You might be surprised to hear this about me, but I consider myself a revolutionary; not a bomb throwing, Uzi totting, placard waving, slogan shouting, manifesto writing revolutionary; but a revolutionary, just the same. What makes me a revolutionary, then? Only that I am always plotting, often fomenting, and sometimes initiating a revolt against the Establishment. I love nothing better than to subvert the dominant paradigm.
What kind of revolution do I seek? I’m the kind of revolutionary that traces his lineage all the way back to the French Bohemians of the 1800s, the Anarchists of the 1900s, through the Beats, and up to the Hippies. Many claim earlier notables such as William Blake, Martin Luther, St Francis, and none other than Socrates and Jesus Christ, Himself, agitated for this same revolution. If those worthies accepted my kinship, I would not deny it.
If I had to call myself something, I’d call myself a hippie, albeit an aging one, because that’s where I started. You might not recognize me as a hippie today, since I cut my hair, trimmed my beard, and wore out my tie dye. I no longer say things like groovy, far out, right on, and peace out, man. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever did. I counsel people off drugs rather than counsel them to take them.
If that’s what you think makes a person a hippie, you don’t understand the movement. The revolution was never just about hair style and life style; and the drugs were also supposed to be a means to an end, not the end, itself. This image of the dirty, bizarrely dressed, long-haired, weed-totting hippie trivializes the movement. If that’s all you know about hippies, then you either never heard their message, or you never took it seriously.
So, what is the message that we hippies have been trying to lay on you all these years; and the Beats, Anarchists, Bohemians, and early Protestants, Franciscans, Christians, and philosophers before them? Only that the world is controlled by a very few, for the interests of the very few; but the very few are not where it’s really at. If you believe the lies the very few indoctrinate you into, then you will serve them; but if you are guided by a spirit within yourself, then you will be in accord with a power greater than yourself.
I know that talking about an inner spirit is vague, flakey, and not a little bit woo-woo; but I can’t help it. Spiritual things are hard to name, and they don’t come when called. The Establishment, that is, the interests of the very few, has taken advantage of this and discredited the movement. Discounting spiritual things, relational things, aesthetic things, and emotional things is part and parcel of its ideology and it’s this ideology that keeps you in the dark, watching flickering shadows, and calling it living.
As far as hippiness goes, I was a latecomer to the movement. Coming of age in 1975, I was a child during the Summer of Love and Woodstock. They had already ended the Draft. By the time I came along, the movement had fragmented, as all groups that empower the individual must. Some hippies became Jesus freaks. Others became second-wave feminists, environmentalists, and gay rights activists. A small cadre went on to develop the Internet. The expand your consciousness crowd attended raves and started calling themselves punks. The ones for whom hippieness was just a hair style, cut their hair. I was a Back-to-the-Lander.
My experiences in the Back-to-the-Land movement will have to wait for another post. I have too much to tell, to tell it now. For today, I just wanted to establish my credentials as having an honest to goodness, bona fide revolutionary past before I describe how I am a revolutionary today.
Most of my present-day revolutionary activities occur in my office when I am with clients and when I do my writing. If you consider this blog my manifesto, then, I guess I am a manifesto-writing revolutionary. I rebel against the Establishment. A therapy session is a fifty-minute, two-person rebellion against the Establishment. But what is the Establishment, you ask? Is it the Military-Industrial Complex? Yes. The big universities? Yes. Parents? Yes. The Corporations? Hell, Yes. But, when you get right down to it, the Establishment is not a thing; it’s a phase; a normal, predictable phase, in which the very thing that freed you, enslaves you.
You can see this in what has happened to the Internet. It began when a few hippy geeks picked the pocket of the Establishment and developed a machine to empower individuals. Put a computer in everyone’s home, and then in everyone’s pocket, and you give them tremendous power to circumvent the authorities. They are then free to develop things and exchange ideas the authorities never thought of and never would have approved. A revolution occurred; but it is this very opening of opportunities that attracts people who seek to control others. I think it’s safe to say that now the Internet, while it continues to be something that empowers individuals, is also a means for the moneyed interests, the Establishment, to pick your pocket, invade your privacy, and boss you around.
Many hippies, quite naturally became Jesus People; and why wouldn’t they? The gentle carpenter of Nazareth, oppressed by the Romans, preaching an inversion of the social order until he was killed by the Establishment is where all the best hippie ideas came from. Once becoming Jesus People, they quite naturally wanted to share these ideas with others and started evangelizing. That’s fine, but when they become Evangelical, another Establishment, they sold out Jesus to gain political power.
You can also see the process in action with drugs. LSD began as a weapon developed by the Military. They put it in the hands of the wrong people: one novelist, Ken Kesey, and one psychiatrist, Timothy Leary, who recognized its potential and, like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, brought it to the people and taught them to use it to expand their minds. The drug did just that; and other drugs: grass, uppers and downers and, later MDMA gave people capabilities that had eluded them before. Having a tool that gives you greater capabilities is a good thing; but like all good things, it’s corruptible and, once it turns bad, it becomes the Establishment. The drugs no longer free you, they make you their slave.
The process is so simple you’ll wonder why it’s not so readily recognized. People are oppressed by the Establishment. Someone steals something from the Establishment that sets everyone free, be it a machine, a gospel, or a chemical compound. Then the establishment steals it back. We follow our new machine, gospel, or chemical compound right back into the Establishment and become slaves again.
My job as a hippie therapist revolutionary is to spot the corruption and call it out. I’m looking for anything that once had enhanced your life, but now limits it. That’s what I call the Establishment. It’s completely political work, but it’s not partisan, for every political party becomes the Establishment. It’s religious work, but non-sectarian, for every religion becomes the Establishment. It’s psychotherapy, but not keeping to a single approach, for any particular school becomes the Establishment. I’m a revolutionary reflective eclectic, but if I ever start to seem oppressive with my revolutionary reflective eclecticism, you’ll know the Establishment has taken me hostage and forced me to speak its lines.