Crossing street at Masonic and Haight, 1967.
“… The system not only referred to capitalism or to economics. The system represented the constellation of forces that dominated and controlled all aspects of social life from sexual mores to the oppression of black people, from the exploitation of labor to the suppression of student protest. Above all, it was not confined to the United States but included the Soviet Union as well. The system was everything that kept people down and it had to be overthrown or radically transformed; it could not be reformed and preserved. Furthermore, it was doomed. The movement was a direct outgrowth of the civil rights and anti-war movements that gave it birth but it was also the grandchild of the labor movement and the peace movement of an earlier generation. It was an all-encompassing term that invited people in without requiring membership cards or dues. Thus, by 1967 a supporter of the farmworkers and an organizer of draft resistance or a GI coffeehouse would consider themselves part of the movement. For the millions swept up in this great undertaking, the system was the enemy; the war in Vietnam, the oppression of blacks and Chicanos and the alienation of youth were just the most grievous signs of its depraved nature. By 1970, women’s liberation, environmentalism and the struggle for gay rights grew out of and in turn radically transformed the movement itself. Consciousness expansion came into wide use in the years between 1965 and 1970 referring to everything from LSD to Nietzsche to Buddha to Mao. Women’s liberation inspired the even more widespread use of the term ‘consciousness raising.’ In any case, this was no ivory tower, academic debate. This was a serious pursuit by large numbers of ordinary people coming to grips with philosophical, political and spiritual questions that inevitably erupt when people aspire to more than merely improving their lot within an oppressive social order. And people did, generally, aspire to more. The idea of a revolution of some kind ushering in a truly different world had fired the imaginations of many who thought at the time that their victory was both assured and imminent. That they (we) were wrong about this does not alter the point. Liberation was originally inspired by the independence movements that swept Africa and Asia in the early Sixties. …”
amazon: The Explosion of Deferred Dreams