Hipster: The dead end of western civilization, says Adbusters

The angst and anomie in this hipster howl of despair from Adbusters reaches almost epic proportions.

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Didn’t Allen Ginsberg say the same thing, better and more impassionedly, over 50 years ago in Howl? Well, of course he did.

Hipsters. You didn’t invent being alt-, or jaded, or part of a deliberately separate subculture standing apart from the norm. The punks, hippies, and beats did the same in their day too. So, cheer up. Because, in some ways you’ve already won.

That’s one of the messages in Nation of Rebels. Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter. Bohemian values, rather than standing apart from the norm have in fact won the culture wars and been adopted by the mainstream, especially advertising. But, and here’s the author’s interesting twist, the counterculture continues to confuse deviance with dissent and thinks by acting alt- that they strike a mighty blow against the empire. Not so. Further, at core, the counterculture is and always has been an engine room of creative, innovative capitalism. (Do I see some hipsters deciding to slash their wrists now?)

From pg. 205 (italics in the original)

Cool people like to see themselves as radicals, subversives who refuse to conform to accepted ways of doing things. And this is exactly what drives capitalism. It is true that genuine creativity is completely rebellious and subversive, since it disrupts everything except capitalism itself.

Their primary point is that the counterculture obsession with being different gets in the way of their genuine desire for social justice and change.

PS I’m not bashing hipsters. Every counterculture needs to sort these things out for themselves.