Let’s pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening and focus on the things that really matter.
Since it’s the first week of the New Year I’m going to pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening and focus on the lovely, life–affirming things I learned (or relearned) last year. Here are some of them.
1. There is hope for the youth. Yes, I know we think they’re all grisly little Marxist snowflakes who are going to vote in Jeremy Corbyn, but this is largely a product of brainwashing and poor governance, rather than fundamental malignity. In fact, some of the kids I encountered last year have given me great hope: check out, for example, the two teenagers I interviewed for my podcast, Sebastian Shemirani and Steven Edginton. Bright, hard-working, big-hearted and able to absorb and process vast quantities of information at gobsmacking speeds, the kids are all right. They just need red-pilling.
2. The pun is mightier than the sword. Actually I hate that pun. In fact I hate puns generally. But my point stands: if you really want to kill Nazis, as the painfully earnest and increasingly aggressive left is always claiming it wants to do, the deadliest method is wit, humour and snark, not violence. This is why I know that however bad things get politically, those of us who believe in stuff such as liberty, free markets and limited government will inevitably prevail over those who don’t. We’re nicer, we’re funnier — and the left can’t do memes.
BBC4’s new two-parter, How Hippies Changed the World, makes me wonder whether it was all worth it.
There’s an incredibly addictive old iPhone game called Doodle God where you effectively invent civilisation from scratch by combining basic elements. So, for example, water plus lava creates steam; the steam, in turn, can be combined with another more advanced element, I forget which, later in the game to create steam power; and so on and on until, from the primordial ooze, you have, through continual experiment, created nuclear weaponry and computers and aeroplanes and all the things we take for granted today.
I was reminded of it while watching part one (of two) of The Summer Of Love: How Hippies Changed the World (BBC4, Friday). Hippiedom, it argued, emerged from the random collision of three disparate movements in the late 1960s San Francisco Bay area — the Nature Boys, the Truthseekers and the Political Wing.
We now take it for granted that organic carrot juice, psychedelic drugs and virulently left-wing politics go hand in hand, but by the documentary’s account this was an accident of geography and fate: it just so happened that the radicals from America’s most left-wing university, Berkeley, lived next door to the acid-taking sophisticates who’d all read Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and also to the back-to-nature freaks — such as Gypsy Boots, founder of America’s first health-food store in 1959 — who in turn had been inspired by the Lebensreform movement of late 19th-century Germany.