It was 40 years ago today. Woodstock

Woodstock music festival poster

I was there. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It was a peak experience of my life. We knew the whole world was watching. The freeway off-ramp getting to it was backed up for miles. There were no cops anywhere. 500,000 people took care of themselves, listened to amazing music peacefully for three days, and there was no violence. Something to think about.

There’s sort of a belief now that the 60’s were all hippy-dippy and goofy. Not so. The 60’s were extremely violent. Cities burned. Multiple assassinations. Serious civil rights and antiwar protests. It also was the birth of feminism and environmentalism as major movements that eventually went mainstream.

Besides, what’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

” …in the nineteen-sixties, apartheid was driven out of America. Legal segregation – Jim Crow – ended. We didn’t end racism, but we ended legal segregation. We ended the idea that you can send a million soldiers ten thousand miles away to fight in a war that people do not support. [well, sort of, now they outsource war as much as possible] We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. Now, it doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office. But the big battles that were won in that period of civil war and strife you cannot reverse. We were young, we were reckless, arrogant, silly, headstrong – and we were right. I regret nothing.”

— Abbie Hoffman Vanderbilt University, April 1989


  1. I despair, at times though, that we dropped the ball, [our] generation did… we stopped The War!

    Our War. Viet Nam. But we didn’t stop War.

    We forced Nixon to accountability. Whoopee! Nixon quit, The War is Over! Let’s finish our law degrees, cut our hair, and buy beemers and half-million dollar houses on the high desert!

    We stopped The War. Our War. Viet Nam. But we didn’t stop War. We finished our law degrees and bought overpriced McMansions, and left the machinations in place that led to where we are today. We dropped the ball.

    Altamont sucked.

    • I think Jerry Rubin was right when after the Kent State shootings he said, we need to find another way, people don’t want to get shot or go underground.

  2. People DON’T want to get shot. But if the cause is just and the people are committed, they’ll take that risk anyway. I say this as one who accidentally ended up behind the lines in my quest to end a war– hearing and seeing things that ten years later still give me nightmares.

    You can’t go there and not be changed by it. It’s easy to oppose war having never seen war. Once I saw it, it took me to another level– I can’t turn my back. I suspect, based on anecdotal conversations, that the same may be true of many Vietnam vets who came back to oppose the war (“their” war). I greatly respect a soldier who opposes that in which he (or she) formerly participated. What I heard and saw in my journey were but a glimpse.

    But what of all those who address war (pro or con) who have never seen it? From the George Bushes who send folks off to die, to certain socialists I could name who commend some folks for killing other folks, to the masses of young men and women who will protest that which they have never seen… and those who won’t. The greatest trick the government has learned to play is to shelter us from its wars. No wonder the vast majority of people in the U.S. just don’t care: they haven’t seen war, and probably never will.

    • That’s why much of the Iraq / Afghanistan wars have been outsourced, with far less actual troops sent. The Pentagon wants to shield the public from what’s going on. For example, soldiers don’t get kitchen duty in Iraq, it’s all outsourced to the private sector. Ditto for some military operations that are now done by private military corporations.

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