To understand the 1960’s, and the backlash re-establishing order and control, one must look at how profoundly that revolution was. It hit the universities like a sledgehammer. The Government was certain that the whole thing was sponsored by The Red Enemy. But it actually came up from genuine grassroots. The disruption of control by campus rebellion profoundly threatened the purpose of the institutions of higher education. The cattle had stampeded.
Fortunately, the principles of Frederick Taylor and the American Bureaucracy came to the forefront. The roots of the American bureaucracy spread wildly during World War II. Washington changed from a fairly sleepy Federal backwater to the nerve center of the free world, in its own opinion.
Organized counterrevolution was necessary. Things had to be done, supplies allocated, troops and materiel moved, by the universities. Did you know that, in warfare, most modern armies need seven support personnel for every one at the battle lines? If you look at the US Military, the ratio of helpers to fighters is well over 10:1.
Of course, those who prudently appreciate safety, warm beds, fresh linens and wholesome foods prefer to work where the security is greatest and the ground unchallenged. Sleeping in mud, eating greasy canned stuff – leave that to the troops! For the bureaucrats in uniform, the greatest surprise and disruption is when a fresh breeze ruffles piles of carefully-stacked paperwork, rather than bullets from snipers, and beheadings from artillery and all sorts of unpleasantness that occurs near the enemy.
In a clever and futile action, Confederate General Jubal Early swept up and came into Washington from the northwest. Thankfully for Washington, it was chock full of high-ranking gentlemen with many medals on their uniforms – you couldn’t miss them! Since they were fresh and unsullied by war, they were able to outrun the enemy in fleeing the pending line of battle.
Washington was again invaded from the South, when the North’s Sixth Army came up out of Virginia for yet another engagement with the enemy. This challenge was nothing new or special for them, except to march through terrified Washington rabbits hopping all about. To the Sixth Army, the landscape was cluttered with bunnies. To the Washington natives, the Sixth Army was a bit shocking – their uniforms were harlequined and nonstandard, their ranks were devoid of esprit, and they smelled of human filth and war. I’m sure that many Washingtonians sent stern memos around, noting that Grant and Meade must have sent up the utter dregs of the Army of the Potomac, these wretches. Actually, there were no better fighters than the Sixth, if the matter was that for fighting.
Wars ended; bureaucracies, never. By nature, they tenaciously hold to their own niches and go on endlessly. It takes an act of Weberian terrorism to murder a bureaucracy, and few in the Nation’s Capital have a stomach for hearing the death throes of a perfectly good institution that has lost its purpose. Weberian slaughter is an act unforgivable, a fratricide worthy of a Claudius, a Brutus.
At the end of World War II, several illogical premises lay about unquestioned after the Great Depression and its end in the Great War. Having poor understanding of employment economics, left over from the Great Depression, every sort of employment involves moving money from one place to another. People who earn that money as income promptly pay taxes; they pay the butcher and baker and so on. The actual details of what they do is immaterial; the important part is that they pump the economy with extra dollars.
Stuffing a middle-man, a paper-shuffler, in the money sluice, well that costs nothing. The same amount of money comes in – but it is partitioned into labor, profit…and now, the middleman. All of these parties spend the money. Who CARES if there’s just one more step in the money sluice? That represents one more job – and one more voter.
Employment of administrators became all the rage. Administrators are, at first, low-cost employees; they need no fancy equipment. They do not incur massive losses (directly.) The dress and etiquette code of the Office is that of the officer, not the loading deck and factory floor, which are the province of the enlisted man. Their nails are clean. Their fatal errors occur without visible mess, and there is no need for clean-up equipment. It is no surprise that the Agency is referred to as…well, the Agency.
Of course, like in Washington, the lowly scrivener puffs up to a General In Charge Of Filing, and medals and awards are exchanged among the crowd of the dashingly brilliant. But that takes a bit of time.
As the Administrator and Bureaucrat became acceptable jobs during the go-go 1950’s, so too the etiquette of advertising and sales. For every heartless, mechanical factory in which the workers toil, there must be a front-man, a smiley face who turns to the customer. He (or she) pretends to care in the name of the entity. The roots of the job of the front man, of course, lay in the decades before, in advertising. The public schools played a vital part. In creating a role for the grammar and high schools, they first existed to make drudges. But too much supply and not enough demand, that’s recession material. Overhaul them from factory-employee-trainers to synthetic-choice-consumers, from supply-side to demand-side creators.
The rise of the Angry Negro was folded into the souffle. From the Israelis who arose after World War II, to the Malcolm X blacks, the elite has always been baffled, and frankly a little hurt, by the amount of wrath that the lower classes seem to ruminate over, for centuries even. Once they are taken somewhat seriously, they shed their affable skin (see Yowsah Economics) and become Angry. They do not step up to the table respectfully.
Tom Wolfe nailed it in Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing The Flak-Catchers. The two stories hold together with a single theme. “Radical Chic” demonstrates how the comfortable and wealthy can put on small productions of rage-as-entertainment, by sponsoring these angry people to act, well, ANGRY. One can offer them EMPATHY – yes, I can FEEL what it’s like to be a poor Black child in Mississippi – I can FEEL it! Here’s ten thousand dollars for your cause! and the pay’s high, so the competition for guerrilla theater roles goes to the most fetchingly angry.
Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, however, defines a phenomenon which has grown to this day. One does not objectify one’s handlers as objects of wrath – or else one will be out of a job, and quickly. The Chic are not there to be threatened personally, after all. Those are the rules of terrorism – one hurts the innocent in order to threaten the inaccessible. All terrorists get that in T101.
An individual must be put forth to TAKE SHIT on behalf of THE COMPANY (agency, government, what-have-you.) The Entertainment Industry has let loose the wrath of Racial Injustice in the Oscars, and all the Radical Chic can thus stand firmly Against Racism, with clenched fists. Biting one’s lower lip helps, too. No doubt there is a press agent – a Flak Catcher, in the pre-obscenity lingo in print – to be screamed at and humiliated by those who Wish To Make A Statement. It is, too, all theater – the Shit Catcher goes home with a bundle of small change in her/his pocket, the smarmy Chic get to go out with a heady buzz of righteousness – everyone’s a winner.
The colleges, too, quickly adapted Guerrilla Theater into their behavior. Agitprop became a healthy way for students to act it all out without getting shot. Focused wrath on The Man became all the rage. Some anxious little beancounter would shuffle back and forth to the sit-in, a Milquetoast to make sure that the Agit didn’t get too far ahead of the Prop, to listen – empathetically! and respond to…Demands! Withdrawal from Vietnam completely deflated the 60’s radicals – after all, the whole purpose of the thing was not to get shot, and they were as aghast as anyone else about Kent State and all that.
The colleges understood during the 1970’s that control of the students lay, paradoxically, in continuing some of the themes of the 1960’s. The students should become high-level consumers, like the Rodeo Drive set – free to dive into a hissy and scream at the clerk who is only making $50 an hour to take shit from the glamorous. For glamor, fame and power in the United States means infantilization, an unwinding of the socialization described by Freud, to become free to do what one wants – eat, shit and do coke wherever one chooses to. The childish consumer is encouraged to scream out any frustration at the nanny. Converting the colleges into entertainment centers was one of the principal duties of the leadership in the 70’s and 80’s. Empowerment! Whatever! Someone will take you very seriously.