Whether so called agents of change and ”radicals” of the Woodstock generation were lulled into a state of passiveness and psuedo individualization by pop culture seems probable.The illusion and reality of Woodstock seemed opposed to each other. A purported attack on middle class culture and simultaneous glorification of its values. on the one hand, a status quo, but also a tendency to romanticize and politicize a dysfunctional symbol like Woodstock, thus diverting attention from its potential dangers.
Woodstock is a cultural export of ”fun and music” that reinforces western societies worst imperialist and racist excesses, ”It had ensnared the entire population of the West in a web of consumerism, celebrity and false values. The true revolutionary element had been assimilated, seduced into a hollow culture of things and images.” ( Dreams of Revolution, Wilber Caldwell)
In part, Woodstock was what French situationist Guy Debord would term the ”Society of the Spectacle” where the festival represented the sanctity of illusion and modern life as an immense accumulation of spectacles. In the American tradition Woodstock was the biggest and the best of this genre. Woodstock music was conformist, easily identified and followed the pattern of an easily consumed aesthetic form ,differentiated by surface differences akin to choosing between Camel and Kent cigarettes for example.
Woodstock seemed to bring to fruition and reincarnate the idealist American Transcendentalism movement of the mid 1800′s. Lead by Thoreau and Emerson the New Thought Movement questioned established cultural form through a perspective forged from an integration of German idealism and English romanticism.
”It was the destructive criticism of the primary elements of American culture that inspired the 1960,s counter-culture revolution. As the name implies this false ‘spiritual awakening’ by the idealist Boomers in their coming of age years was an effort to transform the prevailing culture into an inverted or opposite kind of culture that is a necessary prelude to social revolution”
Critics of Woodstock see a similarity between the training and indoctrination of the Hitler Youth and their submersion in a toxic mix of nationalism and romanticism with the hippie and counterculture movement of the 1960′s swept away with waves of Marxist-Leninist ideology. ”Whoever has the youth has the future” ( A. Hitler) The symbolic and iconized Volkswagen Beetle was a mid level Nazi staff car in a previous incarnation. The brownshirts and the tie-dies had similar predispositions to acquire an identity through the past of least resistance.
”Woodstock represents still another adventure for consciousness for moderns, free from any inner check or law. Woodstock 1994, in this respect, augurs that final phase in the modern age when romanticism slips into nihilism; when an old morality gives way to a new morality fashioned by ‘ terrible simplifiers ‘ promising a terrestial paradise… the neo-pagans of Woodstock are mired in nothingness and personify nothingness.”( George Panichas
A modern day tribalism where all the open sores of modernity could be revealed as an unfolding crisis. A crisis characterized by nihilism and a hatred of civilization. Rage and anger under the veneer of peace and love. The Woodstock generation represents the elevation of the symbolic, mythologic and folkloric to an art form. A hollowing out from within by eager Gauleiters of culture preaching a creed of modernity.
” The uniforms may be different but some of the motives and gestures are confluent, particularly when examining the outward elements of eros, irrationalism, violence, and frenzy embraced by a youth culture in search of a new dynamic and a new social order. In this respect the distance from the Third Reich to the New Age is not as far as we would like to believe, In a century of disorder, the Hitler in ourselves inevitably assumes new guises.”