve to be remembered as such.

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Kudos to Tyler for staying away from politics, but all the Democratic candidates look better today than in 1968 (at least in my eyes) McCarthy, Kennedy, Humphrey, McGovern. But I suppose that's not hard given we are facing a Trump/Biden election.

Kubrick's reputation keeps rising. His films didn't review well at first--they made reviewers uncomfortable. Now we are beginning to understand what he was doing.

Curious as to why Tyler mentions McCartney's drug use but ignores the consumption of alcohol by others. And if drugs helped to give us Sgt. Pepper?

Kudos to Tyler for staying away from politics, but all the Democratic candidates look better today than in 1968 (at least in my eyes)

One reason, among others, that no one should put you in charge of a Chia pet.

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GOAT. Ali, without question.

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Ayn Rand, yes as a continuing gateway to some aspects of Libertarianism; but a big NO as a novelist.

She has no LITERARY impact on subsequent writers or readers.

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I don't understand this characterization of Pynchon. Yes, he's considered a bit reclusive, but he has continued publishing and his later works are quite long compared to the early ones. I liked The Crying of Lot 49 a lot...but he has stuck around and said quite a lot. (He was on The Simpsons! Some recluse...)

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Barnard's 1st heart transplant was in 1967. OTOH, I guess that unless someone has/had a cult/fan following, they don't figure in TC's world view. Also in 1967 electroweak theory, in 1968 Dark Matter & experimental evidence of quarks, but definitely we should focus on Dylan and Rand. As usual on MR, what "looks good in retrospect" means is completely arbitrary. Dylan withdrew pretty much from public life after his '65 crash and was not much active in 1968.

67-69 was Basement Tapes ,Nashville skyline & Carnegie hall

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Robert Heinlein (Stranger In a Strange Land, Glory Road, and Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) and Frank Herbert (Dune) deserve mention for sci-fi.

Mike Nichols for movies.

How could you forget Stan Lee and Jack Kirby? Almost all of the Marvel characters come from the 1960s (Spider Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Avengers, Black Panther, Daredevil, Dr. Strange). Those characters are still with us. But who really cares any more about Norman Mailer or Susan Sontag?

There was something about the hippie generation that they left behind cultural influences but no intellectual influences.

Also in the Sci-Fi category:

1968 Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

1969 - Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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Tony Bennett

From Wiki
"... in October 1962 he sang on the initial broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Also in 1962, Bennett released his recording of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", a decade-old but little-known song originally written for an opera singer."

……

"A firm believer in the Civil Rights Movement, Bennett participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.[53] Years later he would continue this commitment by refusing to perform in apartheid South Africa."

His collaborations with Bill Evans remain classics.

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Yes! Tony Bennett is a legend and you are correct about his collaborations with Bill Evans.

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Wow what a terrible list.

Rarely have I lost more respect for someone so quickly as I did for Professor Cowen, reading that list of phonies and rich dishonest celebrities.

I would not have thought that, with respect to at least 8 of the 12, any thoughtful person could still be deceived.

Just did a standalone comment below that this post felt momentous to me and this makes me feel even better about it. I'm late Gen X fwiw. Since this is about generations. Right on the edge of the Millennials but I'm not a millennial. Very solidly in the last dregs of solidly, purely Gen X.

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Leonard Bernstein
Composer, conductor, innovator, social justice warrior, and from Wiki.

"Bernstein and his wife held the event seeking to raise awareness and money for the defense of several members of the Black Panther Party against a variety of charges, especially the case of the Panther 21. The New York Times initially covered the gathering as a lifestyle item, but later posted an editorial harshly unfavorable to Bernstein following generally negative reaction to the widely publicized story. This reaction culminated in June 1970 with the appearance of "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's", an essay by journalist Tom Wolfe featured on the cover of the magazine New York. The article contrasted the Bernsteins' comfortable lifestyle in one of the world's most expensive neighborhoods with the anti-establishment politics of the Black Panthers. It led to the popularization of "radical chic" as a critical term."

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1969 = Buckley vs Vidal Television encounter

Defense of police and defense of right to protest

Watch the interview, read the accumulated apologies and defenses.

Buckley wisdomed over the years - ability to learn and change is admirable.

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I don't have much to say other than this post feels momentous to me somehow.

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