Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Liberals then and now

What's different now...

It seems that the practice of politics immensely from the days when I was young and we used to sit around and argue who was better, who was smarter, who had the better appeals, who we could trust to get us through the next century.

Argument and debate was very much a part of our lives then and I think they were much better at it. Of Course, we had dozens of newspapers and equal numbers of magazines of every stripe to choose from, much more emphasis on the news and commentary. And there were books about everything. We didn't have TV in those days but we had radio. And there was news and commentary by professional newspeople who had cut their eye teeth in he great wars of the day. The old saying was that if you didn’t pay attention to history, you would be doomed to repeat it.

There was a lot going on in those days—even before I took to the scene. Many of my friends were older than I. They talked about the loyalists vs. the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, ideologies, Mensheviks vs. Bolsheviks, communism vs. democracy. And they knew their stuff. As a kid, I would sit around and listen to them talk about a time that was a mystery to me. By the time, I got to college and hung around the progressives, the issues were entirely different. There was a war in Korea then, there was MacCarthyism, there was Nixon and the stories he had contrived Helen Gahagan Douglas that ruined her career, there was Whitaker Chambers and Nixon’s discovery of the secret microfilm in the pumpkin, there was Eisenhower as a weak president who advised us about the Military Industrial Complex and spent the rest of his time playing golf and trying to ignore Nixon.

It was a time of polarization too. I remember my dad talking about hunting down the ‘commies’ and my aunt chastising me for reading that Pinko paper, the Daily Post which carried liberal writers like Murray Kempton and Max Lerner, names most of us don’t have a clue about today. But it was to be expected when Murdock bought this fine old paper and transformed it into the rag it is today. There were the liberal papers in New York’s Greenwich Village, the Realist, the beginning of the Village Voice whose editor is still writing vigorously about liberal issues today, there was the start of the Beats later on in the generation. (Jack Kerouac lived in my old neighborhood)…. I liked to go up to the upper west side of Manhattan which was always a hotbed for discussions of all kinds and hang around the cafes and coffee shops and listen to every point of view discussed. And even the radicals had a sense of humor which is sadly missing in most of the discussions today.

Strange as it may seem, some of the children of the most liberal left wingers turned into the absolute conservatives of today….The Krystals and their ilk.

Liberalism was turned into a bad word. My family thought that there was little hope for my views. I was living the life of a Bohemian painting and arguing the liberal cause from my base down on West Tenth Street, one of the most interesting blocks in the world. My next store superintendent was a Movie Star. Around the corner, holed up in the deli, was Dave Van Ronk, called the Mayor of Greenwich Village, and the teacher of Bob Dylan.

Dave and I came from the same old neighborhood and we had drunk beer out of paper bags and did the Do Wop of the fifties…Now, Dave before most of the rest had committed himself to folk and took to educating the rest of the world through music and guitar..

Those were good times. One of my good friends was one of the first Westerners to travel from Paris to Beijing by train. Another had slept in the mountains with Che and Castro. (I had started my first book in Miami at the time and it took me forty years to complete...)

There were actors, writers, musicians, artists and people of every description and color getting along splendidly at a time when the rest of the world, it seemed, were polarized in little ideological clumps…. It was shortly afterwards that I went off to Korea to save the world only to stay there long enough for Vietnam to happen and for people to decide that it was we, the GI’s, who were responsible for everything that went wrong in the world.

An interesting time to be alive. But at the time, me and my buddies were more interested in coming home, getting married, and putting a roof over our heads and maybe even finishing our educations...…

Les Aaron - Self Publishing - Free
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This includes Final Warning--the Environmental thriller that is happening now, All Fall Down, The Lottery, All the Good Men, The Costume Party, The Brooklyn Bagel Blow-Out, A Failure of Will, The Arrogance of Power (new), the Iman Directive (new) and the non-fiction primer--A Blueprint for Winning: Taking Back the White House....
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