Magazine article Tikkun

Clinton and the Superego

Magazine article Tikkun

Clinton and the Superego

Article excerpt

Last night as I was going to bed, I flipped on the TV to see if the Giants had somehow come back in the ninth to defeat the Rockies or had continued their midsummer swoon. To my surprise, on came Barry Melton of the Sixties rock band Country Joe and the Fish, talking about how we in the Sixties generation had been emerging millions-strong to create an alternative culture-a whole new way of looking at the world based on joy, love, and peace-that existed alongside the alienated mainstream culture that had produced the Vietnam war. His point was that we were not interested in political reform in the traditional sense, but in a consciousness-transformation, an emulsification of an alien and artificial world by a more real one.

I forgot about the Giants.

I had stumbled onto Berkeley in the Sixties, a documentary I had seen eight years ago. What struck me this time was how much even I had forgotten of the extraordinary liberatory energy of that time, the upsurge of connection and sudden insight that spread across the world like wildfire and caught me up in a way that decisively and positively shaped my whole existence.

How could I have lost touch with this? And why during the Nineties rather than the more reactionary Eighties?

The answer is: Bill Clinton. While Ronald Reagan and George Bush had represented the assault of my parents' generation against the liberatory energy of the Sixties, they left the continuity of my generation's experience intact. But Bill Clinton "crossed over." He was one of us who decided to become one of them, albeit a liberal version of them. And because Reagan had succeeded (with a lot of help from us) in blunting our generation's movement-energy, there has remained no force capable during the Clinton years of maintaining the visibility of our alternative spiritual reality in public space.

Once Clinton decided to fuse the embodied warmth and informal realness and longing for social justice that he got from being one of us with the globalization of capitalist values, he dissociated our generation's present from our past and left us, the real us who saw the promised land, invisible to each other and even to ourselves.

The irony is that Bill Clinton was elected because the We who elected him hoped he would carry forward the transformative idealism of the Sixties in a more mature and compassionate form. Right after that first election in 1992, we at TIKKUN devoted an issue to that hope under the heading "The Sixties Generation Returns. …

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