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August 06, 2011


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Nathan Melin

and after a decade of despair its weird to listen to the radio. songs like party rock and artists like pit bull and black eyed peas where every chorus encourages you to put your hands up. Im not knocking these tunes but what is with all the escapism? Granted escapism was real big in the 80's too... It might be nice though if pop got a little more honest.

Mike Ballard

The 70s were part of the 60s until the Vietnam War ended in '75. Nixon ended the draft and the individual wind went out of the sails of THE MOVEMENT. The underground press died in a wave of 'hipitalism'--the residual can be found these days in 'The Onion'. Meanwhile, THE MOVEMENT trailed off into liberalism and the death of a thousand leninist sects. The liberals expressed their disengagement by electing Jimmy Carter, President. We'd wake up at the end of the decade with Jimmy's nod to CIA to start up the fundamentalist religious opposition to left coup rule in Afghanistan. And then, along came Anderson to help Reagan over the top to the 80s. THE MOVEMENT never grasped the importance of Marx's critique of wage-labour nor of anything much more than the derivative marxist forms of the New Left.

Chris Ruth

Any recommendations with the books?

Jodi Dean

Chris: Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade; Jefferson Cowie, Stayin' Alive (the first is from the top--presidents, trade policy, economics; the second is labor, culture, elections).

Mike: that's a version, but the nuances are also interesting, say, labor unrest, wage and price freezes, Nixon's courting of labor and amplification of cultural politics, the economic damage done under Carter.

Nathan--good point.It's like there is a focus on right now and immediate pleasure, maybe because there is no future


I"m glad to come across this-- I just tweeted http://bit.ly/ocBVaA "I think there's a cultural shift that occurred 1978- '87 that is substantially underdiscussed. @umairh @AriCostello @dougald"

Last Year, I read Frances Wheen's Strange Days Indeed, about the paranoia & confusion of the 70's-- I had forgotten about just how apocalyptic and conspiratorial they were.

Part of what is ironic is that the peak of Marxism in both Germany and the US, after 1945, was 1972-'75. The complaint was that the rich/poor gap was too wide. That may have been true in those years, but it was smaller then than it has been since. In both the US and Germany, the marxist movement shrank and the Green movement grew. I think that was a good thing, inasmuch as a lot of the "class analysis" and prescriptions for what to do were nonsensical. But the assumption that "we are all middle class" turned out to be nonsensical as well.

Thanks for posting this.


Second comment: Just read your bio-- hadn't realized you'd thought about this so much. I'm on minute 7 of your talk at http://vimeo.com/27327373 -- I think I differ on your thoughts of the Transition Movement, though I like your critique of participation-ism

In praising the communism of the 70s, I wonder if you've thought about the praise/ignorance of the incompetence and murderous nature of Stalin & Mao.

Are you on twitter?

Jenna Ledford

I have been following your blog for a little over a year now and thoroughly enjoy it. Your comment about TV shows in particular caught my eye. I teach communication at the college level and I presented my students this chart on income distribution: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph. My students would just not buy it. They claimed it was skewed statistics. Though privileged as college students, I teach at one of the most affordable public universities in the state with a mostly middle-class and working class student population. A large population of them are from or at least exposed to the actualities of living in a lower socioeconomic bracket. Since then I have been picking up on things in the media that would validate my students' opinions that there still exists a thriving middle class. I have paid particular attention to television shows. Thus, I found your comment on 1970s television showing more working class people telling. Do any shows in particular from that era stand out for you?

Jodi Dean

Jenna: on the tv shows--All in the Family, One Day at a Time, Sanford and Son, Good Times, Alice. It's interesting to recall that a show set in the Depression was also big in the 70s, the Waltons.

It's hard to know what to do with students who won't consider statistics. It's a mentality, though, all too common in the era of climate change denial. One way to deal with it might be to try to find some statistics from a conservative group and see how they compare. Or, maybe to have students look themselves at the Bureau of Labor Statistics or Congressional Budget office.

SmithMillCreek--I am on twitter, but not much--Jodi7768. I don't think it makes sense to speak of the 'murderous natures' of Stalin and Mao. I'm not sure what counts as evidence of such a nature. On competence and incompetence--Stalin was surely competent in appointing people who would support him in his rise to power; he also seemed competent at eliminating opponents. Yet, this also put the USSR in a terrible position prior to WWII (decimating the upper echelons of the military seems really short-sighted). Both Stalin and Mao were remarkably successful at industrializing enormous, previously backwards countries. This also was done at enormous cost of human life. Is that a measure of incompetence or a wager that many don't think was worth the cost in human lives or some combination of these and other factors?

I haven't read the book you mentioned, although I should probably look for it. In the US, the period 1972-1975 is marked by more than a complaint regarding the gap between rich and poor. The anti-war movement, among many other movements, is huge. At the same time, unions are facing internal conflicts that involve quality of life questions.

Xan Cassiel

Adding to your list of shows, there were the working-class, blatantly non-high-tech cop shows (Barney Miller, Baretta and Colombo with his rickety car), Welcome Back Kotter and Chico and the Man, (set in the same neighbourhood as Sanford and Son, Watts). The thing that strikes me about these shows is the changing demographics of tv that more reflects the country as a whole - blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Puerto Rican Jews, single parents, etc.. There was also Fat Albert, which, along with Sanford and Son makes two shows where a junk yard plays a prominent role - literally living off the scraps of society. Anyway, I have some books to read about the 70s. The politics of the time have escaped me, but I grew up in front of the tv in the seventies and it really affected me and my views on race and class (I believe in a good way), more than I had noticed until I put some thought into it.

Jodi Dean

Omg--my list is totally inadequate. These are great additions (I wonder why I forgot the cop shows, particularly Barney miller?). And what about Taxi? That was a seventies show, right? anyway, thanks for the comment.

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